Volpino Italiano

Want to learn more about the lovely Volpino Italiano? In today’s guide, we explain all there is to know about this breed’s health, personality, exercise needs, and more!

volpino italiano dog on leash

Height: Female 10-11 inches, male 11-12 inches
Weight: Female 4-5 kilos, male 5-6 kilos
Lifespan: 14-16 years
Pedigree? (Registered with the KC?): No, this breed is not registered with the Kennel Club

Positives and Negatives

Below are the positive and negative traits relating to the Volpino:

Pros:

  • Minimal exercise needs
  • Great watchdog
  • Friendly with children
  • Able to live in small living spaces

Cons:

  • Not a good choice for first-time owners
  • Prone to health issues
  • Can’t be left alone regularly, prone to separation anxiety
  • Can be a challenge to train

Overview

The Volpino Italiano is a Spitz-type breed, winning the hearts of owners worldwide with their cute looks. However, they are most popular in their native country, Italy.

In Italian, the name Volpino means ‘Little Fox’, which is unsurprising due to their similar looks! Although this dog is small and cute, they still require an experienced owner.

Volpinos are known to be rather sensitive. They don’t like changes to their routine or guests continually popping up. If your thinking about purchasing or rehoming this breed be sure you have a somewhat quiet home. Constant noise can leave this dog feeling nervous and anxious, which could lead to behavioral issues.

volpino italiano on grass

This pooch is a pure breed and only comes in the colors white, champagne, or deep red. They are a direct descendent of the Spitz family, dogs that were developed by humans to hunt, herd, and pull sleds. There are approximately 50-70 different types of Spitz dogs.

Volpinos are highly affectionate and hate being left alone. They fit well into family life and love being involved in the fun, but do be careful of excessive noise. The breed isn’t territorial by nature but will act as a watchdog. Another thing to be aware of is their barking. They can bark repetitively if they haven’t been trained correctly.

This breed is known to have more frequent health issues compared to other dogs. Read on for the Volpinos breed-related health conditions.

Recommended: Get to know the Thai Ridgeback in our latest guide.

History

The Volpino Italiano originated from Italy and dates right back to the 15th century. The earliest painting featuring a similar looking pooch is ‘St Augustine in His Study by Vittore Carpaccio. It was painted in Venice, Scuola di san Giorgio degli Schiavoni in 1502.

The breed was typically used as a watchdog. Their barking would alert the larger mastiff types to protect and defend their owner’s land or property. They were loved as companions and didn’t require the same amount of food as their larger companions, making them much cheaper to look after.

Famous painter Michelangelo was thought to have been a proud owner of a Volpino. The breed was loved by both aristocracy, farmers, and peasants. In the late 19th century Italian immigrants brought this breed into North America where they were bred solely as companions.

Volpinos were highly popular in the Renaissance period but that all changed. In 1965 there were hardly any Italian Volpinos left. It was mainly farmers that kept their interest in the breed. Thanks to Enrico Franceschetti leading the Italian Kennel Clubs effort to restore breed numbers in 1984, the pooch became popular again.

Personality

Like most smaller breeds, the Volpino is affectionate but stubborn. They make excellent companions but are much more sensitive than other dogs. This means certain home environments won’t be suitable for this pooch. Volpinos are food motivated which has a great effect when training.

volpino italiano dog sleeping on the floor

Watchdogs are known to bark… loudly! It is something the Volpino still struggles with to this day. If you don’t teach them a quiet command, expect repetitive barking as and when they please!

Overall this pooch is kind and gentle, they become very attached to their owner and will need their companion through most hours of the day.

Recommended: Learn about the Chinese Crested dog in our next breed guide.

Is the Italian Volpino Good With Strangers?

Volpinos are suspicious around strangers and will always be on guard. They were used as watchdogs and were specifically trained to alert other dogs and their owner to people they don’t know. With socialization, this dog can be nice to strangers as they aren’t aggressive by nature.

Is the Italian Volpino Good With Children?

Yes, this pooch is good with children and makes an excellent playmate! They adore the extra attention and love to get involved in family activities. As this is a toy breed you must be careful they don’t get injured during play.

It is important to supervise this so it doesn’t get too rough. Your Volpino may be a little stubborn if play doesn’t seem to go their own way.

Is the Italian Volpino Ok With Other Dogs?

They are somewhat dog friendly depending on how they have been socialized. Years ago they would work with the Mastiffs alerting them to danger, so they can live amongst other pooches. Their stubborn side can be a downfall when engaging in doggy play.

You can have other household pets such as cats and rabbits but do keep watch. Some Volpinos can be dominant towards smaller animals.

Exercise

The Volpino dog is known to be energetic but doesn’t require extensive exercise. They should get around 1-1.5 hours of activity split into different walks each day. Mental stimulation will also need to be included.

Dog agility is a great way to exercise and mentally stimulate your dog at the same time! Enquire into any dog sports centers offering this service in your local area. Ball games are another great way to keep his pooch entertained. If you have children in your household, they will be perfect for this.

Food is something this dog can be a little obsessed by. Why not play some hide and seek games laying food in the garden for your pooch to sniff out. Volpinos are known to have a great sense of smell. It is also another way to keep them mentally stimulated.

Toy breeds should not be allowed off-leash and should only be exercised in enclosed areas. Their small size makes them susceptible to injuries and in a worst-case scenario this could prove fatal.

Health

Check out the breed-related health issues before purchasing or rehoming an Italian Volpino:

  • Cataracts- An abnormal cloud forms in the eye due to a change of lens. This stops light reaching the retina causing blindness.
  • Patellar Luxation- The knee cap slips in and out of place causing lameness. Generally seen in small/toy breed dogs.
  • Primary Lens Luxation- A genetic abnormality eventually breaks down the lens zonules. The lens could eventually become stuck in the front or back of the eye. It could lead to Glaucoma thus causing blindness.

Intelligence & Training

Volpinos are known to be very intelligent, it is why they require mental stimulation. Intelligence helps them better understand commands, but stubbornness is where they have been let down.

Food is the best way to grab this breeds attention. Don’t overuse this reward otherwise your dog won’t be obedient to the command, only food! Remember this pooch is sensitive so harsh training techniques will not work on this dog.

volpino italiano dog

Training needs to begin before the age of 6 months. If you wait too long it will be much harder to get a Volpino to listen to you. Controlling your dog’s barking is vitally important. Volpinos are known to bark excessively so teaching your dog the quiet command should be one of your first steps. You don’t want a yappy and controlling dog!

Puppy classes are a great choice for this breed! It encourages socialization with other dogs and strangers, whilst helping you teach your pooch some basic commands. Patience and consistency are two of the best ways to ensure training goes well.

Recommended: Pumis are a great fit for an active family household. Read our guide here to learn more about them.

Grooming

The Volpino Italiano has a soft undercoat followed by a rough top coat. Their tail is fluffy and one of their most noticeable features. They look rather fox-like, hence the name Volpino! This breed will shed fur so you should ideally brush through their coat once or twice a week.

Trim the fur between the paws, around the eyes, and pluck any excess hair from around the ear canal. Teeth brushing is recommended daily by vets, so aim to get this done multiple times a week. You should introduce grooming techniques to your dog as early as possible. It is a great way to bond!

Brushing your dog’s fur will reduce how often they will need a bath. It helps the natural oils to flow through the fur, leaving them with a healthy and shiny looking coat. Grooming rakes and pin brushes are the best tools to use. A slicker brush can be included last to make it that little bit smoother.

You can blow dry this dog so their coat has extra volume. You won’t need to hire a professional groomer as this can easily be done from home.

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