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Black cane corso close up

Italy is not only famous for its rich history, culture, and cuisine but also for its exquisite dog breeds. From ancient Rome to the present day, Italy has been home to several unique and captivating dog breeds. These breeds boast impressive traits, striking appearances, and loyal personalities. If you’re a dog lover, get ready to discover seven beautiful dog breeds from Italy and learn all about their unique characteristics.

1. Italian greyhound

With their elegant and slender build, Italian greyhounds are often referred to as miniature versions of the greyhound. Known for their grace and agility, these dogs have a gentle nature and are cherished as loyal companions. Their sleek coats and captivating eyes make them truly eye-catching. This is one of the most popular Italian dog breeds and makes for a great, loving family pet.

Italian greyhound resting on sofa

Facts about the Italian greyhound

  • Breed groupToy group (American Kennel Club)
  • Intelligence — Average
  • Barking — When necessary
  • Life span — 14-15 years

2. Neapolitan mastiff

The Neapolitan mastiff is a large dog breed with a long history as guardians and protectors. Their massive size, loose skin, and signature wrinkles give these Italian mastiffs a unique appearance. Despite their fierce appearance, they are known to be affectionate and protective of their families. If you decide on a Neapolitan mastiff, you’ll love the gentle giant.

Neapolitan mastiff walking on grass

Facts about the Neapolitan mastiff

  • Breed groupWorking group (American Kennel Club)
  • Intelligence — Moderate
  • Barking — Rarely
  • Life span — 7-9 years

3. Cane corso

Originating from southern Italy, the cane corso is a majestic and muscular breed with a large head. These powerful dogs have a strong personality and were traditionally used for guarding. They also have a powerful jaw that helped with hunting in their home country. With a confident and intelligent temperament, they make excellent family guard dogs and display unwavering loyalty to their loved ones.

Cane Corso walking in a forest

Facts about the cane corso

  • Breed groupWorking group
  • Intelligence — High
  • Barking — When necessary
  • Life span — 10-12 years

4. Spinone Italiano

The Spinone Italiano is a versatile and hardworking breed, even in ancient times as it was known for its exceptional hunting abilities. With their wiry coats and distinctively shaggy eyebrows, people love their charming and friendly physical appearance. Today, they are also renowned for their gentle and patient nature, making them popular hunting dogs for retrieving small game and are ideal family pets.

Spinone Italiano side profile

Facts about the Spinone Italiano

  • Breed groupSporting group (American Kennel Club)
  • Intelligence — High
  • Barking — When necessary
  • Life span — 10-12 years

5. Lagotto Romagnolo

The lagotto Romagnolo is a medium-sized breed that has gained popularity as a truffle-hunting dog. With their curly and waterproof coat, they are not only hypoallergenic but also incredibly adorable. Lagottos are intelligent, energetic, and highly trainable, making them great family pets.

A llagotto Romagnolo playing on the beach.

Facts about the lagotto Romagnolo

  • Breed groupSporting group (American Kennel Club)
  • Intelligence — High
  • Barking — When necessary
  • Life span — 15-17 years

6. Bracco Italiano

The Bracco Italiano is a majestic hunting breed with a noble expression. Their distinctive pendulous ears and expressive eyes add to their allure. Another name for this breed is the Italian pointer, and it is one of the oldest pointing breeds. Braccos are known for their exceptional scenting abilities and remarkable stamina in the field. With their gentle and affectionate disposition, they make wonderful companions.

Bracco Italiano running along a beach

Facts about the Bracco Italiano

  • Breed groupSporting group (American Kennel Club)
  • Intelligence — High
  • Barking — When necessary
  • Life span — 10-14  years

7. Bolognese

The Bolognese is a small dog breed known for its charming and friendly nature. Records of Bolognese dogs indicate they originated in northern Italy, specifically from the city of Bologna. The Bolognese is a beloved companion dog that has been treasured for centuries, especially amongst wealthy Italians who loved their small size. This bichon-type dog is loyal, devoted, and often referred to as a “velcro dog” because they love to be near their family members at all times. These are also very intelligent dogs.

