The Bracco Italiano or Italian Pointer is a large breed belonging to the Gundog group. It typically weighs around 25-40 kg and stands between 55-67 cm with males on the taller side. The Bracco, as it is simply called, is an athletic breed that closely resembles a Bloodhound and a German Shorthaired Pointer in appearance. It has the typical head with pendulous upper lips and long ears of the Bloodhound and the physique of the German Shorthaired Pointer. It also resembles the physique of the Spinone but with a much shorter coat. The Bracco Italiano’s body length is almost the same as its height at the withers. It has a very distinctive sculpted head with a deep muzzle and chiselling below the eyes. The fairly large and oval eyes project a soft expression, not protruding or too deep and are dark ochre or brown. The leathery ears extend to the tip of the nose when pulled forward. The coat of the Bracco is short, dense and glossy with shorter, finer hairs on the head, ears, front of the legs and feet. The coat comes in white with markings of orange, amber or chestnut (Bianco-Arancio) and roan with solid markings (Roano-Marrone).
The Bracco Italiano is a native of Italy and is one of two indigenous Italian Gundog breeds, the other one being the Spinone. It was originally used to hunt, point and retrieve game. Although it is still being utilized as a hunting dog in some parts of Europe, the Bracco Italiano is more often seen today as a companion and show dog. The Bracco Italiano is an ancient breed and is considered one of the oldest Pointer breed, if not the oldest. Paintings and writings from the 4th to 5th century B.C. depicts Bracco-type dogs and are considered the predecessor of many of today’s European pointing breeds. Paintings from the 14th century depict dogs similar to the modern-day Braco. These dogs were originally used as net dogs to point partridges and francolins which are then captured in nets.
The Bracco is believed to be a product of a cross between the Seguglio Italiano or Egyptian sight hounds brought to Italy and the Asiatic Mastiff or Molossus. The Bracco was popular during the Renaissance when hunting was a popular sport of the nobility and was often given as a gift to high-ranking government officials. It went nearly extinct from the late 19th century to the early part of the 20th century when interest in hunting dwindled. It was primary saved by breed fanciers, including Ferdinando Delor de Ferrabouc, an Italian breeder in cooperation with the Societa Amitori Bracco Italiano). The official breed standard was drawn up in 1949.
The Bracco thrives on human companionship and is a family-oriented breed, making it a wonderful family companion. It is generally not an aggressive breed but it will alert the owner of strangers by barking. This breed is a natural hunter and is very good at it. It is generally calm and gentle at home but fairly active outdoors. Its patience enables the Bracco Italiano to get along well with children, even younger ones. When working, the Bracco will typically start with a slow trot with long strides (although it is capable of fast gallops). Upon locating a quarry, it will reduce its speed gradually, coming to a near crawl when it nears the target and ending in a stationary “point” towards the game.
The Bracco loves to please and is relatively easy to train. It must be taught not to chase small animals at an early age if it is to be kept as a pet. Obedience training is a must as well as socialisation at an early age. Training must be gentle and consistent. The Bracco Italiano is an active breed and requires a lot of mental stimulation to keep it happy. Training the dog to play hide-and-seek (using an object or with a person) which is similar to the breed’s original purpose will keep it extremely happy and healthy.
The long droopy ears of the Bracco Italiano is one of the main concerns when grooming this dog. Long-eared dogs tend to develop ear infections primarily from sniffing the ground. Inspect and clean the ears regularly, making sure it is always dry to prevent the onset of bacterial infections. The short coat is very easy to maintain. Weekly scrubbing with a grooming mitt or a rubber brush will keep the coat shiny and the skin healthy because brushing promotes proper blood circulation. Bathe only when necessary.
There are no definitive health studies done yet to assess the overall robustness of the Bracco Italiano, although there have been some health issues on individual lines but this still doesn’t represent the overall health assessment of the breed. Some of the most noticeable health issues observed in some dogs are entropion and ectropion, hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, panosteitis, umbilical hernias, yeast infections, and a sensitivity to a certain anaesthetic drug.
As a breed that was originally developed to be a pointer or retriever, the Bracco Italiano loves an active lifestyle. A good-sized yard with a fence is an ideal playing ground for this dog. It is a highly adaptable breed and can live in any home setting – even in an apartment, provided that it is given daily mental and physical stimulation. A good half-hour walk daily will be adequate for the Bracco, although it will gladly accept a bit more.
The natural enthusiasm of the Bracco Italiano to always be with his family makes it a wonderful dog not only for the children but for the whole family as well. In fact, many Bracci have strong love for children and love playing with them enthusiastically. It gets along quite well with other dogs and pets (even cats) especially if it is raised with them.