The Spinoni Italiano - In A Nutshell!
By Standfast Spinoni

First of all, it is Spinone (singular) or Spinoni (plural) and never, never, never Spumoni.  No, it does not sound like a ice cream or a dessert.  And no, it is not funny.

The Spinone Italiano is an all-purpose gundog.  The Spinone is primarily a pointer, but it also flushes and retrieves.  The Spinone hunts upland game birds and water fowl and in some parts of Europe it is still used for rabbit and fox.  The Spinone is considered a “feather & fur” hunting dog.

The Spinone is a robust dog as in raw bone and brawn, robust as in depth of chest and spring of rib, robust as in heavily built and husky but never robust due to being overweight. 

The build of a Spinone is square, or almost square.   To be specific, a Spinone is as long as they are tall, from point of sternum to point of buttocks and from the ground to the withers, with an inch of forgiveness in length.

The Spinone has a unique head with its diverging head and muzzle planes that allow the nose to naturally point downward to catch scent while still looking forward to see where it is going.  A Spinone should be allowed to naturally carry its head as it moves out.  

The head is long and lean with an oval skull that tapers at the sides and has a prominent occipital protuberance.  The muzzle should be square when looking straight on versus the triangular shape of many of the hound breeds.  A classic Roman nose is desirable.  Think about Michaelangelo’s sculpture David – classic!

A Spinone has an almost human-like eye.  The eyes are yellowish-brown with the darker eye on darker-colored Spinone and the lighter eye on lighter-colored Spinone.

“That nose and those paws!”  Often-heard exclamations from people first meeting a Spinone.  The nose is large, bulbous and spongy, and the paws are large yet compact.

No, a Spinone is not “swaybacked,” as we Spinone folk have heard so many times.  The Spinone topline has a break at the 11th thoracic vertebrae, about six inches behind the withers.  If you can’t see the break, then feel for it – it’s there!

After the break, the second section of topline rises into a solid loin.  The hipbones then fall away from the spinal column at an angle of about 30 degrees with the tail following the line of the croup, a croup like a horse.  A Spinone tail is carried horizontally or down, never up.  Do not think a Spinone is not a happy dog because its tail is not up, far from it!

A Spinone is different from so many other breeds in that it has shoulders that form approximately a 105-degree angle, pasterns that are slightly slanted, moderate bend of stifle and long hocks that are one-third of the length of the rear leg.  Speaking of hocks, a Spinone’s hocks are also straight, perpendicular to the ground as cowhocks are a fault.

The skin is thick and the coat is harsh and wiry, and they are a main part of what the breed is all about.  The name Spinone comes from the Italian word spino which translates to thorn.  The Spinone coat allows it to get through heavy, thick brush, particularly brush that has sharp, slicing knife-like needles or the ever-so-sticky little seeds as its coat either glides right through or the coat pulls out, staying with the brush rather than the brush coming with the Spinone.  That is also why there is no undercoat on a Spinone; nothing soft and downy to catch and hold them in the brush. 

The Spinone coat should not be soft and fluffy and long nor should it be tight, to the skin.  The ideal coat is 1 ½ to 2 ½ inches in length with a tolerance of a half inch under or half inch over the designated length.  Measure out two inches, say, with your thumb.  Two inches is right in the middle of the 1 ½  to 2 ½ inch coat length per the breed standard.  Two inches it is not as short nor as long as most seem to think based on what is being exhibited in the show ring.  The legs should form a rough brushy column and never any long floppy fringes, i.e., no fluffy puffy legs. 

The Spinone is the ultimate wash-n-wear dog and should remain in a natural state with just occasional brushing and hand-stripping.  Yes, it does have to be groomed in order to keep that natural look and stripping helps keep a correct coat harsh and wiry.  A Spinone should never be scissored.  To scissor a Spinone coat results in a soft thick coat which defeats the entire purpose of its hunting abilities in harsh and brushy terrain.  

As a hard-working gun dog, the Spinone has an easy pounding trot that goes the distance.  Never fast, but easy and determined.  With its solid underline and minimal tuck-up, a Spinone was not built for speed.  Picture in your mind where the Spinone originates – northwest Italy.  This hunting dog hunted on the foothills and mountainsides of the Italian Alps (think Mountain Goat) and down low in the swampy thick marshes at the base of the mountains.  Speed was not required.  A strong, substantial and unhurried yet steady-going dog was needed and that was the Spinone.

