Showsight Presents the Spinone Italiano

A FORUM ON THE SPINONE ITALIANO with MICHELE IVALDI, DOUG JOHNSON & ANNETTE WINJNSOUW

MICHELE IVALDI I spend my time between Sardinia, Pavia (Italy) and Ireland. I’m a freelance writer. We always had working Setters in our family country houses and my father had a Spinone, too. I started showing in 1990 and judging in 2003. 1. Describe the breed in three words. Rustic, friendly and square. 2. What are your “must have” traits in this breed? Hair rough and single, divergent cranial axes, correct top lines, strong bones, square body, deep and broad chest and easy, loose steps with a good rhythm of trot. 3. Are there any traits in this breed you fear are becoming exaggerated? I have seen exaggerated grooming on dogs with wrong and soft coats. 4. Do you think the dogs you see in this breed are better now than they were when you first started judging? Why or why not? In the US, the breed has improved a lot in the last 15 years. In Italy, the UK and Europe, the average qual- ity level was higher 15 years ago and there were some monumental dogs. In the US, there are some spectacular Spinoni that would win anywhere in the world and some wrong Spinoni that are champions and do some win- nings, beating the right ones! 5. What do you think new judges misunderstand about the breed? Well, I’ve seen many well educated new judges doing much better than old judges. A new judge can improve more than an old one! The main misunderstanding is about the toplines that are a peculiar and distinctive mechanical attribute of this trotting breed. They are mis- taken with sway back. Then the coat, any good groomer can make harsh a soft coat, but the Spinone coat must be single and naturally harsh on very thick skin. Also heads and head planes: a head with correct length and little divergence of the cranial axes is preferable to a short head with more evident divergence. Some judges believe that the more divergent the cranial axis are, the better the head, forgetting about proportions. 6. Is there anything else you’d like to share about the breed? Please elaborate. 1) The two segments of the topline are very important. The withers should be a little higher than the croup. The first segment slopes from the withers to the 11th vertebra and the second joins with the loin. This helps to improve the shoulder action providing more reach, extension and

recycling of energy on a long distance trot. Dogs with high croup and low withers can only fall on the shoulders, they can’t have a correct head carriage and can’t perform an enduring trot. 2) The Spinone is named like this because of his harsh coat. The word Spinone means “big thorn”, a soft coated Spinone is not a Spinone. 3) Broad chest and wide rump suggests that the Spinone must have a good third dimension and narrow bodies are not acceptable. 4) Hindquarters must be strong, wide croup, strongly muscled upper thigh and short, thick hocks that when seen from behind are parallel. The rump is wide, so the Spinone can’t move narrow in the rear. 7. And, for a bit of humor: what’s the funniest thing you’ve ever experienced at a dog show? On a Best in Show of an all breeds, the BIS judge decides his placements and he tells to the speaker, “Third place to the German Wirehaired Pointer!” Nobody moves. There was a brown roan Italian Spinone on the Best in Show and the judge was convinced it was a GWP and gave him a 3rd on the BIS! DOUG JOHNSON care business. We employ 500 people and provide care to about 700 senior clients. I started in dogs in 1984 and started judging in 2000. 1. Describe the breed in three words. Unique, solidly built and divergent 2. What are your “must have” traits in this breed? This is a breed I truly enjoy judging. For me, this breed must have large bone and body, a harsh coat, divergent head plane and the proper topline and tail set. All of these are breed defining. This breed is unique from all others in our AKC family and shares no common traits. I love the expression and large nose, ample neck and sol- idly built body. They have unique lines which make them fun to judge and exciting when you find them. 3. Are there any traits in this breed you fear are becoming exaggerated? The only thing that I am fearful of is trying to make them into a generic show dog which tends to happen in dog breeds in America. This breed is different and should be. I hate to see them with level head planes, a level back and a high tail set. Also slight in substance. You get a great deal of them that are not broad and substantial. I live in Bloomington, Indiana. Outside of dogs I run and co-own a skilled care medical agency and a non-medical home

S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , N OVEMBER 2016 • 347

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