Italy is definitely one of the most beautiful countries in Europe, and the favorite destination for many tourists around the world. There are so many beautiful things about Italy: the architecture, the art, the fashion, the history… and don’t forget pizza!
But, from Italy comes something else that we especially love: lots of beautiful dogs! A companion dog, a working dog, a hunting dog – whichever one you are looking for, I am sure you will find it on our list of Italian dogs!
You may already know that some of them are from Italy since the name of the dog breed can tell you that. For example, I am sure everybody knows that the Cane Corso comes from Italy, and this dog was 21st on the list of the American Kennel Club’s (AKC) most popular dogs for 2021!
So, Italy is definitely the homeland of many amazing dog breeds.
But, even though you know that a particular dog is from Italy, I’m sure you don’t know all the details and fun facts we’re going to reveal to you today. Well, if you want to know more about the 16 beautiful Italian dogs we chose today, keep reading!
1. Bergamasco Shepherd
Photo from: @bergamascomarge
First on our list of Italian dogs is one small guard dog named the Bergamasco Shepherd. This dog used to be very helpful to shepherds in the past, so the main purpose of this dog was herding and guarding. The Bergamasco Shepherd belongs to the herding dogs’ group.
He was named after the Italian city, Bergamo, which is located in the Italian Alps. After World War II, there was a big possibility that this dog was about to go extinct, but fortunately, this has not happened, and we can all enjoy this marvelous breed today!
Although their primal function nowadays is being fantastic family companions for many people, the instinct of herding is still present in the Bergamasco Shepherd. This is why this dog is so good as a therapy dog.
This Italian breed is known for its specific fur: his body is covered with long, matted locks, which is very helpful in harsh weather conditions since it helps keep the dog warm.
One interesting fact about this dog is that despite his herding nature, he does not need a lot of space and exercise. Of course, he adores running and spending time outside, but he will equally enjoy spending a peaceful afternoon inside with his loving human family.
They love their humans, but they are not such big fans of strangers. So, early socialization and training are very necessary with this cattle dog breed.
These dogs are intelligent, and they can learn many commands, but they are, at the same time, independent and require a patient and experienced trainer.
Height: 20-24 inches
Weight: 55 to 85 pounds
Lifespan: 12-15 years
Temperament: calm, independent, intelligent
Appearance: recognizable matted locks, muscular body
Coat colors: black, cream, gray, merle, white
Health issues: bloat, hip dysplasia
Photo from: @hipsu_the_bolognese
Our second Italian dog is one small, fluffy dog you will not be able to resist: the Bolognese! This dog was also named after one of the Italian cities – Bologna.
This white dog breed is a very old dog breed: it used to be the favorite company of Roman royals, and was even considered as a symbol of power in the Renaissance era! This tells you enough about how special this fluffy dog is! He is in love with his humans, and does not want to spend a minute away from them.
Somebody would love this while somebody else would have to think well before getting this shaggy dog breed. He will not be happy being left alone in a small apartment for too long!
The Bolognese is great with small children, and is considered as a hypoallergenic dog breed, which is awesome for all dog lovers who suffer from allergies. This lapdog will be truly happy only when he has a life companion. So, for someone who is looking for a real friend in a dog, the Bolognese is a great choice!
Height: 10-12 inches
Weight: 6-9 pounds
Lifespan: 11-14 years
Temperament: easy-going, friendly, playful
Appearance: stocky body, white fluffy coat
Coat colors: white
Health issues: Luxating patellas
3. Bracco Italiano
Photo from: @bracco_mike
The Bracco Italiano (or Italian Pointer) is the third dog breed on our list today.
The Bracco Italiano is an ancient breed of dog. This is a large and strong pointer dog that was used in 18th century Italy for hunting. This Italian dog is muscular, very energetic, and needs a lot of space and work to stay healthy.
The Bracco Italiano is a gundog in his nature, but he is also a loving companion dog. This dog gets along well with people and with other animals, and is extremely loyal to his family. An experienced dog owner should work with a Bracco Italiano since this large dog has a gentle character, is sensitive, and does not respond well to harsh training methods.