Overall, the Spinone is hunting dog that is not high octane, who will put food on your table and when not in the field loves to be on the sofa right next to you.  

Spinone Italiano Breed Standard
Official Standard of the Spinone Italiano
     General Appearance: The Spinone has a distinctive profile and soft, almost-human expression.  The breed is constructed for endurance. Muscular, vigorous and with powerful bone, the Spinone has a robust build that makes him resistant to fatigue and able to work on almost any terrain; big feet and a two-piece topline give the dog stability on rough ground. The Spinone covers ground efficiently, combining a purposeful, easy trot with an intermittent gallop. A harsh, single coat and thick skin enable the Spinone to negotiate underbrush and endure cold water that would punish any dog not so naturally armored. This versatile pointer is a proficient swimmer and an excellent retriever by nature. The Spinone is patient, methodical and cooperative in the field, and has a gentle demeanor.  
Size, Proportion, Substance: The height at the withers is 23½ to 27½ inches for males and 22½ to 25½ inches for females. Weight: In direct proportion to size and structure of a dog in working condition. Proportion: His build tends to fit into a square. The length of the body, measured from the point of the shoulder to the point of the buttocks, is equal to or slightly greater than the height at the withers. Substance: The Spinone is a solidly built dog with powerful bone.  
     Head: Long, with muzzle length equal to that of the backskull. The length of the head is equal to 4/10 of the height at the withers; its width measured at the zygomatic arch is less than half of its total length. The profile of the Spinone is unusual. The occipital protuberance is well developed, and the upper longitudinal profiles of the skull and muzzle are divergent, downfaced, i.e., if extended, the top line of the muzzle emerges in front of or tangential to the occipital protuberance. A dish-faced muzzle is to be faulted so severely as to eliminate from further competition. The skull is oval, with sides gently sloping from the sagittal suture in a curve to the zygomatic arch. Cheeks are lean. The medial-frontal furrow is very pronounced. 
     Muzzle - Stop is barely perceptible. Bridge of the muzzle is straight or slightly Roman. Square when viewed from the front. The width of the nasal bridge measured at its midpoint is a third of its length. The upper lips are rather soft and are rounded in front. The lower profile of the muzzle is created by the lower line of the upper lip.  
     Eyes - A soft sweet expression is of paramount importance to the breed. It shall denote intelligence and gentleness. Ochre (a soft golden brown) in color, darker eyes with darker colored dogs, lighter eyes with lighter colored dogs. The eyes are large, almost round, well opened, and set well apart on the frontal plane. The lid fits the eye closely.  The eye is neither protruding nor deep set. Eye rim is clearly visible and will vary in color from flesh colored to brown depending on the color of the dog. Loose eyelids must be faulted.  Disqualification - Walleye (an eye with a whitish iris; a blue eye, fisheye, pearl eye).    
     Nose - Large, bulbous and spongy in appearance with a rounded upper edge. Nostrils are large and well opened. In profile, the nose protrudes past the forward line of the lips. Pigment is a rosy flesh color in white-and-orange dogs, brown in brown-and-white or brown-roan dogs; in solid-white dogs, it can range from flesh colored to brown.
Disqualification - Any pigment other than described or total depigmentation of the nose. 
     Teeth - Jaw is powerful; at mid-length, the sides of the mandible are very lightly curved. Teeth are positioned in a scissors or level bite.  Disqualification - Overshot or undershot bite.  
     Ears - Almost triangular in shape with a slightly rounded tip, they are set on a level with the eye; long, but not more than 2 inches below the line of the throat; pendulous, carried close to the head and with little erectile power. The leather is fine, covered with short, thick hair mixed with longer sparser hair, which becomes thicker along the edges. The forward edge is adherent to the cheek, not curled, but turned back on itself.  
     Neck, Topline, Body: Neck - Strong, thick, and muscular, clearly defined from the nape, blending into the shoulders in a harmonious line. The length of the neck shall not be less than two-thirds of the length of the head. The throat is moderate in skin with a double dewlap.  Chest - Broad, deep, well-muscled and well rounded; extending at least to the elbow. The ribs are well sprung. The distance from ground to the elbow is equal to ½ the height at the withers. 
