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Italian Spinone hereditary health and longevity

Italian Spinone hereditary health and longevity

Health & Safety

The Italian Spinone is a gun dog breed that hails from Italy, and is today still widely used as a working dog. They are also considered to be very versatile, and can also be found working as assistance dogs, and are common family pets too, mainly within Italy but also across the rest of the world. They are noted for being alert, friendly, loyal and playful, as well as being intelligent and amenable to training.

They are a medium to large sized breed, with males standing up to 28” tall at the withers and weighing up to 39kg. Bitches tend to be slightly smaller than male dogs. The coat of the breed is wiry and tough, ranging from 1.5 to 2.5” long. The hair on the face, head and legs is slightly shorter, other than the long eyebrows, moustache and beard for which the breed is known. They can be seen in a range of colours including all white, white and orange, orange roan, white with brown, and brown roan. The skin on the nose, lips and paws should be orangey coloured rather than pink.

If you are considering buying or adopting one of these loving, friendly dogs, it is important to do plenty of research into the breed first, in order to make an informed decision on a purchase. In this article we will look at the hereditary health and average longevity of the breed in more detail. Read on to learn more.

Italian Spinone average longevity

The average lifespan of the Italian Spinone is 8.7 years of age, which is rather lower than the average across the board for all breeds of a similar size and weight. Certain hereditary health problems have helped to contribute to the shorter than average lifespan of the breed as a whole, but health screening and Italian Spinone breed organisation schemes are working hard to improve the overall health of the breed across the board.

Genetic diversity

The coefficient of inbreeding statistic for the Italian Spinone is 4.4%, which is lower than the 6.25% or less that is considered to be the ideal for pedigree dog breeds. This indicates that the breed as a whole is relatively genetically diverse, and that the breed is not subjected to a wide range of problems as the result of inbreeding.


The build and conformation of the Italian Spinone is generally considered to be well balanced and over all healthy, and the breed as a whole is not considered to be negatively affected by exaggerated features or overtyping.

However, like all breeds of dog that have a relatively deep chest, the breed is considered to be at risk of bloat or gastric torsion, a dangerous condition that causes the stomach to fill with gas and potentially flip over on itself. This condition can prove fatal if prompt veterinary attention is not sought.

Health testing for the Italian Spinone

In order to improve the health of the breed as a whole and reduce the incidence rate of certain hereditary conditions within the breed, the British Veterinary Association recommends that dogs of the breed be screened for certain hereditary health conditions. These include:

  • Hip dysplasia, with the mean hip score for the breed being 10.9. Potential parent dogs should receive a hip score below this figure in order to be considered as good candidates for breeding.
  • Elbow dysplasia, with the ideal elbow score being zero.
  • DNA testing of parent dogs should be undertaken to identify a propensity to cerebellar ataxia, a neurological condition that causes premature death.
  • Bitches of the breed should not be bred from until they are at least two years old.

Other health issues

A small range of other health problems are known to be present within the gene pool of the breed as a whole, although no pre-breeding testing is currently available for these conditions.

Some of the known conditions within the breed that have a hereditary element to them include:

  • Idiopathic epilepsy, although this can often be managed with medication. Known epileptic dogs should not be used for breeding.
  • Various different cardiac problems, with heart disease in later life being relatively common within the breed.
  • Atopy, a hypersensitivity to certain protein particles, including pollen. This causes an allergic reaction within the dog, leading to intense itching of the skin. Affected dogs will scratch themselves to distraction, possibly leading to sore spots and broken skin.
  • Entropion, a condition of the eyes that leads to the lids turning inwards and rubbing on the eyeball.
  • Panosteitis, an inflammatory bone condition that usually presents itself in younger dogs.
  • Hypothyroidism, caused by an underactive thyroid gland. This condition can often be managed with supplementary hormone therapy.
  • Osteochondrosis, a condition caused by abnormal cartilage development in younger dogs of the breed, leading to lameness.
  • Various different types of cancers, particularly in old age.