The Segugio Italiano is a lively, intelligent breed that's adored equally in the field and home. These hounds hunt well solo and in packs and make calm, eager-to-please pets.
Segugio Italiano Traits
Well-balanced and lean but muscular, the Segugio is a robust hound with a deep chest and medium proportions.
Coat and Coloring
The Segugio comes in both smooth- and rough-haired varieties. The smooth-haired dogs have dense, straight, short coats with a horse hair texture. Rough-haired Segugi have rough coats, as the name implies, but the coat is smoother on the head, ears, legs, tail, and muzzle compared to the body.
Both coat types come in shades of solid fawn—from intense red to faded fawn—or black and tan. Black and tan dogs have tan markings on the muzzle, eyebrows, chest, and legs. If they have white stars on their chest, they're called tricolored. Fawn dogs may have white markings on the muzzle and skull, a white star on the chest, or white on the neck, hocks, feet, and tail. But white is not desirable, according to the breed standard.
Distinctive Physical Traits
Segugi have longish, oval heads and Roman noses. Their large, almond-shaped eyes come in a dark ochre color and offer a soft expression. They have long, triangular-shaped hanging ears that start wide and end in a narrow point. Their thin tails are set high, hanging when at rest and raised above the back when in action.
Segugio Italiano Temperament
The Segugio Italiano is a calm, reserved breed. These dogs love spending time outdoors and are happiest when hunting. They become very vocal when following a scent, showing off their deep, musical bark.
Despite being excellent trackers, Segugi rarely go after unintended targets—good news for neighborhood cats and small animals. Though naturally independent, these pups can be gentle, loving companions that fit right in as members of active families.
Segugio Italiano History
Also known as the Segit, the Segugio Italiano is an ancient scenthound. Though the breed's exact origins are unknown, experts believe these dogs descended from primitive Egyptian hounds that Phoenician traders brought to Italy. Italian paintings and sculptures of dogs closely resembling Segugi (the plural form of Segugio) dating back to the 1600s offer further evidence of the breed's long history in the region.
These speedy dogs earned their keep hunting wild boar. And when the countryside's boar population began to decline, so did the number of Segugi. Fortunately, determined hunters saved the Segugio from extinction by training the dogs to hunt smaller animals, such as rabbits.
The Segugio's popularity surged after the breed won the European Cup in 1933. These pups have remained favorites in the Italian countryside ever since.
Segugio Italiano Care
Segugi thrive on a high-quality diet formulated for their life stage (e.g., puppy, adult, senior) and energy level.
Because of their deep chests, these dogs are at a greater risk of bloat (also known as twisted stomach). To help prevent bloat, break your dog's food up into several meals a day, and use a food bowl designed to slow their eating. Also, avoid feeding immediately before or after any kind of vigorous activity. These are just a few ways you can help prevent this life-threatening condition. Consult your veterinarian about other methods, including surgical options.
To help your Segugio Italiano maintain their lean physique, monitor their food intake and measure portions to avoid accidental overfeeding. When giving treats during training sessions (or just to reward general cuteness), keep in mind that they should make up no more than 10% of your dog's daily calories.
Both smooth- and rough-haired Segugi require brushing a couple of times a week to keep their coats clean and healthy. Their long ears, though adorable, may be more susceptible to ear infections. Regularly check them for debris or wax build-up, and clean them as needed to help prevent issues.
Good dental hygiene is also essential for any dog's overall long-term health. In addition to professional dental cleanings, establish an at-home dental care routine that includes regular teeth brushing.
The Segugio Italiano has a lot of energy and stamina. That means they need plenty of exercise (ideally a couple of hours a day) to keep them physically and mentally fit. Brisk walks, trips to the dog park, and backyard scent games are all great ways to help them burn off energy. They also enjoy dog sports—such as agility, competitive obedience, and rally.
Segugi are eager-to-please pups, which comes in handy during training sessions. Quick learners, they benefit from firm and consistent training techniques.
Socializing your pup early will help them develop into a well-mannered adult dog.
The most common ancestral trait of this group is being used for hunting. Some use acute powers of scent to follow a trail while others demonstrate the gift of stamina as they run down a quarry. Beyond these two common traits, however, generalizations about hounds are hard to come by as the group is comprised of a very diverse lot of breeds.
Reviewed June 16, 2021 by Jamie Freyer, DVM