Spinone Dog
A Fun-Loving Italian Pointer

The Spinone dog, aka Spinone Italiano, Italian Wire-haired Pointer, and Italian Griffon, for just a few, is classified among the sporting breeds. He is a versatile gun dog of ancient heritage with his deepest roots in Italy, though many other countries laid claim to pointing-type dogs during the breed's history.

While hunting dogs go way, way back in time (think 500 BC), it was during the middle ages that pointers with a very similar profile to the Spinone dog were routinely being reported.

In 19th century Italy many variations of the Spinone occurred in different regions of the country which had been cut off from each other due to political differences. Along with this non-standard breeding approach, also came a series of name changes, among them Restone, Spinoso, Can Cravin and Bracco Restoso.

The modern name we know today was mainly influenced by a former breed name: Bracco Spinoso, which has a loose translation of 'prickly pointer'.

While the Spinone Italiano doesn't have a prickly bone in his body, his coat on the other hand, being coarse and wiry, could be described as somewhat prickly,  which is a good thing as it protects him in getting through brambles and the like.

During WWII the Spinone dog did his bit for the military effort by providing his renowned skills of hunting for food and tracking those MIA, as well as sniffing out enemy combatants.

After the war, a rescue group went to work to restore the breed's numbers which by this time had fallen dramatically. Happily, they succeeded!

Today the breed is noted for his performance in agility and obedience trials as well as the calming signals he brings to therapy work. The AKC recognized the Spinone Italiano Dog in 2000.

The Spinone dog has a natural born affinity for hunting, pointing and retrieving and is adaptable to work in a variety of dense terrains as well as retrieving from water. His strong swimming skills have been noted.

He does especially well in marshy or heavily wooded areas - his physical qualities and tough overcoat being a perfect match to handle harsh conditions.

The Spinone dog has a very approachable appearance and is a dog of medium/large size with body height and length approximately the same.

He has a dense coat, long ears that hang to cheek level, and an intelligent, yet soft, gaze.

Characteristics of the Spinone

The Spinone Italiano is a very friendly and sociable dog. He loves to be closely involved with his family and would be a lap dog if he could pull it off!

This breed is known for its intelligence and trainability, though he sometimes may be indifferent in learning commands that seem pointless (to him)!  But, keep plugging away as he does need to learn what is expected and acceptable.

Do keep in mind that he is a sensitive pet that does not like to be scolded, but responds well when owners use techniques that are creative and keep him motivated.

The Spinone dog is a charming and wonderful companion - faithful, loving and playful.

As the mood strikes him, he can be either reserved or very outgoing.

Appearance, Coat and Care

Height: 22-27 inches
Weight: 71-82 lbs.
Color variations: All White, White with Orange or Chestnut

The weather resistant coat is thick, of hard texture and lies close to the body. The hair is stiffer and longer around the eyebrows, while the facial area and muzzle has much softer hair forming an extensive mustache and beard.

The Spinone doesn't have any undercoat and while shedding is light compared to other breeds, it is more of a year-round thing.

Grooming supplies should be of good quality and include a slicker brush, bristle brush, for the coat, and a buttercomb for the face and feet.

A thorough twice-weekly brushing and occasional plucking of dead hair will take care of the Spinone's coat maintenance.

The hair around the face needs the most regular attention. His beard is a magnet for every kind of matter, not to mention tangles, and while it adds to the Spinone's unruly charm, it does need frequent combing and a wet wipe/wash, depending what he's gotten into!

Likewise, dogs with floppy ears - happy hunting ground for mites and bacteria - always need to be checked and cleaned to avoid infections.

Is the Spinone Dog a Healthy Breed?

There is not a lot of validated health history on the Spinone, but no significant red flags showed up in my research of this breed's health. The issues listed below are ones that may crop up during his lifetime so it's worthwhile to take note of them.

The expected lifespan of the Spinone averages 10-12 years - but, with consistently good care, he could be around for maybe up to fourteen years.

  • Hip Dysplasia (pretty common in breeds of his size)
  • Cerebellar Ataxia (significant if inherited, so learn about the parents).
  • Ear Infections (check those ears frequently)
  • Elbow Dysplasia

In addition to these conditions, the Spinoni are also known to be at a some risk for Gastric Torsion (Bloat) due to their deep chest.

If you want to learn more details about the noted health issues, I would recommend the Dog Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook. A good reference to have around for any dog parent.

Exercise Needs of the Spinone

With plenty of stamina, this breed will literally give you a run for your money, or at a minimum, take you on vigorous walks. Did I say "plenty" of energy?

A long walk both morning and afternoon plus some outdoor romping is a good rule of thumb for the Spinone's health as well as his mental stimulation.

Does The Spinone Need A Lot Of Space?

The Spinone Italiano can manage with a small securely fenced yard providing he is taken out for regular exercise. He's a bit fond of digging, so you may want to protect your flower beds!

However, at a height and weight 27-inches to 80-pounds respectively, he is one of the larger size dogs, so take that into consideration if your personal quarters are on the small side.

three Spinone dogs outside in the grass Photo: Timberdoodle Kennels

As A Companion for Children?

Children should be reminded not to take unfair advantage of the Spinone's remarkable patience and easy-going nature.

That being said, this breed loves children and is a good choice of companion for them. But, as with any breed of dog, activities between them should always be supervised by an adult.

How About Seniors or Sedentary Families?

While the Spinone Italiano dog may happily join you on the couch, there's no getting around their need for significant daily exercise.

If there's someone available to handle the exercise needs of the Spinone, this breed loves to be around his people and is an excellent and very affectionate companion for the any type of housebound family.

Further Reading

Italian Spinone Dog BookItalian Spinone, World Of Dogs

Covers history and successes of the Spinone in the show ring and in the field. Good description of the breed so you can decide if it is right for you, and there are hints on how to make your choice.

Detailed chapter on breeding, and pedigrees of winning dogs. Discusses the various activities you and your dog can enjoy, and a special section on field trialing and gundog work with the Spinone. Lots of full color photos and line drawings.

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