Volpino Italiano – Everything You Need To Know

The Volpino Italiano or the Lupino is a rare Italian Spitz-type dog descended from the early Spitz hounds that existed thousand years ago. Widely owned by noblemen and peasants, they were very affectionate and energetic. Bred in ancient Italy, Volpino Italianos are now a rare breed rarely found outside their homeland.

Featuring a foxy face and a strong body covered in dense fur, Volpinos immensely love their people and homes, and they have a reputation for getting along well with any kid or other pets in the household. Despite their small size, Volpinos are active dogs requiring plenty of attention, so pet owners should be ready for their high exercise needs. In addition, they make excellent watchdogs and may be used as bird dogs if appropriately trained. Volpinos can be vocal and sound an alarm if an outsider comes close to their property. Also, their mischievous personality makes them the best partner to spend a relaxed evening after a long day at work.

Volpino Italiano Overview

Volpino Italiano dogs are amazing little pups with prominent personalities, and they are gentle, friendly, curious, and fearless. Early socialization allows them to be easygoing enough to live in a family with older children and other pets. However, if you live in an apartment, you must teach your dog quiet commands, as loud noises tend to trigger their character’s yapping side. Volpinos require moderate grooming but are relatively easy to maintain and train because of their smartness and eager-to-please attitude. Also, they need plenty of mental and physical stimulation. So, be ready to spend lots of time exercising and playing to build a bond and happy life with these adorable puppies.

If you are looking for a small but generally active companion who can excel at canine sports such as nose work, agility, and rallying, this ball of energy is one to consider.

Volpino Italiano Pros and Cons

Athletic and agileMight be bossy and overprotective if not well-socialized early
Good with children and other petsProne to genetic health issues
People-oriented and eager to pleaseProne to separation anxiety

Volpino Italiano Basic Information

  • Name: Volpino Italiano
  • Origin: Italy
  • Size: Small
  • Height: 10.5 – 12 inches
  • Weight: 10 – 16 pounds (male); 8 – 12 pounds (female)
  • Coat: Dense, long, straight, and standing-off coat.
  • Color: Black, red, champagne, white, fawn
  • Energy: Medium
  • Activities: Walking, hiking, playing fetch, agility, companion dogs, conformation, obedience, herding.
  • Barking Level: High
  • Shedding Level: High
  • Hypoallergenic: No
  • Litter Size: 3 – 6 puppies
  • Other Names: Cane de Quirinale, Florentine Spitz, Italian Spitz, Volpino
  • Life Span: 12 – 16 years

History of Volpino Italiano

The Volpino Italiano is an ancient breed descended from the old European Spitz and has been bred in Italy for many years. Volpinos were idolized in the noblemen’s palaces and the ordinary people’s hovels, where they got an appreciation for their guarding instinct. Regarding their exact origin, researchers believe that the Volpino contributed their DNA to several modern-day breeds, such as the American Eskimo, Pomeranian, and German Spitz. At the height of their popularity, Volpinos was a favored companion of Italian royalty and peasant farmers. It is said that Michelangelo loved the company of these cheerful breeds and had several throughout his life.

  • The first Kennel Club to recognize the Volpinos was the Italian Kennel Club (ENCI) in 1903.
  • The Federation Cynologique Internationale recognized the breed in 1956.
  • The American Kennel Club is yet to recognize them fully; however, breeders are diligently working to have them accepted.
  • The United Kennel Club (UKC) recognized the Italian Volpino in 2006.

Volpino Italiano Highlights

  • Volpino makes an excellent watchdog.
  • Volpinos are highly vocal.
  • These dogs are happy, alert, and intelligent. However, if they have no activities and get bored, they are inclined to dangerous behavior like excessive barking and chewing inappropriately.
  • Volpinos love being around their families and suffer separation anxiety when left alone.
  • Pet owners ought to be intelligent people when they own a Volpino. Else their lives will be guided by their dogs.

Volpino Italiano Personality

Volpino is a small, squarely built, plush-furred, little Spitz breed. Volpino means ‘fox-like.’ This foxy resemblance is most evident in their pointed ears, sharp and narrow faces, and wedge-shaped heads.

