The 10 MOST CLASSIC BREEDS OF ITALIAN DOGS

Updated on April 16, 2023

Pizza and spaghetti aren’t the only things Italy is known for; the country is also renowned for its historical civilizations, iconic landmarks, fashion, and even animal pals! Some Italian dog breeds rival the sophistication of Italian clothing in terms of their refined demeanour.

The variety of Italian dog breeds is astounding. Hardy herding dogs that traverse the alps, powerful defenders, and even some handsome handbag-sized hounds whose main duty is to look cute. We’ve compiled a list of some of the most well-known Italian dog breeds to demonstrate the wide range of appearance, size, and character that can be found in a single country.

HOW MANY ITALIAN DOG BREEDS ARE THERE?

These are the 16 Italian dog breeds that have been officially recognised by the ENCI (Italian Kennel Club). To wit:

Shepherd Bergamasco
Bolognese
An Italian Bracco
The Cane Corso Cirneco dell’Etna
Spinone (Italian)
Maremma Lagotto Romagnolo Sheepdog
Maltese
Neopolitan Mastiff
Alps’s Apennine Valley
Shorthaired Italian Dialect
Wirehaired The Italian Dialect
Italian: Segugio Maremmano
Iblei Spino
Volpino
However, the exact count of Italian dog breeds differs depending on whom you ask. For instance, the Segugio Italiano and the Volpino are not recognised by the UK Kennel Club but are by the AKC.

Some dog breeds have very limited, regionally concentrated populations and are therefore not recognised by any national or international kennel association. Alternatively, St. Bernards are occasionally mistaken for Italian rather than Swiss. The sum of all these dogs would bring the overall number of Italian dog breeds to 22.

Saint Bernard Cane Paratore Levriero Sardo Oropa Shepherd Dog Pastore della Lessinia e del Lagorai

10 ICONIC ITALIAN DOG BREEDS

VOLPINO

The Volpino, also known as the “Volpino Italiano,” is a beautiful spitz breed. There’s a size gap between the Pomeranian and the Japanese Spitz, yet they share a similar appearance.

Despite their lovable appearance, Volpinos are actually high-energy dogs who prefer running through an agility course over napping in your lap.

In the twentieth century, small numbers of these cute canines may be found in their native Italy and the United States thanks to the efforts of dedicated fanciers. Puppies are hard to come by in this country since they aren’t recognised by the Kennel Club.

Comparisons between breeds
10-16 years of age, 26-31 centimetres tall, 3.5-7.5 kilogrammes.
Characteristics: vivacious, caring, and devoted

MALTESE

Although the Maltese port dog has a long history there, its name derives from the word for “port,” where it was common for little dogs to go around and catch mice. It’s hard to believe that this spoiled dog, with its long, white hair, ever worked as a pest control expert.

The Maltese has traditionally been bred to be the “comforter” of royal women and is better renowned for this role than for any other. But you don’t have to be a member of the nobility to take home one of these adorable dogs. Their big, expressive eyes, cute black button nose, and friendly demeanour make them a challenge to resist.

Comparisons between breeds
Measurements: between 17 and 23 centimetres
Less than 3 kg
12- 15 year lifespan
Kind, amiable, and a lot of fun to be around.

BOLOGNESE

This version of Bolognese doesn’t even include spaghetti! The Bolognese, sometimes known as a “Bolo,” is an Italian nationality with its roots in the Bologna area. Dogs like the Bichon Frise and the Maltese are its close relatives. White-coated puppies were also much sought after as pets among the wealthy in the Mediterranean, just like their canine kin.

The Bolognese almost became extinct because of the rise in popularity of other dog breeds like Pugs.

Because of their timid nature and lack of alertness, Bolo lapdogs are not as popular as other types of lapdogs. Nonetheless, they make loving and faithful pets, and many people who are allergic to dogs find that these beautiful white dogs aren’t a problem. It’s not surprising that this dog, who has spent ages in opulence, prefers to nap on the couch.

Comparisons between breeds
25-30 inches tall, 2-4 kg, and 12-14 years old.
Temperament: placid, loving, and mild

ITALIAN GREYHOUND

The Italian Greyhound is probably the most well-known of all Italian dog breeds, and for good reason: few dogs are as stylish or sweet as this famous canine. (Not the least because it’s right there in their name!) Keeping Greyhound-like dogs dates back thousands of years, and this regal breed has been the constant companion of artists and aristocracy for decades.

Given their diminutive stature and versatility, Italian Greyhounds are popular pets. Their endearing timidity further adds to their allure.

Comparisons between breeds
33-38 cm tall, 3-7 kg
Age at death: 14-15 years
Characteristics: Sensitive, kind, and watchful

ITALIAN SPINONE

An Italian Spinone can look like either a Labradoodle or a Wirehaired Pointer. The Italian Spinone, on the other hand, stands apart from the pack as an exceptional pet and working gundog.

