Other names: Volpino, Italian Spitz, Volpino Italiano, Spitz de Florence, Chien du Quirinal, Cane de Guirinale
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The Volpino is a small dog, very cheerful and lively, always on the lookout. Very affectionate towards family members and children, they are a companion dog that also make very good guardians: very vigilant, they bark a great deal. In return, they are extremely friendly and have a great “sense of humour”: they enjoy playing and joking around. This Italian breed is rather rare, not widespread around the world.
Key facts about the Italian Volpino
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Origins and history
This dog’s very ancient origins are the same as those of the German Spitz. For centuries, the Volpino has been widespread throughout Italy, particularly in Tuscany (where it was called the Volpino of Florence), both in large aristocratic families and among the people. Recently, the German Spitz “stole” their place and the Volpino almost disappeared. It was saved only thanks to the passion of certain breeders. Today, the Volpino is no longer endangered, but is far from being as well-known as they deserve.
FCI breed nomenclature
Group 5 - Spitz and primitive types
Section 4 : European Spitz
Physical characteristics of the Italian Volpino
Female : Between 10 and 11 in
Male : Between 11 and 12 in
Female : Between 9 and 11 lb
Male : Between 9 and 11 lb
The coat is always one colour and can be white, red or champagne.
Type of coat
The hair is long.
The hair is dense, rough to the touch and sits well on the body. Thick and standing on end, the coat should never be flattened.
The eyes are dark brown (ochre).
The Volpino is a small, mesomorphic dog, whose torso is square-shaped. The skull is egg-shaped, the stop quite marked, with a straight nose. The eyes are round and of a normal size. The ears have a triangular shape: they are rather short, pricked up and set high on the head and very close together. The torso is the same length as the dog’s height at the withers (ridge between the shoulder blades). The legs are well-aligned and have a fine structure. The tail is in line with the hindquarters and permanently curled.
Good to know
The Volpino is one of the rarest breeds in the world and deserves greater recognition in our country. The fact that they bark a lot can indeed annoy some, but on the contrary, they are very useful dogs for those who live in an isolated area and who need to be warned when anyone approaches their home.
Although not a lover of cuddles, this little Italian Spitz is very close to their loved ones, to whom they can show their affection, mainly for attracting attention.
This fox-like dog is described as exuberant, lively, jovial and playful. They like to have fun, joke around and spend time with their humans.
Overflowing with energy and vitality, this dog doesn’t know how to stay still and needs to constantly demonstrate their joie de vivre.
Volpino means “little fox” in Italian, and these dogs not only share their name simply because of their great resemblance. Indeed, this dog also shares the temperament, slyness and mischievousness of a fox. They know how to trick you into getting what they want, in this respect, they are a very clever breed.
Although quite rustic, the Italian Spitz has no predatory instinct, they are used solely as a companion dog and sometimes as a guard dog.
Fearful / wary of strangers
This dog does not just trust anyone, they are very suspicious and stay on guard around strangers. They also bark in order to warn off their enemies.
Spitz dogs are usually independent. This breed is no exception, they know how to fend for themselves and do not need constant attention. Nevertheless, they enjoy acting like a clown, so all eyes are on them.
Behaviour of the Italian Volpino
The Italian Volpino can be left alone and live calmly without their owner’s presence. It’s not possible, however, to leave them locked in an apartment, or even a garden, for a whole day without any social interaction.
Easy to train / obedience
Little dog, big character! The Italian Spitz needs an early and firm education to learn to successfully channel all their energy. As cunning as a fox, as soon as they arrive at their new home, they must learn where the boundaries are and not to be allowed to cross them.
Although they are small, if they are not well-trained and socialised, they can be a real daily nightmare.
Smart, from the moment they adapt to a keen attitude (firm, consistent, positive), this little, fox-like dog enjoys learning. They were formerly used in circuses, demonstrating their ability to learn and listen.
This dog will bark furiously at any suspicious noise. It’s precisely this characteristic that has limited the popularity of this dog because this almost-constant barking becomes highly irritating and makes this dog unsuitable to those who prefer tranquillity.
Tendency to run away
These real guardians never leave their post! Despite their small size, the Italian Spitz is ranked the same as their sidekick, the Cane Corso. In fact, they do not leave their observation post and they stay within their familiar territory.
The Volpino can become destructive if their needs are not fulfilled and if they are left alone all day long without any social interaction or any stimulation, physical or regarding their sense of smell.