This dog loves all kinds of activities such as running, hiking, abd swimming. It is all about action for the Bracco Italiano! Don’t be fooled by the large size of this dog.
He just might cuddle with you like he is the smallest dog in the world, and as if he could fit into your lap!
The Bracco Italiano loves to receive attention from his owner, and he will not be happy if the owner doesn’t spend enough time with him. The Bracco Italiano tends to be clingy and doesn’t want to leave his owner’s side. Moreover, if this dog is left alone for too long, he might show some destructive behavior like frequent loud barking or digging.
What can we conclude about the Bracco Italiano? This dog can be the perfect family pet just as long as he receives a lot of exercise and mental stimulation.
Height: 21-26 inches
Weight: 50-90 pounds
Lifespan: 10-13 years
Temperament: active, intelligent, loving
Appearance: muscular body, short coat, long ears
Coat colors: chestnut, orange, white, and a combination of these colors
Health issues: entropion, hip dysplasia
4. Cane Corso
Our next dog is probably the dog most known by the majority of people reading this text – the Cane Corso. This dog is also called the Italian Mastiff, and the name ‘Cane Corso’ translated from Latin means the bodyguard. So, we are talking about a serious guard dog here!
The Cane Corso can be described as a good family dog indeed, but his large size makes him intimidating for people outside his family. They are not aggressive dogs, but are very possessive, and have strong guarding instincts, so early socialization is very important with Cane Corso dogs.
No matter what, this dog wants to take care of his family, so if he is not properly trained, he might think that he needs to watch and protect his loving people even in situations when they are totally safe.
There are so many activities that Cane Corso dogs are good at such as being a watchdog, a guard dog, a police dog, or a military dog. The Cane Corso is a working breed of dog and is highly trainable, but it is not best suited for a first-time dog owner. After all, we are talking about a giant with big exercise needs!
When you see a Cane Corso, his majestic and large looks can tell you that this dog takes good care of his property. A Cane Corso is one of those dogs whose ears used to be cropped – you can see this happening even today, but it is believed that this does not do anything well for dogs so it is considered undesirable.
So, if you are looking for a watchdog and a gentle soul combined – then the Cane Corso is a great option! While he will keep the intruders away from your property, you and your family will have a best friend in this big dog.
It is necessary to make sure that a Cane Corso dog receives proper training and socialization at an early age. How can you be successful in this? By using positive reinforcement – a lot of praise and rewards should be very helpful in training a Cane Corso puppy.
Height: 23-27 inches
Weight: 90-110 pounds
Lifespan: 9-12 years
Temperament: intelligent, loyal, trainable
Appearance: large, muscular body, broad chest
Coat colors: black, brown, fawn, gray, red
Health issues: bloat, hip dysplasia, epilepsy
5. Cane Paratore
Photo from: @mars.anlatiyor
The Cane Paratore is the next dog breed on our list of Italian dogs. This dog originated in southern Italy as a herding dog, but it has not become popular outside of his birth country. This dog has also not been recognized by the American Kennel Club.
In the past, the Cane Paratore was very helpful to Italian farmers. He used to help them move their herd from one location to another.
Many people see the Cane Paratore as a wolf-like dog, which is not far from the truth! It is believed that this dog is related to wolves, and that female Cane Paratore dogs used to mate with wolves.
While these dogs are extremely rare in the world, they are very common in southern Italy. They are good protectors of their property, and are very strong and hard-working dogs. A Cane Paratore is a very elegant dog capable of running fast, just like a wolf.
Height: 19-22 inches
Weight: 30-55 pounds
Lifespan: 10-13 years
Temperament: agile, intelligent, strong
Appearance: short coat, erect ears, wolf-like body
Coat colors: black, brown, gray
Health issues: no known health problems related to this dog
6. Cirneco dell’Etna
Photo from: @cirneco.dog
In the name of this dog, we can see the presence of the ancient Greek city, Cyrene, while the other part of the name, Etna, signifies a stratovolcano located on the east coast of Sicily, in Italy.
The Cirneco dell’Etna is a dog that has been known in Italy for a long time, but it only got recognized by the American Kennel Club in 2015. This dog is still quite hard to find in the United States.
