Spinone Italiano Grooming Needs: What Are They?

Written by Mark Dalley

We have been proud Spinone owners for the past eight years. From puppies to adults, we've learned a lot about this wonderful breed. They just might be the best-kept secret in the dog world. Whether you already own a Spinone or are thinking of getting one, we're happy to share what we've learned about this amazing dog and hope you find it useful.

After living with two Spinoni for a while now, we’ve learned a lot about their habits and behavior. We’ve found that our female needs a little more attention when it comes to grooming than our male dog. I decided to do some research to find out what other owners and groomers had to say about Spinone Italiano grooming needs.

The Spinone Italiano does not require extensive grooming. With their dense, wiry coat, most will need only minimal hand stripping, brushing, and occasional bathing. They will also need regular ear cleaning, nail trimming, and attention to oral hygiene.

All dogs need some level of grooming. There are some standard tasks like brushing, ear cleaning, and nail trimming that are needed for all dogs. Spinoni are no different in that sense. But, their grooming requirements can be less than some other breeds. Read on to find out more to learn what’s needed to keep these shaggy dogs in shape.

The Spinone is exhibited in a natural state, in accordance with his function as a field dog.

AKC Breed Standard

No one would call the Spinone Italiano a glamorous breed. They are more of a rustic, functional dog. Their rugged, slightly disheveled look only adds to their attraction. It’s one of the things we love about them.

Spinone Italiano Grooming Needs

Like their easygoing, laid back nature, their grooming requirements are not that rigid. They really just need the basics. The basic Spinone Italiano grooming needs are as follows:

  • Bathing
  • Grooming the coat
  • Ear Cleaning
  • Nail Trimming
  • Teeth Cleaning

The frequency with which your Spinone needs a bath varies a great deal based upon lifestyle and activity. Spinoni that are playing in oceans, hunting in muddy waters, or live in the country and do a lot of rolling in who-knows-what may end up needing more baths than pups that spend most of their on the couch.

“We should wash our dogs when they are no longer huggable.”

Jorge Bendersky, a celebrity dog groomer

In researching the topic with other Spinoni owners, we found that many of them don’t bathe their dogs at all or very infrequently. Some do it only if their dogs get into something particularly smelly or messy, which Spinoni are known to do sometimes.

We spend a lot of up-close time with our dogs. So, a bath every four weeks works for us. Regardless of the frequency you put your pup in the tub, make sure to use a shampoo designed for harsh coats. Regular shampoo can soften the Spinone’s hard coat.

Stripping maintains a Spinone’s natural harsh coat texture and color.

Spinone Club Of America

The Spinone Italiano has a coarse, dense, and wiry single coat. Generally, this type of coat requires less grooming than some others. For Spinoni and a lot of wire-haired dogs, hand stripping is recommended instead of using clippers or scissors. Twice a year stripping maintains a Spinone’s natural harsh coat texture and color.

Here’s a great video created by a groomer and Spinone owner about bathing and hand stripping.

If you are grooming your Spinone for the show ring, it’s critical that you don’t do anything during grooming that detracts from the breed’s unique characteristics or rustic look. You should always hand strip your show dog.

In addition to hand stripping, regular brushing of your dog’s coat is also an important part of Spinoni grooming. Weekly brushing with a good quality slicker brush really helps to keep your Spinone Italiano’s coat in good condition by taking out loose hair and dirt and helps avoid matting and tangles. Weekly brushing will also help you keep up with your Spinone’s shedding.

Ear cleaning is a very important part of your Spinone’s grooming needs. Dogs with long floppy ears like Spinoni tend to have more ear infections than dogs with upright ears. And, dogs that swim a lot are also prone to ear infections. Since Spinoni have long floppy ears and love to swim, it’s important to keep their ears clean. Weekly ear cleaning will help prevent bacteria from forming and causing infection.

Spinone Italiano’s are not particularly prone to dental-related problems. However, dental care is an aspect of grooming that is often neglected by dog owners, despite the fact that it is extremely important to your dog’s overall health and well-being.

