The Spinone Italiano is also known as the Italian Griffon, the Spinone or the Italian Spinone. The Spinone is a large rugged hunting dog with a long head, hanging ears and human looking eyes. The Italian Griffon has a very pronounced occipital protuberance.
This sporting breed has a square and muscular build which indicates great strength and stamina. The tail is carried low and in countries where permitted, the tail is docked to a length of 6 to 10 inches. Spinoni Italiani (plural) have rough, thick, slightly wavy and wire-haired coats that lay flat and fairly close to the body.
Hair is longer on the eyebrows, lips and chin giving the Spinone a gruff and kindly look. Accepted colors for the Spinone are: plain white, white with orange markings, white with brown markings, and brown roan – with or without larger brown patches.
Male Spinoni stand 23.5 to 27.5 inches tall and females stand 22.5 to 25.5 inches tall at shoulder height. Males weigh from 70 to 82 pounds and females from 62 to 72 pounds.
Spinoni Italiani are members of the American Kennel Club (AKC) Sporting Dog Group.
History of The Spinoni Italiani
The Spinone is one of the oldest members of the Griffon family and is often called the Italian Griffon. The breed probably originated in northern Italy and is descended from Italian Renaissance times when pointers with wavy hair were prevalent.
These Griffons excelled as all-purpose hunting dogs, both as pointers and as retrievers. The Spinone’s coat protected it from cold water and freezing temperatures which made it well suited to hunting over all types of terrain and in all types of weather.
This Griffon breed is popular both as a hunting dog and as a family pet in Italy and England but is just becoming recognized in the US. The Spinone Italiano was ranked 115th out of 154 dog breeds registered by the AKC in 2005.
Temperament of a Spinoni Italiani
The Spinone is a serious, active, lively and tireless dog in the field but is affectionate, pleasant, calm and gentle in the home. This Griffon breed is happy, upbeat and enthusiastic and never bossy or whiny unless being totally ignored.
Spinoni are kind and patient and make great playmates for children. They get along well with other household animals after they have been socialized and enjoy the company of another dog. The Spinone is intelligent and reasonably obedient but does have a stubborn streak and will follow its nose when it picks up an interesting smell. You can train Spinoni to be a good hunting dog but don’t expect them to do well in obedience training.
A relaxed and reward-based training regime seems to work best. Spinoni can be timid if not properly socialized. The Spinone loves the company of people both at home and while traveling and won’t make a very effective watch dog. Spinoni do well with first time or novice dog owners.
Spinoni need lots of exercise when out doors but are generally fairly calm indoors if they have had their daily walk or run. The Italian Griffon is a hunting dog that needs lots of outdoor space and is generally unsuited to apartment life.
The Spinone loves to go swimming even on cold and rainy days. This breed doesn’t need a lot of fast exercise chasing a speedy bike but once he is mature enough (over 2 years old) will love to go jogging or running beside a bike.
Remember a Spinone will follow its nose and should be kept on a leash or in a large fenced yard. The Spinone can accommodate a smaller fenced yard if he is taken for frequent walks and play sessions.
The Spinone needs relatively little grooming beyond a weekly brushing and some stripping of dead hair. Don’t cut this breed’s hair but hand pluck or strip to tidy the coat. Comb with a coarse comb paying special attention to the hair on the muzzle. Check the ear passages regularly and trim any excess hair between the pads. Bathe as necessary to keep the Spinone clean.
Spinoni have a life expectancy of more than 12 years and are generally quite healthy. The most common health problems are hip dysplasia and an inherited neurological disease called cerebellar ataxia which results in a sudden onset of uncoordinated muscle movement.
Prospective buyers should ask to see the Orthopedic Foundation of America (OFA) certification for possible hip dysplasia in the breeding parents and also ask about cerebellar ataxia in the bloodlines. If your Spinone is over one year old and hasn’t exhibited any signs of cerebellar ataxia, then it won’t show up later in the dog’s life.