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Top 14 Most Popular Dogs in Italy in 2024 (With Pictures)

Written by: Nicole Cosgrove

Last Updated on April 4, 2024 by Dogster Team

Top 14 Most Popular Dogs in Italy in 2024 (With Pictures)

Man’s best friend comes in all shapes and sizes and from all different countries! Italy hosts a vast range of dog breeds, some of them varying dramatically from each other. In the past as well as the present, these dogs have been bred for hunting, herding, or simply just for companionship.

In general, Italian dog breeds fall into one of several groups. These groups categorize dogs based on their purpose, such as sheep herding. We’ll examine dogs from all of these categories in this article.

Want to learn the most popular dog breeds in Italy? Keep reading and find out!

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The 14 Most Popular Dogs in Italy

Scenthounds

Scenthounds are, as their name suggests, bred for a keen sense of smell. They use their nose to track their prey more than their eyes and can follow their targets from a long distance away.

1. Italian Greyhound

Italian-Greyhound-basks-in-the-summer-heat_Rebekah-Zemansky_Shutterstock
Image by: Rebekah Zemansky, Shutterstock
Size: 12.5–15 inches
Weight: 7–14 pounds

Although these dogs were initially bred for hunting, they are often kept as house pets due to their small size. Nonetheless, this breed is still more than equipped for hunting, as it can reach high speeds in a short window of time to chase down prey. If you’re curious how fast this dog can run, it can reach speeds up to 37 miles per hour!

The Italian Greyhound has been known for its speed for generations. The origins of the dog go back centuries, but it was derived from the Egyptian Greyhound and is beloved enough to be depicted on vases.

This dog also makes a wonderful companion. It is an excellent fit for active families due to its energetic and loving nature, and it is keenly intelligent. Italian Greyhounds are a loyal breed that will dedicate themselves to you and crave your attention.


2. Segugio Maremmano

Segugio Maremanno_Ricantimages_Shutterstock
Image by: Ricantimages_Shutterstock
Size: 19–23 inches
Weight: 40–60 pounds

The Segugio Maremmano is named from the place the breed originates: Maremma. It can hunt prey as large as a boar and does not give up easily. It is known for its determination and energy, making it an excellent companion for active families. It is excellent with children and is known to enjoy playing games.

However, it is important to train a Segugio Maremmano. This breed is incredibly intelligent and requires mental stimulation. Since the dog is both energetic and astute, it will regularly cause mischief if it does not have a physical and mental outlet.


3. Segugio Italiano

Segugio Italiano_f8grapher_Shutterstock
Image by: f8grapher, Shutterstock
Size: 20–24 inches
Weight: 44–62 pounds

The Segugio Italiano can be either rough-haired (a pelo forte) or short-haired (a pelo raso). This breed dates back to ancient Egypt and can be seen in many artistic depictions.

Like most hunting dogs, it can reach incredible running speeds and has an excellent sense of smell. Today, the dogs are also known as pleasant companion pets since they are well-suited for family life and are exceptional with children.

They are not, however, naturally open to strangers. They are reserved when it comes to people they are unfamiliar with and can have a protective nature. But when it comes to other dogs, the Segugio Italiano is more than ready to make a new friend.

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Herding dogs are known for their instinct and ability to round up flocks of animals to keep the herd together. They are vital for keeping livestock safe from predators.

4. Maremma & Abruzzes Sheepdog

maremmano-abruzzese sheepdog_RossHelen_Shutterstock
Image by: RossHelen, Shutterstock
Size: 26–27 inches
Weight: 65–100 pounds

The Maremma & Abruzzes Sheepdog is an athletic breed that some believe was bred over 2,000 years ago to watch over livestock. To this day, there are places in Northern Italy that still employ the Maremma & Abruzzes Sheepdog for its original purpose.

The Sheepdog is a majestic and large dog, strongly suited for the tireless work of herding. It requires enough open space to roam, but that space should still be fenced in to prevent them from wandering too far.

It is even-tempered, protective, and independent. However, due to this independence, it is not easy to train or socialize. If care is taken to socialize the dog at a young age, the Maremma & Abruzzes Sheepdog can be an excellent family dog. They are companionable with other dogs and loyal to their families, but to strangers, they are wary and reserved.