While daily brushing is ideal, doing so on a weekly basis will be a big help in avoiding the need to bring your dog to a veterinarian for a cleaning, which usually has to be done under sedation. Here are some additional ways to maintain your Spinone’s dental health:

  • Dog Dental Chews
  • Spritz Dog Dental Spray
  • Professional Veterinarian Cleanings

It seems as though no one likes trimming dog nails. Not you, not the dog. But for the health of your dog, it must be done and should be done frequently enough to keep your dog’s nails short.

The most commonly accepted rule of thumb is that when a dog is standing, the nails should not make contact with the ground. If you can hear your dog coming, the nails are too long.

Some Spinoni owners choose to use a grinder instead of nail clippers when trimming their dog’s nails as they believe their dog tolerates the grinder better than the nail clippers. Others are more comfortable having their groomer or vet handing the nail trimming. Regardless of the method you choose, it’s important to trim your Spinone’s nails regularly.

Why Should You Hand Strip A Spinone Italiano?

Hand stripping is a grooming process that involves removing dead hairs from the coat by hand instead of clipping. Stripping maintains the natural harsh coat texture and color. It’s usually done twice a year in spring and fall. It speeds up the natural process of growth and shedding.

Hand stripping targets the older hairs that are in the exogen phase of growth. Exogen is the period where hair reaches the end of its lifespan and is shed. These older dull hairs are easy to pull out and by doing so they leave room for new stronger hairs to grow through.

For Spinone and a lot of wire-haired dogs, hand stripping is recommended instead of using clippers or scissors. Rather than removing old hairs these methods simply cut the old dull hairs. If the old hairs are not pulled out, the fresh new hairs don’t have the room to grow through. More importantly, clipping your Spinone’s wiry coat can prevent the coat from growing properly and it may not be possible to hand strip in the future.

Should You Trim A Spinone’s Beard?

Long, pointed “goat beards” should always be shortened. Thinning scissors should be used to shorten the Spinone Italiano beard to enhance the squareness and length of the muzzle.

If you’ve ever seen a Spinone in action at the food or water bowl, you know that after he eats or drinks, his beard is a mess. Keeping the beard shorter and having a wiping rag handy will help keep his face and your floor clean.

Over time, the beards on lighter colored Spinone can become stained. You can reduce beard stain by using a mixture of the juice of one lemon with a little dishwashing detergent. Work it into the beard. Let stay in for 15 minutes and rinse well. This will also keep their beard smelling lemony fresh and clean.

Take a look at another great video by a groomer and Spinone owner on how to groom a Spinone’s face.

Should You Trim A Spinone’s Eyebrows?

Shaggy eyebrows are a Spinone trademark. The eyebrows should look natural and must never be so long that they fall forward, obscuring the eyes. Thinning scissors or a stripping knife can be used to shorten the eyebrows to about 1 inch (2.5 cm).

Should You Use A Professional Groomer For Your Spinone?

The grooming needs for a Spinone are not so extensive to make a groomer a requirement. Many Spinone owners prefer to groom their dogs on their own and do just fine with it. But, having your dog professionally groomed will save you time and energy and provide your dog with some grooming items you’re not comfortable performing yourself.

Here are a few advantages of using a groomer for your Spinone:

  • They Have the Right Tools – nail trimmers, stripping knives, bathing tubs
  • They Know How to Handle Dogs – they groom dogs of all shapes and sizes
  • They know what they’re doing – they do things like nail trimming every day
  • They Take Care of the Gross Stuff like cleaning anal glands

What Tools Are Needed To Groom A Spinone Italiano?

Here are some tools that will allow you to perform the basic grooming tasks on your Spinone:

  • Shampoo for harsh/wiry coats
  • Slicker brush
  • Pin Brush
  • Basic Stripping Knife
  • Mars Coat King Grooming Rake (18 Blade)
  • Nail Clippers or Nail Grinder and Nail File
  • Fine and Coarse Combs
  • Thinning Scissors
  • Regular (blunt end) Scissors

Wrapping Up

Whether you have a hunting dog, show dog, or family companion, you should be prepared to spend some time grooming your Spinone. They will need only minimal hand stripping (twice a year), weekly brushing, and occasional bathing. Don’t forget weekly ear cleaning to prevent infection, nail trimming, and teeth brushing. It’s all part of Spinone Life.