Italian Spinone

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Breed: Italian Spinone
Temperament: gentle, loyal
Maintenance: medium
Lifespan: 10-12 years
Recommended for: families


The overall appearance of the Spinone is a that of cross between a pointer and a foxhound. The Spinone is medium sized and is roughly the same in length as it is in height, approximately 60-70cm. They are robust and powerfully boned with well developed muscles and rough hair. The head is long with a wide skull and a slightly arched nose bridge. The face of the Spinone is attractive with a compassionate human expression that is enhanced by’eyebrows’, ‘moustache’ and ‘beard’ that typify this breed. The coat is 4-6cm in length but shorter on the muzzle, head, ears and the front side of the feet. The hair is stiff, dense and rather flat with little undercoat, however, there are varying degrees of thickness in the coat and that will dictate the amount of grooming. The Spinone is a docked breed and the thick tail is removed around half way. Spinones come in a variety of colours from pure white; white with orange, speckled orange or chestnut markings; roan or roan chestnut. Black is not allowed in any form on the dog.

Breeders believe the dog is well designed for its purpose as a gun and hunting dog and say “everything is built for a reason, not just for show”. For example Spinones have a double dewlap (that is a skinfold beneath the neck).


Spinones are described as patient, gentle, intelligent and faithful. Breeders say this breed is excellent with children and other animals.

They are good learners and respond best to a soft voice. Bred for hunting and retrieving, the Spinones are adept at both obedience and agility. (Although excessive or high jumping should not be encouraged in such heavy dogs.)


Spinones need a good brush each week. Despite their shaggy appearance the stiff wiry hair is claimed not to collect dirt. However some dogs have a softer thicker coat that may require more grooming to prevent knots and matting. They will need extra attention around the mouth to clear away food and dribble caught in the beard. The ears need regular cleaning and plucking. The feet can also grow extra hair that can be plucked out. Spinones may produce a little more dribble than some people are willing to cope with and this may also cause the dogs to have a rather pungent canine aroma.

Food and exercise

Spinone breeders recommend two meals a day of raw meat and dry dog food. They are an active breed that must have good regular daily exercise such as walking and playing. They also need the occasional jog. Although the Spinone is active and lively outdoors, they are said to settle quickly indoors and are quite happy to lie quietly about the house.


A litter of 7 to 12 is usually produced with the puppies displaying normal naughty behaviour. Spinones grow quickly and will need four meals a day until about 20 weeks of age.

Health and lifespan

There are no outstanding health issues with the Spinone in Australia, and the dogs are expected to live between 10-12 years. The breed is new in Australia and care has been taken with breeding. While there are reports of some problems found in the breed overseas, the two main problems to look for in Australia are entropion of the eye (where the eyelid turns in) and hip dysplasia. Entropion can be corrected surgically (in minor instances where the eyelid turns under the condition may right itself as the skull grows and develops). Although hip dysplasia is rare, it is advisable to check that the parents of any pup you may purchase have been x-rayed and cleared of hip problems.


With only 200 of the breed in Australia the Spinone is rare and not well known or widely recognised. Despite this, Spinone pups are sought after and sell quickly.

Recommended for

The Spinone’s temperament and ease with children makes it an excellent family dog. However, due to the level of activity and exercise required by this breed, it is not recommended for anyone with a busy out of home lifestyle or for the house bound.


The Italian Spinone (pronounced Spin-on-ay) is one of the oldest gun dog breeds, having originated in the Middle Ages. Spinone is Italian for ‘bristle’ or ‘spiny’ reflecting the dog’s coat, which is dense and stiff.

The breed was developed by Italian hunters and horse riders for its outstanding ability to hunt in forests and swamps. The dog was also used in conjunction with hunting birds that captured the small prey the dogs flushed out of the undergrowth.

They are a new breed to Australia arriving here in 1987. They are known for their loving temperament and reliable personality.

National contacts

To find up-to-date contacts for breeders, contact the following organisations.
The Australian National Kennel Council (ANKC)

Dogs NSW
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 1300 728 022 (NSW only) or (02) 9834 3022
Fax: (02) 9834 3872

Dogs Victoria
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (03) 9788 2500
Fax: (03) 9788 2599

Dogs ACT
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (02) 6241 4404 – Fax: (02) 6241 1129.

Dogs West
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (08) 9455 1188
Fax: (08) 9455 1190

Dogs SA
Phone: (08) 8349 4797

Canine Control Council of Queensland
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (07) 3252 2661
Fax: (07) 3252 3864

Tasmanian Canine Association
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (03) 6272 9443
Fax: (03) 6273 0844

Dogs NT
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (08) 8984 3570
Fax: (08) 8984 3409
The Australian National Kennel Council (ANKC)