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Top 12 Best Italian Dog Breeds: Discover Italy’s Canine Treasures

best Italian dog breeds

This article will unveil the top 12 most popular Italian dog breeds, their characteristics, history, and what makes them great companions.

Italy has a rich history, art, fashion, and delicious food. But did you know Italy is also home to some of the world’s most popular and unique dog breeds?

What Are the Top 12 Best Italian Dog Breeds?

#1. Italian Greyhound

Italian Greyhound

The Italian Greyhound is a small and elegant Italian dog breed originally bred for hunting small game. With an average height of 13-15 inches and weight of 6-10 pounds, they have a sleek and delicate appearance, with a short and shiny coat that can come in various colors, such as black, blue, red, and fawn.

Italian Greyhounds are known for their affectionate and gentle nature and are adaptable to apartment living. They make great companions and are good with children.

Italian Greyhounds can become highly attached to their owners, making them more prone to separation anxiety. Due to their small size, they may be prone to health issues and require special care, such as protecting them from extreme temperatures.

Italian Greyhound: Breed Overview
  • A small, intelligent dog with an average height of 13-15 inches and weight of 6-10 pounds.
  • A sleek and elegant appearance, with a short and shiny coat that can come in various colors, such as black, blue, red, and fawn.
  • Initially bred for hunting small game, the Italian Greyhound is the ideal companion dog due to their affectionate and gentle nature.
  • These small animals are adaptable to apartment living and are good with children.

#2. Cane Corso

Cane Corso

The Cane Corso is a large and muscular Italian dog breed initially bred as a guard dog for hunting. With a short and thick coat that can come in black, gray, and fawn colors, they have a powerful and athletic build and are known for their loyalty and protective nature. Another popular name for Cane Corso is Italian Mastiff.

While they are independent and require early socialization and training, Cane Corsos can make great family pets and are often fiercely devoted to their owners. They need regular exercise and mental stimulation, making them a good fit for active households.

Cane Corso: Breed Overview
  • A large breed, with an average height of 23-28 inches and weight of 88-120 pounds.
  • They are known for their powerful and athletic build, with short, thick coats that can come in black, gray, and fawn colors.
  • Originally bred as a working dog for farmers, the Cane Corso was used to hunt large game, such as wild boar, and guard livestock. With their muscular build, powerful jaws, and strong prey drive, Cane Corsos are well-suited to hunting.
  • Require early socialization and training.

#3. Mastino Napoletano (Neapolitan Mastiff)

Popular Italian dog breeds: Mastino Napoletano

The Neapolitan Mastiff is a large dog breed initially bred as a guard dog. With an average height of 24-31 inches and weight of 110-150 pounds, they are known for their massive size, large head and wrinkles, and short and thick coat that can come in blue, black, and mahogany.

Despite their size, Neapolitan Mastiffs are known for being calm, patient, and loyal. They are often described as gentle giants due to their friendly and affectionate nature. They are very protective of their family.

This “gentle giant” requires regular exercise, socialization, and early training to ensure they do not become aggressive or overprotective. With their massive size and strength, they are not recommended for first-time dog owners or households with small children.

The Neapolitan Mastiff is an ancient breed, believed to be one of the oldest Italian dog breeds, dating back to ancient Rome.

Neapolitan Mastiff: Breed Overview
  • A giant breed with an average height of 24-31 inches and weight of 110-150 pounds.
  • They are known for their massive size and wrinkles, with short and thick coats that can come in blue, black, and mahogany colors.
  • Originally bred as guard dogs, they are now loyal family pets due to their protective and calm nature.
  • Require regular exercise and socialization.

#4. Lagotto Romagnolo

Lagotto Romagnolo

The Lagotto Romagnolo is a medium-sized Italian dog breed originally bred as a hunting dog to retrieve waterfowl. With an average height of 16-19 inches and weight of 24-35 pounds, they are known for their curly and waterproof coat, which comes in shades of white, brown, and orange.

Lagotto Romagnolos are intelligent, active, and popular family pets due to their gentle and friendly nature. They are great with children and other pets and are highly adaptable to different living situations. However, due to their curly coat, they require regular grooming to prevent matting and maintain their unique appearance.

Lagotto Romagnolo: Breed Overview
  • A medium-sized breed, with an average height of 16-19 inches and weight of 24-35 pounds.
  • The Lagotto, also referred to as the “Italian water dog”, was originally bred as a water retrieval dog, but now serves as a skilled truffle hunter in Italy. It is believed to be the forefather of all water dogs and numerous other breeds. One of its distinctive traits is its curly and waterproof coat, which can be found in white, brown, and orange hues.
  • Originally bred as hunting dogs to retrieve waterfowl, they are now famous as a family pets and are great with children and other pets.
  • Require regular grooming to maintain their curly coat.

#5. Spinone Italiano

Spinone Italiano

The Spinone Italiano is a large Italian dog breed originally bred as a versatile hunting dog. With an average height of 22-27 inches and weight of 61-85 pounds, they are known for their shaggy and wiry coat, which comes in various shades of white, orange, and brown.

