Italian dog breeds fit into a variety of categories, but are not as well-known like English or German breeds that have become known across the world. But the variety offered by Italian breeds is just as impressive as that from other countries—from the tiny Maltese lapdog, to the massive Neapolitan Mastiff, Italian dog breeds cover the gamut.
The Cane Corso, also known as the Italian Mastiff, was developed as a guard dog as the name suggests (cane meaning ‘dog’, and corso meaning ‘guard’). It is a large breed, and is used as a companion, guard dog, and even as a hunting dog. The Cane Corso is a highly muscular dog breed, and requires a seasoned owner to provide strong leadership and training.
The Spinone Italiano, also known as the Italian Pointer, is a hunting dog that is loyal, friendly, as well as alert. It has a wiry coat which generally lies flat. This ancient breed has been traced as far back as 500 BC, and is used for hunting (pointing and retrieving) small game, but it also makes a wonderful companion due to its malleable temperament.
Another ancient dog breed, the Maltese is a small breed of dog which traces its ancestry to breeds originating from the Central Mediterranean. They are companion dogs, and as would be expected, have an amiable personality and easygoing. The Maltese is considered hypoallergenic since if properly groomed, it has little to no shedding.
Hailing form the eponymous Romagna region of Italy, the Lagotto Romagnolo (meaning ‘lake dog from Romagna’) is a hunting dog, and excels as a water retriever. Traditionally a working dog, the Lagotto Romagnolo makes a wonderful companion and family pet, as long as there are not small children in the household. The breed has a long life-expectancy, and lives up to 16 years.
Also known as the Italian wolfdog, the Lupo Italiano is a modern breed which was created in the 1960s, and is a cross between tamed wolf from the Lazio region of Italy with a German Shepherd. The Lupo Italiano is mostly used as a search and rescue dog, especially for mountain rescues.
The Neapolitan Mastiff, nicknamed as Mastino is a large breed of dog with ancient ancestry. The Mastino is usually used as a guard dog or for protection of person and family. This fearless, and highly protective breed enjoys being around its pack (human family). It enjoys a high level of intelligence with an independent streak. They are quick learners so it is important that they have an experienced trainer and proper socialization.
The Italian Greyhound is a small breed sight hound. It is the smallest of such breeds, and weighs in at 8 to 15 pounds depending on genealogy and sex. The breed can be a great family companion, but due to its fragile frame rough play with children can result in injury. Even though they are small, as a hunting dog they have high energy and prey drive which requires regular exercise.
A sheepdog by breeding the Bergamasco is a large breed dog hailing from the Italian Alps. The Bergamasco is a large breed dog with a strong constitution, but can make a wonderful companion animal if socialized properly. It can even do well as a guard dog. This large breed sheepdog is protected by a thick and heavy coat which cords as it is allowed to grow long.