Italian Dog Breeds- TOP 10!
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Italy is, without a doubt, a mandatory destination for those who are interested in the history of our civilization, art, contemporary culture and delicious cuisine! Being a country that has witnessed the apogee and defeat of the Roman Empire, Italy is also known for the number of dog breeds which have originated on its soil.
The Ente Nazionale della Cinofilia Italiana (National Entity of Italian Cinofilia - ENCI) currently recognizes 16 different breeds of Italian dogs. These dog breeds range from small Malteses to giant Neapolitan mastiffs. This beautiful country has gifted the world with very special and striking dogs, known both for their remarkable beauty and strong personality. And this is in addition to their well-developed senses and remarkable abilities.
If you want to find out more about the most popular Italian dog breeds, you’ve come to the right place! Keep reading here at this AnimalWised to find out which breeds of dogs make it onto our top 10 list of Italian dog breeds.
1. Neapolitan mastiff
The Neapolitan mastiff (Napoletano mastino) is a large Italian dog breed. It is a robust dog with well-developed muscles and powerful jaws. Its most striking physical features are the numerous wrinkles and folds that hang off of its head and neck. In fact, this dog breeds also makes it onto our list of: the 5 most wrinkly dog breeds.
Naepolitan mastiffs are known for having an incredibly loyal, but at the same time, determined and independent character. Despite its imposing presence, Neapolitan mastiffs can be very sociable with other dogs. This large Italian dog breed also enjoy playing with children; provided they have been adequately trained and socialized.
Although they are not particularly active dogs, mastiffs require a good dose of daily physical activity in order to manage a healthy weight and maintain a balanced temperament. In addition, these large Italian dogs need a lot of love and attention from their family nucleus. This interaction is incredibly important for their physical, cognitive, emotional and social skills. This large dog breed can become destructive or stressed if they spend too much time alone.
2. Italian Maltese dog
The Maltese bichon is a toy-sized dog that is characterized by its long and white silky mantle. This small Italian dog breed requires regular brushing in order to prevent the formation of knots and tangles. Although it has been officially recognized as an Italian dog breed, the origins of the Maltese are not only associated with Italy. This origin is also linked to the island of Malta and Mljet, in Croatia.
These furry little dogs require constant attention from their tutors, including walks, affection and playing with dog toys. If these dogs are left alone for too long they become prone to separation anxiety and behavioral problems. Therefore, if you are looking for a more independent dog breed, we suggest adopting a different breed or a mixed dog breed. For more about this breed of Italian dog, we suggest scanning over our article on: Common diseases in Maltese dogs.
3. Cane Corso Italian dogs
The Cane Corso, also known as Italian mastiff, is one of the most recognized Italian dog breeds worldwide. It is a medium-to-large sized dog, with a muscular and very strong body. These imposing dogs reveal a well-defined and independent personality, and are very when it comes to protective their territory and family. Therefore, early socialization is essential in making sure that these dogs relate positively with other dogs and people.
Cane Corsos are very athletic and energetic dogs, therefore, they adapt better to a life with active owners and people who enjoy the outdoors. When training a Cane Corso, one needs to be incredibly patient and preferably have prior dog training experience. If you would like to know more about this strong Italian dog breed, we suggest taking a look at: Tips on how to train a Cane Corso.
4. Bracco Italiano dog breed
The Bracco Italiano, also known as an Italian pointer, is an old dog native to northern Italy. Historically, these dogs were used for hunting birds, first with nets and, later, with firearms. At present, the Bracco italiano is one of the most popular dog breeds in Italy, alongside the Spinone Italiano. However, they are not as popular in the rest of the world.
These Italian dogs are strong, robust and resistant. They are known as being excellent companion dogs with a docile nature and a great predisposition to training. Like with all other companion dog breeds, however, they should be trained and socialized correctly in order to adapt well to the life of its human family.
5. Italian Greyhound
The little Italian whippet, also known as Italian greyhound, is the smallest of all the greyhound breeds recognized today. In their adult stage, these dogs do not usually exceed 38 centimeters in height at the withers. They also reach an average body weight of between 2.5 and 4 kilos. However, their bodies exhibit well-developed musculature, which allows them to hit great speeds when running. Did you know that this dog breed is also considered one of the top 5 smallest dog breeds in the world?
