14 Great Dog Breeds from Italy

14 italian dog breeds from italy petrage

What are the characteristics and temperaments of Italian dog breeds?

Italian dog breeds are known for their loyalty, intelligence, and versatility. They often have a strong work ethic and excel in various tasks such as herding, hunting, and guarding. Additionally, Italian dog breeds are typically affectionate and make great companions for families and individuals.

1. Bolognese

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The Bolognese is a toy dog breed of ancient origin that belongs to the Bichon type. This small white dog has been around since at least 400 AD when they accompanied the Bolognese merchants on their travels. The name of the breed is an anomaly because they have never been popular in Bologna, but were more common around Cremona and Parma. For many centuries these little dogs were only kept by a few noble families as cherished pets to be shown at high-class occasions such as weddings. Today the Bolognese is recognized by all major kennel clubs. They are considered a breed that is compatible to many allergy sufferers. They are small breed that weighs 10 pounds or less and reaches a height of 12 inches.

2. Cane Corso

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The Cane Corso is a magnificent breed of dog that combines size, strength, and intelligence. With its origins rooted in ancient Rome, the Cane Corso has a rich history as a guardian and protector. Its name, derived from the Latin word “Cohors”, meaning guardian or protector, perfectly encapsulates its role as a faithful and vigilant companion. While it was originally utilized to hunt wild boar, today the Cane Corso is primarily kept as a loyal and loving family pet. Recognized by the American Kennel Club in 2010, this breed is known for its protective nature and remarkable trainability. Weighing in at over 130 pounds and standing at an impressive height of 28 inches, the Cane Corso commands attention wherever it goes. Whether serving as a steadfast guardian or offering companionship to its human family, the Cane Corso truly embodies the essence of strength and loyalty.

3. Italian Greyhound

italian greyhound italian dog breeds

The Italian Greyhound is the smallest of all dog breeds mentioned in this list. It’s believed that these dogs were brought to Italy by Phoenician traders around 700 BC and was later adopted by Romans who prized them for hunting small game such as rabbits. The breed became recognized by the AKC in 1886. These sensitive dogs are a bit aloof and are happiest when they are with family. This toy breed can weigh up to 14 pounds and stand 15 inches in height. All coat colors are acceptable except black and tan.

4. Lagotto Romagnolo

lagotto romagnolo italian dofg breeds

The Lagotto Romagnolo is a curly haired dog breed that’s believed to have originated in the Romagna province of Italy. The breed shares many similarities with the Portuguese Water Dog but little is known about its actual origins. In the local dialect of the Romagna region, the word “lagotto” means duck dog. This is because the Lagotto Romagnolo was originally bred as a gun dog used to retrieve game from the water, particularly ducks. Their wooly, curly hair is naturally water resistant, making them well-suited for this task. In an effort to save this endangered breed, a small group of Italian dog lovers organized as the National Club of Lagotto Romagnolo Breeders and developed their own breed standard which was approved (provisional) by the Federation Cynologique Internationale in 1995. They are a medium sized dog that can reach 20 inches in height and about 40 pounds in weight.

5. Maltese

maltese italian dog breeds

The Maltese is a toy breed of dog that takes its name from the island nation off the coast of Italy. The breed has been around since at least 400 BC when Greek document referred to a “small white dog” belonging to the island’s residents. The Maltese is considered one of the most ancient dog breeds and was even associated with royalty in ancient times, including English monarchs Henry VIII, George II, and Victoria.

6. Neapolitan Mastiff

neapolitan mastiff italian dog breeds

The Neapolitan Mastiff is an Italian dog breed with a rich history dating back 2,500 years. Bred by Italian nobility, these magnificent dogs have served as watchdogs, hunters, herders, and defenders of property throughout the ages. Their loyalty to their owners is legendary, and they can be wary of strangers and exhibit aggression if they sense a threat. Named after the Neapolitan region in southern Italy where they are believed to have originated during the Roman Empire, these giant dogs can reach weights of over 150 pounds and stand an impressive 31 inches tall. Their short coat comes in shades of grey, black, brown and brindle adding to their distinctive appearance. Above all else, the Neapolitan Mastiff is known for its unwavering loyalty and protective nature.

7. Maremma Sheepdog

maremma sheepdog italian dog breeds

The Maremma Sheepdog is a large breed of livestock guardian dog that originated in the Italian peninsula of Magra. These dogs, also known as “Ovechka” or “Maremanni-Ciobanesc Romanesc”, are still very much a working dog in Italy, serving as a protector of his herds of sheep, fearlessly facing down wolves and the occasional passing car. The breed is named for the Maremma area of Tuscany, but they are prized by shepherds all over central Italy. Fortunately, this devoted breed survived and today it’s on the verge of becoming a fully recognized dog by major kennel clubs. They can weigh over 100 pounds and reach a height of 29 inches and have a long, white coat.

8. Spinone Italiano

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The Spinone Italiano is a hunting dog that has a long history. Developed by noblemen from Piedmont and Liguria, this breed has been around since at least 1860. Count Camillo Di Cavour, an esteemed art historian and Spinone enthusiast, first described the breed in a treatise during this time. The Spinone Italiano shares many similarities with the wire-haired pointing griffon breeds from Germany and Holland, making it a versatile and adaptable hunting companion. With their sturdy build and endurance, these dogs can withstand any terrain. They are large in size, weighing over 80 pounds and reaching a height of up to 27 inches. Their rough and harsh coat comes in a beautiful white color with markings ranging from orange to chestnut brown. They are known to be very patient and sociable.

