The Italian Griffon or Spinone Italiano dog : origins.

The Italian Spinone is one of the best known and loved of Italy's dog breeds.  Here we look at its origins, which in turn give us an insight into its character.

Italian dog breed

The Spinone Italiano  : a dog by any other name ...

The Italian Griffon has more names than he knows what to do with.

His first known name was the 'Braccio Spinoso' or 'Prickly Pointer'. The origins of that name are thought to be because of either his rough, bristle-haired coat, or because he is at home in the very dense and often prickly undergrowth common in Italy.

These days known to most of us as the 'Spinone Italiano' dog (pronounced Spee-no-nay), in Italy he is called 'lo Spinone' (he is an Italian dog breed, after all, so why bother with an additional word when one will do!) and  'Spinoni' (Spee-no-nee) in the plural.

In the English-speaking world he is often just the 'Spin', the Italian Spinone, or occasionally the Italian Pointer.

The Spinone Italiano dog breed : where did it come from?

No-one quite knows exactly where the Italian Griffon first came from but, as with many Italian animals it is likely that he was brought into Italy by Eastern merchants trading across the Roman Empire. 

Those ancient wire-haired ancient dogs were crossed with other breeds to become, in Italy at least, the Spinone Italiano dog.

The French cousin - Cath's sister's Petit Griffon Vendeen, Ruby...

Across Europe different mixes produced very similar dogs : in France, for example, the Petit and Grand Basset Griffon Vendeen have virtually the same features and temperament as their Italian cousin.

Spinone puppies
... and the Italian version :
a Spinone puppy.

The devastation caused in Italy during the second world war had a devastating effect on the breeding programme.

At that point in its history the Spinone appeared on the endangered animals list. The breed survived only because of intense breeding programmes after the war in a couple of well-known Italian kennels.

The Spinone Italiano today.

The Spinone's origins have left some marked advantages which make him one of the most favoured of all Italian animals.

Pedigree dogs often suffer from medical conditions caused by in-breeding. But the Spinone's 'mixed race' breeding make this Italian dog breed one of the hardiest, healthiest and least problematic pedigree dogs available.

The only real medical concern with the Spinone is a condition known as Cerebellar Degeneration or 'Cerebellar Ataxia', a distressing hereditary disease which affects some puppies before the age of twelve months.

The Spin's rough coat, gentle nature and boundless stamina make him the most popular Italian hunting dog breed in Italy today. He can be seen regularly roaming across fields during the autumn and winter hunting seasons, used as a retriever gun dog. 

And although this is classed as a 'rare breed' in America, the breed's lovely, gentle nature means the Spinone Italiano dog is growing in popularity as the best family dog all over the world - often the kindest and most patient member of the family.

And, as this lovely story about the effect of Italian Spinone puppies on family life shows, he's often the one with the best sense of humour, too!

And we should know - because we've got one!

Read the story of Ellie, our Spinone rescue dog and, if you think you might like to rescue a Spinone, read more about how to rescue this Italian dog breed.

Italian dog breed
Our Spinone, Ellie, loves scrubland.