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Home > Dogs > Dog Breeds > Italian Volpino Dog Breed Guide: Info, Pictures, Care & More!

Italian Volpino Dog Breed Guide: Info, Pictures, Care & More!

volpino italiano

The Volpino Italiano, also known as a Lupino, is a rare Italian Spitz-type dog that is thought to have descended from the early Spitz dogs that existed some thousand years ago. Developed in ancient Italy, this dog was once widely kept by both noblemen and peasants as it is very affectionate and energetic. Today they are a rare dog breed, virtually unheard of outside their homeland.

A Volpino Italiano features a foxy face and a strong body covered in dense fur and can often be confused with Pomeranian. Extremely loving with their people and homes, these dogs have a reputation for getting along well with any kid or other pets in the household.

Breed Overview


9-12 inches


9-14 pounds


14-16 years


Black, Red, champagne, white, fawn

Suitable for:

Active families, active singles, seniors, urban dwellers


Active, friendly, lively, watchful, playful

Despite their small size, Volpino Italianos are active dogs that require plenty of attention, so owners should be ready for their high exercise demands. The Volpino makes an excellent watchdog and may even be used as bird dogs if appropriately trained. They will make very active, friendly pets.

The Volpino Italiano can be vocal and sound an alarm if a stranger comes close to their property. They don’t like strangers and will show their displeasure when they meet them out or about by vocalizing.

Volpino Italiano Characteristics

High-energy dogs will need a lot of mental and physical stimulation to stay happy and healthy, while low-energy dogs require minimal physical activity. It’s important when choosing a dog to make sure their energy levels match your lifestyle or vice versa.
Easy-to-train dogs are more skilled at learning prompts and actions quickly with minimal training. Dogs that are harder to train will require a bit more patience and practice.
Some dog breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, and some more than others. This doesn’t mean that every dog will have these issues, but they have an increased risk, so it’s important to understand and prepare for any additional needs they may require.
Some breeds, due to their size or their breeds potential genetic health issues, have shorter lifespans than others. Proper exercise, nutrition, and hygiene also play an important role in the lifespan of your pet.
Some dog breeds are more social than others, both towards humans and other dogs. More social dogs have a tendency to run up to strangers for pets and scratches, while less social dogs shy away and are more cautious, even potentially aggressive. No matter the breed, it’s important to socialize your dog and expose them to lots of different situations.


Volpino Italiano Puppies

volpino italiano puppies
Image Credit: Giveitashot Studio, Shutterstock

The Volpinos have gone through a difficult time in the early 60s. The Associazione Tecnica Amatori Volpino Italiano (ATAVI) fundamental work was save this dog breed from extinction. However, some varieties have become increasingly rare due to competitors such as the Pomeranian and the Spitz.

As these pups are very active, they will suit more active families or singles. That being said, seniors who want a good companion dog will be happy in their choice of adoption if they decide on the Volpino Italiano.

volpino italiano
Image Credit: Natalia Fedosova, Shutterstock

Temperament & Intelligence of the Volpino Italiano

The Volpino Italianos are lively and playful dogs that generally love their family and other people. The Volpino Italiano is always alert to people’s approaches to their territory and will often bark to let you know their presence. The dog can be noisy if you don’t teach them a quiet command early in their life.

Volpino Italianos can be good with kids, but adults must supervise to ensure everyone gets along and play nice. They can also get along well with other dogs and cats, especially when you raise them together.

The Volpino Italiano is intelligent and takes well to training. However, the dog likes to do things their way, and they can sometimes become stubborn. The dog is usually highly food-motivated, though, and may as well have a sign that reads “Will work for food,” which is why treats may be necessary during training.

The Volpino can be energetic due to their working-dog lineage. Once your vet has cleared the dog of any orthopedic or health problems that could inhibit brisk exercise, you can direct their energy and intelligence into dog sports such as nose walk, agility, and rally.

Due to its small size, the Volpino is a good apartment dog. However, to keep them well-behaved, you need to give them plenty of daily exercises, and you should not let them become nuisance barkers. In addition, it is crucial to ensure there is a deck or patio where they can bask in the sun like the Italian that they are.

