All the way from northern Italy is the Carl Lewis of all dog breeds, the Bracco Italiano. This medium size athlete is the true definition of a gun dog. One of the oldest pointer breeds, that is incredibly fast, smart and versatile.
What most people love about the Bracco is their relentless, can do attitude and workaholic spirit.
However, once the perfect gun dog returns indoors, they hardly resemble that pointer breed style. Actually, they are docile, gentle and full of affection.
So what is that makes this breed such a good find and an even better pet?
Here is what you need to know about the Bracco Italiano.
Here’s what we know about the Bracco Italiano. First, the breed hails from northern Italy. Second, there was once two varieties hitherto the 20th century. In fact, there was the Piedmontese and Lombard Pointer, which were the two regions those breeds came from, Piedmont and Lombardy. This was an effort by enthusiasts to make the breed more resolute. And while this is pure conjecture, there is reason to believe, at that time, that both breeds were facing threats of extinction.
That said, historians can trace the Bracco Italiano through painting and drawings from the 4th and 5th century BC. Records indicate that the Bracco’s ancestry comes from the Segugio Italiano and the Asiatic Mastiff.
According to the Bracco Italiano Society of America, Bracco’s were always a breed for the aristocrats. The Aristocrats would use the breed for bird hunting, which was a sport in the Renaissance era. As the sport became more popular so didn’t the breed. The Bracco Italiano’s popularity grew as Italian politicians began exporting the breed to countries like Spain and France.
At the turn of the 20th century, there was a problem facing this breed. Their numbers were on the decline and extinction was a sincere possibility. Enthusiasts of the old gun dog couldn’t bear the thought of this breed disappearing for good, so they made careful breeding decisions through a selective process. The days of the Bracco Italiano forcing birds into nets were over, especially with the evolution of weaponry and industry. Changes had to be made.
Thus changes came as breeders took the diminutive mountain hunting dog, the Piedmontese Pointer and the large, lowland hunter, the Lombard Pointer to make a more complete and versatile breed.
In 1949, once the unification took place, thanks to the work of The Societa Amatori Bracco Italiano, a standard was written.
Exports to the U.K in the 1980’s, as well as exports into the U.S. during the 90’s gave the breed more presence on the world stage.
In 2001, the Bracco Italiano officially became a part of the American Kennel Club’s “Foundation Stock Services.”
Today, the breed remains a favorite among a small group of enthusiasts and is still working on getting official recognition with the American Kennel Club. The AKC allows the breed to compete in companion and performance competitions.
Bracchi Italiani is a medium size breed. There are some differences between male and females. However, there is a consensus with weight being proportionate to the overall body. For instance, The Kennel Club says the Bracco Italiano should weigh between 55-88 pounds, while the American Kennel Club claims 55 to 90 pounds is appropriate.
With regards to height, a male should stand between 22.5 to 26.5 inches and females 21.5 to 24.5 inches. The American Kennel Club calls for 21 to 27 inches.
A Bracco Italiano loves to use its nose. In fact, this is one hunting trait the breed could use to its advantage. You’ll often find the Bracco leading with its curious nose. That said, this is a curious and intelligent breed.
They are easy to train, one of the great things about this breed is how quick they pick up on commands. Moreover, the Bracco Italiano is understanding and many call them a compassionate dog. Their docile temperament makes them an incredibly reliable breed.
As former bird dogs, the Bracco isn’t just a great hunting dog, but also a great companion. Constantly looking for the love of their master, this breed is persistently showing their people affection.
If you want a dog that could care less if you invite them along or involve them with your family excursions, this is not the breed for you. The Bracco feeds off human contact and wants to be an integral part of the family. They don’t like being alone and bore easily.
Make no mistake, this is a working dog that prefers to stay busy with work or tasks. The Bracco Italiano wants to be outside, but should be an indoors dog. They get along great with everyone. You don’t have to worry about an overly aggressive dog with other pets. On top of that, they handle children well.
Perhaps that’s because they love to play and take the kids off your hands by keeping them busy. This breed enjoys regular exercise and loves to show off its speed. On top of being reliable, this is one loyal breed that lives to please their owners.
Braccos adapt well but may not handle the city life well. In fact, this isn’t the best breed for apartment living. Again, if there’s one thing you should heed, that is, this is a dog that needs to run and stay busy. Boredom leads to neurotic behavior, which in turn means destruction.
