Volpino Italiano: Complete Dog Breed Profile | Small Dog Place

Volpino Italiano

By Janice Jones     |Last Updated 06-29-2023

The Volpino Italiano is the classic small dog with a bigpersonality.  They are affectionate,gentle and above all fearless.

They are curious and playful while still protecting theirfamily.  Their loyalty is unmatched, and one can see why historically these dogsbecame so popular both to royalty and the common man in Italy. 

They are an energetic, active breed but don’t require as much exercise as you might expect.  The Volpino Italiano can excel in dog sports if that’s something of interest to you.  Agility, nose work, and rally are three good choices for this breed. 

The Volpino Italiano is a type of Spitz dog that resembles the Pomeranian, Japanese Spitz, American Eskimo, and German Spitz Klein very carefully and if fact, it takes a right eye to see the differences.

Similar But Different Dog Breeds

White PomeranianGerman Spitz KleinAmerican Eskimo DogVolpino Italiano

The Volpino Italiano is a Spitz-Type Dog

Although each of the dogs above bare a close resemblance,they are all distinct dogs. The spitz breeds are a group of ancient dogs oftencalled the northern breeds.

They likelyoriginated in the Arctic or Siberia judging by their thick double coats, butwherever they started out, the climate was frigid. 

Spitz dogs have many physical traits in common such aspointed ears and muzzles that resemble a fox. All have thick plumbed tails that they carry over their back and doublecoats.

The Volpino Italiano and the Pomeranian:  Similarities and Differences

The Volpino Italiano resembles a white or black Pomeranian,but are somewhat larger than the Pom witha height of 9 to 11 inches (25 to 30 cm) and weigh between 9 and 12 pounds.(4.08 to 5.44 kg). 

Both breeds have theclassic Spitz features of triangular ears, thick double coat, plumbed tail, and similarly shaped muzzle.

Quick Facts

Other Names Used:  Italian Pomeranian, Italian Spitz, Florentine Spitz, Cane di Firenze, Volpino, Vulpino Romano, Cane del Quirinale, (Romano and Quirinale refers to ancient Roman past)

Victorian authors have also used the term “lupette” or lupetties’ – meaning, small wolf. 

Affiliation:  UKC, FCI, AKC declined admittance because they felt these dogs were too much like the Pomeranians.


     Height:  10-12 inches (25-30 cm)

     Weight:  8 to 12 pounds (3-5 kg) 

Coat Type:  Harsh outer coat and soft inner coat with hair that sticks out from the body;  straight and very fluffy

Colors:   The most common is white, but they can also be black, champagne, fawn, honey, red, sable

Country of Origin:  Italy

Activity Level:  Active

Litter Size:  3-5 puppies

Life Expectancy:  14-16 years

Good with Children: Good with older children but may not be safe around very young children

Good with other pets:  


Traits Rating

This is a loyal,affectionate breed that bonds quicklywith the members of his family.  As agood family pet, they aren't as clingy as some other breeds and often do notsuffer from Small Dog Syndrome the way others do. 

They get along reasonably well with other pets includingcats.

Are Volpino Italiano Dogs Good with Children?

They are very playful and curious making them ideal forfamilies with children.  Due to theirsmall size, supervision is always necessarywhen small children are interacting with this breed.

So this breed is perfect for families who have respectfulchildren who can gently handle them.

Are These Dogs Good For Apartments?

While the size of these dogs lends themselves nicely toapartment life, their barking tendencies may make them unsuitable.  They are by nature excellent watch dogs andwill frequently bark if there is muchactivity going on outside their window. 

Barking can be a problem to close neighbors, but it is abehavior that can be modified with time. Teaching the command, "Quiet" at an early age will help himcontrol some of the tendency to bark.

How Much Exercise Does these Dogs Need?

The Volpino Italiano is an energetic breed that is activeboth indoors and out.  Even with all ofthat energy, they can get by with frequent play periods and a short walk or twodaily. 

They are adaptable and will begin to take on thecharacteristics of their family, so some are more active than others dependingon the activity level of the owners.

Is it Easy to Train a Volpino?

Just like all dogs, a puppy can begin training the day youbring him home.  He will need earlysocialization and manners training to help him become accustomed to your homerules. 

House Training should begin earlytoo, and consistency will help speed upthe process.  Puppy kindergarten classesalso also worthwhile and teach not only basicskills but also provide additional socialization opportunities.

They are very smartand learn quickly.  A positive approachis always the best way to train a puppy and voice commands, or clicker train can work very well. 

The negative side of a highly intelligent dog is his abilityto outsmart you.  Sometimes stubborn,other times just clever, you will need tobe alert to any tricks he'd like to train you to do.


The spitz type of dog has been in existence for at least5000 years dating back to the Stone Age. Early people found them very usefulfor a wide variety of tasks and soon domesticated them to pull sleds, guardflocks, serve as watch dogs and companions.