This dog’s short coat makes him suitable for people with allergies.
This used-to-be hunting dog needs a lot of daily exercise. He will enjoy long walks, but also other activities that will help him engage his mind and expend his enormous energy.
Nowadays, the Cirneco dell’Etna is a good companion of people, and it can be easily trained. However, the prey drive is still high with these dogs, so it is necessary to socialize them with other animals from an early age, and to always have this dog on a leash when in public.
The Cirneco dell’Etna loves children, and makes a wonderful family dog. He is not too large, so he can even live in an apartment just as long as he has his time outside every day.
Height: 16-19 inches
Weight: 17-25 pounds
Lifespan: 11-14 years
Temperament: energetic, gentle, good-natured
Appearance: athletic build, large ears, small eyes
Coat colors: chestnut, sand, tan
Health issues: muscle issues, obesity
7. Dogo Sardesco
Photo from: @maariog85
However, the Dogo Sardesco now exists in small numbers, and is mostly located on farms in Sardinia. Decades ago, this dog was on the verge of extinction, but fortunately, this did not happen.
Since this dog is such a valuable and good guard dog, we believe that it deserves to be heard in other parts of Europe, and also around the world! He does his work equally well today as he used to many years ago, so the stock that is guarded by a Dogo Sardesco is one safe stock!
Thanks to his large and strong appearance, besides being a guard dog, the Dogo Sardesco has also been used in dogfighting in the past. But, this does not mean that this Italian dog is aggressive. Just the opposite – these dogs are very loyal to their owners, and would do anything to protect them.
It is necessary, however, to emphasize how the Dogo Sardesco is not the best choice for families with small children. The truth is that this dog loves to be dominant, so it is not easy to train.
We can conclude that the Dodo Sardesco is quite a challenging and demanding dog breed, so it is recommended for experienced dog owners who know how to show authority.
Height: 22-25 inches
Weight: 70-100 pounds
Lifespan: 9-12 years
Temperament: intelligent, loyal, dominant
Appearance: dense coat, large, athletic body
Coat colors: black, brown, brindle, gray, red
8. Italian Greyhound
The Italian Greyhound is a dog that was originally bred in Egypt, but got recognized as being the favorite toy dog of Romans and Greek royals. You can also hear people calling this dog the Italian Sighthound.
This dog looks like a standard Greyhound, but while the Greyhound is a very tall dog breed, the Italian Greyhound is a small dog whose height range goes from 13 to 15 inches.
The Italian Greyhound might be shy around people, but once he gets to know a person, he becomes very attached to them. He loves to give and receive attention from his humans. At the same time, the Italian Greyhound is very intelligent and, thanks to his hunting instincts, might be challenging to train.
When it comes to training the Italian Greyhound, it is necessary to take care that he does not receive too much exercise while still a puppy. If this happens, this dog can develop bone and muscle problems.
The Italian Greyhound used to catch rabbits, so this dog still loves to run and chase other animals. However, his first and most important function today is being a companion dog. So, if you enjoy jogging, this small and fast dog will be your favorite partner in crime!
When you see an Italian Greyhound, you can hardly imagine that this dog would be a good watchdog, but he has a strong and loud bark that is a big help in keeping intruders away from your property!
Height: 13-15 inches
Weight: 5-15 pounds
Lifespan: 13-15 years
Temperament: agile, loving, smart
Appearance: small body, long neck, long legs
Coat colors: black, blue, cream, gray, red
Health issues: allergies, hip dysplasia, Von Willebrand’s disease
9. Lagotto Romagnolo
The Lagotto Romagnolo can be described as a pretty rare and weird dog breed. This Italian dog was bred in the Romagna region in Italy to hunt truffles and ducks, so this is a water dog that has strong hunting instincts. Today, this dog is a wonderful companion for humans, but it still loves water work!
The Lagotto Romagnolo is a laid-back dog whose favorite activities are swimming and digging. This is a working dog that needs his exercises, but also a lot of mental stimulation. He is very easy to train, but he must be trained and socialized to become an obedient dog.
