The Spinone Italiano (plural Spinoni Italiani) is an Italian dog breed. Its original purpose was as a versatile gun dog, which the breed is still a master of today. The Spinone is a loyal, friendly and alert dog with a close lying, wiry coat. It is an ancient breed that can be traced back to approximately 500 BC.
It is often used for hunting, pointing, and retrieving game (HPR), but the intelligent and strong Spinone can be used for practically anything ranging from companions to assistance dogs. The name of the breed is pronounced spee-no-neh (singular) and spee-no-nee for plural.
The Spinone should not have an undercoat. A long, soft or silky coat is undesired and is a sign of excessive grooming.
Acceptable variants (UK and US) are solid white, white with orange markings, orange roan with or without orange markings, white with brown markings, and brown roan with or without brown markings. Pigment of skin, nose, lips, and the pads on their feet should be a fleshy red-orange in white dogs, slightly darker in orange and brown roan dogs. The white and orange coloration is unique amongst the wirehaired gun dogs.
Weight should be in the correct proportion to size and structure:
Centuries of working with man as a hunting companion has created a loyal, intelligent dog that is easily trained, although some can be stubborn about performing a learned task if they see no point in it. Because they are sensitive, motivational training works best for this breed, as this gentle creature's feelings can easily be hurt when handled incorrectly.
The Spinone can be a very active breed, but it is not a racy dog like most other hunting breeds. The Spinone typically moves at the relaxed trot that is characteristic of the breed. It has often been called the perfect dog to run or jog with, because it will not run off in front and leave its human companion struggling to keep up as it prefers the slower pace itself. It can be more than happy in a small yard and does not necessarily need acres of land. The small garden combined with regular walks would suit a Spinone well.
Though the Spinone has an amazing temperament it can have a tendency to slobber a lot.
Some people familiar with the history of the breed claim that the Spinone descended from the now-extinct Spanish Pointer, whilst others claim that it was the ancient Russian Setter that is responsible for the breed we know today. An even more popular theory is that Greek traders brought coarse-haired setters to Italy during the height of the Roman empire, where the dogs were then crossed with various others and the modern Spinone eventually emerged.
The French claim that the Spinone has descended from crosses of several French pointing breeds, whilst the Italians believe the Spinone is the ancestor of the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon, the German Wirehaired Pointer, and the Pudelpointer. Any one of these claims could be true; perhaps several of them are correct.
During the Second World War, the Spinone became close to extinct. Both the war and the fact that Italian hunters had begun using other breeds (such as setters, pointers, and spaniels) in the hunt, whereas before it was primarily the Spinone. Many breeders had to resort to crossing the Spinone with other wire-haired breeds, such as the Boulet, Wirehaired Pointing Griffon and German Wirehaired Pointer.
The breed was not officially known as "Spinone" until the early nineteenth century. Before then, some areas knew the breed as the "Spinoso". The breed was named after an Italian thorn bush, the pino, which was a favorite hiding place for small game because for larger animals it was practically impenetrable. Only thick-skinned, coarse-haired animals could fight through the branches unharmed to locate the game. The Spinone was the breed most capable of doing so, and therefore the name was formed.
Today the Bracco Italiano is the most popular hunting dog in Italy, although the Spinone is still common. The Bracco is a racier, higher energy dog, while the Spinone excels at hunting close or in dense cover, and in retrieving from water.