The Spinone Italiano (Italian pronunciation: [spiˈnoːne itaˈljaːno] is an Italian. It was originally bred as a versatile gun dog and is quite capable for that purpose. The Spinone is a loyal, friendly, alert and highly intelligent dog. It is an ancient breed that can be traced back to approximately 500 BC.
It is traditionally used for hunting, pointing, and retrieving game (HPR), but, in addition to that purpose, the intelligent and strong Spinone may be practically anything ranging from an amazing family pet, companion to and proficient assistance dog.
The Spinone has a square build (the length of the body is approximately equal to the height at the withers). It is a strong-boned, solidly built dog with a well-muscled body and limbs that are suited to almost any kind of terrain. The long head and pronounced occipital are unique to the breed. He has an expression that shows intelligence and understanding and is often described as having human-like eyes.
The tail of the working Spinone is customarily docked at half its length (approx 5.5 to 8 inches or 140 to 200 mm from the base of the tail though some Italian Spinones are no longer docked). Even as adults, Spinoni retain disproportionate, puppy-like, webbed paws which make them powerful swimmers.
The coat is tough, slightly wiry, and close fitting. The preferred length is 3.8 to 6.4 cm (1.5 to 2.5 in) on the body; however, the ears, muzzle, head, and parts of the legs and feet are covered with shorter hair. Eyebrows have longer and stiffer hair; longer but softer hair covers cheeks and muzzle, creating a profuse moustache and beard. The Spinone should not have an undercoat. A long, soft or silky coat is undesired and is a sign of excessive grooming.
Acceptable variants are solid white, white with orange markings, orange roan with or without orange markings, white with brown markings, and brown roan with or without brown markings. Pigment of skin, nose, lips, and the pads on their feet should be a fleshy red-orange in white dogs, slightly darker in orange and brown roan dogs. The white and orange coloration is unique amongst the wire-haired gun dogs.
The Spinone Italiano's size is as follows - Height at withers: 60 to 70 cm (24 to 28 in). Weight should be in the correct proportion to size and structure and at 34 to 39 kg (75 to 86 lb).
The Spinone is easy going, docile, and affectionate towards both people and dogs. It is well known for being loving and gentle with children. Its extremely patient nature also helps with this, but children should be taught not to take advantage of this trait. It is loyal to those it knows and still friendly to those it does not. The breed is not known for any aggression, but any dog breed can develop fear aggression if not properly socialized during the "window of socialization" from ages 6 weeks to 14 weeks.
Centuries of working with man as a hunting companion has created a loyal, intelligent dog that is easily trained, although some can be stubborn about performing a learned task if they see no point in it. Because they are sensitive, motivational training works best for this breed, as this gentle dog's feelings can easily be hurt when handled incorrectly.
The Spinone can be a very active breed, but it is not a racy dog like most other hunting breeds. The Spinone typically moves at the relaxed trot that is characteristic of the breed. It has often been called the perfect dog to run or jog with, because it will not run off in front and leave its human companion struggling to keep up as it prefers the slower pace itself. It can be more than happy in a small yard and does not necessarily need acres of land. The small garden combined with regular walks would suit a Spinone well.
In his Camera degli Sposi (15th century), Andrea Mantegna depicts a Spinone, Rubino, as a symbol of loyalty. The dog is visible on the left, under the throne of its owner, Ludovico III Gonzaga, Marquis of Mantua.
The breed is believed to have been developed in the Piedmont region of Italy. As the Spinone is a very ancient breed (it is believed to be one of the oldest gun dogs in existence), it is not known exactly what the origins of the breed are; there are many different theories.
Some people familiar with the history of the breed claim that the Spinone descended from the now-extinct Spanish Pointer, whilst others claim that it was the ancient Russian Setter that is responsible for the breed we know today. Popular folklore is that Greek traders brought coarse-haired setters to Italy during the time of the Roman empire, where the dogs were then crossed with various others and the modern Spinone eventually emerged.
During the Second World War, the Spinone became close to extinct. Both the war and the fact that Italian hunters had begun using other breeds (such as setters, pointers, and spaniels) in the hunt, whereas before it was primarily the Spinone.
The breed was not officially known as "Spinone" until the early 19th century. Before then, some areas knew the breed as the "Spinoso". The breed may have been named after an Italian thorn bush, the spino, which was a favorite hiding place for small game because for larger animals it was practically impenetrable. Only thick-skinned, coarse-haired animals could fight through the branches unharmed to locate the game. The Spinone was the breed most capable of doing so, and, perhaps, therefore the name was formed.
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