From petite lapdogs to protective guard dogs, Italy has developed some of the most unique canines to ever exist. Here are 12 Italian dog breeds that could live la dolce vita with your family.
1. Bracco Italiano
The Bracco Italiano, or Italian Pointer, is one of the world’s oldest pointing breeds. Introduced to the United States in the 1990s, this versatile and intelligent dog is tireless on the trail and loving in your home. Tipping the scale at 88 pounds, the Bracco Italiano is a playful, loyal, and highly trainable pooch. They make excellent hunting partners and even better family companions.
2. Bergamasco Sheepdog
Easily identified by its thick, draping dreads, the Bergamasco Shepherd is a large herding dog that originated in Italy. Growing to weigh up to 85 pounds, this gentle giant is a solid, stoic dog with black or merle fur. It is a patient and protective breed that is wonderful with young children. The Bergamasco Shepherd will appoint itself as the guardian of your family and will always alert you to possible danger. This dog needs daily grooming to prevent its thick hair from matting and knotting.
3. Cane Corso
Also known as the Italian Mastiff, the Cane Corso is a large, powerful, and intimidating breed that can weigh up to 110 pounds. Used for tracking, personal protection, and law enforcement, this domineering dog is actually quite docile and affectionate. It comes in all types of colors, including black, blue, grey, and fawn. The Cane Corso requires training from the get-go in order for you to efficiently handle this huge dog.
When the word “Bolognese” comes to mind, you probably think about the delicious Italian pasta dish. However, the Bolognese is also a popular Italian dog breed. Fluffy and faithful, the Bolognese is a pure-white pup that was loved by Italian royalty. These small lap dogs are amiable, affectionate, and adore their human family. Their devotion can sometimes lead to severe separation anxiety. If you plan on getting the Bolognese breed, don’t leave it alone for long stretches of time.
5. Neapolitan Mastiff
Another foreboding Italian breed, the Neapolitan Mastiff is a large dog that was developed in southern Italy. Weighing up to 150 pounds, this massive breed may look intimidating at first. With a huge, wrinkly head and rugged body, the Neapolitan Mastiff resembles a modern-day monster. However, this breed is actually very loving and gentle. It can live to be 10 years old and comes in a variety of coat colors, including fawn, grey, mahogany, and brindle.
6. Italian Greyhound
The Italian Greyhound is an elegant, easygoing dog that was popular with Italian royalty and nobility. Many historic kings owned this breed. Italian Greyhounds have long, dainty bodies, pointy heads, and slender legs. They are capable of reaching speeds of up to 60 km/h in short bursts. In the home, the Italian Greyhound is an affectionate and loving little dog.
7. Cirneco dell’Etna
The sleek Cirneco dell’Etna is an Italian dog breed that was originally developed in Sicily. This athletic and agile coursing hound is one of the world’s oldest dog breeds. The Cirneco dell’Etna is an active dog that requires at least 30 minutes of vigorous exercise every day.
8. Lagotta Romangnola
Cure, curly, and cuddly, the medium-sized Lagotta Romangnola originated in northeastern Italy. Its name translates to “duck dog” as it was originally developed to hunt waterfowl. This breed is laid back and loving, making it the perfect pet for families with young children. The Lagotta Romangnola breed can grow to be 19 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh about 35 pounds.
9. Maremma Sheepdog
This large livestock dog is indigenous to the regions of central and southern Italy. Its name translates to “the dog of the shepherd of the Maremma region.” The Maremma Sheepdog is a large canine with a thick white coat. It is a vital part of rural herding communities because it safeguards livestock from wolves and other predators.
10. Segugio Italiano
The Segugio Italiano is a small scent hound originally bred to hunt hare and boar. With a wiry coat and a strong sense of smell, this efficient little dog makes a great hunting partner in all types of terrain. Due to its hunting heritage, this breed does best in active homes with access to large backyards.
The Volpino resembles a little snowball. This dog breed is quite rare, with only about 3,000 existing worldwide. Smart, cunning, and alert, the Volpino can grow to weigh only about 12 pounds. It is afflicted by many breed-specific ailments, including primary lens luxation, which can result in blindness and eye pain.
12. Saint Bernard
The Saint Bernard is an iconic Italian “nanny” dog breed that was originally developed to rescue monks who got stranded in the dangerous and snowy Alps. They saved about 2,000 people over the course of 200 years. Today, this large dog is a beloved family pet that does well with kids and other animals.
From adorable little lap dogs to giant guardians, Italian dog breeds come in many varieties. All of these breeds are fantastic dogs that will make great additions to just about any home.
Featured Image Credit: rokopix, Shutterstock
Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts’ knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.