The Volpino Italiano, also known as the Italian Spitz, is an ancient breed that dates back to at least the 15th century, and possibly as far back as 4000 BC. This breed is part of the spitz family of dogs, which includes breeds like the German Spitz and the American Eskimo Dog. Volpinos were originally bred in Italy and were very popular among Italian nobility and peasantry alike. They were often kept as companion dogs, but were also used for various working tasks, such as alerting to the presence of intruders. Despite their historical popularity, the breed nearly went extinct in the 20th century, with only a handful of dogs remaining by the 1980s. Dedicated breeders have since revived the breed, but they remain relatively rare outside of Italy.
Volpino Italianos are known to be generally healthy dogs, but can suffer from primary lens luxation, patellar luxation, and von Willebrand disease (Type I). Genetic testing is recommended, including for the following additional conditions: hyperuricosoria, degenerative myelopathy, and progressive rod-cone degeneration.
Volpinos are known for their lively and affectionate nature. They are typically friendly and sociable dogs that form strong bonds with their families. They are intelligent, alert, and make excellent watchdogs due to their tendency to bark at anything unusual. Despite their small size, they are active and energetic, requiring regular exercise to keep them happy and healthy. While they are generally good with children and other pets, their high energy levels and strong will can sometimes make them a handful.
The name 'Volpino Italiano' translates to 'Little Italian Fox' in English, referring to the breed's fox-like appearance.
Famous artists Michelangelo and Luchino Visconti are said to have been fans of the Volpino Italiano.
Volpinos have a distinctive, high-pitched bark which they use frequently, making them excellent watchdogs but potentially problematic in noise-sensitive areas.