Volpino Italiano: The Italian Fox

Volpino Italiano standing
Wyatt Robinson
Written by Wyatt Robinson

Are you interested in rare breeds? Or are looking for a smaller dog, yet, one that’s able to do all the things that big dogs can do? If so, why not consider getting yourself the Volpino Italiano?

The Volpino Italiano is a small breed that has a personality larger than life. They come across as a tiny toy dog. However, they have working instincts which make them energetic, attentive, and playful. Sure, they don’t mind hanging out on the couch with you on a Tuesday night, but they love running and playing with their friends as well.

Have some sudden curiosity about this breed? You should! The Volpino Italiano is a breed that’ll definitely keep you on your toes. In this article, we’re going to talk about this breed and give you the complete background of them. You’ll be able to decide whether or not this breed is the right one for you.

Breed Characteristics

Volpino Italiano sitting on grass

  • Adaptability: High

  • Trainability: Good

  • Health and Grooming: Good

  • All Around Friendliness: Good

  • Exercise Needs: Moderate

Dog Breed GroupSpitz Dogs
Height9.5 to 12 inches
Weight9 to 14 lbs
Lifespan14 to 16 years

Their name is taken after the Latin word for “vuples,” which means fox. This is due to their fox-like attributes.The Volpino Italiano is a small yet energetic breed. They were favored by both Italian royalty and workers not only for their size but also their capabilities. The Volpino doesn’t mind being a lap dog. However, they also love to protect their territory and play with other dogs as well.

The Volpino is an extremely rare breed with only around 3,000 of its kind in existence. Thus, finding a Volpino breeder isn’t going to be that easy. However, those that have the Volpino absolutely adore the breed. They’re highly intelligent, so, training them is quite easy as they absorb information like a sponge.

They love being around people, however, are slightly reserved around strangers until they get to know them. Once they’re comfortable, they’re extremely friendly and engaging with people.

Around other dogs, they’re quite friendly, but it’s important that you socialize them with other animals from a young age. They’re also great with children, but, again, you’ll want to socialize them around children from puppyhood.

Main Highlights

Volpino Italiano on a leash

  • A pet of Italian royalty and peasants since the 15th century.

  • Their name takes after the Latin word “vulpes” which means fox due to their fox-like appearance.

  • They’re extremely rare dogs—rarely seen outside of Italy. There are only approximately 3,000 dogs of this breed in the world.

  • Queen Victoria of Volpinos from Florence, Italy in 1888, had one of these dogs as a pet, but the public misidentified them as Pomeranians.

  • Outside of Italy, they can be found in the United States, Canada, and Scandinavian countries.

  • The Volpino is commonly mistaken for a Pomeranian or Miniature American Eskimo. However, they’re a distinct breed.

  • Though they’re tiny dogs, they make excellent guard dogs as they bark to alert their owners of people on their property.

  • Surprisingly, they get along very well with cats if they’re raised with them.

Breed History

Volpino Italiano in winter

As we know now, the Volpino is an Italian Spitz breed that was once extremely popular with royalty and non-royalty throughout Italy. They were desired due to their small size, yet big and alert personality. Also, because they’re small in size, they don’t consume as much food as larger dogs.

Traditionally, court ladies used the Volpinos as lap dogs, while non-royalty used them as guard dogs. It’s claimed that even Italian artist Michelangelo had a Volpino as a pet.

The Volpino was brought by Italian immigrants to North America during the late 19th and early 20th century. Though, they were used as mainly companion dogs at that time and were never considered as an authentic breed.

In 1903, the ENCI (Italian Kennel Club) standardized the breed. Then, in 1956, the Federation Cynologique Internationale recognized the Volpino breed. However, by the time that happened, the breed had reduced drastically in numbers.

By 1965, only a few dogs remained of the Volpino breed and were owned mainly by farmers. However, the breed was revived in 1984 by Enrico Franceschetti. Yet, to this day, the breed remains rare and scarce.

Today, North American breeders are trying to revive the numbers and popularity of the breed. In 2006, the Volpino breed was recognized by the United Kennel Club, yet, it hasn’t received full recognition by the American Kennel Club.


The Volpino is a small Spitz Italian breed. They reach heights between 9.5 to 12 inches. However, their fluffy coat may give them the appearance of additional height.

When it comes to weight, they’re not heavy—weighing about 9 to 14 pounds. Naturally, female Volpinos are generally smaller in size in comparison to male Volpinos.

Personality and Character

Volpino Italiano puppy

The Volpino is known to be a lively and playful breed that adores being around their family and other people. Similar to other Spitz breeds, they are territorial and have no problem barking when they feel the presence of other people on their property. This guarding instinct is very valuable.

The barking can be annoying, but this is completely trainable, so it’s nothing to worry about.

See Also: The Best Anti-Bark Device

The Volpino has working-breed instincts, which means they’re full of energy. In order to help wear them out, you’ll want to make sure they’re provided with enough physical activity to exert their excess energy. You can also use their energy and channel it through agility activities, rally, and nose work.

Health and Potential Problems

Volpino Italiano lying on ground

Including, the Volpino, all breeds can develop health problems. In this way, they’re no different from cats, humans, or birds.

Now, some of these health issues are inherited. However, some can be developed due to environmental factors as well. For inherited conditions, it’s important to look at the parents of the Volpino you’d like to get.

The breeder should provide you with a certificate of health, proving that the parents do not have any inheritable health conditions. Make sure the breeder has health certificates for up-to-date eye examinations and an exam for patellar luxation. This will greatly reduce the risk of your Volpino having any. However, this doesn’t mean that your dog is in the clear.

