Dog rose is a thorny shrub, 1 to 3 meters tall, with hairless woody stems that are often arching and pendent, and deep roots.  Thorns are robust, hooked, elongate and laterally compressed.  Leaves, deciduous, are large and composed of 5-7 oval or elliptical leaflets with 17-22 teeth on the margin.  Flowers are single or come in clusters of two or three blossoms on a short peduncle.  Blossoms are about 4-7 cm diameter and not very fragrant. Sepals with sharply lanceolate laciniae bend backwards after blossoming and fall after a brief period.  Dog rose blooms from May to July.  The fruit (rose-hips), 1-2 cm in length, is bright red and fleshy and ripens in late fall.

Dog rose is the prevailing wild rose species in Italy, common in hedgerows and forest edges.  Its habitat is the edge of beech, fir, pine and deciduous oak forests but also shrubs and hedges up to an altitude of 1900 m. It grows in rather deep, silty and moderately dry soil.

Dog rose is widely used for its high vitamin C content.  Its active ingredients (in addition to vitamin C, it is rich in tannins, organic acids, pectin, carotenoids and polyphenols) are used by the pharmaceutical, food and cosmetic industries. The fruit, dried and minced, is used in herbal medicine for the preparation of infusions and decoctions.  Fresh rose hips can make excellent jams.