Greedy / Gluttony
These dogs are clearly not greedy, they enjoy good food without stuffing their faces into their bowl. They can even be quite fussy sometimes.
Although they are small, this cousin of the German Spitz is very brave and fearless. Very suspicious of strangers, they are always alert and ready to bark at the sign of an intruder. In this sense, they are very good watchdogs, often paired with the Cane Corso to add an off-putting appearance.
For a first adoption, it’s recommended to call upon professional help to train these dogs to efficiently channel their abundant energy. This dog is compatible with many profiles; however, they are not an ideal choice for owners wanting a calm, discreet and quiet pet.
It’s important to consider all of this breed’s qualities before deciding to adopt. Indeed, their enthusiasm and excessive yapping may be the cause for many abandonments, for example.
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Italian Volpino in a flat
This little, fox-like dog adapts very well to city and apartment life, but unfortunately their extreme barking sometimes prevents them from integrating well, particularly with neighbours.
These dogs can go about their business better when in isolated places, so they do not risk disturbing anyone (except for intruders who will be sure to notice them).
Moreover, since they can live either inside or outside with no problem, life in a house with a garden is also quite possible.
Need for exercise / Sporty
Under the guise of a fragile dog hides a very lively and dynamic personality who loves to exert themselves and who needs daily walks to feel accomplished. Canine sports are also a possibility, but these must be adapted to the dog’s morphology. This Spitz excels especially in agility.
Travelling / easy to transport
Thanks to their small size, this dog can be transported everywhere via a bag whether by car, aeroplane or train. Be careful, however, of having this ability, as they still need rigorous training and socialisation, no matter the size of the dog.
Italian Volpino and cats
If this dog grows up around cats, living together can be pleasant. On the other hand, this Italian Spitz, as a full-grown adult, could have difficulties welcoming new family members; introductions must be done in due time.
Italian Volpino and dogs
With a strong character, this energetic little dog is not compatible with all breeds. For example, with dogs of the same calibre or, on the contrary, very calm and reserved dogs, some difficulties may arise.
In order for this dog to develop and strengthen their conduct towards other dogs, regular meetings, always positive and controlled (with dogs of a compatible nature) must be scheduled.
Italian Volpino and children
Very amusing, this little fox loves to spend time with children. Nevertheless, it’s still crucial that child-dog interactions are supervised by an adult because, if too excited, this dog could behave inappropriately (nipping).
Italian Volpino and the elderly
This little dog has an incredible energy and cheerfulness. They therefore make the perfect companion for active seniors but also those who are more isolated and in need of a dynamic dog as a natural “anti-depressant”.
The price of an Italian Volpino varies according to their origin, age and sex. Due to their rarity, the price will be high. Unfortunately we do not have enough information to set an average price for this breed.
Regarding the average budget needed to meet the needs of a dog this size, it costs about £17 a month.
Such long fur requires rigorous care in order to avoid tangling or felting. Brushing several times a week is recommended for this little Italian dog in order to prevent knots from forming and to maintain a beautiful coat.
Bathing this dog is possible, but professional grooming is preferred. However, this should not be done too frequently at the risk of damaging the coat’s protective qualities.
Hair loss is intense during moulting periods but for the rest of the year, it remains moderate. During autumn and spring, brushing should be done daily to remove as much dead hair as possible.
Nutrition of the Italian Volpino
High-quality food must be given to this energetic dog because the health and beauty of their fur depends on it.
To be sure of feeding this dog well, nothing beats homemade meals prepared with raw meat, fresh vegetables, starchy foods, cereals etc.
However, many brands supply high-quality biscuits that may also be suitable. If still unsure, consulting a vet for their opinion is sensible.
Health of the Italian Volpino
The life expectancy of this breed is estimated at around 15 years.
Strong / robust
This little dog is particularly robust and enjoys a very good longevity.
In warm weather, their thick fur can cause them to suffer from the heat.
Despite their seemingly fragile nature, the Volpino Italiano can live both indoors and outdoors because they don’t mind bad weather.
Tendency to put on weight
A reasonable eater, this dynamic dog does not usually put on weight. However, if they are not exercised enough, attention must be paid to their weight.
Being very little-known outside of Italy, there are few major health concerns associated with this breed. Nevertheless, two medical predispositions are to be monitored: crystalline lens and patellar dislocation.