10 Most Popular Italian Dog Breeds

Do you want to know the most popular Italian dog breeds or dogs that are native to Italy?

Aptly called “man’s best friend,” dogs are the best animal companion, thus, the most popular pet in the world.

There are over 8 million dogs in Italy, excluding unregistered strays. This number makes it one of the most dog-loving countries in the European Union.

A number of dog breeds of different sizes, appearances, and temperaments have originated in Italy.

These native Italian dog breeds range from companion dogs to working dogs, guard dogs, and hunting dogs. All beautiful and adorable!

10 Most Popular Italian Dog Breeds

10 Most Popular Italian Dog Breeds
10 Most Popular Italian Dog Breeds

Let’s delve into the list of 10 most popular Italian dog breeds you might consider taking home to and making your best friend.

1. Italian Greyhound

10 Most Popular Italian Dog Breeds

Also called the Italian sighthound, the Italian greyhound is the smallest of sighthound breeds, weighing no more than 5 kg and standing between 30 and 40 cm. In Italian, this breed is called piccolo levriero Italiano.

Originally bred for hunting hares and rabbits, these smooth-coated dogs are popular among nobles and royals and likely to be included in paintings.

Italian greyhounds adapt really well into any living environment, that’s why they’re such a great companion even to novice owners.

This Italian dog breed is also known for being so friendly and so affectionate to its owners that it’s hard for it to tolerate being alone.

2. Bolognese

Italian Dog Breeds

This Italian dog breed is a small bichon-type dog breed named after the northern Italian city of Bologna.

Bolognese dogs have a long and fluffy white coat that is woolly in texture. While there is no such thing as a non-shedding dog, Bolognese dogs do not lose large amounts of fur like most other dog breeds do.

Bolognese dogs are likely to bond a lot with their owners both indoors and outdoors.

They love to join you for a walk or run errands with while graciously wagging their tails. They’re easily attached to people they bond the most often with, so separation anxiety is most likely to occur when they’re left alone in the house for long hours.

3. Saint Bernard

10 Best Italian Dog Breeds

Known as gentle giants, these native Italian dogs are slow-moving, friendly, and tolerant of young children.

The Saint Bernard dog is also known by several other names such as Alpine mastiff, Saint Bernhardshund, and Bernhardiner.

The Saint Bernard is among the most popular dogs from Italy, beloved around the world, especially by children. This native Italian dog is extremely sociable and outgoing, and very patient with children who adore them.

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Saint Bernards are huge, that’s why they can’t be kept in cramped apartments eventhough they are usually quiet. They love being around their human family and make amazing pets.

The breed was developed to bear the cold alpine conditions so they have a low tolerance to heat, making them prone to heat strokes.

This lovable Italian dog breed is said to have saved at least 2,500 people’s lives in its over 300 years of pathfinding and rescuing in the Valais Alps.

4. Neapolitan Mastiff

Heavy-boned and massive, the mere appearance of this giant Italian dog breed is awe-inspiring.

But if you think Neapolitan mastiffs are scary, then you’re wrong. They are actually laid-back and sweet, cuddly and adorable, which make them such great family pets.

Neapolitan mastiffs are true molossians, direct descendants of the ancient breed called Molossian that existed some 2,000 to 4,000 years ago. Neapolitan mastiffs have retained all the characteristics of the ancient Molossian with their big heads, droopy faces, dewlaps, and wrinkles.

Neapolitan mastiffs are fast albeit heavy, powerfully built, and known for being such couch potatoes. They are brave and can be savagely fierce if need be, and very protective of their family and territory, so they make really great guard dogs.

5. Cane Corso

Just like the Neapolitan mastiff, this native Italian dog descends from Roman war dogs. The Cane Corso, otherwise known as the Italian mastiff, was bred for hunting wild boars, but today it is kept as a companion although serving more as a guard dog.

Cane Corsos are very muscular and less bulky compared to most of their mastiff cousins. They are short-coated, with shades ranging from gray to fawn as well as brindle.

Despite this dog’s large and intimidating physical appearance, a Cane Corso can actually be gentle and affectionate toward his human family, including children. To achieve such good temperament, Cane Corso puppies should be trained and socialized early on.