5. Bergamasco Sheepdog

Bergamasco Sheepdog
Image by: volofin, Shutterstock
Size: 22–24 inches
Weight: 55–85 pounds

The Province of Bergamo is the origin of this breed’s name. This dog was bred near the province in ancient times to assist in sheepherding, and soon its popularity spread to the surrounding areas.

Bergamascos have a unique coat that does not shed or require brushing. Instead, it needs to be infrequently ripped into mats, as parts of its coat are more akin to wool.

This breed is fearless, always looking to defend a herd or a territory. It is believed that the Bergamasco Sheepdog is distantly related to the Ancient Tibetan shepherds, which would explain their unwavering bravery.

Though they are protective, they are not overly aggressive. Bergamascos are affectionate with family, playful, and willing to open up to strangers. They are good with children and other dogs, making them an excellent companion for any family.

divider-dog pawPointing

Many dogs can point by standing still, raising a paw, and turning their snouts toward the target.

6. Bracco Italiano (Italian Pointer)

Bracco Italiano standing in grass
Image by: olgagorovenko, Shutterstock
Size: 20–27 inches
Weight: 55–90 pounds

The Bracco Italiano, or Italian Pointer, was a popular dog during the Renaissance and is even thought to be the oldest pointer dog in Europe. The breed suffered a steep decline in the 19th century, but it has since made a comeback.

Braccos are excellent hunting companions. Their athletic build and ability to quickly discover and point out prey have made them hunting partners for centuries. Since they are quick learners with a strong drive, they are fairly easy to train. This also means that they require regular attention and exercise, or they will start to feel understimulated.

The Bracco Italiano is also an excellent family dog. They are loyal, affectionate, and non-aggressive. They have a calm nature, which helps them to coexist well with other pets.


7. Spinone Italiano (Italian Griffon)

two spinone italiano puppies
Image by: Ricantimages, Shutterstock
Size: 22–27 inches
Weight: 65–85 pounds

This breed is considered one of the best dogs for hunting because the Spinone Italiano is not just a pointer but also a retriever. The dog will retrieve prey on land and in water, and it has a great desire to satisfy its owner.

The hunting instinct makes the breed somewhat incompatible with other pets. It is possible to socialize it early so it can grow accustomed to other pets. However, pets that are smaller than them and prone to running away, such as a cat, might not be the best fit for the Spinone Italiano due to its high hunting drive.

On the other hand, the dog makes an excellent family pet. It is friendly with owners, kids, and even strangers. It is a calm dog that is not prone to barking and behaves well both while hunting and at home.

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Spitz

Spitz dogs are known for being devoted, clever, and loving. They are geared towards working and capable of all sorts of helpful tasks.

8. Cirneco of Etna

Cirneco dell’Etna
Image by: otsphoto, Shutterstock
Size: 15–20 inches
Weight: 17–25 pounds

Dating back 3,000 years, the Cirneco of Etna may be one of the oldest breeds of dog. It was so loved that its image was even depicted on ancient coins!

The Cirneco is elegant, slender, and loves hunting and running at high speeds. But hunting isn’t the only talent this breed brings to the table. It is also an excellent watchdog as well as a wonderful home companion. The dog is loving, gentle, and energetic.

Interestingly, Cirnecos are extremely rare outside of Italy. Unless you live in Italy, getting in contact with a local breeder may range from difficult to nearly impossible, but if you can get your hands on one, the dogs will require a lot of activity to keep from racing in circles around the house. Luckily, the Circneco of Etna is easily trained.


9. Volpino Italiano

volpino italiano
Image by: Natalia Fedosova, Shutterstock
Size: 10–12 inches
Weight: 8–15 pounds

The Volpino Italiano is a small dog with a thick, luxurious coat. Compared to some of the other breeds on this list, it is rather young, but youth may be relative since this breed was born in the 1600s.

They are an energetic and playful breed in constant need of mental stimulation. Yet, once they have had their fill of activity, they are eager to hop into your lap and cuddle. They are an exceptionally affectionate dog that is pleasant around children and other dogs. They are not very welcoming to strangers, but they will likely not bark at someone they do not know.

Since they are so energetic, it is important to keep them active. If the Volpino Italiano is not getting the exercise and excitement that it needs, it may begin to find its own excitement through mischief.

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Toy

Toy dogs tend to be on the smaller side, but they certainly don’t act like it! They are energetic and affectionate dogs that are well-suited for apartment living due to their size.

