Volpino Italiano is a part of the Spitz family of dog breeds. That means they are descendants of the ancient Nordic dogs that first came to life thousands of years ago. This rare dog breed was once extremely popular with Italian nobility and commoners. This breed is related to the famous German Spitz as well as the Pomeranian. Outside of their native Italy, these dogs are also called Italian Volpino. Here are the most important things all future Volpino owners need to know about this breed.
9.5-12 in (24–30 cm)
9-14 lb (4–6 kg)
The Volpino Italiano's Spitz ancestors date back many thousands of years. These Spitz dogs had pointed faces and ears, thick white fur, and a curved tail over their backs. While records are lacking, the Volpino Italiano likely originated in Italy around the 15th century.
The Volpino Italiano was traditionally used as a guard dog on farmyards and in their owners' homes. Their high-pitched barks would alert the property's larger Mastiff-type, either Cane Corso or Neapolitan Mastiff, guard dogs to any unusual behavior or potential intruders, allowing them to react quickly and fight off any threat.
They were valued on farms for their ability to be the “lookout,” as well as the fact that their small stature meant that they didn't take up much space or require much feeding. The breed was also popular among the upper classes, who valued the companionship they provided as well as their elegant appearance.
For unknown reasons, the Volpino Italiano was on the verge of extinction in the 1960s. Only a handful of dogs remained, forcing breed supporters and the Italian Kennel Club to embark on an intensive breeding program to ensure the breed's survival. They never achieved the acclaim of their forefathers and are now a rare find, even in their native Italy, with a worldwide population estimated to be between three and four thousand.
The Volpino Italiano was recognized by the UKC in 2006 as part of the “Northern Breed Group,” and international breeders are currently working hard to increase breed numbers worldwide.
Dog Breed Characteristics
The Volpino Italiano is a plush-furred, small Spitz breed that resembles a Pomeranian or a small American Eskimo Dog. Volpino translates to “fox-like,” and their fox-like appearance is most noticeable in their sharp, narrow face, pointed ears, and wedge-shaped head. They have a prominent black nose and round dark brown eyes that are endearing. Their body is square and compact, with fine-boned and neat limbs. Their furry tail must always be carried on their back.
The Volpino Italiano is perhaps best known for its long, luxurious coat. Their coat should be straight and harsh, with feathering on the hind limbs and tail. Most breed members have white coats, but red coats are also acceptable. A champagne coat is not desirable, but it can be seen and is officially accepted in the show ring. The Volpino Italiano is a small and stylish dog that weighs between 9 and 14 pounds and measures 9 to 12 inches.
The Volpino has a double coat with a soft, dense undercoat and a rough, protective topcoat. The breed's beauty is enhanced by a ruff around the neck and a furry tail.
These dogs are uncommon in the United States. If you find one, it will most likely be completely white, which sets a great contrast to their soft, dark eyes. Their coats are also available in fawn, red, black, and champagne, though these colors are less common.
This typically lively and playful dog adores their family and can also love other people. Volpino, like most Spitz breeds, is wary of people approaching their property and will bark to alert you to their presence. These dogs can be noisy if you don't teach them the command "quiet" early on.
The Volpino is intelligent and adapts well to training. Nonetheless, they frequently prefer to do things their way, and some might even call them stubborn. They’re usually very food-motivated, and they might as well be carrying a sign that says "Will work for food," which is why treats might come in handy during training.
Because of their working-dog heritage, the Volpino can be a high-energy dog. You can channel their energy and intelligence into dog sports such as agility, nose work, and rally. Of course, your veterinarian has to clear your dog of any orthopedic problems or underlying health conditions that may prevent them from engaging in brisk exercise.
Because of the breed’s small size, you might think the Volpino is a good apartment dog. They can be, but only if they get enough exercise every day and aren’t allowed to become a nuisance barker. It's also nice if there's a deck or patio where the dog can sunbathe.