     Back - The topline consists of two segments. The first slopes slightly downward in a nearly straight line from the withers to the eleventh thoracic vertebra. The second rises gradually and continues into a solid and slightly convex loin without rising above the withers. The underline is solid. It is almost horizontal in the sternal region, then ascends only slightly towards the belly; there is minimal tuck-up.  Croup - Wide, well-muscled, long. The hipbones fall away from the spinal column at an angle of about 30 to 35 degrees, producing a lightly rounded, well filled-out croup.
     Tail - Follows the line of the croup, thick, with no fringes. The tail is carried horizontally or down, flicking from side to side while trotting. The tail is customarily docked to a length of 6 to 10 inches. The structure and carriage of an undocked tail are consistent with those of a docked tail.  
      Forequarters: Shoulders - The shoulders are strong, well-muscled, long and well laid back; they are capable of moving freely and form an angle with the upper arm of approximately 105 degrees. The tops of the shoulder blades are not close together. The upper arm is of equal length to the shoulder blade. Angulation of shoulder is in balance with angulation in the rear. 
     Forelegs:  The forelegs are straight when viewed from the front, with strong, oval bone, well-developed muscles and well-defined tendons; elbows are set under the withers and close to the body.  Pasterns are long, lean and flexible, following the vertical line of the forearm. In profile, they are slightly slanted.  Feet - Front feet are large, compact, rounded, with well-arched toes which are close together, covered with short, dense hair, including between the toes. Pads are lean and hard with strong nails curving toward the ground, well pigmented, but never black. Dewclaws may be present.  
     Hindquarters: Thighs are strong and well-muscled, stifles show good functional angulation, lower thigh to be well developed and muscled with good breadth. The distance from the point of the hock to the ground is about one-third of the height at the withers, and the rear pastern is strong, lean and perpendicular to the ground. Feet - The rear foot is slightly more oval than the forefoot, with the same characteristics. Dewclaws may be present on the inner side of the rear pastern.  
     Skin: The skin must be very thick, closely fitting the body. The skin is thinner on the head, throat, groin, under the legs and in the folds of the elbows, where it is soft to the touch.  Pigmentation is dependent upon the color or markings of the coat.
Disqualification: Any black pigmentation.  
     Coat: A Spinone must have a correct, harsh, single coat to be of correct type. There is no undercoat. The ideal coat length is 1½ to 2½ inches on the body. The hair is shorter on the head, ears and along the top of the muzzle and front sides of legs and feet. The hair on the backsides of the legs forms a rough brush, but there are never any fringes. The eyes and lips are framed by long, stiff hair forming eyebrows, mustache and beard. The coat is coarse, dense and rather flat.  The Spinone is exhibited in a natural state, in accordance with his function as a field dog.  
     Color: The accepted colors are: Solid white, white and orange; orange roan with or without orange markings; white with brown markings, and brown roan with or without brown markings.  The most desired color of brown is a chestnut, "monk’s habit" brown, however, other shades of brown are acceptable. 
Disqualification - Any black in the coat, tri-color in any combination, tan points or any color other than accepted colors.  
     Gait: He has a free, relaxed trot, geared for endurance. This trot, with intermittent gallop, allows the Spinone to cover maximum ground with the least amount of effort. Profile of the topline is kept as the dog trots.  
     Temperament: Sociable, docile, affectionate and patient.  Faults: Any departure from the foregoing points constitutes a fault which when judging must be penalized according to its seriousness and extent. Any characteristic that interferes with the accomplishment of the function of the Spinone shall be considered a serious fault.  
     Disqualifications:  Walleye (an eye with a whitish iris; a blue eye, fisheye, pearl eye.)  Any pigment other than described or total depigmentation of the nose.  Overshot or undershot bite.  Any black pigmentation.  Any black in the coat; tri-color markings in any combination, tan points or any color other than accepted colors  
     Approved August 14, 2018.  Effective January 1, 2019