Also known today as the Volpino Italiano, the Italian Spitz or the Florentine Spitz; this dog was called the Volpino di Firenze (the Florentine Volpino) in the 18th century. The word `volpino’ translates as ‘little fox’. In the 19th century the breed was known as the Cane de Quirinale (the Quirinal Dog).
This is the Italian equivalent of the German Pomeranian, with a stronger head and a muzzle which, although short, is slightly longer and more pointed than that of its more northerly relative. The favoured colour of its long, dense coat is pure white. In the past, this breed has also appeared in fawn, black or sable colours, but these varieties appear to have vanished in recent times. Although it does have a ruff, it is less dense than that of the Pomeranian.
The Volpino is an early breed and there has been some debate about whether it is the ancestor of the Pomeranian. Records suggest that it existed before its German relative, but detailed evidence is lacking.
This tiny spitz dog, with its foxy face, pricked ears and up-curled tail was a favourite among the Italian ladies of the Renaissance, when its body was often adorned with expensive ivory collars and bracelets. It remained in favour with the nobility for centuries and its 19th century name of Quirinal Dog reflects its high-status role. (The Quirinale was the Royal Palace in Rome and is now the Presidential Palace.)
In personality, this healthy, long-lived dog is lively, noisy, exuberant and affectionate. It height range is 11-12 in (27-30 cm) and its weight 9-11 lb (4-5 kg). Despite its obvious appeal, it remains rare in. its homeland and virtually unseen elsewhere.