Low-energy dog breed, the Bolognese

Facts about the Bolognese

  • Breed groupCompanion breed
  • Intelligence — High
  • Barking — When necessary
  • Life span — 12-14 years

Other Italian dog breeds

While we have highlighted seven of the more popular dog breeds from Italy, there are numerous others. If you are unfamiliar about how to pick the right Italian puppy, think of some breeds you like in general. For example, do you like beautiful little dogs similar to small Malteses, or do you want a working dog like a St. Bernard? Or, might a herding breed, like a large sheepdog, be a better fit? Once you know what you like, you can then find a similar breed of Italian heritage.

Also, remember that you don’t have to go to an Italian breeder or travel to central Italy to get one of these dogs. You can find them in North America, too. Look at the AKC’s registration statistics if you want a purebred or even a rare dog. Research responsible breeders and rescues in areas near you. Here are some other Italian dog breeds that hail from native Italy:

  • Cirneco of Etna
  • Cane di Mannara
  • Segugio Maremmano
  • Lupo Italiano
  • Maremmano-Abruzzese sheepdog
  • Bergamasco sheepdog
  • Segugio Italiano

Finding the right Italian dog for you

Italy is home to a number of dog breeds, each with its own unique characteristics and qualities. If you’re considering getting an Italian dog breed, it’s essential to find the right one that aligns with your lifestyle, preferences, and needs. Here are some factors to consider when finding the perfect Italian dog for you:


Italian dogs vary in size, from small toy breeds like the Volpino Italiano and Italian greyhound to medium-sized breeds like the lagotto Romagnolo and Bracco Italiano, and large Italian dogs like giant Neapolitan mastiffs and cane corsos. Consider the space you have available, as well as your ability to meet the exercise and activity needs of different-sized dogs.

Temperament and energy level

Evaluate the temperament and energy level of the breed you’re interested in. Some Italian dog breeds are known for their calm and laid-back nature, while others are more energetic and require regular exercise and mental stimulation. Consider your own activity level and the amount of time and effort you can devote to exercising and training a dog. Even if you think it is the right puppy at first, It can be very hard work to try and adjust to a lifestyle that doesn’t align.

Some of the individual breeds tend to have a more aggressive nature (cane corso for example) towards other animals or people not within the family — but this also makes them good guard and livestock guard dogs. Early socializing and training are very important.

Dr. Bruce Armstrong

Lifestyle compatibility

Think about your lifestyle and how a dog will fit into it. Some Italian breeds, like the Bolognese, are well-suited for apartment living and are more adaptable to various environments. Others, such as the cane corso and Spinone Italiano, may require more space and a larger yard. Consider factors like your work schedule, travel plans, and family dynamics to ensure you can provide the necessary care and attention for your chosen breed.

Grooming and maintenance

Different Italian breeds have varying grooming requirements. Breeds like the lagotto Romagnolo and Bergamasco shepherd have coats that require regular brushing and professional grooming, while others, like the cane corso and Italian greyhound, have shorter coats that are easier to maintain at home. Consider how much time and effort you can dedicate to grooming and maintaining your dog’s coat.


Research the trainability and intelligence of the breed you’re interested in. Some Italian breeds, like the lagotto Romagnolo and Bolognese, are highly trainable and eager to please, while others, such as the Neapolitan mastiff, may be more independent and stubborn. Consider your experience with dog training and your willingness to invest time and effort in training and socializing your dog.

Health considerations

Familiarize yourself with any breed-specific health concerns or genetic predispositions. Some Italian breeds, like the cane corso and Neapolitan mastiff, are prone to certain health issues. It’s essential to be aware of these potential health concerns and ensure you have access to quality veterinary care.

Finding the right Italian dog for you involves careful consideration of your lifestyle, preferences, and commitment to responsible dog ownership. With proper research and consideration, you can find the perfect Italian breed that will bring joy, companionship, and a touch of Italy to your life.