The Spinone Italiano is an upland bird dog; a versatile hunter bred and trained to search for, point and retrieve game on land and water. They are known to range closer to their handler, and hunt with cooperation, focus and endurance.

I didn’t grow up in a hunting family, and came to the Spinone breed with no knowledge or experience in the sport of hunting upland birds. Since the Spinone is a versatile hunter, I wanted to become educated and involved in that aspect of the breed as well, especially since I wanted to consider breeding. The SCOA and breeders are working hard to preserve the Spinone as a WORKING dog…yes, the Spinone makes an excellent family companion, but it’s important to preserve the natural hunt ability of the breed, and try to maintain that ability in our breeding programs.

I entered Rosi in an obedience class offered for versatile hunting breeds. Though the class, I was fortunate to meet a seasoned hunter who owns a GSP, and was a NAVHDA Chapter Officer. He was impressed with Rosi in class, and provided some guidance and encouraged us to move forward with the Natural Ability Test through MnNAVHDA. He allowed Rosi and I to tag along for a few training sessions at a local Game/Training farm, helping me to expose Rosi to birds, water and gunshot. We took part in a NAVHDA training day to get a feel for the NA Test, and found Rosi to be an incredibly gifted natural hunter. The Judges awarded Rosi a Prize 1 perfect score of 112 at 12 months…truly an accomplishment, as she had a novice like me as her handler.

In addition to the NAVHDA NA Test, we entered and earned Rosi’s AKC Jr. Hunt Title in two double hunt tests, receiving excellent qualifying scores in all 4 legs. In my limited experience with Spinoni as hunters, I have found them to hunt with intelligence and cooperation. They typically do not hunt with the racy speed of some of the versatile breeds, ranging closer to their handler with drive, determination and focus. The trainability factor is excellent, because you don’t have to fight the excessive energy common to some breeds to gain their attention and concentration. Most Spinone naturally love the water, and are excellent swimmers.

The Spinone is steadily earning the respect of serious hunters, and the hunt community in general as they see their work in the field, both in testing events, and in practice.

As a breeder, I like to place puppies with families that hunt, and I encourage prospective puppy families to join NAVHDA, take part in the training opportunities, and handle their puppy in the NA Test. If you are looking at the possibility of adding a Spinone to your family for their many attributes as a companion, I applaud and encourage you…they are an amazing breed and can be a happy, well-loved family member without competing for a NAVHDA Utility Title…HOWEVER, I believe a dog is more whole if they are allowed to experience…at some level…what they were bred to do. You don’t have to be a hunter to appreciate the talent of the breed, and if you get involved, you may find a new hobby that you can enjoy with your dog. The NAVHDA organization is doing a wonderful job of supporting and encouraging novices, women, and children, offering training opportunities and mentoring programs.