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Dog Breeds /Lupo Italiano
Lupo Italiano

Lupo Italiano

The Lupo Italiano—also known as the Italian Wolf Dog—is a rare dog breed known for its strength and hard-working nature.


55–77 lb


23–28 in


12–16 yr

Breed Group


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Lupo Italiano Traits

General Appearance

Lupi Italianis are highly aware, powerful dogs with a noble appearance and wild elegance.

Coat and Coloring

This breed has a medium-length, somewhat wavy top coat with a thick undercoat. They are predominantly gray with fawn, beige, or black markings, and an often lighter underside. All black dogs do occur.

Distinctive Physical Traits

Lupi Italiani have wolf-like muzzles, sturdy chests, powerful legs, and long tails.

Lupo Italiano Temperament

The Lupo Italiano is a lively dog with an independent streak. These pups bond closely with their human family members but are often wary of strangers. Their strength, bravery, and temperament make them well-suited as working or herding dogs.

Lupo Italiano History

The official history of the Lupo Italiano states that the first dog was a result of crossing a German Shepherd Dog with a now-extinct Apennine wolf variant from the Upper Lazio region of Italy in 1966. This dog had ideal characteristics of both species, and was subsequently selectively bred to additional German Shepherd Dogs to create a stable breed.

Recent genetic studies have suggested that although the Lupo Italiano is indeed a cohesive breed, it has little surviving evidence of wolf ancestry. In 1988, the Italian Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry officially recognized the Lupo Italiano, and since its inception, the breed cannot be sold. Those who want a dog must apply for one, demonstrating that they will continue to train, use, and breed the Lupo responsibly in cooperation with the official registry.

Due to their stamina, intelligence, and keen senses—as well as their ability to perform in rough terrain and snow—these dogs are often used for search and rescue. Additionally, Italian forest rangers often use Lupi Italiani as patrol and hunting dogs. They have also been successfully employed as therapy dogs.

Since 2012, the Association of the Affidatari del Lupo Italiano or AAALI exclusively manages the responsible breeding and distribution of the Lupo Italiano.

Lupo Italiano Care


This breed thrives on high-quality dog food appropriate for their age, size, and activity level. In particular, puppies may benefit from a large-breed growth diet. These specially formulated diets help prevent large breed dogs from growing too fast, which may decrease the likelihood or severity of hip dysplasia as they age. To help them maintain a healthy weight, measure their meals to avoid overfeeding and keep treats to 10% or less of their daily calories.


The Lupo Italiano's thick double coat requires frequent brushing to remove loose fur and dirt. Additionally, regular nail trims and dental care should be part of their grooming routine.


This breed has a lot of energy and stamina. Take them on long brisk walks, hikes, or runs to keep them physically and mentally fit. Vigorous play sessions in an enclosed yard will also help them release pent-up energy.


The Lupo Italiano is an intelligent breed with an independent nature. It's important to establish yourself as the pack leader and use firm, consistent training techniques.

Additionally, all dogs benefit from early socialization. Helping them feel comfortable with different people and environments when they're young will help them grow into well-adjusted adult dogs.