Volpino dog breed thrives with extensive and early socialization. If possible, get them into puppy kindergarten class by the time they are 10-12 weeks old and socialize.

However, be aware that most puppy training classes need certain vaccines to be up to date, and most vets recommend limited exposure until puppy vaccines have been completed. Instead of formal training, you can start training your pup at home and socialize them among family and other pets until puppy vaccines are completed.

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 👪

The Volpino Italiano is an excellent breed for a family pet since they have a loyal and friendly temperament. This dog is good with kids and makes a great playmate. They adore the additional attention and like to get involved in all family activities.

However, since this is a toy breed, you must ensure they don’t get injured during the play. It is crucial to supervise this so it doesn’t get too rough. Your Volpino dog can become a bit stubborn if the play doesn’t seem to go their way.

Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets?

West Highland White Terrier and volpino italiano
Image Credit:Detyukov Sergey, ShutterstockDepending on how you have socialized them, Volpinos are fairly dog friendly. Years ago, they would work with the Mastiffs, alerting them of any danger. So, they can live amongst other dogs, though their stubborn side can be a drawback when engaging in doggy play.

You can have other household pets such as rabbits and cats, but make sure to keep watch. Some Volpino Italiano dogs may be dominant towards smaller animals.

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Things to Know When Owning a Volpino Italiano:

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

The Volpino Italiano does well on high-quality dog food, whether home-prepared or commercially manufactured. All diets should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior).

Small dogs, including Volpino Italianos, require more calories per pound of body weight than larger dogs. So, vets recommend dog food designed for small-breed pups. These diets contain the appropriate mixture of nutrients and a smaller kibble size that is easier for little dogs to chew and digest.

Every dog can become overweight when they consume too many calories, so to avoid accidental overfeeding, divide their food using a measuring cup. In addition, don’t forget to account for treats when considering their daily calories. Even a couple of excess treats may cause a small dog such as the Volpino to gain weight rapidly.

Before giving your pup any human food, it is crucial to learn which foods are safe for your dog and not. Consult your vet if you have any doubts about your dog’s diet and weight. Finally, ensure your Volpino has a continuous supply of clean, fresh water to keep this dog hydrated.

Exercise 🐕

The Volpino Italiano dog is known to be energetic but does not need extensive exercise. They should get about one to one and half hours of activity divided into different walks each day. In addition, you will need to include mental stimulation.

You can use mental agility to exercise and mentally stimulate your pup at the same time. Find any dog sports centers that offer this service in your local area. Ball games are also a great way to keep your dog entertained, and if you have kids in your household, they will be perfect for this.

Food is something this canine can be a little attracted to, so you can play some hide and seek games placing food in the garden for your dog to sniff out. Volpino is known to have an excellent sense of smell. That is another perfect way to keep your dog mentally stimulated.

Toy breeds should not be let off-leash, and you should only exercise them in enclosed areas. Their small sizes make them prone to injuries and, in a worst-case scenario, can become fatal.

Training 🎾

Volpino Italianos are known to be extremely intelligent, and that is why they require mental stimulation. Intelligence helps them better understand commands, but it can also make them stubborn.

The best way to grab this breed’s attention is to use food. However, don’t overuse this reward, or your dog will not be obedient to the command without food. Keep in mind that this breed is sensitive, so harsh training techniques won’t work on this dog.

Training should start before the age of 6 months. If you wait too much, it won’t be easy to make a Volpino listen to you.

Controlling your dog’s back is very important. Volpino dogs are known to bark excessively, so your first step is to teach your dog the quiet command. You don’t want a yappy and controlling dog.

Puppy classes are an excellent choice for Volpino Italianos. It encourages socialization with other dogs and strangers while helping you teach your dog some basic commands. To ensure training goes well, you will need patience and consistency.

Grooming ✂️

A Volpino Italiano dog has a gentle undercoat followed by a rough top coat. One of the most visible features is their fluffy tail. They appear rather fox-like, thus the name Volpino.

