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Volpino Italiano

The Volpino Italiano is the classic small dog with a big personality.  They are affectionate, gentle and above all fearless.

They are curious and playful while still protecting their family.  Their loyalty is unmatched, and one can see why historically these dogs became so popular both to royalty and the common man in Italy. 

They are an energetic, active breed but don't require as much exercise as you might expect.  The Volpino Italiano can excel in dog sports if that's something of interest to you.  Agility, nose work, and rally are three good choices for this breed. 

The Volpino Italiano is a type of Spitz dog that resembles the Pomeranian, Japanese Spitz, American Eskimo, and German Spitz Klein very carefully and if fact, it takes a right eye to see the differences.

White PomeranianWhite Pomeranian
German Spitz KleinGerman Spitz Klein
American Eskimo DogAmerican Eskimo Dog
Volpino ItalianoVolpino Italiano

The Volpino Italiano is a Spitz-Type Dog

Although each of the dogs above bare a close resemblance, they are all distinct dogs. The spitz breeds are a group of ancient dogs often called the northern breeds.

They likely originated in the Arctic or Siberia judging by their thick double coats, but wherever they started out, the climate was frigid. 

Spitz dogs have many physical traits in common such as pointed ears and muzzles that resemble a fox.  All have thick plumbed tails that they carry over their back and double coats.

The Volpino Italiano and the Pomeranian:  Similarities and Differences

The Volpino Italiano resembles a white or black Pomeranian, but are somewhat larger than the Pom with a height of 9 to 11 inches (25 to 30 cm) and weigh between 9 and 12 pounds. (4.08 to 5.44 kg). 

Both breeds have the classic Spitz features of triangular ears, thick double coat, plumbed tail, and similarly shaped muzzle.

Quick Facts

Other Names Used:  Italian Pomeranian, Italian Spitz, Florentine Spitz, Cane di Firenze, Volpino, Vulpino Romano, Cane del Quirinale, (Romano and Quirinale refers to ancient Roman past)

Victorian authors have also used the term "lupette" or lupetties' - meaning, small wolf. 

Affiliation:  UKC, FCI, AKC declined admittance because they felt these dogs were too much like the Pomeranians.

Size

     Height:  10-12 inches (25-30 cm)

     Weight:  8 to 12 pounds (3-5 kg) 

Coat Type:  Harsh outer coat and soft inner coat with hair that sticks out from the body;  straight and very fluffy

Colors:   The most common is white, but they can also be black, champagne, fawn, honey, red, sable

Country of Origin:  Italy

Activity Level:  Active

Litter Size:  3-5 puppies

Life Expectancy:  14-16 years

Good with Children: Good with older children but may not be safe around very young children

Good with other pets:  

Personality/Temperament

TraitsRating
Playfulness
Affection Level
Friendliness Towards Strangers
Good with Children
Good with Other Dogs
Good for First Time Owners
Exercise Needed
Ease of Training
Watch Dog Ability
Grooming Requirements
Shedding
Cold Tolerant
Heat Tolerant

Dog Breed Ratings Got You a Little Confused?
Here's a little help in understanding them

  • Playfulness:   Most Playful = 5    Least Playful = 1
  • Affection:  Most Affectionate = 5   Least Affectionate = 1
  • Friendliness Towards Strangers: Most Friendly = 5  Least = 1
  • Good With Children:  Great= 5    Not Good with Children = 1
  • Good With Dogs:  Great = 5   Not Good Around Dogs = 1
  • Good With First Time Owners:  Fine=5  Not Appropriate = 1
  • Exercise Required:  Extensive Daily Exercise = 1  Minimal = 1
  • Ease of Training:  Very Easy = 5     Difficult = 1
  • Watch Dog:  Excellent Watch Dog = 5  Minimal = 1
  • Grooming:  Time Consuming = 5   Minimal = 1
  • Shedding:  Heavy Shedder = 5     Minimal = 1
  • Cold Tolerance:  Well Tolerated = 5   Poor Tolerance = 1
  • Heat Tolerance:  Well Tolerated = 5  Poor Tolerance = 1

This is a loyal, affectionate breed that bonds quickly with the members of his family.  As a good family pet, they aren't as clingy as some other breeds and often do not suffer from Small Dog Syndrome the way others do. 

They get along reasonably well with other pets including cats.

Are Volpino Italiano Dogs Good with Children?

They are very playful and curious making them ideal for families with children.  Due to their small size, supervision is always necessary when small children are interacting with this breed.

So this breed is perfect for families who have respectful children who can gently handle them.

Are These Dogs Good For Apartments?

While the size of these dogs lends themselves nicely to apartment life, their barking tendencies may make them unsuitable.  They are by nature excellent watch dogs and will frequently bark if there is much activity going on outside their window. 

Barking can be a problem to close neighbors, but it is a behavior that can be modified with time.  Teaching the command, "Quiet" at an early age will help him control some of the tendency to bark.

How Much Exercise Does these Dogs Need?

The Volpino Italiano is an energetic breed that is active both indoors and out.  Even with all of that energy, they can get by with frequent play periods and a short walk or two daily. 

They are adaptable and will begin to take on the characteristics of their family, so some are more active than others depending on the activity level of the owners.

Is it Easy to Train a Volpino?

