14 italian dog breeds from italy petrage
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14 Great Dog Breeds from Italy

Italy is a country known for its delicious food, rolling hills, and ancient ruins. But did you know it’s also home to some of the world’s best dog breeds? From the energetic Italian Greyhound to the muscular Mastiff, there’s a perfect pup for everyone in Italy. Here are 14 of our favorite Italian dog breeds. Enjoy!


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.


2. Cane Corso

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The Cane Corso (Italian pronunciation: [ˈkaːne ˈkoːrsɔ]) is an Italian breed of large-sized dog that is an excellent guard dog and gets its name from the Latin word “Cohors”, meaning guardian or protector. It has been used in the past to hunt wild boar, but today it is primarily kept as a companion animal. The Cane Corso was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club in 2010.


3. Italian Greyhound

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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.


4. Lagotto Romagnolo

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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 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.


5. Maltese

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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

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The Neapolitan Mastiff is an ancient breed that has served as a watchdog, hunter, herder, and defender of property for the past 2,500 years. Bred by Italian nobility, these massive dogs are known to be fiercely loyal to their owners but can be aggressive with strangers. The breed takes its name from the Neapolitan area of southern Italy where it’s thought to have originated.


7. Maremma Sheepdog

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The Maremma Sheepdog is a large breed of livestock guardian dog that originated in the Italian peninsula of Magra. These dogs are also known as “Ovechka” or “Maremanni-Ciobanesc Romanesc” and were almost driven to extinction during World War II. Fortunately, this devoted breed survived and today it’s on the verge of becoming a fully recognized dog by major kennel clubs.


8. Spinone Italiano

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The Spinone Italiano is a versatile hunting dog that shares much in common with the wire-haired pointing griffon breeds from Germany and Holland. Bred by noblemen from Piedmont and Liguria, the breed has been around since at least 1860 when it was first described in a treatise by noted art historian and Spinone aficionado, Count Camillo Di Cavour.


9. Bracco Italiano

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The Bracco Italiano is a gifted hunting dog and loyal companion that has been recognized as a distinct breed in Italy since the middle ages. While their exact origins are not clear, many believe they began as a cross between the Egyptian hound and the Mollosus. The breed 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.


10. Cirneco dell’Etna

cirneco dell’etna italian dog breeds

The Cirneco dell’Etna is a primitive dog breed that originated on the Italian island of Sicily. Bred to hunt small game in the dense forests of Etna, this ancient breed has been around since at least 4000 BC. It shares many similarities with other sight hounds such as the Pharaoh Hound but is believed to be far older.


11. Pastore della Lessinia e del Lagorai

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The Pastore della Lessinia e del Lagorai is an ancient breed of livestock guardian dog that originated in the Lessinia and Monti Lessini mountain ranges. The breed was first mentioned in 1666 by Italian scholar Giulio Verancini who recorded stories about this large dog breed protecting local flocks from wolves and bears.


12. Segugio Italiano

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The Segugio Italiano is an Italian breed of hunting dog that comes from the central Apennines. Bred as a versatile hunting dog, this breed was first mentioned by Italian poet Dante Alighieri in 1313 when he wrote about a white and brown dog that was known to have exceptional tracking abilities. They come with two coat varities: the wire-haired Segugio Italiano a Pelo Forte or the short-haired Segugio Italiano a Pelo Raso. (The FCI considers them two distinct breeds),


13. Volpino Italiano

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The Volpino Italiano is a small Spitz breed closely related to the Pomeranian. Accepted colors are red and white. Similar dogs were depicted in Italian paintings in the 1500’s and the first breed standard was written in 1913. They were recognized by the FCI in 1956 and the AKC in 2021.


14. Bergamasco Shepherd

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As with many dog breeds, the exact origins of the Bergamasco are not known. They first appeared in a Milan Dog show in 1891 and were accepted into the FCI in 1956. Genetic studies have linked them to the Bernese Mountain Dog and the Briard. The Bergamasco can reach up to 90 pounds and was/is used to herd both sheep and cattle.

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