The Italian Spinone, also known as Spinone Italiano or Italian Griffon, are considered ancient hunting dogs. In fact, they’re one of the oldest hunting dogs in existence that no one really knows their exact origin. Some claims they’re descendants of the Spanish Pointer (now extinct), while others say they came from the ancient Russian Setter. The only thing that is certain is that they almost became extinct during World War II that they have to be crossed with other wired-haired breeds, such as the Boulet and German Wirehaired Pointer. It was also only during the 19th century that the bird dog officially became known as Spinone.
Before they were called the Italian Spinone, they were known as Spinoso in certain areas, and the name has something to do with their amazing hunting abilities. It is believed that the bird dog is named after an Italian thorn bush that is called “spino”, an impenetrable hiding place for small game, but is easily accessible by animals with thick skin and coarse hair. Well, this is exactly what an Italian Spinone is. Combined with their agility and ability to get maximum coverage of the land they’re hunting, they will surely find and retrieve downed game. Although not necessarily one of the fastest hunting dogs out there, the Italian Spinone provides the best of both worlds, since they’re also excellent water retrievers. This gives hunters more options for game to hunt, be it water fowls or pheasants.
Compared to other hunting dogs, an Italian Spinone is easy to train, although some of them can be a bit stubborn. This may have something to do with the fact that working with men for centuries has developed an easy relationship. The best approach to training this bird dog, is motivational methods. Any form of aggression would hurt their tender feelings, but pack leadership should be established beforehand.
Italian Spinones are large, rugged-looking and have a long head. They have a thick skin and dense, wiry coat that can be solid white, white with orange markings, and white with brown markings, among others. Males can stand 26 to 28 inches at the shoulder and weigh 75 to 86 pounds. Females can stand 24 to 28 inches at the shoulder and weigh 70 to 80 pounds.
These hunting dogs are naturally cautious, which is why they must be trained to socialize early. It’s a good thing they’re gentle, upbeat and extremely intelligent, making them easy to train. They also have great strength and stamina, which is needed to cover a huge land area when hunting. The only difference with an Italian Spinone from other gun dogs is that they move at a relax trot rather than run at great speed.
Like most large-sized bird dogs,Italian Spinones also have hip dysplasia. Bloating can also occur, although it’s not something alarming. What is worrisome is a deadly hereditary condition known as Cerebellar ataxia (CA) or abnormal gait that is associated with a problem in a certain part of the brain. Puppies that have CA have parents that are both carriers. The level of activity that an Italian Spinone enjoys depends on the location. Indoors, they can keep up with low to medium activity, while outdoors it’s medium to high. They love to jog, play and go for walks daily. A Italian Spinones average life span is between 8 and 9 years.