Cane Corsos are fiercely loyal and very exclusive to their owners. They are wary of strangers and small animals.

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6. Volpino Italiano

Italian Dog Breeds

The small Volpino Italiano, or simply Volpino, just like the Pomeranian, comes from the Spitz family. Sharing the same genes, the two breeds have striking similarities, except that the native Italian dog is generally heavier than its German cousin.

The two are both noisy barkers. Both are also energertic. However, these cute furballs are everything but delicate, which makes them not suitable for families with very young children.

The Volpino has been around since ancient times. In the 18th and 19th centuries, this breed was common in Lazio, where it was known as the Cane del Quirinale. Around the same time, it was also popular in Tuscany, where they called it the Cane di Firenze bbbnnnnnn (“Florence dog”). These dogs were used by carters and shepherds as guard dogs.

The Volpino Italiano breed almost went extinct if not for the American Eskimo dog breeders who wanted a toy-sized version of the Eskie so they bred the Volpino to their Eskies. This resulted in Italian dog breeders showing new interest in the Volpino. The Volpino population has replenished since and today remains a viable breed.

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7. Bergamasco Shepherd Dog

10 Most Popular Italian Dog Breeds

Known in Italian as the Cane da Pastore Bergamasco, the Bergamasco shepherd dog – or simply Bergamasco – originated in the Bergamasque Alps, where shepherds have used it as a herding dog for centuries.

The Bergamasco is a medium to large sheepdog, characterized by a very distinct shaggy coat – the breed’s hallmark – that comes in shades of black and gray or a combination of both. This coat is comprised of three layers of woven felted hair that protects this mountain dog from the harsh cold as well as the wild predators of the Italian Alps.

This native Italian dog was originally bred as a guard dog. However, shepherds discovered the Bergamasco to be a highly intelligent dog, being able to figure out how to herd the sheep all on its own.

The Bergamasco shepherd dogs are not only excellent herders but great family pets as well due to their extreme loyalty and protectiveness of their owners.

8. Spinone Italiano

10 Most Popular Italian Dog Breeds - Dogs That Are Native to Italy

Another large shaggy dog originating in Italy, the Spinone Italiano is a hunting breed – tireless, playful, intelligent, and very easygoing despite looking like your gruffy grandpops!

The Spinone Italiano is a large sporting dog donning a wiry coat that’s medium in length, with some longer hair that forms its eyebrows and beard.

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This Italian dog breed is gentle, docile, and affectionate, which make it suitable for families with school-age children (6 years old and up). They are perfect pets, provided they get enough daily exercise, which every sporting dog needs.

9. Bracco Italiano

This native Italian dog, the Bracco Italiano, is thought to have existed since the 4th or 5th century. The Bracco is also called the Italian pointer. It is deemed by experts to be the oldest pointer in Europe and ancestor of many European pointing breeds.

The robust, muscular Bracco Italiano is characterized by a large head, long droopy ears, and upper lips that hang beneath the lower jaw. This Italian dog breed looks like a cross between a bloodhound and a German shorthaired pointer. It has a short and glossy coat that comes in various shades, including solid white and white with patches of either orange, chestnut brown, and amber.

The Bracco makes a good family pet because while it is energetic in the field, this dog becomes gentle around its human family at home. It is fiercely loyal and devoted to its family.

10. Segugio Italiano

The Segugio Italiano or simply Segugio (plural: Segugi) is also known as the Segit and the Coursing hound.

This Italian dog breed is ancient, like thousands of years old. It is a scenthound dog gifted with exceptional sense of smell, therefore, an excellent hunting dog.

These native Italian dogs were used in hunting wild boars, then the boars became scarce and the Segugi instead became a companion for hare and rabbit hunters. These dogs are great solitary hunters as well.

The Segugi are speedy medium-built dogs with longish oval-shaped heads, Roman nose, and long droopy ears. They come in two varieties – the wire-haired (pelo forte) and short-haired (pelo raso). Their coats come in black and tan coat or in shades of dark to faded fawn.

As hounds the Segugi are happiest when hunting in the outdoors. However, they are also calm and gentle with children, which make them such ideal family pets.

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