According to the Volpino Club of America, Volpino means “Little Fox,” but the breed has also been called “Cane de Quairinale” the Florentine Spitz, and the Italian Spitz. That’s cool. Many breeds have had multiple names over the years, and are known by different names in different countries (the Volpino’s Greek name is “Melitan”). As we looked a little deeper into the name, however, we found that in Italy, the Keeshond has also been called “Volpino,” as well as “Lupino.” Since “lupo” means wolf in Italian, some sources think “Volpino” might be an old word for wolfdog or spitz.
The Volpino club points out that Italian experts on their breed believe some descendants of an original spitz dog migrated south to Italy to evolve into the Volpino Italiano, while other dogs went north to Germany to become the German Spitz. Another source concurs by writing that three of the primary descendents of those spitz dogs included the German Spitz, the Dutch Keeshond, and the Volpino Italiano.
Interestingly, some Keeshond experts also believe the Keeshond to be related to the family of northern spitz dogs that moved into Germany during the Pommern war. In fact, the Keeshonod was originally called the Wolfspitz before its name was changed to Keeshond in 1926 in England where it had been known as the Dutch Barge Dog.
Go back far enough, and the Volpino Italino and Keeshond may share ancestry.