If you have read any of the information Erin worked up on Pointers you’ll realize that we know what we are talking about when it comes to the breeds we have here at Birdsboro. Erin spent a lot of time and effort on those wonderfully informative pages and I (Kyle) would love to work up that much info about Spinoni, but at the same it’s not really that necessary. So here is the lowdown on Spinoni… they’re great. I suppose that’s not enough information huh?
Here’s my take on these awesome dogs:
Spinoni or Spinone? This can get a little confusing if you are looking for more info about Spinoni. The answer is rather simple, it’s all in the language. Like many languages other than English, plurality is determined by the vowel at the end of the word. So, Spinone is the singular spelling and pronunciation and Spinoni is the Plural. Spinone is pronounced spinona with a long a. Spinoni is pronounced with a long e sound at the end. Besides grazi and si, this is the only Italian that I know. Well maybe some of the words on those bottles of Italian wine also count.
One last point on the name. Spinoni owners of ten get that dreaded question, “Is that one of those Spumoni’s?” or some variant of the statement, “I love those Spumonis.”. Well, owners and/or breeders are used to hearing things like these and it doesn’t anger us, but when the Spinoni world starts to make inside jokes about it you know it is a prevalent mispronunciation. I have never and do not know of any owner or breeder responding in a negative way to a question or statement like that, because we are used to hearing it. Spumoni is ice cream and Spinone is a type of Italian birddog. Just practice the name before you go meet the parents at the breeders house.
Stubborn, soft, laid-back, lazy, energetic, trainable and exploratory are all goods words to describe the Spinoni. There are plenty more, but I’ll get down to their demeanor before you get bored with me.
Their activity level is not what you may expect from a birddog. You may hear people describe them as lazy, but that is not totally true. It is true once they’re down, you need bulldozer to move them and don’t dare let them sleep in your bed unless you’re a yoga star and can flex around that gigantic hairy furnace. In all seriousness though I would describe their activity level as fairly relaxed in the house, but plenty willing to play outside and when it is time to go hunting, they will hunt all day. Keep in mind we have lots of dogs at or house and I’m sure raising our Spinoni with the pointers has made them somewhat more active of Spinoni, but then again I do not have a control group to prove this. I will tell you that they were much more laid back puppies than any of the Pointer puppies that I have seen come through the house or are part of our family. It also seems that the Pointers are always the ones to get the Spinoni off of the floor. Both the Pointers and Spinoni are willing to hang out outside all day on occasion when the weather is nice. They all like to explore every nook and cranny of our three acres, but then again they are often passed out under a tree or sunbathing.
As described above Spinoni are one of those types of stubborn dogs that like to explore and would much rather work with you than for you. As such they can be walked on a leash but are much happier off-leash where they have leaned to listen to you.
Children are always an important topic with regards to dogs. In general Spinoni are great with kids. Especially considering the YouTube videos Baby vs. Spinone and Baby vs. Spinone Again. Both Saffron and Larch are great with our child Killian. Larch has taken a special interest in her and goes out of her way to say hi to Killian all of the time. If she sees Killian crawling, she will go out of her way to cut her off and flop over, belly up, in front of her. She also lets Killian ride on her back and hold her hair or collar!
Physical Characteristics (excluding color/coat)
One of the most striking components of the Spinone is the beard. Lots of hairy dogs have beards, but the Spinone beard is almost too human like. Although cute there is one caveat to the beard and that is that it tends to get messy and make messes. So if you don’t like wet beards dripping water all over the place then maybe Spinoni aren’t the breed for you. To watch our dog Saffron drink is quite a spectacle. Saffron likes to dip at least half her muzzle in the water to drink and when she brings her head up she tends to fling the water all over the place. It’s kind of like a five year old finger painting wherever they want except it’s a dogs face. In the summer Saffron waters the lawn around the water trough and in the winter she cleans the basement floor. Let’s put it this way… since the Spinoni have moved in, we no longer keep water in the house (in the winter we keep it in the basement since it freezes outside).
If you look at the profile of a Spinone and think about it, they really don’t fit the bill for what a birddog is supposed to look like. Most birddogs are sleek and flashy looking, even the hairy ones are sleeker looking than the Spinoni. Spinoni are supposed to be down-faced, they’re clunky looking and their hind quarters are higher than their shoulders. This is pretty much the antithesis of what a birddog is supposed to be. This is also why I call them the spare parts dog. It’s one thing that attracted me to the breed. I seem to be attracted to things a little outside of the norm.
Spinoni come in two different colors brown and white (our dog Saffron) and orange and white (our dog Larch). However, they also come in their respective colors with the term “roan”. Roan is simply the term used to describe a Spinoni with lots of ticking that collectively blots out a lot of the white on the dog. Sometimes it looks like the dogs has “permadirt”. Technically both Saffron (brown roan) and Larch (orange and white) are roans, but as far as I can tell there is no clear-cut objective standard for what makes a roan a roan.
As far as coat goes, you will often read that Spinoni have a harsh or coarse coat. Overall this is true. However, some Spinoni feel softer than others. The deal is that white and orange hairs are more wiry than the brown hairs which tend to be just as thick but straighter and smoother. So if you have a Spinone with lots of ticking or large brown patches, like Saffron, that dog will feel smoother than a Spinone that is orange and white, like larch. This is all a mild variation though – a Spinone should NOT have a soft coat, as this is a flaw for the breed for hunting reasons.
Although their coat affords them plenty of protection, the coat also tends to attract burrs with ease. Fall is a fun time for burr removal around here, because the burrs have dried out on the plant and are ready for dispersal from a hairy dog busting through the brush. For the most part Spinoni will remove the burrs themselves from the areas they can reach with their mouths. Of course, they cannot reach their beards! However, if you live in an area with lots of burrs then we recommend using a mat breaker comb. These combs have a series of hooked blades that either cut through the burr to break it up into smaller pieces or they completely remove the burr. Trust me, we have tried many different methods and this is the by far the best way.
Spinoni often get somewhat of a bad rap from from owners of other pointing breeds for their hunting style. Spinoni like many other aspects of their lives are much more reserved and laid back. They take time to enjoy the hunt and are not flashy in any sense of the word. They move more slowly than the other breeds in the field. I appreciate this about Spinoni, because if I were to describe their hunting styles I would describe it as methodical. They are a bit slower in the field, but it makes me other things that are going on in the field other than just trying to find the birds. They’re just not a brazen overly competitive birddog. If you are hoping for a field trial winner, look at another breed. But, they will be great as a hunting buddy, in AKC hunt tests, or in NAVHDA events.
Spinoni don’t just point though. They what is known as a versatile dog. Versatile dogs point, track and retrieve naturally. This means they also make wonderful dogs for hunting waterfowl. Although we don’t hunt waterfowl with or Spinoni we do at least put them through versatile hunting dog tests that test their pointing, tracking and retrieving abilities.
Training a Spinone is very similar to training a Pointer. They both are stubborn and gentle at the same time. As I stated earlier they had much rather work with you than for you and if you try be rough with them and try to train them like a little soldier they just (duplicate word) just won’t perform that well. In fact they’ll probably blow you off and do whatever they want. That is why you can use shock collars with them, but only in certain scenarios and in a very limited capacity. In other words, you can use an electronic collar to HELP you reinforce the training your Spinone, but not TO train your Spinone.
Some more information can be found on the AKC page on Spinoni.