We got our first Italian Spinone in 2004. “Cara” (Afterglow Drama Queen at Hapsberg) was a wedding present from our good friends Mike Gadsby & Billy Cannell. We couldn’t have had a better introduction to the breed and we know, for sure, that we will always have an Italian Spinone in our lives.
The Italian Spinone is a Hunt, Point, Retrieve breed with origins in Northern Italy.
In the Kennel Club breed standard, the character of the Italian Spinone is described thusly - “Intrepid and untiring, very hardy, adaptable to any terrain including water” and with a temperament that is “Faithful, intelligent, patient and affectionate”. This simply doesn’t do justice to the breed as while they are all of the above, they are also so much more. They are generally placid but at the same time can be be real clowns.
We have found the Italian Spinone to be a wonderful family pet but they do moult a lot and they have the ability to send slobber astonishing distances from their mouths – especially after a drink! If you like a pristine home then maybe the spinone isn’t for you. If you can put up with hair, slobber and mud in exchange for the most loyal companion then read on.
There are several health issues in the breed the main ones of which are Cerebellar Ataxia, Epilepsy, Bloat and Hip Dysplasia. The Italian Spinone Club of Great Britain is an extremely proactive organisation which is doing everything in it’s power to investigate and eradicate these problems but there will always be unscrupulous breeders so it is important to research lines properly before purchasing a puppy. The club website is an invaluable tool for researching kennels and breeding lines.
The coat should be harsh and wiry & dense. Stripping can be done by either hand or stripping tool and regular grooming is a necessity to avoid matting of the beard, legs etc. Spinoni are very definitely mud magnets so occasional baths will be required!
They are averagely active in the home but do require at least an hour of exercise per day. A combination of free running, swimming and road walking is ideal. Also, we would recommend that puppies under 6 months are given minimal exercise on flat ground only - as a big breed their joints take a while to firm up.
Having spent over 20 years training GWP’s, the psyche of an Italian Spinone came as a surprise. Just because both breeds are HPR’s doesn’t mean you can use the same methods to train them. Italian Spinoni are a sensitive breed to train and they need constant encouragement and variations in exercises to keep them keen. There is little point in taking your spinone puppy out and trying to throw a dummy for him twenty times as he will retrieve it once, maybe twice and then lose interest. At first I wondered if it was because my spinone didn’t have enthusiasm for retrieving but I have since learnt that it is in fact intelligence….. “I have already done that exercise mum, we need to move on!”