Volpino Italianos are:

  • Active and playful companion
  • Attached to their people and are loyal to them
  • Alert, protecting their pack and territory
  • Guard and companion dogs

Volpinos adapt quickly to new circumstances. They can be headstrong. The dogs’ solid and distinct personalities should be steered in the right direction with constant education. You must establish a clear hierarchy and show them you can master any situation. They enjoy all kinds of games and canine sports. They are very protective of their human families but are far more likely to alert their owners of suspicious strangers than become aggressive. In addition, Volpinos can easily share their home with kids and other animals with proper training and early socialization.

Friendliness Overview

Affection levelHigh
Kid-friendlyMedium to high

Adaptability Overview

Good for apartment livingHigh
Good for new ownersMedium to high
Sensitivity levelHigh
Tolerates being aloneLow 
Cold toleranceMedium to high
Heat toleranceMedium

Volpino Italiano Physical Features


  • Pyramid-shaped head
  • Slightly egg-shaped skull
  • Well-defined stop
  • Large, black nose with well-opened nostrils
  • The muzzle is inferior in length to the skull, with pointed lateral surfaces but not exaggeratedly.
  • Well-opened, roundish eyes
  • Triangular-shaped, pricked ears
  • Thick, tightly closed lips
  • Strong jaws, customarily developed white teeth, regular and complete set of teeth.
  • Scissor bite or pincer bite is acceptable. 

Neck, Topline, and body: 

  • Well-muscled neck that is always carried upright.
  • Square-built body
  • Straight dorsal line with slightly convex over the loins
  • Withers are slightly raised from the dorsal line.
  • Straight, strong musculature back
  • Short, broad, well-muscled, and slightly arched loin

Tail: Strong tail set in the croup’s prolongation and carried permanently curled over the back, reaching as near the neck as possible.


  • Legs are set vertically to each other and parallel to the median plane of the body. 
  • Well-developed muscles
  • Elbows are set parallel to the median plane of the body.
  • Stong, dry musculature forearm
  • Strong, broad carpus and slightly sloping, wide metacarpus. 

Feet: Oval-shaped forefeet with closely knit arched toes.


  • Broad hindquarters with well-developed muscles
  • Strong hock joints
  • Vertical and perfectly straight pasterns
  • Strong pads with black pigmentation, nails preferably black.

Coat: Dense, long, straight, and standing-off coat.

Color: White or red. The champagne color is tolerated but not desirable. 

Gait: Normal trot, gait with typical steps, not striding out.

Disqualification (AKC Standards)

  • Male dogs must have two normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum. 
  • Only functionally and clinically healthy dogs with breed-typical conformation should be utilized for breeding.
  • Aggressive or overly shy dogs. 
  • Convex nose bridge
  • Ears completely drooping
  • Overshot bite
  • Wall eye
  • Lack of tail or very short tail, whether congenital or acquired
  • Total depigmentation of the nose or eye rims. 
  • Any color except white, red, or the not-desirable champagne color 
  • Red markings on basic white color, white or black markings on basic red color.

Volpino Italiano Temperament

Volpino Italiano is a vigorous, multi-functional dog with exceptional guarding and hunting instincts. They make excellent watchdogs. Good socialization techniques and training can reduce excessive barking and overreactions to new situations. For instance, they might attempt to herd smaller animals and nip at the heels and legs of children to herd them, but Volpinos won’t hurt them.

Volpino dogs are excellent family pets and enjoy bonding with the human family. They will quickly get along with all other pets, provided they are socialized as pups and were raised with them. The only downside of their loyal and devoted character is that they can easily undergo separation anxiety if left alone for an extended time.

Volpino Italiano Training

It shouldn’t be that difficult to train a Volpino dog. Since these breeds are intelligent and lively, they will quickly pick up the concept you conduct. They also excel at herding or dog sports training as they grow older. However, behavioral issues like digging and barking can arise without proper training. While they make exceptional watchdogs, Volpinos will also likely become excessive barkers. These traits should be discouraged early by positive reinforcement techniques.