With proper socialization and training, a Lagotto Romagnolo can adapt well to apartment living. If you live in a house with a big yard, be aware that the Lagotto loves to dig! To avoid behaviors such as digging and chewing, every Lagotto Romagnolo owner needs to provide him with enough activities.
One more important trait of a Lagotto Romagnolo is their hypoallergenic coat; however, this coat requires regular grooming in order to avoid matting.
So, what do you do to make a Lagotto Romagnolo happy? Give him a lot of work to do and a lot of time spent together! If you are a fan of truffles, this dog will be your best friend.
This dog is quite a barker – so much that it sometimes seems like he is barking at nothing. Just make sure you train your Lagotto not to bark every time something moves. His bark might be pretty annoying, but if trained well, this trait can make a Lagotto Romagnolo an excellent watchdog.
Height: 16-19 inches
Weight: 24-35 pounds
Lifespan: 15 to 17 years
Temperament: affectionate, friendly, easy to train
Appearance: curly fur, powerful, and strongly built
Coat colors: brown, brown and roan, orange and white, orange and brown
Health issues: elbow and hip dysplasia, epilepsy
Next on our list of Italian dogs is a small, fluffy dog I am sure everybody has heard of: the Maltese!
This dog is equally popular in all parts of the world. The Maltese is a true family dog that loves to be a part of any activity in which his people participate.
The Maltese is a very old dog breed that is believed to have originated in Egypt, and was later transferred to Europe by traders. According to some beliefs, the Maltese was named after the island of Malta, and according to some others, after the Sicilian city of Melita.
Whatever the truth about its name is, for centuries, the Maltese was the favorite company of the aristocracy: now, we have data that the French Queen, Marie Antoinette, and the British Queen, Victoria, owned a Maltese.
This little puppy is impossible not to notice, with his white fur, dark eyes, and irresistible attitude. The Maltese looks reminiscent of the Bichon. If you look up Bichon Frise mixes, you will see that now we have a Maltichon: an irresistibly cute mix of a Bichon with a Maltese!
Although they are extremely small dogs, Maltese dogs are very lively and playful.
The Maltese adores his owner, but is distrustful of strangers. He does not like to stay alone for long, and is very likely to develop separation anxiety if his owner is too busy and does not give him enough attention.
Even first-time dog owners will enjoy the company of a Maltese as this dog learns tricks and commands easily. At the same time, a Maltese is very sensitive, so it is necessary to avoid any roughness while playing with this dog.
The Maltese adores any type of play, including those that require mental involvement. Also, the Maltese loves to cuddle and just be lazy with its owner!
Height: 7-9 inches
Weight: up to 7 pounds
Lifespan: 13-15 years
Temperament: fearless, loving, playful
Appearance: compact body, silky, long, white coat, dark eyes
Coat colors: white
Health issues: Patellar luxation, Progressive Retinal Atrophy
11. Maremma Sheepdog
Photo from: @allevamento_dellaregiadogana
The Maremma Sheepdog is a large and strong Italian dog. This dog was bred to keep and defend livestock on farms, and today, it remains an equally valuable keeper of people and human property. The Maremma Sheepdog is originally from the Italian regions of Maremma and Abruzzes, and it is also known by the name, Pastore Maremmano.
For many years, this dog lived with Italian shepherds and guarded their flocks from wolves.
It is believed that this Maremma Sheepdog is a descendant of the Tibetan Mastiff, which I am sure is familiar to everyone, and that kind of looks like he is related to a bear!
When properly socialized and trained, the Maremma Sheepdog can make a wonderful family dog, but he still needs his space and a lot of work. This dog is also independent, and he has strong protective instincts, so his best role is that of a guard dog.
The Maremma Sheepdog will love his human family, but he will not be equally affectionate with strangers. This does not mean that he will attack or bite strangers, but he might scare them away with his loud barking.
If you have a house with a big yard, this dog will enjoy it, but there is nothing more this dog would love than a spacious farm.
By being so independent and energetic, the Maremma Sheepdog needs his time and his space. He might not show his love towards his owner with cuddles, but he has a big heart and takes good care of his family.
