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Spinone Italiano: What's Good About 'Em, What's Bad About 'Em

Spinone Italiano temperament, personality, training, behavior, pros and cons, advice, and information, by Michele Welton, Dog Trainer, Behavioral Consultant, Author of 15 Dog Books

Italian Spinone dog breed

The Spinone Italiano Club says: "Everything about this breed suggests great strength."

Kind and patient in the home, the Italian Spinone is a serious, tireless hunting machine in the field.

Though he looks gruff, rather like a wise old grandfather, the Spinone is happy and playful, even clownish.

Youngsters can be restless and require lots of attention, but adults are calm and laid-back, as long as they are given sufficient daily exercise, including swimming if possible. Remember that this is a hunting breed, not an apartment decoration.

This sweet-natured dog needs lots of early exposure to people and strange sights and sounds. When well socialized, he may turn out quite friendly or remain a bit cautious, yet poised.

Most Spinoni get along well with other animals, especially other dogs. Some individuals have a higher prey drive and will pester cats.

The Spinone Italiano has an independent mind and can be stubborn, but this is not a dominant dog who needs (or who can withstand) strong-arm training methods.

He can be a jumper and digger, so make sure fences are secure. Some individuals drool a bit, especially around food and water.

If you want a dog who...

  • Is large and sturdy, a tireless hunting machine, methodical and efficient rather than fast or flashy
  • Loves the great outdoors and thrives on vigorous exercise and athletic activities
  • Is steady-tempered and dependable with everyone – a decent watchdog, but not a guard dog
  • Gets along well with other dogs

A Spinone Italiano may be right for you.

If you don't want to deal with...

  • Vigorous exercise requirements
  • Destructiveness when bored or not exercised enough or left alone too much
  • A distractable mind of his own – tends to ignore calls and commands when an interesting sight or scent catches his attention
  • "Shaggy dog syndrome," i.e. debris clinging to the coat, water soaking into the beard and dripping on your floors
  • Slobbering and drooling, especially around food and water
  • Waiting lists (hard to find)

A Spinone Italiano may not be right for you.


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In this brand new series, I'll help you decide which dog breed traits would best suit you and your family, your home and yard, and your lifestyle, so you can choose the best dog breed for your family.

Keep in mind that the inheritance of temperament  is less predictable than the inheritance of physical  traits such as size or shedding. Temperament and behavior are also shaped by raising and training.

FREE eBooks by Michele Welton

dog icon"Respect Training for Puppies"  and "Teach Your Dog 100 English Words"  are free step by step guides to teaching your pup to be calm and well-behaved.

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  • You can avoid some negative traits by choosing an ADULT dog from an animal shelter or rescue group. With an adult dog, you can easily see what you're getting, and plenty of adult Spinoni have already proven themselves not to have negative characteristics.
  • If you want a puppy, you can avoid some negative traits by choosing the right breeder and the right puppy.

More traits and characteristics of the Spinone Italiano

If I was considering an Italian Spinone, I would be most concerned about...

  1. Providing enough exercise and mental stimulation. Spinoni Italiano need regular opportunities to vent their energy and do interesting things. This breed was never intended to be a casual pet. You should be willing to take him hiking and swimming and to get involved in hunting, or tracking, or agility (obstacle course), or some other canine activity that provides an outlet for his "hardwired" desire to run and work.

    If you don't provide enough physical and mental exercise AND a good deal of companionship, the Spinone may express his unhappiness through destructive chewing and barking.

  2. Prey drive toward smaller animals that run or fly. The Spinone Italiano is usually fine with other dogs. But most individuals have strong instincts to chase cats, squirrels, birds, and other fleeing creatures. Remember that this breed is a hunting dog.
  3. "Shaggy dog syndrome." Like all shaggy dogs, the Spinone Italiano is a messy dog. Leaves, mud, snow, fecal matter, and other debris cling to his rough coat and end up deposited through your house. When he drinks, his beard absorbs water, which drips on your floors when he walks away. When he eats, his beard absorbs food so that when he sniffs your face or presses his head against your leg, YOU end up dirty, too. Big shaggy dogs are not suited to fastidious housekeepers. The Spinone sheds, too, just so you know.
  4. Slobbering. Some Spinoni tend to slobber or drool, especially after eating and drinking.
  5. Mind of their own. The Italian Spinone has a good nature and wants to please, but all hunting dogs also have an independent mind of their own. The Spinone can be stubborn, and even if not, he is easily distracted by exciting sights, scents, and sounds. You must show your Italian Spinone, through absolute consistency and great patience, that you mean what you say.

    In other words, you must teach your Spinone Italiano to respect you. A dog who respects you will do what you say and will stop what he's doing when you tell him "No." Follow my free online training programs.

Michele Welton with BuffyAbout the author: Michele Welton has over 40 years of experience as a Dog Trainer, Dog Breed Consultant, and founder of three Dog Training Centers. An expert researcher and author of 15 books about dogs, she loves helping people choose, train, and care for their dogs.

My best-selling books – now available  FREE  on my website

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book coverTeach Your Dog 100 English Words is a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will teach your adult dog to listen to you and do what you say. Click here to read for free.
book cover11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy helps your dog live a longer, healthier life. Get my honest advice about all 11 Things before you bring home your new puppy, because some mistakes with early health care cannot be undone. Click here to read for free.

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