Here are some of the training exercises that you need to do with your Volpino dog:

Here are a few dog interactive toys and products that you can use while training:

ASOCEA Dog Extendable Teaser Wand
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Ultra Tug & Toss Dog Toy
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Dog Puzzle Toys
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Milk-Bone Soft & Chewy Dog Treats
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Blue Buffalo Health Bars
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BAAPET 2/4/5/6 FT Dog Leash
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Trainability Overview

Easy to trainHigh
Prey driveMedium
Mouthiness tendenciesLow to medium
Barking and Howling tendenciesHigh 
Wanderlust tendenciesLow to medium

Volpino Italiano Exercise Needs

Volpino dogs are exceptional family pets and enjoy bonding with the human family. They will quickly get along with all other pets, provided they are socialized as pups and were raised with them. Volpinos are highly energetic dogs who need lots of daily exercises and exercises to help with physical and mental stimulation. They will flourish with at least one hour of daily exercise combined with play sessions, training lessons, or training like agility, herding, obedience, and tracking events to keep their mind occupied. They are playful and active breeds but retain a firm herding drive; hence, those who can deliver a doorway for these instincts are recommended. Volpinos are sensitive puppies, so you must avoid punishments, yelling, and harsh treatment, which will make them more determined.

You can meet your Volpino’s daily exercise essentials by:

  • Teaching new tricks
  • Walking 
  • Fetching 
  • Chasing 
  • Playing with puzzle toys 
  • Playing tug of war 
  • Schutzhund 
  • Frisbee 
  • Herding trials 
  • Flyball 
  • Agility training 
  • Hiking 
  • Dog park

Here are a few puzzles and dog toys to keep your pet engaged:

Nina Ottosson Interactive Treat Puzzle Game Dog Toys
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TOMAHAUK Snuffle Mat for Dogs
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TRIXIE Dog Activity Flip Board Dog Puzzle Toy
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LOOBANI Dog Puzzle Toys Wooden
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Benebone Wishbone Durable Dog Chew Toy
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Pacific Pups Products 18 Piece Dog Toy Set
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KONG Flyer
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Exercise Needs Overview

Energy levelMedium to high
Exercise needsMedium to high
PlayfulnessMedium to high

Volpino Italiano Grooming

The Volpino’s double coat — a soft, dense undercoat and a rough, protective outer coat with guard hair is simple to maintain. However, you must brush once or twice weekly to remove dead hair and prevent shedding. Also, wet their skin after every brush and leave it to dry naturally. Regular bathing, mainly in the spring and summer, is essential to help with seasonal shedding, as Volpinos tend to shed more during those times. In addition, you should check their ears weekly for signs of infection, such as redness, debris, and odor. Trim their nails to avoid nail growth and clicking sound. Finally, using dog toothpaste, brushing their teeth should be done at least twice a week to maintain their gums and teeth healthy.

Here are a few products and equipment to meet your Volpino grooming needs:

Wahl Dry Skin & Itch Relief Pet Shampoo for Dogs
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Earth Rated Dog Wipes
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Vet’s Best Dog Toothbrush
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Arm & Hammer for Pets Tartar Control Kit for Dogs
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Virbac Epi-Otic Advanced Ear Cleanser for Dogs
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OPULA Dog Eye Wipes
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Dudi Dog Nail Clippers
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Grooming Overview

Easy to groomMedium to high
Drooling tendenciesLow
Amount of sheddingHigh

Volpino Italiano Health

The Volpino is generally considered a healthy dog but is still predisposed to inherited conditions like other purebred dogs. Therefore, reliable breeders strive to keep high standards by testing adult dogs before breeding. Then, to maintain your pup’s health, take them for regular vet check-ups and keep them updated with their vaccines.

Health Overview

General HealthHigh
Weight gain tendenciesMedium to high

Cataract: A condition seen as cloudy spots on the eye lens that grow gradually. This disease can develop at any age and often doesn’t affect vision; however, rare cases cause vision loss. Fortunately, you can remove cataracts surgically with good results.

