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Spinoni Populations in Various Countries

Posted: Jan 21, 2020
Comments: 0
Author: Tony Arduino

A letter to Sue Acquistapace from Salla Finnilä.

Salla Finnilä’s letter to Sue Acquistapace, SCOA Secretary


Subject: Spinone objective program for breeding - International section results



On behalf of the Finnish Continental Pointing Dog Club, I warmly thank you for providing us with information concerning Spinone in your country. The information is used for the Spinone Objective Programme for Breeding required by the Finnish Kennel Club every five years - which means that some of you were personally replying for the fourth time.

Thank you so much!

As a way of saying thank you, please find attached the traditional English translation of the data collected from various countries, the rest of the 50-page document discusses the population in Finland. I know some breed clubs have translated this summary in their own respective languages and published it in their club magazines in the previous rounds; please feel free to use the translation as you like, however stating the reference at the end.

If you would like to add or correct something, we can include comments received before 15 February 2020.

Some of you also requested the rules of our club, which can be found at

(unfortunately only in Finnish)

The English translation of our field trial rules is attached to this email.

I'm happy to receive your feedback and answer any questions you may have.

Kind regards,

Salla Finnilä


Spinone populations in various countries 

 The table below gives information on the Spinone populations in various countries and the level of use for the activity typical for the breed. NOTE! All data are estimates based on information received from the breed clubs or Spinoni from various countries. Figures from the previous study period of the Objective Programme for Breeding 2016-2020 are in parenthesis. 

 Table 5. Spinoni population in various countries


Number of dogs

Used in hunting 

Participate in field trials

Health etc. issues


4700-5000 (4500-5000) 

85% (90%) 

5% (3%) 

No breed-specific health problems reported


140 (130) 

75% (80 %) 

32% (36 %) 

Epilepsy, OCD of the elbow, bite/teeth


235 (150) 

10% (10-15 %) 

N/A (10%) 

No breed-specific health problems reported




N/A (N/A) 

Individual cases of hip or elbow dysplasia, OCD of the shoulder and epilepsy

United Kingdom




(5 %) 

0 % (1%) 

Cancer, skin and ear problems, epilepsy

United States of America


about 25 % (30 %) 

5% (5 %) 

Cancer, heart conditions, bloat, joint disease, thyroiditis, epilepsy. Average life expectancy around 11 years. 


400-500 (300-350) 

A small minority (maximum 5%) 


No breed-specific health problems reported

 Italy: The number of dogs registered has slightly decreased from the previous years due to the fact that Spinone is a hunting dog, and the number of hunters using a pointing dog has decreased in Italy. No breed-specific health problems were reported. It must be noted, however, that only very few dogs are X-rayed for hip dysplasia, and other joints are not usually X-rayed at all, which means that the assessment is based on the clinical health of the dogs and there is no verified data on the illnesses of the skeletal system. Also, dogs typically reside outdoors in kennel facilities, which may have an impact on the observation of possible epileptic seizures. In terms of morphology, the tendency has been from the ancient large and heavy dogs towards an athletic dog suitable for modern hunting. The guiding principle inbreeding has been, for years, to select the most typical individuals in terms of morphology out of the best-hunting dogs, which means that emphasis is placed on hunting abilities. This has meant compromising on some aspects that are more related on the history of the breed than its functionality in hunting (such as ‘skin thick as that of an ox’ and large, heavy dogs) which used to be a common sight in show rings. The priority today is in a more functional, dynamic and athletic, healthy morphology. Spinone must be able to hunt far and wide in open terrains similar to other pointing dog breeds, in thickets, however, Spinone must demonstrate its ability for a considerate hunt of a dog for ‘bushes and hard marshlands’. Thanks to determinate systematic selection inbreeding, the level of hunting abilities are rather good. In addition, nearly every Spinone owner consider Spinone a hunting dog.

Finland: The number of registrations in Finland has increased slightly, however, at the same time the use of Spinone for hunting has decreased, as has the number of Spinoni participating in field trials. This is worrying as the breed may be slipping towards becoming a mere companion dog. Individual cases of epilepsy, OCD of the elbow, lumbosacral transitional vertebrae have been reported during the study period, as well as several dogs with an incorrect bite in one bloodline. The dogs used for breeding must meet the following criteria: hip dysplasia, grade C. Compulsory X-ray of the elbows. One dog/bitch may have a maximum of 21 puppies, the last litter exceeding the limit shall, however, be registered in full. Before the dog/bitch is used for breeding for the second time, it must have a minimum of ‘Good’ from a field trial. In case of mating father/mother with an offspring or siblings (inbreeding coefficient a minimum of 25%), the litter may only be registered in the ‘not for breeding register’ (EJ).  

