The Spinone Italiano has a hound look about them, with a fairly long head and muzzle, large, dropped ears, and somewhat pendulous lips. They are a strong, muscular dog, able to trot at fast pace. Their dense wiry coat allows them to hike under many conditions. Their coat is generally single, consisting of rough, dry, thick hair about 1.5 to 2.5” in length. Longer hair garnishing their lips and eyebrows adds further protection in addition to adding to their often intelligent and gentle expression.
The Spinone Italiano is one of the earliest breeds developed as a pointing dog, with evidence of wirehaired pointing dogs dating as far back as 500 b.c. Dogs resembling the Spinone Italiano can be found in artwork of fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Italy. Still, their exact origin remains a mystery, although some believe they arose from Celtic wirehaired breeds, whereas others place their origins with Greek traders who brought them to Italy during the times of the Roman Empire.
Unfortunately, few records remain of the breed’s subsequent development, even though present day Spinone Italiano traces back principally to Italy’s Piedmont region. They proved themselves adept at penetrating thorny cover and finding small animals. During World War II, the Spinone further distinguished themselves by tracking German patrols. The end of the war found the breed in trouble, however, because their numbers had been decimated and many of the remaining dogs mixed with other breeds. The Spinone Italiano was in danger of being lost.
In the 1950s, some began a concerted effort to reconstruct the Spinone Italiano. They are now a popular dog in Italy and some other European countries, but they have been slower to attract attention in America. The Spinone Italiano gained AKC status in 2000. The word Spinone is derived from pino, an Italian thorn bush through which these tough-skinned dogs could historically hunt. The plural form is Spinoni (Spi-no-ni); the singular is Spinone (Spi-no-nay).
Spinone Italiani are generally devoted and gentle dogs, very willing to please. They are affectionate and often get along well with other dogs, pets and children. They are also oftentimes courageous. The Spinone is generally calmer and easier going than most pointing breeds.
The Spinone Italiano needs daily exercise. This can take the form of a long walk or good run off leash in a safe place like a fenced yard. Their coat care consists of weekly brushing, plus occasional professional groom to trim their face and feet.