Hip dysplasia: A hereditary disorder in which the thigh bone fails to fit into the hip joint. One or both legs of your dog may become lame or ache. X-ray is the best way to analyze the situation. It is not advisable to breed dogs with hip dysplasia.


  • Wrong exercises  
  • Excessive weight gain  
  • Injuries  


  • Reluctance to rise, jump, run, or climb  
  • Enlarging shoulders  
  • Pain  
  • Stiffness  
  • Reduced activity and movements  
  • Reducing thigh muscle mass  
  • Grating in the joint during movement  
  • Lameness in the hind limbs  

Obesity: Volpinos are prone to obesity and worsening hip and elbow dysplasia. This disease negatively hits a dog’s fitness and durability. Obese dogs exhibit an increased risk of heart disease, digestive conditions, diabetes, joint problems, and hypertension. 

Primary Lens Luxation (PLL): This illness usually starts to take place around middle age, and it is radical and can lead to subsequent blindness. It is triggered by the collapse of the fibers that keep the lens in place. There is a PPL test that is advised for breeders to have done on probable parents.

Primary Glaucoma: This condition is affected by the lowered capacity to sink fluid from the eye, producing pain and eventual blindness. Glaucoma in Volpino is often related to an irregularity in the eye called Goniodysgenesis, which is believed to be genetic.

Patellar Luxation: When the patella (kneecap), which generally lies in the cleft of the femur (thighbone), slips out of position, it is referred to as the luxating patella. If the patella luxates, your dog may feel periodic hind limb “skipping,” lameness, or locking up the leg at an irregular angle. 

Small dog syndrome: Volpinos suffer from this syndrome, a collective behavior change exhibited by small dogs. They do all activities to overcome their small statures, such as excited manners, growling at people and other pets, and jumping up on pet parents, people, or other pets. 

Volpino Italiano Diet and Nutrition

You can feed your Volpinos with 3/4 to 1.5 cups of high-quality dog food daily, divided into two meals. With your vet’s supervision and approval, a Volpino dog should do well on high-quality canine food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared. Some Volpinos are prone to getting overweight, so monitor their weight level and calorie consumption. Treats can be an integral aid in training, but giving too many treats can result in obesity. Please consult your vet to feed your dog a healthy diet and portion schedule based on their weight, age, and activity level.

Here are the foods and supplements to meet your Volpino’s nutrition needs:

Purina ONE Natural Dry Dog Food
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Blue Buffalo Natural Adult Dry Dog Food
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VetIQ Hip & Joint Supplement
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Milk-Bone Hip & Joint Dog Supplement
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Pure Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil
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Multifunctional Supplements for Dogs
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Wag Wet Dog Food Topper
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Purina ONE High Protein Wet Dog Food
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Volpino Italiano Living condition

Exercising your Volpino’s body and mind is more important than having a large fenced yard or living space. They are ideal for active pet parents or families with children. They need lots of engagement to keep them mentally and physically stimulated. Your Volpinos cannot tolerate extreme weather; hence avoid taking them outdoors when it’s too warm or cold.

Did You Know?

  • Italian immigrants brought the Volpino breed to North America in the late 19th century and early 20th century.
  • Volpinos obtain their name from the Latin term “Vulpes,” meaning “Fox.”
  • Queen Victoria is said to have brought home a pair of Volpino dogs from Florence, Italy, in 1888. There, she contributed to the breed’s misidentification by referring to them as Pomeranian toy dogs.

Volpino Italiano Club Recognition

Volpino Italiano Club of America

Adding a Volpino Italiano to Your Family

Things to remember before adding a Volpino Italiano to your family

Generally speaking, if you want to bring home a Volpino, you may have the pursuit on your hands. Unfortunately, as a rare breed whose numbers have dwindled, it’s unlikely that you’ll find these hounds in a rescue center or shelter. Getting a Volpino from a reputable breeder is best to prevent unavoidable circumstances like health and vaccination. Also, checking with the puppy’s parents to cross-check its health and happiness is best.

Cost of a Volpino Italiano

A Volpino Italiano’s cost ranges from $600 to $800, not including miscellaneous expenses.

Volpino Italiano Videos

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