Here are some of the common health conditions found in the Volpino breed.

#1: Obesity

Many people with small dogs assume that they don’t need the same amount of exercise as large breeds. However, that’s completely incorrect. Regardless of the size, your dog needs an adequate amount of exercises on a daily basis.

You need to make sure that your Volpino is getting daily exercise with the right amount of food. If you feed them normal portions but don’t take them for walks or runs, they run the risk of becoming obese.

Obesity has its own set of health problems such as diabetes, arthritis, and heart conditions.

See Also: Overweight Dog: Signs and Solutions

#2: Patellar Luxation

The Volpino isn’t the only breed that suffers from Patellar Luxation. In fact, many breeds have this condition. However, your Volpino can be screened for it.

Patellar Luxation occurs when the kneecap dislocates from the thigh bone. You’ll notice this by your Volpino having difficulty walking, plus, acting lethargic.

It happens more in females than in male Volpinos, however, occurs in both sexes. The treatment options are very limited with the most drastic being surgery.

#3: Primary Lens Luxation (PLL)

This is a very well-recognized, painful, and blinding condition of the eyes which affects many breeds. The zonular fibers which support the lens either deteriorate or break down, causing the lens to fall.

If the lens falls into the anterior chamber of the eyes, glaucoma and blindness can occur quickly. However, a DNA test can be done to see if the chances of developing PLL exists in your dog.

Care Features

Volpino Italiano's head

Yes, the Volpino is a small breed, but that doesn’t mean it’s a lazy dog. As you already know by its personality, the Volpino is a lively and playful breed with energy to spare. Though these dogs are the perfect size for an apartment, having them chase a ball from one end of the room to the other isn’t enough exercise.

Like all breeds, the Volpino needs daily exercise and socialization with other dogs. Taking them on daily walks and allowing them to socialize with other dogs is the best form of physical activity for them. Just make sure that when you take them off-leash, they’re in a fenced and safe area.

Feeding Schedule

Everyone loves eating junk food. And though you love to eat McDonald’s, you know you can’t eat it every day or else you’ll start to feel lethargic and gain weight. That’s why you eat it on occasions while normally, you stick to eating vegetables, meat, and fruit.

Now, this is no different when it comes to a dog’s diet. When feeding any dog, including a Volpino, you need to make sure that they’re fed high-quality dog food.

Whether it’s commercial food or homemade food, your dog needs to be provided with their essential nutrients in order to maintain proper health and energy. In order to do so, it’s best if you talk to your vet about it, as they’ll be able to give you suggestions which will be tailored to your dog’s age, level of physical activity, and health.

See Also: Foods Dogs Should Not Eat

Coat, Color, and Grooming

Volpino Italiano running

The Volpino has a double coat which comes in either solid white, red, or champagne color. Their undercoat is soft and thick, while their top coat is rough because it is used for protection.

The Volpino has a ruff of fur around their neck and a fluffy tail which give them their spunk.

Though they have a beautiful coat, they do shed. This means you’ll need to brush them on a weekly basis to remove dead hair and cells. If not, you run the risk of your furniture and clothing being covered in hair which is even harder to remove. Petting them in between bushing days will also help to remove dead hair.

Since they have a bushy coat, you can trim their fur, particularly around their pads and toes, to provide them with a more comfortable and cleaner look. In addition, you’ll want to make sure that you check their eyes and clean their ears to prevent infection.

When it comes to bathing, it depends solely on your Volpino. If they spend a lot of time outside, then you may want to bathe them more than if they’re mainly in your home. Make sure that prior to bathing them, you comb their fur to remove any tangles or mats.

Children and Other Pets Compatibility

Volpino Italiano puppies sitting together

Usually, though small dogs look cute because of their size, they tend to be more bitey with other dogs and humans. However, the Volpino isn’t like that at all. Their playful and lively energy does well with children, but it’s important that your children know how to handle dogs in a respectful manner.

When your children are with your Volpino, the interaction should be supervised.

With other pets such as cats and dogs, the Volpino does very well around them, especially if they’re raised with them.

If you have existing pets, don’t worry—you simply need to socialize your Volpino with your other pets immediately. The more socialization you open them up to, the better off they’ll be around other animals.

See Also: How to Socialize a Dog

Wrap Up

Volpino Italiano walking on grass

If this isn’t your first dog, then you know how challenging it can be to choose the right dog for your home. This is the one chance you get to choose the type of personality you want to be added to your family. Look at your lifestyle and choose a breed that’ll be able to blend into the way you live.

The Volpino Italiano breed is small, yet, is packed with a powerful personality. They’re energetic and full of life; they need time to be taken out for walks and socialize with others. So, if you’re looking for a small breed, you can tick that off the list. If you’re also looking for a breed that you can walk around town with or hang out at a cafe, they’re great dogs for that as well.

If you’re looking for an alert, playful, and lively breed, then why not consider getting yourself a Volpino Italiano? This lively breed loves to protect its home and play with others, yet, also relax on your lap after a hard day at work.

So, now that you’ve read about the Volpino Italiano, what do you think? Does this breed suit your lifestyle? Whatever your thoughts and experience are with this breed, we’d love to hear all about it! Check out our list of Italian dog names if you’re looking for a good name for your Volpino.

About the author
Wyatt Robinson
Wyatt Robinson

Wyatt Robinson had a great 25-years career as a veterinarian in United Kingdom. He used to be a member of British Veterinary Association and worked in 3 pet hospitals in London and Manchester. He is shining when he sees his pets healthy and full of energy and it is his duty to help other dog owners to keep their best friends full of life.