Height: 23-28 inches
Weight: 60-100 pounds
Lifespan: 10-13 years
Temperament: active, independent, hard-working
Appearance: strong built, long, thick fur
Coat colors: white
Health issues: bloat, eye problems
12. Neapolitan Mastiff
Photo from: @delgrandefiume
The Neapolitan Mastiff is a huge, strong, and magnificent dog. This dog originated from Molossus dogs, which were guard dogs used in arenas in ancient Rome.
Throughout history, the Neapolitan Mastiff has also been used as a police dog, but its primary function is being a watchdog.
This dog is a bit self-effacing, calm, and extremely loyal to his human family. Such a large and strong dog requires special care, so before buying a Neapolitan Mastiff, it is necessary to thoroughly research the breeders of this breed as well as the living needs and conditions for dogs of this kind.
The adult Neapolitan Mastiff needs at least an hour of training a day, and while they are still small, care must be taken not to overdo the training so that the dog does not develop joint problems.
This large dog will enjoy apartment living since he needs a lot of space and time outside. To strangers, this dog may look like an intimidating and aggressive breed, but this is far from reality. This giant loves his owners and wants to protect them, but he is not hostile, and he will not attack unknown people!
However, the Neapolitan Mastiff is a strong-willed dog, and he might not be a good option for everyone, especially for people who have not had dogs before. Also, this dog tends to drool – a lot!
So, if you find these minor obstacles negligible, then the Neapolitan Mastiff will be the perfect companion and protector of your family and your property!
Height: 24-30 inches
Weight: 100-200 pounds
Lifespan: 8-11 years
Temperament: gentle, loyal, strong-willed
Appearance: large body, abundant skin
Coat colors: brindle, black, gray
Health issues: elbow and hip dysplasia, cherry eye, dermatitis
13. Saint Bernard
You may have heard that Saint Bernard originated in Switzerland, but this is actually only half true! The Saint Bernard originated in the Western Alps in Italy and Switzerland, which means that both of these countries are the home countries of this dog.
If you look at the Saint Bernard growth chart, you will see that this dog can get seriously big!
Years ago, the Saint Bernard used to help farmers guard their livestock, but what made this dog really famous is rescuing many lost travelers in the Alps. How did this happen? Farmers gave some of their Saint Bernard dogs to local monks who soon realized how this dog has a great sense of smell, and is very good in search and rescue work.
This dog’s loving and caring temperament has remained unchanged over time, and the Saint Bernard is today the favorite pet of many families. He is equally popular as a family dog in Europe and in the United States.
His large size might scare strangers, so a Saint Bernard makes a good watch dog.
This dog is a medium-energy dog breed, and does not require much exercise, so you don’t even have to have a spacious yard to own a Saint Bernard. However, he loves to go on long walks with his owner.
The downside of this dog breed is his short lifespan, which is similar to other large dog breeds, such as the Great Dane.
But, this should not discourage Saint Bernard lovers out there! This just means that you need to cherish every moment spent with your dog even more.
This dog does not react well to high temperatures, so it is necessary to keep him inside if you are living in an area where summers are extremely hot.
Since this is a really big dog, it is necessary to start training your Saint Bernard as early as possible, preferably while he is still a small puppy. A Saint Bernard is a dog that will not show aggression unless he senses that one of his family members is in danger.
Training this dog is challenging in the sense that it is so large that you will probably only have problems with its size!
Height: 24-30 inches
Weight: 130-190 pounds
Lifespan: 7-11 years
Temperament: kind, sweet, stubborn
Appearance: large body, long legs, deep chest
Coat colors: white and red
Health issues: bloat, cancers, eye problems
14. Segugio Italiano
Photo from: @des_kate
The Segugio Italiano is another Italian dog that has been used for hunting in the past, especially for boar hunting. This dog is best known for its fast and strong legs, thanks to which it is so successful in hunting prey.
You can know if the Segugio Italiano is hunting with his tail position – if this dog is hunting, his tail will be standing high!
He is efficient and fast in hunting, but at home, this dog is very gentle and attached to its owner. The Segugio Italiano loves to be treated as a true member of the family, and to be a part of all the activities his people are involved in.