This dog breed is friendly, affectionate, and patient, making them a popular family pet. They are also highly adaptable and can excel in hunting, therapy work, and dog sports. However, they require regular exercise and grooming to maintain their coat and prevent matting.

Due to their size and energy level, they are best suited for households with plenty of space and time for daily exercise.

Spinone Italiano: Breed Overview
  • A large breed, with an average height of 22-27 inches and weight of 61-85 pounds.
  • They are known for their shaggy and wiry coats, which come in shades of white, orange, and brown.
  • Originally bred as versatile hunting dogs, they are now popular family pets due to their friendly and gentle nature.
  • Require regular exercise and grooming to maintain their coat.

#6. Bracco Italiano

popular Italian dog breeds: Bracco

The Bracco Italiano (also known as Italian pointer) is a large and muscular Italian dog breed originally bred as a versatile hunting dog. With an average height of 21-27 inches and weight of 55-88 pounds, they are known for their athletic build and short, smooth coat that can come in colors such as white and orange.

Bracco Italianos are affectionate, loyal, and friendly, making them great family pets. Interestingly, the Bracco Italiano was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 2020 and is now part of their Sporting Group.

Bracco Italiano requires a lot of exercise and mental stimulation and is highly adaptable to different living situations, including apartment living. However, due to their hunting instincts, they may require early socialization and training to prevent chasing behavior or aggression toward other animals.

Bracco Italiano: Breed Overview
  • A large breed, with an average height of 21-27 inches and weight of 55-88 pounds.
  • They are known for their muscular and athletic build, with a short and smooth coat that can come in colors such as white and orange.
  • Originally bred as a versatile hunting dogs, they are now a popular family pet due to their affectionate and loyal nature.
  • Require regular exercise and early socialization.

#7. Bergamasco Shepherd

Bergamasco Italian dog breed

The Bergamasco Shepherd is a breed of dog that originated in the Italian Alps (, specifically in the region of Bergamo. The breed is known for its unique coat, which comprises long, matted hair that forms loose mats, or “flocks,” that come in shades of gray to black.

Bergamascos were traditionally used as herding dogs and were known for their ability to handle the Alps’ rough terrain and harsh climate. They are loyal, intelligent, and independent and make great family pets for those who have the time and patience to provide the necessary grooming and exercise.

Due to their unique coat, Bergamascos require regular grooming to prevent matting, and their coat also helps protect them from the cold and damp mountain climate.

In recent years, the Bergamasco Shepherd has gained popularity outside of northern Italy and has been recognized by various dog organizations. While they are still a rare breed, their unique appearance and friendly nature have made them a popular choice for those looking for a unique and loyal companion.

Bergamasco Sheperd: Breed Overview
  • Average height: 22-24 inches (56-60 cm)
  • Average weight: 57-84 pounds (26-38 kg)
  • Bergamasco Shepherds have a medium-sized, muscular build with a heavy bone structure and a thick, matted coat that comes in shades of gray to black.
  • Their unique coat comprises three different types of hair that form loose mats, or “flocks,” that can reach up to 10 inches (25 cm) in length.
  • They have a large head with a broad forehead and a strong jaw, and their ears are floppy and hang close to the head.
  • They have a friendly and affectionate temperament, are known for being calm and patient, and are intelligent and independent.

#8. Cirneco dell’Etna

Cirneco dell'Etna

The Cirneco of Etna is a small and athletic Italian dog breed initially bred for hunting in the rocky terrain of Mount Etna in southern Italy. With an average height of 16-20 inches and weight of 18-27 pounds, they are known for their short and shiny coat, which comes in shades of tan and chestnut.

Cirneco dell’Etna is a high-energy, intelligent, and affectionate small dog, making them a great family pet. They require regular exercise and mental stimulation and excel in various dog sports, such as agility and obedience.

Cirneco dell’Etna: Breed Overview
  • A small and athletic breed, with an average height of 16-20 inches and weight of 18-27 pounds.
  • They are known for their short and shiny coats, which come in tan and chestnut shades.
  • Originally bred as a hunting dogs, they are now a popular family pet due to their high energy and affectionate nature.
  • Require regular exercise and mental stimulation.

#9. Pastore della Maremma (Maremma Sheepdog)

famous Italian dog breeds: Pastore della Maremma

The Maremma Sheepdog is a large Italian dog breed initially bred as a herding dog. With an average height of 23-28 inches and a weight of 65-100 pounds, they are known for their thick and white coat and muscular and sturdy build. Maremma Sheepdogs are loyal, independent, and protective, making them excellent guard dogs and family pets.

They are calm and patient with children and other pets and require early socialization and training to prevent aggressive behavior. They need regular exercise and mental stimulation and are highly adaptable to different living situations, including apartment living.

Due to their thick coat, they may require regular grooming to prevent matting and maintain their appearance.