The Spinone is an endearing breed of dog because of its lovely human-like countenance and untidy eyebrows and moustache. Additionally, they are unexpectedly unmotivated and sluggish, given their work ethic and experience. Thankfully, these fluffy dogs will typically get up and go when asked because they are so devoted and ready to please their owners.

Comparisons between breeds
5’5″ to 6’9″ tall, 34-39 lbs., and 10-12 years old.
Having a docile, friendly, and patient personality.

LAGOTTO ROMAGNOLO

The Lagotto Romagnolo, with its round, fluffy coat, resembles a Cockapoo, and these curly dogs are just as adorable and goofy.

Duck hunting is when they got their thick, curly, waterproof coat. However, as swamps were drained, they were put to use sniffing out truffles with their keen sense of smell.

Although they are hard workers, Lagottos are easy to love thanks to their cuddly appearance and jovial demeanour. They’re quickly gaining popularity as pets because of their trainability, affection, personality quirks, and hypoallergenic coat. Because they are a generally robust and long-lived breed, you and your furry friend might be able to spend over two decades together as best buddies.

Comparisons between breeds
A 40-48-centimeter adult should expect to weigh 13-16 kilogrammes and live 15-17 years.
Characteristics: Aggressive, Caring, and Obligatory

BRACCO ITALIANO

The Bracco Italiano has been admired by aristocrats and hunters for generations due to its high level of dignity and refinement as a gundog. However, Braccos were not officially recognised in the UK until the 1990s, despite the fact that they are one of the oldest pointing breeds in Europe.

These dogs, bred for hunting, require regular vigorous activity and mental stimulation. But with the right amount of enrichment, these dogs may be quiet and obedient at home.

Similar to other working dogs, they get along well with humans and are simple to train. Furthermore, Braccos get along well with both children and other dogs, making them a good candidate for the role of family pet in an energetic household.

Comparisons between breeds
Five-three to six-nine inches tall, twenty-five to forty-one inches heavy, and ten to fourteen years old.
Characteristics: outgoing, vivacious, and bright

BERGAMASCO SHEPHERD

Few people could correctly identify a Bergamasco Shepherd if asked to name an Italian dog breed, but this old sheepdog is instantly recognisable. Because of their naturally dreadlocked fur, Bergamascos were bred to herd and defend livestock in the harsh weather of the Italian Alps.

Although they were originally designed to herd sheep in the harsh alpine conditions of the Alps, these dogs are friendly and gregarious, and they get along well with both children and other pets. This sturdy and healthy canine is content to go about their own own and requires little in the way of attention, yet they also have a strong sense of autonomy.

Fortunately, Bergamascos are also loving and eager to please, so they can be a wonderful companion as long as they have something to do.

Comparisons between breeds
13-15 years of age, 55-50 centimetres tall, 25-38 kg.
Characteristics: Freethinking, Reasonable, Caring, and Protective

CIRNECO DELL’ETNA

Elegant in appearance, the Cirneco dell’Etna was developed on the island of Sicily for the purpose of hunting rabbits and hares in the area surrounding Mount Etna. The Cirneco is closely related to the larger Pharaoh Hound and looks like a tiny version of them. Coins depicting dogs resembling the Cirneco date back to 500 BC in Sicily.

These canines have excellent vision, a sharp sense of smell, and a keen ear thanks to their movable, pin-straight ears that act like miniature radar antennas. And they’re lightning fast, to boot!

Sleek hounds may be made for speed, but not endurance, so they enjoy a good nap when they get the chance. The Cirneco is the perfect companion dog—elegant, tiny, loyal, and kind. It gives the Italian Greyhound a run for its money.

Comparisons between breeds
Stature between 42 and 41 centimetres, kilos between 7 and 12
12- 14 year lifespan
Personality traits: open, self-reliant, and vigilant

NEAPOLITAN MASTIFF

The dangerous Neapolitan Mastiff is a direct descendant of the ferocious war dogs used by the Romans and Mesopotamians, formidable canines that were just as at home hunting big game and guarding villas as they were battling gladiators.

In spite of their intimidating appearance, Mastiffs are actually giant softies at heart. Mastiffs are reliable and devoted family pets, and they are fiercely protective of their human pack. They have a lot of wrinkles and saggy skin, so you know they’re not too threatening. Fans of the Harry Potter films will recognise the name “Fang” as that of a Neapolitan, Hagrid’s large but timid hound.

Comparisons between breeds
Those between 61 and 78 inches tall and 49 and 64 kilogrammes would be ideal.
Expected lifespan: 7–9 years
Quiet, vigilant, and devoted character traits

 

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