This dog breed will shed hair, so you need to brush through their coat once or twice a week. Trim the hair around the eyes, between the paws, and pluck any excess fur around the ear canal.

Vets recommend daily teeth brushing, so aim to get it done as many times as possible in a week. It is vital to introduce the grooming techniques to your pup as early as possible since this is also a great way to build a strong bond with your dog.

Brushing your Volpino’s hair will reduce how often they will require a bath. It allows the natural oil to flow through the hair, leaving your dog with a healthy and shiny-looking coat.

The best tools to use are pin brushes and grooming rakes, but you may include a slicker brush last to make it a little bit smoother. You can also blow-dry your dog, so their coat has additional volume. You will not require to hire a professional groomer since you can easily do this from your home.

Health and Conditions 🏥

The Volpino Italiano is a long-lived little dog that tends to experience excellent health throughout its life. However, there are a few conditions that the breed can be prone to. These conditions include.

Serious Conditions:
  • Often a very healthy breed
Minor Conditions:
  • Patellar Luxation
  • Lens Luxation
  • Cataracts

Minor Conditions

  • Patellar Luxation:The knee can slither in and out of place, leading to lameness. That is generally seen in toy/small dog breeds.
  • Cataracts: An irregular cloud forms in the eye because of a lens change. That stops light from reaching the retina resulting in blindness.
  • Primary Len Luxation: A genetic abnormality eventually leads to the collapse of the lens zonules. The lens could eventually become stuck in the back or front of the eye. It can lead to Glaucoma, thus resulting in blindness.

Male vs Female

Unlike most small dog breeds that tend to vary between males and females, Volpino Italianos are not easily distinguishable in their personality sex.

However, the height and weight vary slightly between males and females, as the former is only a little larger. While males are about 11 to 12 inches tall, females only reach a height of no more than 11 inches.  Their weight is also similar, but the males lead at 9.9 – 12 pounds, while the females are only 9 – 9.9 pounds at their total weight.

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3 Little-Known Facts About the Volpino Italiano

Here are the three little-known facts about the Volpino Italiano.

1. The Volpino Italiano Makes an Excellent Watchdog

Volpino Italianos are lively, playful, and friendly dogs. They grow very attached to their owners and homes and make great family dogs. Their main job is to observe, and they are consistent in their effort.

Usually, the dog is territorial and protective about their property, so the Volpino Italiano will alert you if they sense something different, making them excellent watchdogs.

2. The Volpinos Obtains Their Name from the Latin Word “Vulpes,” Meaning Fox

In Italy, the Volpino Italiano initial standard was written in 1903 by the ENCI, the Italian Kennel Club. In 1956 it was recognized by FCI, but its popularity diminished until 1965 when the last dog was registered. Farmers kept the small number that remained. The dog’s name comes from the Latin word for fox, “Vulpes,” referring to its look.

3. The Volpino Italianos Are Highly Vocal

The Volpino Italiano can be very vocal and sound the alarm when a stranger comes near their territory. The dog doesn’t like the presence of strangers or other dogs, and they always show displeasure by vocalizing and barking on a high sound. However, the Volpino is a big dog in a small package, and if you teach them quiet commands early in their lives, they will make an excellent family companion.


Final Thoughts

If you are looking for an energetic, loving little dog, the Volpino Italiano pet breed might be the perfect dog for you.

The Volpino is an amazing little dog with a big personality. They are friendly, gentle, and above all, fearless. The dog is curious and playful while still protecting its family.

Their loyalty is unmatched, and you can see why historically, these dogs became so popular both to noblemen and peasants in Italy. The Volpino Italiano is an active, energetic breed but doesn’t need as much exercise as you might expect.

The Volpino can excel in dog sports if that is something you love. Nose work, agility, and rally are three perfect choices for this dog breed. However, if you live in an apartment, you need to teach your Volpino quiet commands as loud noises tend to trigger their personality’s yapping side.

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Featured Image Credit: Degtyaryov Andrey, Shutterstock

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