Maremma Sheepdog: Breed Overview
  • A large breed, with an average height of 23-28 inches and weight of 65-100 pounds.
  • Known for their thick and white coat, with a muscular and sturdy build.
  • Originally bred as a herding dog, they are now loyal and protective family pets due to their calm and independent nature.
  • Require early socialization and training.

#10. Segugio Italiano

Segugio Italiano

The Segugio Italiano is a medium-sized Italian dog breed originally bred as a hunting dog and is known for its short and shiny coat, which comes in shades of white and orange. With an average height of 18-22 inches and weight of 40-48 pounds, they are energetic and loyal and make great family pets.

Segugio Italianos are highly adaptable and excel in various dog sports, such as tracking and hunting trials. However, they require regular exercise, mental stimulation, and early socialization and training to prevent chasing behavior or aggression toward other animals. They are friendly with children and other pets and can adapt well to different living situations, including apartment living.

Segugio Italiano: Breed Overview
  • A medium-sized breed, with an average height of 18-22 inches and weight of 40-48 pounds.
  • Known for their short and shiny coat, which comes in shades of white and orange.
  • Originally bred as hunting dogs, they are now a popular family pet due to their energetic and loyal nature.
  • Require regular exercise and mental stimulation.

#11. Bolognese Dog

Bolognese dog

The Bolognese is a small Italian dog breed known for their long, fluffy white coats and charming and affectionate personality. With an average height of 10-12 inches and weight of 5-9 pounds, Bolognese is a little dog, adaptable to apartment living, and makes a great family pet.

Bolognese dogs are gentle, intelligent, and loyal and require regular exercise and grooming to maintain their coat. They are friendly with children and other pets and are known for their cheerful and outgoing nature. Bolognese dogs are rare and often described as a little white cloud due to their fluffy appearance.

Bolognese Dog: Breed Overview
  • Average height: 10-12 inches
  • Average weight: 5-9 pounds
  • Bolognese dogs have a compact and square build, with a rounded skull and a short, straight muzzle.
  • They have round, dark eyes and ears that hang down and are covered in long fur.
  • Their long and fluffy coat has a soft and cotton-like texture that requires regular grooming to prevent matting.
  • They come in one color, white, and may have beige or apricot shadings on their ears or around their eyes.

#12. Volpino Italiano

best Italian dog breeds: Volpino Italiano

Volpino Italiano is a small Italian dog breed closely related to the Pomeranian and German Spitz breeds. Volpino Italiano is known for their fluffy and long coat, which can come in various colors, including white, black, cream, and red.

Volpino Italiano is friendly, intelligent, adaptable, and makes great family pets. They require regular exercise and grooming to maintain their coat and can do well in different living situations, including apartment living. However, they can be wary of strangers and other dogs and require early socialization and training to prevent problem behaviors.

While the Volpino Italiano is a relatively rare breed outside of Italy, it has gained some popularity recently due to its unique appearance and friendly personality.

Volpino Italiano: Breed Overview
  • Average height: 10-12 inches (25-30 cm)
  • Average weight: 9-14 pounds (4-6 kg)
  • Volpino Italianos have a small and compact build, with a fluffy and long coat that can come in various colors, including white, black, cream, and red.
  • They have a wedge-shaped heads, pointed ears, and a curled tail, which gives them a fox-like appearance.
  • They are highly adaptable and can do well in different living situations, including apartment living, as long as they receive regular exercise and grooming.
  • They are friendly, intelligent, and loyal, and make great family pets, but they may be wary of strangers and other dogs, so early socialization and training are important.

Is the Saint Bernard an Italian Dog Breed?

Saint Bernard

The list of best Italian dogs would not be complete without mentioning the dog breed Saint Bernard.

While the Saint Bernard dog breed is often associated with Switzerland, the breed has some connections to Italy. The Saint Bernard breed is believed to have descended from ancient Roman Molossian dogs, which Roman armies brought to the Swiss Alps. These dogs were then bred with local mountain dogs in Switzerland, leading to the development of the modern Saint Bernard breed.

Furthermore, the Saint Bernard was historically used by Italian monks in the Great St. Bernard Pass between Switzerland and Italy. In ancient times, these monks used the dogs for search and rescue missions in snowy and treacherous mountain passes.

While the breed itself is not considered an Italian dog breed, it has played a role in the history and culture of the region. It has some connections to Italy through its use by the Italian monks in the Great St. Bernard Pass.

Italian Dog Breeds are Unique, Loyal, and Great Companions

In conclusion, Italy has a lot to offer, including its great dog breeds. The top 14 best Italian breeds are unique, loyal, and great companions. From the elegant Italian Greyhound to the mighty Neapolitan Mastiff, each species has its history, physical characteristics, and traits that make them stand out.

Whether you are looking for a loyal guard dog or a friendly family pet, there is an Italian dog breed that will fit your lifestyle. If you are considering adopting a dog, research and learn about these great breeds. Who knows, maybe an Italian dog will become your new best friend!

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