The word Spinone means “very prickly” but whether this refers to the coat or the type of terrain through which the Spinone is expected to hunt, is a matter of conjecture.
Paintings of the Spinone drawn by Andrea Mantegna date back to the 15th century, but the breed standard was not formulated until the 19th century and has been amended periodically until we arrive at what we see before us today.
The Spinone is a large gundog, up to 25˝” for bitches and 27˝” for males at the withers, with a break at the 11th vertebrae giving a unique topline appearance, and they are famous for their kind, almost human-like expression.
They come in two basic colours, brown or orange patches and/or roaning on a white background.
They should be capable of a fast trot on strong oval boned legs and whilst not the swiftest of the HPR breeds, they are noted for their accuracy often finding game that other breeds have missed, their huge spongy noses are second to none for their scenting ability.
The Spinone, like their cousins the Bracco, are a sensitive breed and do not appreciate harsh handling but respond well to firm but gentle persuasion in all aspects of their life.
Many Spinone are inveterate thieves where food is concerned, as a consequence several homes have their fridges padlocked.
While some Spinone will happily settle to kennel life, most prefer to live in, but whatever their living arrangements, they do not thrive without companionship of some sort.
Spinone are generally a robust and healthy breed, however like all breeds there are a number of health issues of which potential owners need to be aware.
All breeding stock in the UK should be routinely screened for Hip Displasia and Cerabella Ataxia and the ISCGB now recommends (as of June 2010) that breeders should take advantage of the Elbow Displasia scheme.
CA is caused by a faulty recessive gene which affects movement. Affected puppies have to be euthanized before 12 months of age which is why testing of all breeding stock is so important. With a careful breeding regime, it is hoped that the condition will be eradicated over the next few years.
Other health issues giving cause for concern are cancer, epilepsy and bloat/tortion, investigations into these conditions are on-going and the ISCGB encourage all owners to report health problems, no matter how trivial.
Spinone also seem to be susceptible to ear infections, notably pseudomonas, but this could be linked with food/skin allergies, as could lip fold infections, commonly known as “cocker mouth”.
Spinone can have dew claws on all four feet, which don’t usually cause problems, unless the owner forgets to trim them occasionally.