Spinone Italiano: The Gentle Hound

Spinone Italiano standing
Emily Young
Written by Emily Young

Many of us love dogs, but not all of us can deal with the boundless energy or shedding hair. If you’re looking for a low maintenance dog, the Spinone Italiano can be a good choice.

The Spinone look like hounds with their droopy ears, long muzzle, and pendulous lips, but don’t let their looks intimidate you because they are a sweetheart. If there was a Mr. Congeniality Award for dog breeds, the Spinone is probably one of the top 3 contenders for the title.

This noble breed from the mountains of Italy is a tireless hunting machine in the field but a gentle and affectionate friend at home. They don’t require a lot of space and exercise and are generally just happy to be around you.

To find out if this dog is really a good choice for your lifestyle, read the rest of our article below to get to know this breed better. We will discuss their personality, needs, and many others.

Breed Characteristics

Spinone Italiano's head

  • Adaptability: Very Good; the Spinone are good in apartments and large homes. Content in a fenced yard provided that it is too high for them to jump

  • Trainability: Good; very trainable especially if started early. Needs consistent and firm training due to stubborn tendencies

  • Health and Grooming: Good

  • All Around Friendliness: Good

  • Exercise Needs: Moderate; they are high energy dogs but don’t require long or vigorous exercise

Dog Breed GroupSporting Dogs
Height22½ - 27½ inches
Weight61 - 85 pounds
LifespanApprox. 12 years

Spinone Italiano, or Spinone Italiani in plural form, is a wirehaired pointer that has a clownish disposition despite their serious hunting skills. They are easy-going dogs that like to run, jump, and dig. But don’t let their clown-like antics fool you because they are versatile pointing dogs that come with excellent retrieving skills, exceptional stamina, and patience.

This is an intelligent breed that knows the difference between a real hunt and a field trial, so don’t expect them to be enthusiastic when training with dummies. They are active, enthusiastic, and need an owner that matches their energy levels.

The Spinone are very trainable, but they need early training and a firm and consistent trainer due to their stubborn streak.

They are known to shut down if training is too hard or too harsh. They are fast learners but have a mind of their own. Keep training interesting, and they will be happy to learn. Use positive reinforcement techniques because this is a sensitive dog. Give them plenty of praise, encouragement, and patience.

Spinone Italiani are happy anywhere as long as they are with their family. When not hunting, they make for great companions and best friends. They want to be with their people and are miserable without them. They might be hunters, but they are also house dogs and won’t do well if chained or left outside.

Their coat is dense and waterproof with an unclipped look. They are minimal shedders and do not require a lot of grooming. To prevent debris from accumulating on their coat, brush it daily. Busy owners can get away with once-weekly brushing.

The Spinone Italiano is a good choice for families with children. They are known to be good with kids and are playful and affectionate towards them. The same is true with other household pets and dogs especially if they were raised together.

Main Highlights

Spinone Italiano lying on grass

  • Also known as Italian Griffon, Italian Wirehaired Pointer, and Italian Pointer.

  • Serious hunter with tireless energy. But also has a playful and clownish personality.

  • They are a high energy breed but don’t require too much exercise. They are just as happy playing in a fenced area of your house as they will be if you walk them.

  • Talk to a professional when installing a fence because they can jump through it or tunnel underground.

  • They do well in apartments and homes with big open spaces

  • The Spinone are devoted dogs that love being around their owners.

  • They also do well with children and other pets provided they are socialized early and raised together.

  • Some dogs have a strong prey drive, so they need training.

  • Training should be firm and consistent but not too harsh because the Spinone don’t respond well to that type of training.

  • Remember to shower them with praise and use positive reinforcement. Make training exciting and varied to prevent boredom

  • They make good watch dogs but not guard dogs.

  • The Spinone Italiano has “shaggy dog” syndrome. Food, water, and debris have a tendency to cling to their coat.

  • They do not need trims—just stripping to pull dead hair from their coat. Daily or once weekly brushing should take care of this and any debris stuck to their coat.

  • Also known as Italy’s all-purpose dog.

  • Recognized by the AKC in 2000.

Breed History

Spinone Italiano with its puppy

Pointer breeds have been developed across Europe as far back as 300 years ago with almost every country having their own pointer dog. In Italy, the go-to breed is the Spinone Italiano.

This breed is a cross between coarse-haired Italian setter breeds, mastiffs, and French Griffons. They were originally developed to be a hunter’s companion. As such they are intelligent, with a great nose and lots of stamina for retrieving game in different terrain.


Spinone Italiano near the river

This is a medium-sized dog breed. They are by nature great retriever dogs. They stand approximately 22½ — 27½ inches at the withers and weigh around 61-75 pounds.

The Spinone looks like a scruffy dog with good muscle structure. They are robust looking and have lots of stamina. They sport a weather-resistant wiry coat that enables them to withstand cold water.

Personality and Character

Spinone Italiano in water

Originally a hunting dog, the Spinone has the stamina to work all day. Compared to other gun dogs, they are slower and move more deliberately. They can hunt in all climates and different terrain.

They are serious hunters on the field, but they can have a funny and clownish personality at home. A true hunting dog, they are content to be treated as a low-ranking member of their hunting pack. This breed is intelligent enough to know whether the hunt is real or a field test.

This breed is easy-going and has a laid-back personality. At home, they are social and joyful and enjoy group activities like romping in the yard or going on walks with their family.

They are good guard dogs but are not a protection breed (most probably because of their friendly and easygoing nature). This is not a kennel dog and will feel neglected and sad if left alone for too long especially if they are chained or left outside the home.