The Volpino is frequently confused with the Pomeranian or the small American Eskimo Dog, but it is a completely separate breed. Volpinos have a slightly larger head than Poms and are larger dogs, in general. All of these breeds, however, are considered high-maintenance. Caring for them is not something that all future dog owners are prepared to do, so keep that in mind before getting one of these dogs. The following are the most critical aspects of Volpino's care.
Because the Volpino sheds quite a bit, they should be brushed once or twice a week, with plenty of petting in between. This part of owning a Volpino is non-negotiable. Especially if you want to remove dead hair and keep it off your clothing and furniture.
You may also want to trim the hair between the pads and toes on the dog's feet to give it a neat appearance. Of course, it's also critical to keep the eyes and ears clean.
The frequency with which you bathe your Volpino is entirely up to you. If your dog spends a lot of time on your furniture, you can bathe them once a week with a gentle veterinary shampoo. The other option is to bathe them only when necessary. Before bathing your dog, make sure you comb out any mats or tangles.
You should think about the health of your Volpino's teeth. Brushing your dog's teeth is the best way to accomplish this. However, this is not always possible, so getting a professional dental cleaning on a regular basis is also a viable option. If the dog's nails do not wear out naturally, clip them. Always use dog-safe nail clippers. In fact, whether we're talking about shampoo, clippers, or treats, you should always use dog-safe products.
While they are undeniably a smart breed, the Volpino Italiano can be stubborn and cheeky, so training may take some time. Their trainer must be firm and always use positive reinforcement techniques to ensure their willingness to participate in the sessions.
This dog responds well to both vocal praise and tasty food treats, so use them liberally during training sessions. Harsh methods should be avoided because they can foster resentment of the trainer and disengagement from the training practice.
Begin socializing your Volpino puppy the day you bring it home. If you do not, the puppy may grow into a shy adult dog. Your puppy is capable of absorbing everything you teach them. Don't wait until they're 6 months old to start socializing them; otherwise, you'll have a more stubborn dog to deal with.
The Volpino thrives on early and extensive socialization. If possible, enroll them in puppy kindergarten by the time they are 10 to 12 weeks old and socialize them as much as possible. However, keep in mind that many puppy training classes require certain vaccines (such as the one that prevents kennel cough). Many veterinarians recommend limiting puppy exposure to other dogs and public places until puppy vaccines (including rabies, distemper, and parvovirus) have been completed. If the puppy has not yet been vaccinated, socialize them with family and friends until the vaccinations are completed.
Because of their small stature and lap dog history, you might think the Volpino Italiano doesn't need much exercise. This couldn't be further from the truth. With such high energy needs, this dog requires a lot of daily exercise and enjoys having a lot of space to run and play. They, too, require adequate mental stimulation and will be grateful for any puzzles and games you provide. They respond well to a wide range of activities. They are eager to participate in agility, nose work, and even small game hunting.
While housing the Volpino Italiano in an apartment is possible, it will only work if they have a suitable outlet for their energy each day. In addition to destroying furniture, the Volpino Italiano will bark incessantly if bored and frustrated by a lack of physical activity.
This is a small dog with a long lifespan and generally good health. Their average lifespan is 14 to 16 years, which is exceptionally long compared to some large breeds. However, the Volpino Italiano is predisposed to a small number of conditions, including:
- Patellar luxation - A medical condition in which the kneecap pops out of place. The problem can range from mild to severe.
- Cataracts - An eye condition in which cloudiness prevents light from reaching the retina, resulting in blurred vision and, in severe cases, blindness.
- Primary lens luxation - A painful eye condition in which the fibers that should keep the lens in place break down and fail to support the lens adequately.
The Italian Volpino is not the world's most popular dog breed. Nonetheless, you should seek out a responsible Volpino Italiano breeder with excellent breeding practices. The overall population of these dogs is small, and they must be carefully bred to avoid potential health problems. The only way to ensure this is to purchase a Volpino from a reputable breeder.
World Dog Finder team