Unlike many breeds of hunting dogs, the Spinone Italiano has taken a different path when it comes to temperament. It is extremely tame. So tame, in fact, that it does not work well as an aggressive guard dog. It's just too people-friendly to growl at approaching strangers or to challenge their presence. A millennium of specified breeding has brought about a Spinone Italiano that is easy going and affectionate towards people and other animals, no questions asked.
This breed of dog is still being employed as a hunting dog because of its train ability, its ingrained ability to sport out game, and its amazing swimming capabilities. In recent years though, it has been discovered that the Spinone Italiano's infallibly docile manner can be used in an entirely different way: as therapy dogs.
Not all dogs can become therapy dogs. Even the cutest puppy or the seemingly harmless house pet can turn aggressive when shown into a roomful (even hospital full) of people. A dog needs to be certified in order to become a therapy dog. And in order to be certified, the dog has to showcase a number of "desirable" qualities such as a stable temperament and a desire to meet people.
On a normal visit, a therapy dog must perform one or more or all of these functions: accepting a friendly stranger's touch by hugging or being held tightly, confidently reacting to strange environments with conventional therapy equipments like wheel chairs, oxygen tanks, crutches, etc., placidly accepting clumsy and / or exuberant petting (especially from young children or stroke victims), sitting politely for petting from one or many hands, walking into a crowd full of people or dogs without distraction and walking on a loose lead without bolting.
Apparently, the Spinone Italiano is perfect for this kind of work. This breed of dogs just loves to interact with people, and meeting strangers causes it no hardship. It is confident enough not to shy away from other animals too, so if one or more therapy dogs are visiting a hospital, the Spinone Italiano does not react by challenging other dogs, or by inviting them to play. Mostly, a Spinone Italiano is very laid back and easy-going. It is also very biddable, and if properly trained, will follow its handler's directives perfectly.
The Spinone Italiano also has a very stable temperament, and is not subjected to mood swings or exuberance like most other hunting dog breeds. Its affection to people clearly shows in its gentleness towards young children. Young children, or very sick children sometimes cannot control their reactions when they see a therapy dog by their side and they either pet too hard or graspingly hold on to the dog and its fur. This is also the case for patients who have lost control over normal bodily reaction like the elderly, those who suffered from stroke, or those who suffered from Alzheimer's. The Spinone Italiano is very tolerant of such reactions, and its patient nature is winning hearts among the "patients" it visits.