AKC group: Hound
UKC group: Gun dogs
Average lifespan: 10 to 12 years
Average size: 55 to 88 pounds
Coat appearance: Dense, Glossy, Hard, Short, Short-Haired, Silky, and Soft
Coloration: Bianco-Arancio – White-Orange and Roano-Marrone – Roano-Brown, chestnut, or amber coloured patches on the face, ears, base of tail, and body
Best Suited For: houses with yards, singles, families with children, active singles, hunters
The Bracco Italiano can be found in paintings as early as the 4th and 5th centuries BC and frescoes of dogs resembling the modern Bracco date to 14th-century Renaissance Italy.
The white-and-orange Bracco is believed to have originated in the Piedmont, while the roan-and-brown dogs may have come from Lombardy. The Piedmont dogs, hunting in mountainous terrain, were lighter and smaller than the Lombard dogs, which were bred for working in marshy lowland areas.
Both types were popular hunting dogs and were bred by noble families such as the Medici and Gonzaga. Their original job was to drive game into nets or flush birds or other prey for falconers. Later, when hunters began using firearms, the dogs were used to point and retrieve game. Often given as gifts to noble and royal gentlemen in France and Spain, these dogs may have been the ancestors of European pointing breeds.
By the early 20th century, though, the Bracco population had dwindled. Fortunately, an organization called Societa Amitori Bracco Italiano and an Italian breeder named Ferdinando Delor de Ferrabouc revived the breed, partially by uniting the two types to increase genetic diversity. The standard for the breed was released in 1949, and the Federation Cynologique Internationale accepted the breed in 1956. Today it’s not unusual to see the Bracco at Italian events for hunting and working dogs.
The United Kennel Club recognized the breed in 2006. The Bracco Italiano Club of America was organized the next year and hopes to help the breed achieve full American Kennel Club recognition. The AKC added the breed to its Foundation Stock Service — a first step toward AKC recognition — in 2001, and the Bracco has been allowed to compete in AKC performance and companion events since 2010.
Braccos are very much a people-loving dog and thrive on human companionship, having a strong need to be close to their people. They are a particularly good family dog, and many have a strong love of children. They get along well with other dogs and pets, if trained to do so – it is, afterall, a hunting breed – and must be taught what to chase and what not to. They are very willing to please as long as they have decided that your idea is better than theirs. Obedience training is a must for a Bracco, and the more is asked of them, the better they do. Harsh reprimands do not work with this breed unless the reprimand is a fair one – and harshness must occasionally be used with some dogs to remind them who is actually in charge. Although not an aggressive breed, many Braccos will alert if there is a reason, and some will bark or growl if there’s a good reason.
The breed loves to hunt, and they excel at it – in fact, a non-hunting Bracco is not a happy Bracco, and will act out in various other ways. Hunting without a gun is an area in which the Bracco can excel and this can be a great opportunity for training the dog to connect with the owner. They are an active breed, but require more mental exercise than physical exercise to keep them happy. A Bracco owner can teach games like hide-and-seek which fits into the breed’s original and current usage, and keeps them mentally active.
The Bracco Italiano is generally a healthy breed but, like all dogs, they are prone to developing certain minor health conditions. Some of the most common health problems seen in this breed include hip dysplasia, entropion, umbilical hernias and ear mites. The Bracco Italiano is also sensitive to anesthesia, particularly to the drug Domitor.
The Bracco Italiano is a highly intelligent breed which is one of the many features that makes it a great hunting dog. Not only does this dog have great hunting instincts, but he is naturally eager to please. The best training methods for this dog are gentle but consistent – the gentle nature of this dog may make him stop trying if he is treated with harshness or cruelty. For the best results, use positive reinforcement training and start obedience training from a young age.
Many fans of the breed will argue that a Bracco Italiano that is not trained to hunt will not be a happy dog. Not only is this the activity the breed was meant for, but the dogs truly enjoy the activity. Even if you choose not to train your dog for hunting, you should provide him with plenty of mental exercise in addition to physical exercise to keep him sharp.
As a hunting breed, the Bracco Italiano likes to be fairly active but they can do well in an apartment or house without a yard if given adequate exercise. A nice 30-minute walk once a day will be adequate for this breed, though he will gladly accept more exercise. The Bracco Italiano has a unique gait that you may see if you give him a chance to run – he starts out at a slow trot with long strides but is capable of a fast gallops. When hunting, the Bracco Italiano reduces his speed the closer he gets to his quarry, coming to a near crawl and ending in a non-moving “point”.
The Bracco’s coat is short, dense and shiny. The hair on the head, ears and front of the legs and feet usually has a finer texture.
Spend a few minutes once or twice a week brushing the coat with a hound glove to keep it shiny and clean and remove dead hair.
Bathe the dog as needed. He might not need a full bath very often, but you may want to clean the ends of his ears regularly. They often get wet when the dog drinks and may pick up dirt when he’s outdoors.
These dogs can be droolers, although they don’t produce as much spit as a Mastiff or Saint Bernard. Keep a hand towel nearby to wipe your dog’s mouth after he eats or drinks.
Check his ears weekly to make sure they don’t smell or look red or dirty, which could indicate an ear infection. Clean them only if they look dirty.
The rest is basic care. Trim the nails every week or two or as needed. Brush the teeth often — with a vet-approved pet toothpaste — for good overall health and fresh breath.
Did You Know?
In Italian, the plural of Bracco is Bracchi.
Is the Bracco Italiano the Right Breed for you?
Low Maintenance: Infrequent grooming is required to maintain upkeep.
Constant Shedding: Routine brushing will help. Be prepared to vacuum often!
Moderately Easy Training: The Bracco Italiano is average when it comes to training. Results will come gradually.
Not Good for New Owners: This breed is best for those who have previous experience with dog ownership.