10. Maltese

maltese dog in meadow
Image by: TaniaVdB, Pixabay
Size: 8–10 inches
Weight: 5–10 pounds

Despite the name, Maltese dogs are not from the Isle of Malta but rather from countries in the central Mediterranean region. Their purpose was to hunt rats and other rodents that caused problems aboard ships or inside buildings. Its presence on ships may have led to its spread beyond the Mediterranean.

It is a small, graceful dog with a long coat. It is intelligent, docile, and eager to obey its owner. This makes the Maltese easier to train than most small dogs, as it is less inclined to stubbornness.

Maltese dogs are well-suited for family life. They are an affectionate and playful breed, though they are better paired with older children than younger children. Due to their small size, younger children may accidentally injure them. But the Maltese are great at cohabitating with other animals.


11. Bolognese

Bolognese puppy_Islavicek_Shutterstock
Image by: Islavicek, Shutterstock
Size: 10–12 inches
Weight: 5–15 pounds

The Bolognese breed was regarded as an incredibly precious breed in the 11th century, and it was often depicted on vases. They were wildly popular during this time, but these days, they are seen mainly in Italy.

The dog is spirited and keen, making it an easy breed to train. It has a strong prey drive, which may cause it to become distracted if other animals are in the area, and it may even chase them. As long as the dog is socialized early on and taught not to chase, it should be able to coexist with other animals perfectly fine.

Bolognese dogs require a lot of attention. This makes them excellent family pets, as they can soak up plenty of affection from all family members. But if left alone for too long, the dog may experience separation anxiety.

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Mastiff

Mastiffs are powerful dogs with large, majestic figures. They are valued for their ability to protect and their family-friendly temperament.

12. Cane Corso (Courser)

Cane Corso laying in the park
Image by: Stivog, Shutterstock
Size: 24–28 inches
Weight: 100–110 pounds

The Cane Corso was bred for livestock protection, self-defense, and even war. It comes as no surprise that this dog is both powerful and large in stature.

Although the breed is loyal and affectionate, it is not the right fit for every family. They are lively and playful, and with proper socialization, they can be remarkable with families, children, and other pets.

If not socialized, the dog can become aggressive and may confront animals or people they feel threatened by. Cane Corsos are not recommended for first-time dog owners and should only be brought into a family setting if you have experience in raising similar dogs.


13. Neapolitan Mastiff

Neapolitan Mastiffs
Image by: Christian Mueller,Shutterstock
Size: 25–31 inches
Weight: 110–150 pounds

Neapolitan Mastiffs are excellent watchdogs. Its imposing stature is more than enough to intimidate any ill-meaning stranger, but its affectionate temperament makes the dog a great companion as well.

For such a capable guardian, it may come as a shock that they can be rather clumsy. Due to their large size, it is not unheard of for them to knock things over on accident. This can include people, so be sure you have plenty of space for this big beast to walk without bumping into you!

Though they may accidentally knock over younger kids, Neapolitan Mastiffs are great with older children, making them excellent family pets. They have a calm temperament that makes them a great family fit. However, they are not fond of other animals. If you want to house a Neapolitan Mastiff with another animal, it is important to socialize them early on.

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Waterdog

The waterdog breeds were bred to chase out waterfowl and retrieve them. The only listed dog in this category is the Lagotto Romagnolo.

14. Lagotto Romagnolo

Lagotto Romagnolo standing on grass
Image Credit: Ricantimages, Shutterstock
Size: 15–19 inches
Weight: 25–35 pounds

This adorable pup is characterized by its curly, almost wool-like coat. The Lagotto Romagnolo was bred for water retrieving, but as the marshes in Italy began to disappear, it needed to adjust to a new purpose. Over time, it adapted to dig for truffles, but soon the need for that too began to dwindle.

Thankfully, the breed has made a strong comeback. It is especially popular due to its hypoallergenic coat and its friendly disposition. It makes for an excellent family dog and can coexist well with other animals.

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Conclusion

Italy is home to a variety of remarkable dog breeds. Whether the dog is large or small, a hunter or a lap dog, the unique range and diversity allow for plenty of options that can fit any home dynamic. If you want to add one or more special furry friends to your home, any of these breeds will make an excellent companion.

See Also:


Featured Image Credit: Degtyaryov Andrey, Shutterstock

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