The Bracco Italiano is a healthy breed in relative terms. They enjoy a life expectancy of 10 to 14 years but there are some health complications you may need to watch out for. First, when you buy a Bracco, you should do your due diligence and buy from a reputable breeder. Someone with credit. Additionally, you should schedule routine checkups with your veterinarian to help maintain better health.
Right off the bat, there are some obvious areas of concern with this breed. For starters, they are a breed with a deep chest. This can work against them especially regarding Bloat. Breeds like Dobermans and Braccos are more prone to suffer Gastric Torsion. Gastric Torsion or Bloat is an excess of air in the stomach. When the dog can’t release that air anywhere, it distends or twists inside the stomach creating discomfort, pain and sometimes a fatal consequence. Moreover, this is most common in large breeds or dogs that experience rapid growth.
Next up is a majority of issues affecting the Bracco Italiano’s eyes. Issues such as Entropion, Ectropion, Cherry Eyes and Cataracts. Each of these issues can be of hindrance and annoyance. Cataracts can lead to blindness, while Entropion and Ectropion can result in scarring and pain. Breeds like the Amstaff, Boston Terrier, and Akitas are prone to these issues affecting the eyes. This is especially important for a working breed that relies on its senses and sight.
Of course, there are concerns for breeds that are working or active dogs with the joints. Diseases such as Hip Dysplaisa can be a concern for a gun dog like the Bracco Italiano. This abnormal hip malformation leads to lameness, pain and eventually osteoarthritis.
Finally, Elbow Dysplasia, Umbelical Hernia, and infections due to their low hanging ears are areas to watch out for with the Bracco Italiano.
There is some good news when it comes to care for this breed. They are a rather low maintenance breed, that only requires some low level upkeep. For instance, the Bracco Italiano may drool and shed but minimally. An item like a Hound glove can help with the shedding issue as their hair tends to get stuck on your hand easier than other breeds. Aside from that, this breeds needs a job or task to keep busy. Regular exercise is crucial. For puppies, you may need to walk up to two hours a day, although that is pushing the maximum. You should be able to get away with 45 minutes to an hour per day of exercise.
Puppies of this breed typically have this chewing complex that they normally grow out of as an adult. Early socialization and training is essential with this breed. They do pick up on commands quickly and aim to please their owners. That said, you don’t want to leave this breed alone all day, as they do much better in the company of their master.
This is a family dog, that needs to be a part of family life. You can bring this dog to dog parks, long rides and other adventures. The Bracco Italiano tends to get along well with other dogs and comes around to strangers nicely.
Brushing their teeth regularly, trimming nails once a months, occasional baths, and inspecting their ears for bacterial infections often are all easy but necessary rituals to do with frequency.
How much your Bracco Italiano eats depends on their rates of activity, metabolism, age and a few areas that play into consideration like spaying and neutering. However, this medium size breed requires a high calorie diet due to their high energy traits. This breed will have no problem eating, they love to eat, yet that’s why it’s important to place a balance diet on them.
For instance, a moderate working dog at 55 pounds should get around 2300 calories per day. A moderate working dog at the maximum weight of 90 pounds should get around 3400 calories per day.
Essential items in their diet should consist high protein value. In fact, meat should be the first ingredient. You can feed your Bracco Italiano 4 to 6 cups of high quality dry food per day. The best sources of nutrients for this breed is lean chicken, turkey, lamb, fish, rice and eggs. Other items like Taurine, Omega fatty acids are essential to support their joint health as well as their health.
Steer clear of preservatives or fillers with this breed. It’s also best practice to feed them twice a day to reduce the chances of Bloat.
Of course, you should always provide your Bracco Italiano with the most important nutrient of all, and that is clean drinking water.
The Bracco Italiano has a short, smooth and dense coat with a glossy finish. This coat is simple to care for, as you should only need to brush once or twice per week.
White, white and chestnut, white and orange are the standard colors for the Bracco. Roan markings are fine according to the Bracco Italiano Society of America.
As of writing this, the Bracco Italiano is this sort of “niche breed.” There is a small group of enthusiasts that continue to improve the standards of this breed. If one is to look at all of the great qualities of this breed, including their sensory and pointer talents, you can understand the fanfare.
With that in mind, if you’re looking for a different caliber of dog, one that is faithful and intelligent, a dog that is reliable and docile, then the Bracco Italiano is a breed worth looking at.