Photo: Author Maria Sperandei’s Siberian Lynx cat is a rare pet in Italy. Maria Sperandei
German Shepherd, Siberian Husky, Bulldog, Turkish Angora, Persian, and Russian Blue. These are just some of the many breeds of dogs and cats that Italians choose.
But which breeds are the most popular amongst Italian families?
Photo: An Italian Husky resting. Nicolo Govi/Flickr
According to local veterinarians, crossbreed dogs and European shorthair cats are still the animals Italians are most in love with. “We see many Labradors,” veterinarians say, “many Yorkshires, Bichon Frise and Golden Retrievers, but ultimately mix-breed dogs and European shorthair cats are the standard.”
A perfect example is a cross between Breton and Setter, which is very popular according to veterinarians. Even small-size dogs who look like a Bichon Frise or a Pekinese are more often than not a cross with, respectively, a Maltese, and a Chihuahua. The European shorthair cat has developed more naturally but the result has been, very similarly, self-selective mating and more genetic variation. In a way, having a European shorthair cat is equivalent to having a crossbreed dog.
In both cases, pet owners shun the fancy and expensiveness of a pure-breed pet and favor inexpensive, naturally regulated unions amongst animals.
Most mix-breed puppies and European kittens are given away to friends and neighbors, and the expectation, in current Italian tradition, is that pets join families without fees. Add to this the financial constraints of the past decade and you get the picture that reaching out for fancy, pure-breed dogs and cats is not a priority for the majority of Italians.
Photo: Many Italians choose German Shepherds as pets. Olu Eletu/StockSnap
That said, there will always be a minority of Italians that privilege exclusivity and uniqueness when thinking about their pet. Additionally, that rich, vibrant appreciation of unique dog and cat breeds is cherished by most Italians. I am the fanatical owner of a pure-breed Siberian lynx cat and, in his first year in Italy, he got animated reviews about his rarity from what seemed like everyone. They might not be fanatical about them, but fancy pets still thrill Italians!
Maria Sperandei for Vox Orbis, 2015