Italian Dog Breeds and Why They’re a Good Choice

Italy is renowned for its delicious food, wineries, and fashion sense. In addition, it’s also celebrated for its dog breeds. These dogs are lauded for their kind nature, obedience, and deep-set loyalty. Breeds like the Bolognese, Cane Corso, Alano, Bruscoli, among others, fall within these beloved pets!

Bruscoli Dog

The Bruscoli, or “Italian Red Snout,” is a very distinctive breed that looks like the lovechild of a bulldog and an English mastiff. It’s thought to be related to both breeds. This dog weighs around 80 pounds when full-grown, but it’s not necessarily bulky in stature. Although this dog is friendly, it’s usually used as a guard dog because of its territorial nature and size. Notable features include:

  • Big, round, dark-coloured eyes with an intelligent gaze
  • Ears that stand at attention
  • Feet that look like they’re wearing little boots.

The Bruscoli is an ancient breed thought to be extinct until it was brought back in the 1970s. It is well-known for its large head, big ribcage, and muscular stature.


The Bolognese dog breed is a small, fluffy white dog with big eyes and floppy ears. It’s an old breed that originated in Italy as a companion or lapdog for Italian noblewomen. However, it probably has some spaniel influence. The first written record of this dog is from the 13th century, though it’s been around long before that.

It was also a favourite with Italian artists, which means many paintings from the Renaissance depict Bolognese dogs. One thing you’ll notice right away is how their coats seem to be constantly growing and getting longer!

It’s not hard to see where the Bolognese gained its name. Not only does this dog look like a dumpling, but it also has a dumpling personality! It’s lively and full of life but extremely gentle and sweet as well. They love to be held and cuddled, but they’re also quite active outdoors.

Bolognese dogs are relatively new compared to most dog breeds, but they’re still popular as family pets.

Cane Corso

The Cane Corso is an Italian mastiff that weighs around 110 pounds and stands at about 27 inches tall. This large breed loves games like tug-of-war and gets along well with children (when appropriately socialised). It’s also known for its loyalty and courage, which means this dog is an excellent guard. This breed first appeared in Italy during the Middle Ages as a hunting companion but later became a war dog.

Cane Corsos are large dogs that look like (and are related to) Pitbulls. However, their build is much leaner than the American pitbull. This is why some people think this dog is a pit bull on steroids! It has a short, coarse coat in various colours, including solid black and tan, brown and tan, and grey and white.

Cane Corsos often win at dog shows because they’re highly athletic, and their coats stand up like mohawks.

Dogo Canario

Another “war dog,” the Dogo Canario, was bred in the Canary Islands for work in the fields. It’s a powerful and agile breed that can hunt wild boars all by itself! The Dogo Canario is a large dog with a short, dense coat in various colours, including brindle and white, black and white, or fawn and white.

They are very confident dogs that rarely show signs of fear. While they can be territorial, Dogo Canarios are pretty good with children if they’re raised together.

Italian Greyhound

The Italian Greyhound is one of the most miniature dog breeds (it usually weighs only about 8 pounds and stands at 14 inches tall). It was bred to be a companion dog rather than a hunter or vermin control. This breed is well-known for its speed and graceful movement – not to mention its elegant appearance! Italian greyhounds have an easy-groom short coat in multiple colours: red, fawn, black and tan, or blue.

Italian greyhounds are energetic and active dogs that love to play games with you. They like to be cuddled on the sofa – but keep an eye on them because they can be quite mischievous!

Maremma Sheepdog

Another brave hunting breed, the Maremma sheepdog, can be suspicious of strangers. It was bred to guard sheep against wolves and bears back in Italy’s olden days. The Maremma Sheepdog is a large dog with a shaggy coat in various colours, including white, fawn, and black.

Maremma sheepdogs are incredibly loyal and protective of the ones they love – especially their families! They’re also intelligent and easy to train.

While these dogs were originally bred to be working dogs, they can still make great pets for active families.


The Otterhound is a hunting dog that’s often mistaken for a basset hound. It was bred to go after small mammals like rabbits and squirrels and giant creatures like otters and badgers. The Otterhound is a large dog with a dense coat of long hair in various colours such as red or tan, orange and white and white.

Otterhounds are strong-willed dogs that need plenty of exercises to stay healthy. They also drool a lot, so brushing their long coats can be quite a challenge!

These dogs were bred for hunting waterfowl, especially in the northlands of Italy. This breed has a thick coat, usually white, but you might find a few yellow or grey. The Spinone is a large dog that stands about 25 inches tall and weighs between 70 and 75 pounds.

Spinone Italiano

Spinone Italiano dogs have an intense gaze (‘spinosity’!) and a natural hunting instinct. They’re also quite friendly with children when they’re raised together.

These dogs were bred to work in the mountains of Italy, where they kept flocks safe from predators. The Maremmano-Abruzzese is a large dog with a shaggy black coat in various colours, including tan and white or grey and white.


Maremmano-Abruzzese dogs have a very gentle and affectionate disposition. They’re great with kids and other pets, but they can become shy around strangers unless they’re brought up together from a young age.

Cirneco dell’Etna

The Cirneco dell’Etna is one of the oldest breeds in Italy, known to have been domesticated by humans thousands of years ago. It was specifically bred to hunt rabbits and birds on the island of Sicily. This small hunting dog has a short, smooth coat that comes in different white or grey markings. The Cirneco dell’Etna is known for its tireless energy and strong determination. It needs an active family, or it might attempt to escape!

Bracco Italiano

The Bracco Italiano is a large hunting breed originally used for bird hunting – hence the ‘Bracco’ in its name means ‘Italian pointer’. This breed has a short coat with feathering on the ears and legs and a short tail. There are three Bracco Italiano coats: either fawn and white, black and white or solid red.


Italian dog breeds are great companions for active families looking to adopt a pet. These dogs have been bred over centuries in Italy, making them some of the most famous Italian enthusiasts. The list above includes much different hunting and working dogs that may be perfect for your home!

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