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The Spinone in the Field

The Working Standard

By Norm Prima

Field Phase:

The Spinone possesses an excellent nose for locating game under various conditions in the field. All scent spots left by game in the field are investigated and a pointing stance is established only when game is present. In search of game in the field, the Spinone's paceis an ample, rhythmic, very quick trot, interrupted at times by a gallop. The posture of the Spinone is always erect, with its neck slightly stretched and the muzzle inclined slightly upward. The docked tail is carried horizontally with variations slightly lower or higher. As the dog enters a mildly scented area, tail movements increase and the dog gradually slows down continuing cautiously to the origin of game scent with the head highand pace constant. As the scent concentration increases, the Spinone noticeably slows down often testing the ground before a step, easing its movements into a similar posture to that of a point but stretching the neck a bit more and keeping the tail a little lower as it approaches the game. The Italian term "filata" describes this gradual slowing down to follow the direct line of scent that connects the dog to game. Once it determines there is game present, the Spinone establishes a pointing stance with tail lifted a bit and rigid. The pointing style is not important as long as the point is intense, convincing and productive. The cooperation attribute is exemplified by the method in which the dog works in unison with the hunter to produce game. With the strong bonding characteristic between the dog and the hunter that is instinctive in the breed, the highly intelligent Spinone seems to almost sense the handler's thoughts and responds accordingly during the hunt. The dog always hunts for the handler and never for himself by maintaining contact with the handler throughout the search. However, overdependence on the handler for direction and assurance is not desirable. Gun-shyness is not acceptable in a Spinone because a gun-shy dog can not be used for hunting.

Tracking Phase:

Tracking wounded game is imperative as the conservation-minded hunter desires to recover all crippled game during the hunt. Having hound in its ancestry this is an area in which the Spinone excels. The Spinone demonstrates excellent use of nose by immediately acknowledging a fresh track when crossed and working the scent in the direction of the track. The ability to concentrate on a track is an important trait of this breed. As the track begins, the dog works the scent accurately, distinguishing between hot and cold scent, and methodically spells its way forward along the scent trail. The overall posture is powerful, attentive but calm, and a little tilted forward, with the muzzle decisively turned toward the ground. The tracking gait should be more cautious than the field search, though no less tenacious. Cooperation characteristics are displayed in the Spinone by its self assurance and by clearly demonstrating a purpose when tracking. The inherent willingness to find game and its unmatched perseverance results in the successful retrieval of wounded game

Water Phase:

The Spinone exemplifies the versatile hunting dog by tracking and retrieving game from the water, which often times becomes essential during the course of a hunt. The Spinone should exhibit no fear of the water, and while the method of entry is not important, the Spinone should enter the water with self-confidence. Dislike of water is considered a serious fault in a versatile hunting dog, therefore any dog showing a dislike or lack of self-confidence should be disqualified. Cooperation is displayed by the willingness to enter the water at the request of the handler.

Retrieving Phase:

Retrieval of shot game, whether dead or wounded, is an integral part of the overall concept of game conservation. The Spinone's retrieving instincts make the dog a reliable retriever during the course of any hunt. After the handler shoots the game the dog marks the fall and relies on his nose to pinpoint the location. After picking up the game, cooperation is displayed by immediately returning to the handler with the game. If the hold is insecure, it should be considered a fault if the dog does not reestablish a better hold without loss of control of the game, and immediately continue the retrieve. When reaching the handler, the dog maintains the hold until commanded to release the game to hand. Any dog which mutilates game as to render it unfit for the table should be disqualified.