Unfortunately, these small Italian greyhounds have undergone a process of selective breeding (dwarfing): mostly between the 19th and 20th centuries. This selective breeding was carried out with the sole purpose of obtaining smaller whippets, with an aim of differentiating them from other similar sighthound breeds.
This selective breeding has had a negative effect on this the health and appearance of the Italian greyhound. Such effects include: dwarfism, reproductive and fertility problems, genetic malformations, weak immune systems, among others. Currently, many professional breeders have dedicated their time and work to reversing these negative consequences, trying to restore this Italian dog breed back to optimal health.
If you find this breed of sighthound dog interesting, we recommend looking at our List of Sighthound Dogs.
6. Bolognese dog: Italian dogs
The bolognese dog or Bolognese bichon, is an Italian dog breed from the bichon family. Its origins lie in the region of Bologna. This small dog usually attracts attention due to its protruding eyes and extremely white and wooly mantle. Although not very popular outside Italy and quite difficult to find, these furry little pups are great companion dogs for people of all ages.
In their family nucleus, Italian bolognese dogs are very affectionate and protective over their loved ones. When they are trained correctly using positive reinforcement, they can be very intelligent and obedient. However, this Italian dog breed tend to be more reserved in the presence of people and animals whom they don’t know. This such circumstance, which can cause nervousness in this breed of dog, can result in barking. Therefore, despite this breed’s small size and docility, the importance of their socialization must not be neglected.
7. Italian shepherd dog breed: Bergamasco Pastor
The Bergamasco shepherd dog is a medium-sized, rustic-looking Italian dog breed. The bermagamasco originated in the Alpine region of Italy. One of its most outstanding and characteristic physical features are the tufts that form from its long, abundant and rough fur (popularly known as "goat hair"). Their big eyes and sweet, kind facial expressions also explain why this dog breed garners such attention.
These dogs are very gentle, versatile, intelligent and predisposed to working. For this reason, they are easy to train. Its popularity as a companion dog has managed to spread to various countries all over Europe. If you love shepherd dogs, you have to take a look at our list of different types of shepherd dogs.
8. Italina dog breeds: Lagotto Romagnolo
The Lagotto Romagnolo is a medium-sized Italian water dog, whose origins and name date back to the region of Romagna, Italy. Historically, they have been used and trained as water retrievers. They were also worked successfully as truffle detectors.
The Lagotto Romagnolo’s most characteristic physical feature is its traditional dense, woolly and curly coat; common of water dogs. This Italian dog is an active and alert breed, with well-developed senses and an excellent vocation for work. Because these dogs hold so much energy and are incredibly intelligent, it means that they also need to be constantly stimulate, both mentally and physically.
9. Maremma sheepdog
The Maremma sheepdog, also known as Maremmano-Abrucense, is an ancient Italian dog breed that originated in the central region of Italy. It is a powerful and imposing dog. It’s large rustic-looking dog breed with abundant white fur. Its physical appearance is very similar to that of the Pyrenees Mountain dog. These dogs were traditionally used to guide and defend herds from predators.
Although this Italian dog breed can adapt to a home routine as companion dogs, they need space to move freely and develop correctly. In addition, these dogs really enjoy and require an predominantly outdoor lifestyle. Therefore, the Maremma sheepdog is not an appropriate dog breed for flats or apartments.
The Italian Volpino is a small-sized spitz dog, with a compact body and well-developed muscles. According to ENCI records, this small Italian dog breed has been very close to extinction. In fact, official hatcheries are working to recover their decreasing population as we speak.
Fortunately, because of they have an incredibly playful, vivacious and loyal character, these little little Italian dogs have regained popularity as companion dogs.
Other Italian dog breeds
As we mentioned in the introduction, the ENCI currently recognizes 16 Italian dog breeds, among which we have selected the 10 most popular dogs to discuss in this article. However, we also want to mention some of the other Italian dog breeds, which are equally as interesting due to their unique characteristics and temperament.
Italian dogs that are also recognized by the National Italian Cinofilia Entity include:
- Cirneco dell’Etna
- Spinone Italiano
- Shorthaired Segugio Italiano
- Wirehaired Segugio Italiano
- Sabueso de Maremma
- Spinone italian dog breeds
If you want to read similar articles to Italian Dog Breeds- TOP 10!, we recommend you visit our What you need to know category.
- Sitio oficial del Ente Nazionale della Cinofilia Italiana. Listado de razas disponible en: http://www.enci.it/libro-genealogico/razze-italiane