The History and Characteristics of Italian Dog Breeds ─ 10 Things to Know

Italy has given us many gifts, including some of the world’s most beloved dog breeds. From tiny lap dogs to massive working breeds, Italian dog species have captured the hearts of puppy lovers worldwide. In this article, we’ll take a look at the history and characteristics of Italian dog breeds.

Have a Long and Proud History

Italian dog breeds have a long and proud history that dates back thousands of years. The ancient Romans were known for breeding canines for hunting and guarding, and many of today’s Italian dog species have their roots in these ancient hunting breeds.

During the Middle Ages, these pooches were highly prized for their hunting skills, and their reputation as working hounds continued into the Renaissance. Italian nobility also kept puppies as pets, which further contributed to the development.

Today, they are celebrated for their rich history, and their popularity has spread around the world, making them beloved pets and working canines for people from all walks of life.

Known for Their Loyalty

Italian dog breeds are well known for their loyalty and devotion to their owners. Whether they are working puppies or family pets, they have a fierce commitment to their families that is deeply ingrained in their history and purpose.

Many Italian puppies, such as the Cane Corso and Neapolitan Mastiff, were originally bred for guarding and protecting property, and their loyalty to their owners was essential to their success in these roles.

This loyalty is also evident in breeds such as the Bolognese and Italian Greyhound, which were bred for companionship and are known for their loving and affectionate personalities. The loyalty is a testament to their strong bond with their human companions.


Come in Many Shapes and Sizes

They come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, from small lap pups to large working species. Some, like the tiny Bolognese or Italian Greyhound, are perfect for those looking for a small and affectionate companion, while others, such as the Cane Corso or Neapolitan Mastiff, are large and powerful canines suitable for guarding or working.

The Spinone Italiano and the Lagotto Romagnolo, two medium-sized breeds, were both bred for hunting and retrieving, while the Bergamasco, with its unique and shaggy coat, was bred for herding. Whatever your needs and preferences may be, there is an Italian dog species out there that is sure to capture your heart.


Italian dog breeds are adaptable and versatile, able to excel in a variety of roles beyond their original purpose. Many puppies were originally bred for specific tasks, such as hunting, guarding, or herding, but have since been adapted to fit modern needs.

For example, the Lagotto Romagnolo was originally bred as a water canine for the retrieving game and is now commonly used as a truffle-hunting canine. The Italian Greyhound, originally bred for hunting, is now a popular companion dog due to its adaptability to living in smaller spaces.

Their adaptability highlights their intelligence and versatility, making them great companions for people with diverse lifestyles and needs.

Intelligent and Trainable

They are generally considered to be intelligent and trainable. Considerable puppies were bred for specific tasks, which required them to be able to think independently and problem-solve. This intelligence makes them good candidates for training, whether it’s for obedience, agility, or specialized tasks.


Have Distinctive Personalities

They have distinctive personalities that make them unique and beloved by dog lovers worldwide. Each species has its own set of traits and tendencies that are rooted in its history and purpose. For example, the Cane Corso is known for its loyalty and protective nature, while the Bolognese is known for its playfulness and affectionate nature.

The Italian Greyhound is known for its elegance and grace, while the Bergamasco is known for its independence and loyalty to its family. Understanding the personality is important for building a strong relationship and providing the appropriate care and training.

Require Different Levels of Exercise

Italian dog breeds have different exercise requirements. Some, such as the Italian Greyhound, are content with short walks and indoor playtime, while others, such as the Spinone Italiano, require more vigorous exercise, such as hiking or running. Understanding your dog’s exercise needs is important for keeping them healthy and happy.

Have Distinctive Coats

Italian dog breeds have distinctive coats, which can range from silky and smooth to shaggy and woolly. Species such as the Bolognese and Italian Greyhound have short, sleek coats, while breeds such as the Bergamasco and Spinone Italiano have longer, shaggier coats. Understanding your dog’s coat type is important for grooming and maintenance.


Have Health Concerns

Like all breeds, they have their own health concerns. Species such as the Cane Corso and Neapolitan Mastiff are prone to hip dysplasia, while the Bolognese can be prone to eye issues such as cataracts. It’s important to do your research and be aware of any potential health issues that may affect your chosen breed and to work with a reputable breeder who screens their dogs for these conditions.

Beloved Worldwide

They are beloved worldwide for their unique personality, charming appearance, and rich history. From the playful Bolognese to the noble Cane Corso, each species has its own distinctive characteristics that make them a favorite among dog lovers.

They are often associated with luxury and elegance, as many were originally bred for royalty and nobility. Today, they continue to capture the hearts of people around the world, both as beloved family pets and as working dogs in various industries. With their loyal and loving personalities, it’s no wonder that they are so beloved by people everywhere.


In conclusion, Italian dog species have a rich history and distinctive characteristics that make them beloved worldwide. From their loyalty and adaptability to their intelligence and distinctive personalities, they have captured the hearts of dog lovers for thousands of years. Whether you’re looking for a lap dog or a working breed, there’s an Italian dog that’s perfect for you.

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