 Sweden: A total of 235 Spinoni were registered in Sweden in 2007-2018, the annual number being on average 15-19 dots (varying from 3 dogs (2014) to 39 dogs (2017)). About 10% is estimated to be used in hunting. The main challenge inbreeding is the low number of dogs and a few dogs used in hunting. Spinone and Bracco Italiano are two breeds listed to be monitored for excess skin, and the situation is being monitored. No breed-specific health problems were reported, and the breed is mainly considered as a healthy hunting dog. Increasing the number of dogs participating in field trials was also reported as a challenge. Individual cases of epilepsy were reported. 

 Germany: A total of 507 Spinoni were registered in Germany in 2009-2018. There is no accurate data on the number of dogs used for hunting, but the estimate is some 15%. Some Spinoni are used for search-and-rescue activities. The breed club did not have information on how many dogs had participated in the field trial. Individual cases of hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia and OCD (1-2 cases per year) were reported. Individual cases of epilepsy (one per year) had been reported in the last two years. A challenge inbreeding is that in the future, the VDH does not require hunting trial test result for dogs to be registered, which may result in declining hunting abilities of the breed. 

United Kingdom: On average 500 Spinoni are registered every year, the total population being some 4500-5000 dogs. Only around 5% are used for hunting and some 10 dogs participate in annual working tests. According to a recent questionnaire, the main health issues were various cancers, skin and ear problems and epilepsy, although the number of epileptic dogs had significantly decreased over the last couple of years. Health and maintaining the temperament and working abilities typical to the breed were considered the main challenges inbreeding. 

United States: Regarding the US, it must be noted that the country covers almost an entire continent, which means that all some data are rough estimates. According to the statistics on litters registered by the American Kennel Club, a total of 4448 puppies were born in 2010–2019. The number of litters registered from 2015 to 2019 has increased by slightly over 20% compared to the number of litters registered in 2010 to 2014. There are more than one kennel clubs in the US, which means that all dogs may not be registered in the American Kennel Club. Registering dogs is not compulsory in the US. It was estimated that some 25% of Spinoni were used for hunting, but it is impossible to know to an accurate number. According to AKC statistics, a small number of dogs participate in performance tests, on average 5%. The number of dogs with placement in performance sports has varied from 31 to 53 (average 40) in 2015-2019, which is roughly the same number as dogs with placement in companion sports (agility, obedience, AKC rally, tracking). Spinoni participating in performance tests mainly participated in hunting trial, which assesses the basic hunting abilities of the dog. Only individual dogs participated in the field trial, which is closest to the European hunt-point-retrieve-type trials. The number of dogs participating in performance tests also include dogs participating in scent work and fast CAT. 

The Netherlands: There are some 400-500 Spinoni in the Netherlands, mainly family and companion dogs. There are some Spinone owners who hunt with their dogs, but they are a minority. The breed club organizes unofficial hunting ability tests and field trials. Spinoni can also participate in official field trials of the Dutch Kennel Club as well as working tests for retrievers and spaniels to obtain a retrieving certificate. No particular health problems were reported. In the Netherlands, a litter cannot be registered if a bitch is mated with her grandfather, father, brother, son or grandson. Mating half-siblings is also forbidden. Mating can be repeated twice unless there are 12 or more puppies in the first litter, in which case repeated mating is forbidden. A male used for breeding must be a minimum of 12 months of age. The maximum number of litters for a male in his lifetime is six, for a bitch, the maximum number is four. Bitches under 22 months of age may not be mated, and the first-timer must be under 72 months of age. Bitches over 96 months of age may not be mated. There must be an interval of a minimum of 12 months between two litters. All dogs used for breeding must be screened for hip dysplasia and the grading must be maximum of C. Dogs with hip dysplasia grade C may only be mated with dogs with hip dysplasia grade A. Dogs with cerebellar ataxia or carriers of CA may not be used for breeding. All dogs with epilepsy must be reported to the breed club. If the dog has had epileptic offspring, the mating shall not be repeated. The parents of a litter with epilepsy can be used for breeding but only with a partner with no common ancestors in three generations. If the dog has epileptic offspring in two separate litters, it must be excluded from breeding. If the dog has confirmed epileptics in two generations, it can be used for breeding but only with a partner with no common ancestors in three generations. If the dog nevertheless has epileptic offspring, it shall be excluded from breeding. The siblings of an individual epileptic dog may be used for breeding at a minimum age of three years. However, if there has been more than one epileptic dog in a litter, siblings must be excluded from breeding. Both parents of a litter must have participated in a minimum of two dog shows with the result of ‘very good’. Another testing of temperament or hunting abilities is not required.

Reference: Spinone – Objective Programme for Breeding 1 Jan 2021 to 31 Dec 2025. Finnish Continental Pointing Dog Club – The Finnish Kennel Club. Compiled by Hietala, S., Finnilä, S., Ylilauri, K.


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