This dog is enduring, willing, and intelligent. He is eager to please his owner, and he makes a wonderful watchdog. The Segugio Italiano is not the most popular dog breed in the United States, but if you ask people from Italy, he is one of their favorite dogs!
This dog has high exercise needs, so should exercise him around two hours on a daily basis. While this dog gets along very well with children, he sees other animals as prey, so he is not recommended for households with more animals.
There are two types of the Segugio Italiano dog – the short-haired Segugio, and the wire-haired Segugio. Their main difference is only their coat, while they are very similar in all other character traits.
Height: 19-24 inches
Weight: 40-60 pounds
Lifespan: 10-13 years
Temperament: docile, intelligent, willing
Appearance: square-shaped body, long legs
Coat colors: black and tan, fawn
Health issues: Gastric torsion
15. Spinone Italiano
Photo from: @jack_spinone
Next on our list of Italian dogs is one dog from the sporting group – the Spinone Italiano!
This dog has been known since ancient times, so images of a dog that irresistibly resembles the Spinone Italiano can be found in Italian Renaissance art.
This dog has been used as a hunting dog for many years. His body is extremely muscular, and it can be said that the Spinone Italiano is a robust dog. This dog has very thick fur and firm skin, so it tolerates different climatic conditions well.
In addition to being an excellent hunter, the Spinone Italiano is also a very tolerant and sociable dog, making it an excellent choice for a pet. If you and your family are very active, then the Spinone Italiano is a great dog for you!
This dog will love to exercise with you, go for a run, a hike, or just spend time in nature. After all, this is a sporting dog that needs an hour or two of exercise on a daily basis.
In addition to forming a great relationship with the whole family, including small children, the Spinone Italiano also gets along well with other pets.
One challenging thing with the Spinone Italiano is its stubbornness. He might try to have his own way in everything, so it is necessary to give him lessons in obedience when he is still a puppy. This way, the Spinone Italiano will grow up into a well-behaved and loving dog.
Height: 22-27 inches
Weight: 60-80 pounds
Lifespan: 10-12 years
Temperament: friendly, smart, tolerant
Appearance: muscular build, wiry coat
Coat colors: brown roan, orange roan, orange and white, white
Health issues: elbow and hip dysplasia, heart disease
16. Volpino Italiano
Photo from: @sallivolpino
The Volpino Italiano (or the Italian Spitz) belongs to the Spitz family. In the past, this dog was very popular among the Italian nobility. The Italian Spitz is considered to be related to the German Spitz and the Pomeranian.
This dog is very famous in Italy, but it can rarely be found outside the borders of his home country.
A Volpino Italiano has a small, but extremely harmonious and compact body. Its most famous feature is its soft and fluffy fur.
Training a Volpino Italiano can be successful if you use a lot of praise. Also, it’s helpful to have this puppy’s favorite treats nearby in order to make him as productive as possible! The Volpino Italiano can be very stubborn, so he needs a patient and persistent trainer.
Although a small dog, the Volpino Italiano is a very intelligent and fast dog. He will bark loudly to alarm his owner that there is an intruder on their property, so he makes a great watchdog. He looks adorable, but he can surprise strangers with his strong bark!
This dog is very active, and also successful in dog sports. So, this dog is the best choice for an active and patient owner who can handle this little Spitz!
Height: 9-12 inches
Weight: 9-15 pounds
Lifespan: 13-16 years
Temperament: alert, playful, perky
Appearance: double, fluffy coat, triangle ears
Coat colors: white, red
Health issues: Ectopia lentis
Well, today we met various Italian dogs. As you can see, there are many wonderful guard dogs, hunting dogs, and dogs that will make the perfect life companion that all originated in Italy.
We have some small Italian dogs, while some of them are admirably large! Depending on your lifestyle, I am sure you know which size of dog is the best option for you. But, no matter their size, each of these dogs is for sure a wonderful companion and an honest friend of humans.
While some of them are quite rare, and you won’t even find them outside the borders of Italy, some of them are popular all over the world, and you can find them at professional breeders or at local shelters.
We hope that your favorite one from our list is available in your immediate vicinity, and that you will be able to enjoy the company of one of these exceptional Italian dogs!