Most consider the breed to be the ideal family dog, along with participating in a variety of dog sports, including conformation, obedience, tracking, therapy and agility. The vast majority of Spinoni do live in the homes of their owners, as they do not make good kennel dogs. They insist upon being in the company of their people, sometimes to the extent that a new owner will wonder if they will ever be able to use the bathroom privately again! No matter what field or fun they participate in with their owners, at the end of the day, the Spinone is happy to curl up on the couch for a quiet evening of watching TV with the family. Often a new owner will start out saying “My puppy will not be allowed on the furniture”, but then within a few weeks the breeder receives a photo of the new pup – on the couch, or in the bed! The breed has an uncanny ability to worm its way into your heart – and onto your couch! Be warned – they also prefer to sleep “East-West” on a “North-South” bed – meaning they can cover most of the area of a King Size bed!
Many of the traits of the Spinone, stem directly from their original function, including their persistence, patience, intelligence, and the ability to sniff out the very best gourmet goodies on your counter. Combine all of the above – and it’s likely they will acquire that gourmet indulgence for themselves, one way or the other! They have even been caught, tasting the soup while it’s still cooking in the pot on the stove. Their saving grace is probably their endearing sense of humor – secure in their knowledge that if you can make your owner laugh, you really aren’t in trouble. For reasons not well understood – owners tend to run for the camera to snap a picture of the latest antics, rather than get angry. A sense of humor is most definitely required of their owners – the breed’s creative, clownish, fun loving attitude will provide ample photo opportunities. The Spinone takes its job of hunting quite seriously – but the rest of life is a holiday.
Expect the Spinone to communicate with you. They can be quite vocal and have an opinion on everything. This ranges from a quiet grumble of complaint or muttering under their breath if they are being made to do something they would rather not, to yodels while trying to get their point across, to the roo-roo-ROO-roo-roo that’s muffled by the stuffed toy in their mouth when greeting you, to groans, moans and sighs while relaxing or being petted. Sounds they don’t like, such as a siren or music not of their taste, can illicit howls of protest, as can any situation where they don’t get their way. While not a guard dog in any way, they will give notice of anything amiss or intruding into their territory, with loud insistent barking. So what if the garbage truck comes every week – it’s important to notify everyone it’s here again!
Not limited to vocalizations, the Spinone has also perfected talking with the paws. Not just to walk or run upon, they use their feet to reach under furniture, or into small places to get something they want, dig up interesting things in the yard, or quickly and efficiently manipulate a toy to get the treats/stuffing/squeaker hidden within. The main purpose of the spinone paw, though, is to smack a person or another dog. This slap by a large hairy foot means “Pay attention to me” or when combined with the vocal expressions, “Pay attention! I’m talking to you!” It doesn’t matter if the dog has just been petted continuously for a long period of time; when the hand stops petting, the foot hits! A common variation of the smack is “I want something” or “feed me”.
Spinoni like to lie, stand, or sit and just look at you. Maybe they know that Spinone owners melt when they look into those expressive eyes and they will be able to get anything they want, or maybe they just want to feel close to their people. A house sitter left in charge of the dogs, called the owner to ask “What do they want??? They just sit here and look at me. All FOUR of them!” She had tried treats, toys, going outside – but, no. They just want to look! Sometimes they need to do this in the kitchen while you’re trying to cook, or on top of the bed you are trying to make, or while sitting next to you on the couch.