Italian Dog Breeds (Part II)Corey Farrugia
Italy boasts a rich culture, with ancient history and culture. An old Italian proverb states “Whoever loves me, loves my dog”, and as you might expect, Italy’s dog breeds are a beloved part of the country’s rich culture.
The Bracco Italiano, also called the Italian Pointer, is a powerful and athletic dog that was originally bred for hunting. Although their droopy lip gives them a serious expression, these dogs are actually very friendly and adore people. Despite their friendly nature, proper exercise and training is a must for the Bracco Italiano, as they are highly energetic with a strong urge to hunt.
Although it resembles the Pharoah hound, the Cirneco dell’Etna is a much smaller dog. Originally from Sicily, this breed was used for hunting rabbits. It is very tough, able to survive the harsh terrain around Mount Etna. Their small size and friendly temperament means that today they are popular as pets for owners who love active dogs.
The Lagotto Romagnolo hails from the Romagna region. They are a water-retriever breed, but can also be trained to hunt for truffles. The breed has a variable appearance: some dogs have curly coats, other have flat coats. They are usually off-white, brown, or golden, but sometimes have spots or white patches. They are an excellent working dog, though their affectionate nature makes them good pets for active families.
The Levriero Italiano is an ancient dog breed from Southern Italy. This sight-hound has become increasingly rare in recent times, as hunting with guns is more popular. They are medium-sized and affectionate, and their hunting prowess means that are still cherished in the South.
The Leveriero Sardo is an exceptionally rare breed of sight-hound from the island of Sardinia. Only 100 dogs are left, kept by a handful of dedicated breeders. These dogs are thought to be the descendants of dogs brought to the island in ancient times by Phoenician traders.
The Segugio dell’Appennino is a scent-hound bred for hunting hares. One variant is the Segugio Cravin, a short-haired variety with a robust constitution and a tireless trot. The Piccolo Segugio dell’Appennino is a pint-sized relative of the Segugio dell’Appennino. These hounds are used for hunting hares, but can also rise to the challenge of hunting boars.
The Segugio Italiano is a scent-hound and one of the most popular breeds in Italy. They can track scents with ease, following the trail to capture and kill their prey. They are often used to hunt hare, but are capable of hunting larger game, such as wild boar.
The Segugio Maremmano is a Tuscan breed from the plains of Maremma, bred to hunt wild boar. This breed is very popular, and is robust and even-tempered. They are often black and tan, but brindle and brown are also common colours.
The Spinone Italiano is a hunting, pointing, and retrieving breed. The breed’s ancestors are thought to have originated as long ago as 500 BC. The Spinone Italiano is both friendly and versatile, and has proven itself a competent assistance dog and a beloved companion animal. They have a square build, a wiry coat, and come in a variety of colours.
The Bolognese dog closely resembles the Bichon breeds. Originally from the city of Bologna in Northern Italy, these little dogs are highly social and make excellent pets.
Although the tiny Italian Greyhound is a capable little hunter, they are normally kept as companion animals. These slim, sleek dogs tend to be fragile, and are usually happier in a quieter home. They have the potential to do well in canine agility. Italian Greyhounds also seem to enjoy lure coursing, which taps into their strong hunting instinct and love of running.
Believe it or not, the little Volpino Italiano started out as a guard dog. The Volpino worked in tandem with a Mastiff; the Volpino would bark to alert the Mastiff of intruders. Althugh they are still used as guard dogs today, they are also popular pets due to their cleverness and affectionate characters. They resemble Pomeranians, but are a much older breed, and are less common outside Italy.
The Lottatore Brindisin is a fighting breed from Brindisi. The breed was created by cross-breeding Pitbulls, Cane Corsos, and Rottweilers. This mid-sized dog is muscular and broad, and comes in a variety of colours.
The Lupo Italiano or Italian Wolf-Dog was initially created by Mario Messi, who crossed German Shepherds with wolves. The result was an excellent working dog, now used by Alpine rescue teams to search for avalanche victims. The breed has also proved successful in locating earthquake victims. The Lupo Italiano is typically a shade of cream or grey, with dark markings.