Affilato Italian Spinone

The Italian Spinone in the UK

While the Italian Spinone is relatively new to the UK, in its native country it is most definitely an ancient hunting breed.  Pictorial evidence shows Spinoni in art dating back as far as the 15th century.  The characteristics - physical, mental and temperament - all stem from the hundreds of years of working gundogs behind the current generation.  While laid back they are definitely not the "couch potato" that some owners claim - they are an intelligent hunter, point and retriever breed and need to be exercised and stimulated as such.

 
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In the 1950's, the pianist Alberto Semprini brought a male and female to the UK - Argo and Gina - and left them in the custody of Audrey Nicholls (of Darelyn Curly Coated retriever fame) and her father.  Mrs Nicholls trained the dogs and in 1955 they were shown at Birmingham City Championship Show. The pair were later returned to Semprini and it was to be nearly three decades before the breed made a reappearance in this country.


In September 1980, Mary Moore (Odivane) and Dr Ruth Tattersall (Westoy) imported four white/orange Spinoni. A male - Friz del Odivane - and three bitches - Megana, Clara dei Marchesi dei Galpiott from Odivane and Lidia dei Marchesi dei Galpiott.  In 1985, Dr Tattersall extended the gene pool when she imported the first brown roans, a male - Gek di Morghengo del Westoy - and female, Urania del Benaco del Westoy from Signor Velentino Vignola's prestigious Italian kennel. Spinoni were now firmly established within the UK.

 

The Italian Spinone Club of Great Britain (ISCGB) was founded in 1983 and the only founder members still in the breed with kennels that have been consistently active since those early days are Mike, Carole & Nicola Spencer's Bannonbrig kennel and Jim & Lorraine Rossiter's Inostricani kennel who were both founded in 1982.  Both kennels have enjoyed tremendous successes and their dogs have won pretty much everything there is to achieve.

The ISCGB now has in excess of 600 members both in the UK and overseas.  It has, arguably, one of the best dog club websites in the World (www.italianspinone.co.uk) with a dedicated team of administrators ensuring it is kept up to date.  As a resource it is invaluable. At the click of a button you can search any dog, it's pedigree, health test results, show results, critiques and even photographs of nearly every dog placed at nearly every championship show around the country.  It is a fantastic resource for anyone wanting to buy a puppy.

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Linda Collins

No article about Italian Spinone in the UK could or should be written without mention of the late Linda Collin's Wynsett kennel.  Though not a founder member of the breed Club, Linda became involved in the breed in 1983 and her foundation bitch Sacul Romeo Rio of Wynsett was to become Top Spinone and Top Rare Breed in 1985.  With an amazing eye for a dog and incredible knowledge for pedigrees, Linda's clever breeding programme secured the Wynsett kennel it's place in history as the most successful Italian Spinone kennel in the UK to date.  Wynsett dogs or those imported by the kennel can be found in the pedigrees of most, if not all, of the kennels in the UK today. Linda's untimely death in 2005 was a big loss for the breed and it's enthusiasts.  Indeed, it was Linda’s personal mentoring that enabled us to breed our first show champion.

 

Getting back to events in chronological order, the first breed classes were at Crufts in 1987 (judged by Dr Ruth Tatersall) and Janet Neil's Ciro of Connomar at Kevardhu took BOB and Rita and Norman Beazant's  Bannonbrig Bellisima won BOS, in 1989 the first Italian Spinone Club of Great Britain Club Open Show was held and Best in Show was awarded to Linda Collins’ Sacul Romeo Rio of Wynsett by judge Jean Lanning with BOS going to Carnall's  Otello of Tribart at Pajuca. 

In 1994, the Kennel Club granted the breed championship status and the first ISCGB Championship Show was held in that year with Linda Collins awarding BIS to Rod & Joy Allison's Petra of Mantegna and BOS to Davies & Gadsby's Gallowdyke Wreckless Eric at Sundeala.


In 1997, the Italian Spinone Society of Scotland was formed and in 1999, the Southern Italian Spinone Society was founded.  All three societies work together in harmony and publicise each other's existence.

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Sid

The very first Show Champion in the breed was the male Gallowdyke Wreckless Eric at Sundeala (bred by Mr & Mrs Piggin and Mr M Gadsby). Owned by Barbara Davies and Mike Gadsby, "Eric" was awarded his crowning CC at Crufts 1994 by Olga Hampton.


The first Full Champion in the breed was Liz and Jonathan Shaw's homebred male Ch Sentling Zenzero.


The current male record holder is Sh Ch & Irish Sh Ch Afterglow Hashtag Scandal at Bessalone JW ShCM who is owned by Sue & Sally Knowles & Irene Glen who also made breed history by becoming the youngest ever title holder in the breed.  The current breed record holder is Suzanne Whittingham's Sh Ch Riccini Caprice.

 

The Italian Spinone breed standard calls for their temperament to be " Sociable, docile, affectionate and patient" - there are not many breeds in which owners can meet up at a social gathering and sit around chatting whilst 60+ dogs of varying ages and sex all cavort off lead together without so much as a cross word and yet this can be seen time and time again at the events organised by the Clubs/Societies. 


Whilst not all spinoni owners can be described as docile, affectionate or patient, we are, in the main, a sociable bunch. Outside of club events, we have also seen parties organised by spinoni owners in Wales and Essex and coastal walks in Norfolk and the North East. In 2012, there was the first "Spinfest" where lots of owners met up and camped together for a few days and all the while, our beautiful breed just happily mingled with each other.


Aside from the numerous gatherings in the UK, there are also a large number of breeders/owners who make the pilgrimage to Italy to attend the show and trials organised by the Club Italiano Spinoni.  The Sanjika kennel (owned by Sally, Stuart & Robyn Griffin) are the only UK kennel to have competed in both spheres (showing and working) in Italy and have achieved notable awards there in both.

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All in all, the breed is in good shape with many dedicated owners/breeders working hard to keep it that way.  It seems fitting to let an Italian sum up the breed and I quote Francesco Saverio Gianotti "Lo Spinone....Un cane per me, per voi, non per tutti". Simply translated this means "The Spinone....A dog for me, for you, not for everyone”.

For the UK Breed Standard please click the link below which will take you to the Kennel Club Breed Standard.