9. Bracco Italiano

bracco italiano italian dog breeds

The Bracco Italiano is thought to be one of Europe’s oldest pointing breeds, a kind of gundog used for finding game. It is believed to have originated in northern Italy as far back as the 4th or 5th century BC. While their exact origins are not clear, many believe they began as a cross between the Egyptian hound and the Mollosus. The breed was then mixed with regional Italian dogs to arrive at the Bracco as known today. The official breed standard was accepted by the FCI in 1956 and the AKC in 2022. They are large, athletic dogs that weigh up to 90 pounds and reach 27 inches in height. The Bracco Italiano has a short coat that comes in solid white, white with orange or white with brown markings. In terms of temperament, they are known to be very intelligent, enthusiastic and highly trainable.

10. Cirneco dell’Etna

cirneco dell’etna italian dog breeds

The Cirneco dell’Etna is a unique and ancient dog breed that hails from the rugged island of Sicily, Italy. This primitive breed shares a close kinship with the Pharaoh Hound, but stands as a smaller, more compact version of its larger relative. With a history dating back to at least 4000 BC, the Cirneco dell’Etna has been honed and perfected over centuries to excel at hunting small game in the dense forests surrounding Mount Etna. Known for its grace and elegance, this breed possesses the agility and speed necessary to track down rabbits and hares with precision and efficiency. Standing at a height of up to 20 inches and weighing up to 28 pounds, these dogs have a short coat that comes in all shades of tan. They are known to be a friendly, affectionate breed that is somewhat independent.

11. Pastore della Lessinia e del Lagorai

pastore della lessinia e del lagorai italian dog breeds

The Pastore della Lessinia e del Lagorai is an Italian breed of livestock guardian dog with a long history. Originating in the Lessinia and Monti Lessini mountain ranges, this ancient breed has been protecting local flocks from wolves and bears since at least 1666, as recorded by Italian scholar Giulio Verancini. As one of the five Italian herding breeds, the Pastore della Lessinia e del Lagorai is a large dog, reaching heights of around 26 inches and weights of up to 80 pounds. Their distinguishing feature is their long, weather-resistant coats, which come in shades of grey and black. Despite their incredible attributes, this breed remains extremely rare outside of Italy and is not recognized by any major kennel clubs.

12. Segugio Italiano

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The Segugio Italiano is an Italian breed of hunting dog that originates from the central Apennines in Italy. This versatile and intelligent scent hound has a long and storied history, with references dating back to the 14th century when Italian poet Dante Alighieri mentioned a white and brown dog with exceptional tracking abilities. The Segugio Italiano comes in two coat varieties: the wire-haired Segugio Italiano a Pelo Forte and the short-haired Segugio Italiano a Pelo Raso, which are considered two distinct breeds by the FCI. Regardless of coat type, these dogs are known for their trainability and intelligence. They can reach heights of up to 24.5 inches and weigh around 62 pounds, making them sturdy and capable hunting companions. Their short coat can come in all shades of fawn or black and tan with white markings.

13. Volpino Italiano

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The Volpino Italiano is a small Spitz breed that shares a close relation to the Pomeranian. These small dogs come in two accepted colors, which are red and white. They can reach a maximum weight of 16 pounds and stand at a height of 12 inches. Known for their energetic nature, alertness, and unwavering loyalty, the Volpino Italiano makes for an excellent companion. Interestingly, similar dogs were depicted in Italian paintings as far back as the 1500s, demonstrating their long-standing presence in Italian culture. The first breed standard for the Volpino Italiano was established in 1913, highlighting its significance and recognition within the dog community. The breed was recognized by the FCI (Fédération Cynologique Internationale) in 1956 and more recently by the AKC (American Kennel Club) in 2021.

14. Bergamasco Shepherd

bergamasco shepherd italian dog breeds

The Bergamasco Shepherd is a unique Italian dog breed in the herding group. While the exact origins of this breed are not known, they first gained recognition in a Milan Dog show in 1891. Since then, they have been accepted into the FCI in 1956 and by the AKC in America in 2015. Genetic studies have revealed that the Bergamasco is linked to other breeds such as the Bernese Mountain Dog and the Briard. Known for their strength, protectiveness, and a touch of stubbornness, these dogs can reach up to 90 pounds in weight and 23.5 inches in height. Historically, they were used as herding dogs for both sheep and cattle. With their unique coat and distinctive personality traits, the Bergamasco is truly a one of a kind breed.

Dog Breeds from Italy – Final Thoughts

The rich history and diverse landscape of Italy have given rise to a variety of unique and fascinating dog breeds. From the loyal and protective Cane Corso to the elegant and regal Italian Greyhound, Italian dog breeds showcase both beauty and functionality. Whether you are looking for a companion, a working dog, or a show-stopper, there is an Italian dog breed that can fit your lifestyle and preferences. So, if you are considering adding a new pup to your family, don’t forget to explore the world of dog breeds from Italy. With their distinct characteristics and captivating personalities, these Italian dog breeds are sure to bring joy and companionship into your life.

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