Just like all dogs, a puppy can begin training the day you bring him home.  He will need early socialization and manners training to help him become accustomed to your home rules.  House Training should begin early too, and consistency will help speed up the process.  Puppy kindergarten classes also also worthwhile and teach not only basic skills but also provide additional socialization opportunities.

They are very smart and learn quickly.  A positive approach is always the best way to train a puppy and voice commands, or clicker train can work very well. 

The negative side of a highly intelligent dog is his ability to outsmart you.  Sometimes stubborn, other times just clever, you will need to be alert to any tricks he'd like to train you to do.

History

The spitz type of dog has been in existence for at least 5000 years dating back to the Stone Age. Early people found them very useful for a wide variety of tasks and soon domesticated them to pull sleds, guard flocks, serve as watch dogs and companions.

Anthropologists have found specimens in the foundation piles of European lake dwellings dating back to 4000 BC.  Engravings and bits of pottery artwork have been located in Greece and dated to 400-470 BC.

As humans migrated, they took their dogs and the Spitz type dogs spread into Europe and North America.  The original ancient spitz type dogs became the foundation for many of the dogs we know today including the German Spitz, Keeshond, Pomeranian, American Eskimo, and Japanese Spitz. 

As an authentic Italian breed, these dogs have enjoyed a lifestyle of companionship to the royalty.  Peasants, artists including Michelangelo and merchants also found fancy with these dogs.

From pulling carts to guarding the merchandise, travelling merchants found them useful.  Farmers found favor in their ability to awaken the sleeping mastiffs who were supposed to defend the livestock.   

Italian shepherds and goat herders relied on them to guard their flocks, and as mentioned earlier, these dogs keep Michelangelo company while he worked on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

During the Roman Empire, these dogs became favorite companions of the ladies who provided them with ivory bracelets and jeweled collars of Italy. During a holiday in Florence in 1888 Queen Victoria of England became captivated by the breed's appearance, and from then on, the breed was named the Florentine Spitz.

Despite the popularity in Italy, by the mid 20th century only a handful of these dogs were registered with the Italian Kennel Club (ENCI).  Ten years later, people thought that the dogs had become extinct.

Much of the decline can be traced to the political situation of the day. The Monarchy was abolished, and people lost interest in dogs that were primarily those of nobility.

Another factor leading to the declining numbers was the development of the Pomeranians in England.  Through downsizing, the Pom nearly replaced the Volpino Italiano because everyone prefered the smaller sized dog.

In 1984, the ENCI began a program to restore the breed.  While they are still scarce even in Italy, their numbers are increasing there and in other European countries.

In the U.S. this breed is not recognized by the AKC, but they are regstered by the UKC and FCI.

Coat & Grooming

Despite his thick double coat, the Volpino Italiano does not require the kind of extensive care that you may expect.

They do shed, usually seasonally so additional attention to the coat during times of shedding will be required. Sometimes even daily brushing during these times will be necessary.  Frequent brushing will help keep hair off of your carpets and furniture. Bathing during this time with a good shampoo will also help with the shedding.

Otherwise, he will need weekly brushing to assure that the undercoat does not mat.  The best type of brush to use is a pin brush and metal comb.  You will also want to invest in a slicker brush, a dematting comb, and detangling spray.

Bathe when dirty but too frequent bathing can rob the coat of natural oils and make the hair very dry.

The hair between his paw pads continues to grow so that will need to be trimmed to prevent longer hairs from becoming matted.   They also have a tendency to track in mud and dirt especially the white dogs.  A soft rag or moistened wipe can get the dirt off quickly.

Ears should be checked weekly and cleaned if necessary with a good ear cleaner.  If there is a bad odor, there is a likelihood of an infection, and a vet should be called.

Teeth should be brushed weekly, and nails trimmed every couple of weeks.

Health Concerns of the Volpino Italiano

The Volpino is a healthy breed that can live 14 to 16 years. As with other dog breeds, there are a few genetic conditions that have been identified including Primary Lens Luxation, painful genetic eye disease, and Patellar luxation, a problem with the kneecap.

You can avoid some problems by searching for a reputable breeder that screens for some genetic diseases.  With that said, genetics has a way of tricking us so even the best breeders will have puppies that develop inherited diseases.  A good health guarantee at the time of sale will help protect you should anything go wrong.

Other than genetic problems, puppies need to be protected through vaccinations and wormings. Protection from external parasites and heartworm disease is also essential.

A high quality balanced diet will also keep your puppy healthy Generally small dogs need approximately 25 to 30 calories per pound per day, and this usually works out to 3/4 to 1 cup daily divided into two meals depending on the type of food.  Puppies will need 3 meals per day.

For the Volpino Italiano Lover

     Pros of Living with A Volpino Italiano

  •  Playful, loving, intelligent
  •  Good with older children
  •  Easy to train
  •  May be a good choice for apartment dwellers

     Cons:

  •  Sheds year round
  •  A Very active breed that needs an energetic owner
  •  Amazing escape artists
  •  Cannot be left alone all day with consequences
  •  Not good for families with very young children

Did You Know...

  • Michelangelo had one of these dogs as his pet and you can see a portrait in the Sistine Chapel paintings.
  • On a holiday to Florence Italy,  Queen Victoria obtained a couple of Volpino Italiano in 1888.

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