The Italian Spinone was developed as an all around bird dog for the foot hunter in Italy. Not necessarily the fastest dog in the field but certainly one of the most reliable. The Spinone hunts with the characteristic back and forth pattern, instinctively working into the wind, to get the maximum coverage of the land they are hunting. Spinone are also excellent water retrievers so you can have the best of two worlds with both an upland game bird dog and water fowl retriever all rolled into one.
It is very important that we, as breeders of Spinone, ensure that we keep their hunting instincts intact. Quite honestly, very few Spins won't hunt but we need to work our dogs in the field to make sure that the ones we include in our breeding programs will, indeed, do the job they were bred to do. There is no such thing as "show Spinone" vs "field Spinone" at this time and I truly hope that we never see the day when that happens. It's an entire package and one that I'm proud of. My dogs are very successful show dogs as well as performing in the field as the superb gun dogs they were bred to be. And, yes, those same dogs also work in obedience, do therapy and lounge on my couch.
And now I'll share some of my favorite pictures depicting Spinone doing what they love to do.
From tiny puppy to full adulthood, Suzi (Ch. Mals-About Prime Suspect RN JH) has been intent on finding birds and wants to do it with speed.
This is one of my favorites of Suzi on point with a GSP honoring her.
Gina, one of my original Spins, obviously had her instincts in the right place even though she was never trained or hunted. Yep, that's a bird that wandered into the yard after I had been doing some training.
Ch. Mals-About Little Drummer Boy (Chip) was the first AKC Spinone champion. Here he demonstrates that he could get the job done in the field. He loved to show but he also hunted with great intensity.
Ch. Mals-About Ginger RE JH CGC (Lily) showing how it's done when she was only six months old. Through the years, though we don't hunt her now, she has become the "teacher" to so many of our young dogs, taking that role when Crissy could no longer do it. Lily's children and grandchildren all exhibit that same drive.
Shown working her way toward her Junior Hunter title, Lily daughter Missi (Mals-About Mississippi Girl JH CGC) exhibits classic Spinone style when she hunts. Her typical flying Spinone trot is a joy to watch.
And then there's Michael! Officially Ch. Buonarroti Dal Podere Antico RN JH CGC, Michael is at his best in the field. Such intensity is not uncommon in the breed but never fails to give me goose bumps. And when it's time to go, he just explodes!
Doing his job and impressing the judges during one of his hunting tests.
Pictured here with his favorite hunting buddy and field trainer, Dick Dunnuck.
A few odds and ends...
Introducing puppies to birds...
We let them play and chase and just have to smile when they freeze on point.
Do they get stickers in the field? Uhhhh...yep. And cockleburs and stick-tights and thistles and ....
These aren't the worst we've had but Jessica and Suzi each took some time to comb out.
A sometimes overlooked but important part of a good gun dog is its willingness to retrieve in water. Even hunting upland game can find a bird dropping into the water. Most Spinone take to water just like ducks. Don't let the fact that they may not be thrilled over a bath or going out in the rain fool you.
I usually take a pretty laid back approach to the swimming, allowing the dogs to do it in their own time. Since I don't have water close by, the dogs think it is a special treat and take full advantage.
During the hot days of summer this year, we took advantage of an opportunity to work with pro trainer Dick Dunnuck on how to get a young dog introduced to water and doing water retrieves. Here are some pictures of him working with young Ziva (Prima Donna Dal Podere Antico). It was amazing how quickly she progressed.
Working off a boat ramp at a lake near his home, Dick let Ziva get the feel of the water and then encouraged her to swim.
Calling her to him, he gave her a frozen quail to fetch while we called her from the bank to bring it to shore.
She didn't quite get it to hand her first attempt but she'll get there.
I hope you've enjoyed this page and now have a little better understanding of the Spinone.
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