As a hunting dog, expect their retriever skills to show up even at home. They will always be happy to bring you your shoes, newspapers, and other small objects especially when they want to play.

Like most dogs in the gun dog group, they have high stamina to get through long days in the field. However, unlike their cousins, they do not require a lot of vigorous exercises.

They are content playing and running in a fenced yard or on short daily walks. They are sometimes referred to as “low octane” dogs. This breed is a jumper and a tunneler so make sure fences are secure.

See Also: DIY Dog Fence

But don’t mistake their low activity needs for laziness because they love being outdoors. They are excellent companions for jogging, hiking, kayaking, and other outdoor pursuits.

Health and Potential Problems

Spinone Italiano puppy

Spinone Italiani are a generally healthy dog breed. However, health problems like elbow dysplasia, hypothyroidism, and entropion have been encountered in this breed. They are also prone to bloat. As with all dog breed with droopy ears, it should be checked regularly for infection.

It is best to adopt a puppy from a responsible breeder. They should be able to provide documentation that the parents are cleared from health problems that affect this breed. Regular visits to the vet should also help monitor possible diseases that can afflict your dog.

Care Features

Spinone Italiano with light coat

This breed is a high energy dog, but unlike most breeds in the sporting dog group, they are “low octane.” They like to run and exercise, but it’s not something you have to do every day.

To keep your dog fit, daily exercise of around 30-minute walks is recommended. They are also good jogging companions. However, if you don’t have time to exercise your Spinone, they are perfectly content to lounge about or to run around your fenced yard.

Speaking of yards, this dog can jump. Make sure that your fence is high enough to prevent them from jumping through. They also love to dig so they can also find a way out this way. Ensure that your fence is secure to prevent your Spinone from escaping.

They love learning and are excellent candidates for canine sport like agility, obedience, field trials, and tracking. They are eager to please and respond well to firm, gentle, and consistent training.

It is best to start training early around 8 to 10 weeks because this breed has a stubborn streak. They do not like harsh training and can shut down if they feel they are treated unfairly. Shower them with praise and treats especially after a job well done.

This breed is a minimal shedder. Daily brushing will help you get rid of dead hair and keep their coats clean. Once monthly bathing is also recommended. Also, ear infections can be a problem for droopy-eared dogs. Check their ears regularly for infection and wax buildup and don’t forget to brush their teeth.

They are prone to bloating. Give your dog time to digest food to prevent this problem. Other than that, regular visits to the vet for vaccination should be followed and will help monitor potential problems.

See Also: Bloat in Dogs

Feeding Schedule

The Spinone should be fed high-quality dog food. Their diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age.

Some Spinone can be picky eaters, so it is important to let them get used to certain dog food. Trial and error can help you figure out what kind of food they like. You can use commercial or homemade dog food so long as they are made with quality ingredients.

You can feed your Spinone once or twice a day. If fed once, the amount of food should be appropriate for their age. If fed twice, make sure to halve the serving so as not to overfeed your dog. Your veterinarian should be able to tell you how much food to give and recommend a type of dog food.

Coat, Color, and Grooming

Spinone Italiano running

The Spinone is a low maintenance dog and requires little grooming. Mostly, they require a small amount of stripping to help get rid of dead hair and neaten their coat. For this job, you need a stripping knife.

Coat colors can be solid white, orange roan, white and orange, orange roan with markings, brown roan, brown roan with markings, or brown roan without markings.

The Spinone’s coat is dense, wiry, and weatherproof. They have no undercoat so regular stripping and brushing should be enough to remove dead hair.

You might also want to keep a hand towel handy so that you can tend to their beard after they eat or drink water. This breed is a messy eater and drinker mainly due to the hair on their face. Be prepared to spend some time wiping their face after every meal or drink.

They also need daily brushing to help keep their coat clean and to get rid of debris, especially after a walk. If you’re too busy, once weekly brushing will suffice. Once monthly bathing is also recommended. Trim their nails and check their ears as needed.

Children and Other Pets Compatibility

The Spinone tend to be docile and patient when they are with their family. This is perhaps one of the reasons why they are good with children. When around kids they are playful and enthusiastic as long as they are treated with respect.

The Spinone are quite content to be low on the pack order. However, they don’t like to be disrespected. It’s best to train children how to play or handle these dogs.

The Spinone are generally hunting dogs, so they have a strong prey drive. They should be trained not to hunt or retrieve small pets like cats and birds.

Wrap Up

Spinone Italiano lying on floor

Are you an avid hunter who wants a dog with lots of stamina, intelligence, and efficiency? Are you the outdoorsy type that loves to go on walks, kayaking, hiking, or camping? Do you prefer dogs with high stamina but with low exercise needs? Do you want a low shedding breed? If the answer is yes to these questions, the Spinone Italiano is a good choice for you.

This even-tempered dog is an asset to any family. They are dependable and friendly by nature and love being around their people. You won’t have a problem with dominance with this breed because they are happy being pack members.

The Spinone Italiano is a gentle dog with an easy going nature that loves to hunt when needed and just lounge around with you if you don’t feel like going out.

What do you think of the dog’s temperament? Do you think that the Spinone Italiano is a good choice for your family? Tell us by leaving your comments below. Need a suitable name for your newly adopted Spinone? Take a look at our list of beer names for dogs, since these dogs look like they have a beer beard, don’t they?

About the author
Emily Young
Emily Young

Emily is originally from China where she graduated from The University of Hong Kong with high distinction learning about fashion and design. During university she opened her own magazine about Dog Fashion as dogs were always in her heart. She was surprised, when she moved to a beautiful British Columbia 10 years ago, to see many great Boutiques with dog's designer clothing and desire of pet owners to make their babies look nice.