Believed by many to be one of the oldest gun dogs in existence, the Italian Spinone has a contested ancestry, with some suggesting it developed from the Piedmont region of Italy and others theorising an origin of France, Spain, Greece, Celtic Ireland or Russia. Those believing in the former have suggested that Greek traders may have been responsible for the original development of the breed, bringing coarse-haired Setters to Italy during the height of the Roman Empire. Whilst the Bracco Italiano is the popular breed choice in Italy today, the Italian Spinone is still commonly seen as a hunting and retrieving dog. Nearly made extinct during the Second World War, the Italian Spinone was resurrected by the efforts of careful breeding.
A strong-boned dog, often likened to or mistaken for the German Wirehaired Pointer, the Italian Spinone boasts straight, well-muscled legs, a deep muzzle and a short tail that is customarily docked. The Spinone's coat is typically rough and close-fitting with feathering or longer hair seen on the forehead and muzzle. Common colours include solid white, white and brown, brown roan, or white and orange roan. Whilst the Bracco Italiano is more energetic than the Spinone, the Spinone is better adapted to working both land and water, exceling at hunting in dense cover and retrieving game birds from water.
Having worked alongside man for centuries, the Italian Spinone has evolved into a loyal and affectionate companion dog, displaying a gentle and relaxed temperament that well suits it to domestic living. Devoted to children and engaging well in exercise and play, the Spinone is both highly trainable and patient, making for a low maintenance dog. Due to its composition, the Italian Spinone has a tendency to slobber, so this might not be a suitable dog for the house proud. A healthy Spinone at full maturity will weigh 35-40 kg on average, with a life expectancy of 10-12 years.
Inherently resilient, the Spinone is not prone to any serious genetic or breed-specific diseases. As with most breeds, hip and elbow dysplasia, as well as various optical disorders ranging from cataracts to entropion, have been identified in the breed.