Probably the most ancient traceable dog breed line is the Spinone Italiano breed. It is said that the line developed from the Piedmont region of Italy and goes back as far as 500 B.C. As of today, because of active efforts to preserve the dog breed blood line, the Spinone Italiano is believed to be one of the oldest gun dogs in living existence.
There are many theories as to how the Spinone Italiano came to existence. These theories may often sound contradictory to one another, but it shows the dynamic gene pool that constitutes this ancient breed of hunting dog.
One: that its original predecessors originated in all parts of Europe like Celtic Ireland, France, Greece, Italy, Russia, and Spain and eventually mixed with other native dogs. Two: that the dog is a descendent of the now extinct Spanish Pointer. Three: the Spinone Italiano is an off-shoot breed from the still existing line of the Russian Setter. Four: it is theorized that Greek traders brought a few coarse-haired setters to Italy during the height of the Roman Empire and crossed with native bred dogs to improve hunting ability and conformation. Five: the French claim that the Spinone Italiano came from several crosses of French-bred pointing breed. Six: the Italians on the other hand believe that the dog is the keystone ancestor of the German Wirehaired Pointer, the Pudelpointer and Wirehaired Pointing Griffon.
Despite discrepancies in its supposed origin, the undeniable fact remains that the Spinone Italiano was bred specifically as a hunting dog. The modern Spinone Italiano specializes in hunting in close cover or in areas with dense thickets and obstacles. It is not a racy kind of hunter, it prefers to fall back from the rest of the pack and hunt with stealth. With its webbed paws, the Spinone Italiano is an excellent swimmer and can retrieve fallen game from the water. Basically, this dog breed is used for HPR or for hunting, pointing and retrieving game. It is highly intelligent and very much in harmony with its surroundings, including its human handlers, its dog hunting companions and its potential prey.
The Spinone Italiano is very active and quite energetic but it does not display that exuberant tendency of other hunting dogs like the dogs that come from the terrier line. It moves with a more relaxed pace - a characteristic dog trot that is easy for its human handlers to keep up with. Because the Spinone Italiano is people-oriented, it has this tendency to stay with its human handler before, during and after the hunt until otherwise ordered to perform a specific task. Its dependability as a hunting companion is almost legendary. It obeys instructions implicitly and without hesitation. It will not run off on its own accord just because it's distracted. Nor will it run down a prey just for the heck of it. Properly trained, a Spinone Italiano is an efficient game stalker, and a more efficient game retriever.