Hmmmm...seems to me most Spins can carry a gallon of slobber and water in their beards, can take your kitchen floor from sparkling to disaster in less time than a blink of the eye and will change your life...not bad for an Italian gundog eh?
Living with Spins can be hard on the housekeeping for sure! One shake of that magnificent head and suddenly your ceiling has stalactites of slobber ..not conducive to a home of harmony if you are house proud. So what do they offer by way of compensation, well for a start amusement factor 10 out of 10, this breed are just such jokers! Their human like eyes convey so much mischief and mayhem that you just can't fail to be moved by them. Add to that superb working ability and fabulous loyalty and you'll begin to understand why I love the breed so much
Like many breeds there are health issues and if you are considering buying a Spin I would urge you to visit the Italian Spinone Club of Great Britain's website at www.italianspinone.co.uk there you'll find all the information you need to make an informed choice.
An old soul in a fireside rug would be my description of the Italian Spinone. Far from being derogatory, I hope that you’ll picture the deep, intelligent, knowing eyes of this wonderful breed wrapped round with the shaggy comfort of a dog with nothing to prove.
Living With A Spinone
This is a big dog with a big heart, don't think you can yell at him, you can’t. His world will fall apart, such is the trust that the Spinone places in you as his owner. Training is essential, both from the point of view that you have several kilo of dog on the end of the lead and the bond that will grow between dog and owner.
The Spin loves company, he doesn’t mind if it's a grand family outing or just the two of you, any excuse for a romp! He will tend to hit the ‘rebel without a cause’ stage at about 18 months. He’ll need firm, fair handling through this stage of development. As pups, they can be destructive if sufficient stimulation and training isn’t given, you have been warned! Socialisation with other dogs and humans is a must; he will need to learn all that he can in the first year. All the effort you put into the training and care of your Spinone will be returned in loyalty and companionship a thousand times over; this is a dog that wants to be part of your life.
Grooming is part of training as well as bonding, the daily brush and the check between his toes for seed heads that could lodge in the skin and set up a local infection, should become habit for you both. His long ears need attention; the hair that builds up at the entrance to the ear canal can cause a problem with debris and possible infection deeper in the ear. Regular cleaning and checking will ensure his health.
Barney (Geezer's bro) and owner Janet Bartlett getting to grips with agility!
The Spinone is a robust country dog, long walks and good food are top of his list, and while we're on the subject of food... you may have a thief in your midst when you take on a Spinone, he’s never slow to help himself with great speed and cunning!
There is little difference (apart from the obvious!) between dogs and bitches of this breed. I have found that Dogs tend to be more family orientated as opposed to the Bitches who seem to prefer a one-to-one relationship, this is my personal opinion.
Spinoni have a marvelous vocal range..... from the deep chested bark, sure to scare off any intruder... (even if it does emanate from under the bed), through to the melodic yodeling, no doubt all those years in the Italian Alps assisted in it’s development!
As a companion, the Spin quickly learns your body language and moods. He will react to your emotions almost before you react yourself. Working a Spinone takes on a real sense of achievement, watching this superb hunter flowing over the ground with his mile-eating trot is guaranteed to send shivers up the spine. No matter what the conditions, his ‘four-wheel drive’ conformation carries him with steady grace; he remains purposeful and aware. The trained dog retains the ability to act independently but without recklessness, a pleasure to own and watch.
So, if you want a companion whose almost human eyes will express his every emotion and often reflect yours... If you want a dog that will walk several hours with you in the pouring rain and still be fresh... the Italian Spinone could be for you.
Cerebella Ataxia, referred to as CA has been reported in Italian Spinoni over the last few years. It is a condition affecting the cerebellum, the area that controls movement. It is only seen in young stock, the affected puppies having bizarre gait, sometimes wobbly or high stepping, the movements exaggerated and puppet-like. There is no treatment for this disease. The puppies affected so far, have been put to sleep at 11 to 12 months, when they can no longer tolerate the symptoms. The disease is confined it seems, to one family line. The mode of inheritance through a simple recessive gene. If the parents of a pup are both clear of the gene the litter will be clear. If one parent is affected with a carrier gene for CA, a percentage of the litter will be carriers but no pups will have CA as the disease. It of course follows that should both parents be carriers of the gene, puppies will be affected and be carriers.
Careful consideration must be given when choosing the litter from which your pup will come. Question the breeder as to the status of the pup's parents, especially if you intend to use your dog for breeding. There is now a test for the presence of the indicators that make up CA, at present the test is 98% accurate and the Animal Health Trust , who developed the test, advise that if the intent is to breed from a dog or bitch this year (2008) then the test should be taken, it is hoped that 100% accuracy can be gained by a new DNA test by next year. In my opinion it is irresponsible to breed from a dog or bitch who is a carrier, only by eradicating carrier status animals from a breeding program can we hope to extinguish this problem quickly
Hip Dysplasia, common among several breed of Gundog is also a concern in Spinoni. Hip scoring is, at present, the only way to evaluate the degree of Dysplasia. When buying a puppy, ideally, both parents' hip score should be available. You can then make a decision as to the likelihood of your pup developing the condition in later life. Dogs cannot be Hip Scored before they are a year old. HD is partially an inherited condition but there are also social factors, like exercise and nutrition that can affect the bone formation and therefore the final hip score. The age of the dog at x-ray is also a factor, no dog can be hip scored before 12 months, the hips will deteriorate after this age as is natural.
PSS Liver Shunt. I add this as it seems to me there are several unreported ,to the Breed Club, cases of Liver Shunt, I have personal experience of this horrible condition with my little bitch Tottie (her story can be found in the tails and tales section of this website also on the ISCGB website), once I had made it known that I had an It Spin with the condition many people have come to me within the breed and told of their dogs that have also suffered with this affliction.
With any health issue it is important to record data to ensure that the isolated incidents are just that and not a growing trend.
Skin conditions and allergies seem to plague the Spinone too. Flea allergy is one of the most common; treatment is simple and effective. Allergy to house mites etc: is less common but cases have been reported. Gluten intolerance is on the rise in many dogs, it's often worth testing by trying an exclusion diet if you have an "itchy" dog.
Another factor to consider is the continued use on farmland of chemicals , even in urban areas parks are treated in the spring with chemicals. Itching between the toes and hair loss on the legs and stomach may indicate a reaction to chemicals or even certain plants. I have found a good cooling lotion for these problems is easily made by steeping chamomile flowers or tea bags in hot water overnight, strain and bottle the liquid in a sealed container. use the wash after you return from a walk to all itchy areas .
Early in the history of the breed in the UK, cases were seen of Entropian and Ectropian, both conditions affecting the eyelid of the dog. In the former the eyelid turns in, in the latter the eyelid becomes loose and turns away from the eye. Eye certificates are issued as to the health of an individual dog's eyes. The parents of any litter you are considering would, ideally, have clear eye certificates.
Because the Spin has those glorious webbed feet he is a swimmer of distinction, he just loves the water. Exercise and plenty of it will keep your Spinone smiling. As a youngster exercise should be restricted to allow those sturdy bones to develop without stress.
He likes nothing better than combining work and play, give him something to fetch and he’ll roll back to you time and time again, head in his chest, rumbling in his throat with pleasure that he’s part of a team.