Anthropologists have found specimens in the foundation pilesof European lake dwellings dating back to 4000 BC.  Engravings and bits of pottery artwork havebeen located in Greece and dated to 400-470 BC.

As humans migrated, they took their dogs and the Spitz typedogs spread into Europe and North America. The original ancient spitz type dogs became the foundation for many ofthe dogs we know today including the German Spitz, Keeshond, Pomeranian,American Eskimo, and Japanese Spitz. 

As an authenticItalian breed, these dogs have enjoyed a lifestyle of companionship to theroyalty.  Peasants, artists includingMichelangelo and merchants also found fancy with these dogs.

From pulling carts to guarding the merchandise, travellingmerchants found them useful.  Farmersfound favor in their ability to awaken the sleeping mastiffs who were supposedto defend the livestock.   

Italian shepherds and goat herders relied on them to guardtheir flocks, and as mentioned earlier,these dogs keep Michelangelo company while he worked on the ceiling of theSistine Chapel.

During the Roman Empire, these dogs became favoritecompanions of the ladies who provided them with ivory bracelets and jeweledcollars of Italy.

During a holiday in Florence in 1888 Queen Victoria ofEngland became captivated by the breed's appearance, and from then on, the breed was named the Florentine Spitz.

Despite the popularity in Italy, by the mid 20th centuryonly a handful of these dogs were registered with the Italian Kennel Club(ENCI).  Ten years later, people thoughtthat the dogs had become extinct.

Much of the decline can be traced to the political situationof the day. The Monarchy was abolished, andpeople lost interest in dogs that were primarily those of nobility.

Another factor leading to the declining numbers was thedevelopment of the Pomeranians in England. Through downsizing, the Pom nearly replaced the Volpino Italiano becauseeveryone prefered the smaller sized dog.

In 1984, the ENCI began a program to restore the breed.  While they are still scarce even in Italy, their numbers are increasing there and inother European countries.

In the U.S. this breed is not recognized by the AKC, butthey are regstered by the UKC and FCI.

Coat & Grooming

Despite his thick double coat,the Volpino Italiano does not require the kind of extensive care that you mayexpect.

They do shed, usually seasonally so additional attention tothe coat during times of shedding will be required. Sometimes even dailybrushing during these times will be necessary. 

Frequent brushing will help keep hair off ofyour carpets and furniture. Bathing during this time with a good shampoo willalso help with the shedding.

Otherwise, he will need weekly brushing to assure that theundercoat does not mat.  The best type ofbrush to use is a pin brush and metal comb. You will also want to invest in a slicker brush, a dematting comb, and detangling spray.

Bathe when dirty but too frequent bathing can rob the coatof natural oils and make the hair very dry.

The hair between his paw pads continues to grow so that will need to be trimmed to prevent longerhairs from becoming matted.   They alsohave a tendency to track in mud and dirt especially the white dogs.  A soft rag or moistened wipe can get the dirtoff quickly.

Ears should be checked weekly and cleaned if necessary witha good ear cleaner.  If there is a badodor, there is a likelihood of an infection, anda vet should be called.

Teeth should be brushed weekly, and nails trimmed every couple of weeks.

Health Concerns of the Volpino Italiano

The Volpino is a healthy breed that can live 14 to 16 years.As with other dog breeds, there are a few genetic conditions that have been identified including Primary LensLuxation, painful genetic eye disease, and Patellar luxation, a problem with thekneecap.

You can avoid some problems by searching for a reputablebreeder that screens for some genetic diseases. With that said, genetics has a way of tricking us so even the bestbreeders will have puppies that develop inherited diseases. 

A good health guarantee at the time of salewill help protect you should anything go wrong.

Other than genetic problems, puppies need to be protected through vaccinations and wormings.Protection from external parasites and heartworm disease is also essential.

A high quality balanced diet will also keep your puppyhealthy Generally small dogs need approximately 25 to 30 calories per pound perday, and this usually works out to 3/4 to 1 cup daily divided into two mealsdepending on the type of food. 

Puppieswill need 3 meals per day.

For the Volpino Italiano Lover

     Pros of Living with A Volpino Italiano

  •  Playful, loving, intelligent
  •  Good with older children
  •  Easy to train
  •  May be a good choice for apartment dwellers


  •  Sheds year round
  •  A Very active breed that needs an energetic owner
  •  Amazing escape artists
  •  Cannot be left alone all day with consequences
  •  Not good for families with very young children

Did You Know...

  • Michelangelo had one of these dogs as his pet and you can see a portrait in the Sistine Chapel paintings.
  • On a holiday to Florence Italy,  Queen Victoria obtained a couple of Volpino Italiano in 1888.

Looking For Some Very Cute Volpino Italiano Photos?

We love photos as much as you and we found this Pinterest page has an amazing number of these rare dogs.  

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