The Spinone (pronounced Spee NO nay or Spee NO nee) is of medium size with males ranging from 23.5 to 27.5 inches at the withers, weight averaging 65 to 85 lbs. Females are comparably smaller at 22.5 to 25.5 inches at the withers, weight ranging from 55 to 75 lbs.
Accepted colors are white; white with orange markings; white with orange hairs intermingled throughout the coat with or without orange markings (orange roan); white with brown markings; brown roan with or without brown markings. The coat itself is hard, more coarse than wiry, and thick and should lie rather close to the body. It may be lightly crimped (waved), which most are, but should never be actually curly. The length of the coat should be from 1.5 to 2.5 inches on the body, shorter on the ears and top of head. Longer hair forms the eyebrows, whiskers and beard. The coat should never be excessively short, long, or woolly.
The Spinone is truly an ancient breed with written references as long ago as the second century A.D. In fact, additional descriptions of bristle haired Italian pointing dogs trace back as far as 500 B.C. According to Italian Spinone breeder Paolo Sacchetti, extensive written references to the breed exist from the mid thirteenth to fifteenth centuries and several Italian artists spanning the 15th 18th centuries depicted the Spinone in their works. In the same Gun Dog Magazine article, Sacchetti points out that the Spinone has remained essentially unchanged from the original type and those traits that impressed hunters in centuries past are still very much present. Their distinctive hunting style and physical characteristics are well fixed within the breed so that a hunter selecting a Spinone from sound stock can be reasonably certain that the dog will develop true to form.
The Spinone is a not a big running, hard headed bird dog. Instead they hunt close, checking back with the hunter at regular intervals. They are more likely to slow down and stalk birds rather than slamming into a point. This relaxed attitude coupled with strong natural instincts and tractability make the Spinone an ideal hunting companion for someone hunting at a leisurely pace in restricted cover.
The same characteristics that make the Spinone an ideal hunting companion also make it an ideal family pet. Easily trained in acceptable behavior, these dogs are a joy to live with. This is a people oriented breed, requiring maximum human interaction. It is NOT a breed that can be put in the kennel and forgotten except for feeding time.
The dog's characteristic expression has been compared to that of a "good natured grouch". The Spinone is a natural clown, fun loving and willing to go to extremes for a laugh when not actively engaged in work. A natural retriever, or "carrier" as we refer to them, they nearly always have something in their mouths. Not to chew, just to carry. They have a very "soft" mouth, able and willing to carry birds, eggs, or anything else without damage.
The Spinone is very docile in nature and yielding to authority. While it is naturally cautious of strangers and strange situations, excessive shyness is a serious fault. Efforts must be made to properly socialize your Spinone puppy . The socialization process is a continuing one so you will want to include your dog in activities both at home and away. Approach the world with a positive attitude and your dog will too. Constant exposure to the outside world will result in a well adjusted, gregarious creature ready to greet the world with a happy face and a wagging tail.
Speaking of faces, the Spinone may greet you with a wet one, especially if it's just had a drink. The beard is a great indicator of where the Spinone has been: in the mud, water bucket, or dinner. Of course, you could cut the beard off but you will be taking away one of the distinctive characteristics of the Spinone. We recommend and use the towel method for our house dogs. One even brings us a towel, knowing that her face is offensive! Let me emphasize here that the Spinone is not typically what one would consider a "wet mouthed" breed; they do not walk around in a constant state of drool.
The Spinone makes an excellent obedience dog, learning quickly. Training is accomplished with a minimum of effort and correction. This is not a breed that takes well to harsh training methods whether you are training for the field, obedience, agility, or just a good companion. Firmness and fairness are the key to successful training of a Spinone. Those methods will ensure a happy worker that will do anything within their power to please you.
Being submissive in nature, the Spinone does not make a guard dog. They are quite willing to sound the alarm but will then leave the actual force to a higher authority, YOU. Be assured, their BIG bark would deter most intruders but don't depend on more than a bark from them.
The Spinone is a relatively long lived dog (10+ years), so a commitment to involve one in your life should be considered long term. Of course, a number of factors may enter into the life span such as health problems, accidents, etc. Though there are some, the Spinone is relatively free of hereditary problems. It can be, as are most breeds, affected with hip dysplasia. You will want to investigate the status of the parentage before purchasing a dog.
These dogs are highly adaptable and are quite willing to share their lives with nearly all creatures. They get along well with humans both large and small, cats, other dogs, and livestock. They will, however, tend to point and chase (and sometimes catch) birds. All in all, they are among the most agreeable creatures on earth.
So, if you want a dog that is highly trainable in a variety of areas and are willing to spend the time to train patiently, you may want a Spinone. If you decide on a Spinone, you must be willing to live with a dog that is very submissive and needs to be a constant companion and will, more than likely, not protect you. Constant companion may be defined as (among other things) helping dig holes for flowers, cook dinner, put the children to bed, and even check behind the shower curtain to make sure you didn't go down the drain. There is almost no limit to their willingness to be involved in whatever you are doing whether it's a walk in the woods or just sitting back eating popcorn and watching television.
Contrary to what some people will tell you, the Spinone is not the perfect dog for everyone. Good luck in your search for that perfect dog for you. Remember, don't be afraid to ask questions and be prepared to answer quite a few yourself.
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