This breed is sometimes called the Italian Pointer, as she was bred for hunting with guns in Italy. Birds, particularly pheasants, are her primary quarry. She is one of just two Italian hunting breeds. In appearance she most closely resembles a Bloodhound or a German Shorthaired Pointer. She is also an affectionate dog that enjoys the company of humans.
The Bracco has a sweet face that matches her disposition. Like most hunting dogs, she has energy to burn, but once exhausted will enjoy spending time in the company of family.
The Bracco dates back to the 4th or 5th century BC. Some authorities believe she is a cross between the coursing hound Segugio Italiano and the Asiatic Mastiff, while others believe her to be a descendent of the St. Hubert Hound. There appears to be no proof of either theory, but since mating gun dogs with hounds was a common practice at the time, it seems likely the the Bracco has both ancestors.
During the Renaissance, both the Medici and the Gonzaga families bred Bracci. The aristocracy sought them for bird hunting. The Bracco came close to extinction early in the 19th century, but a number of dedicated families continued to produce them during both world wars, and the breed survived.
Male Bracci should weigh 23 to 26 inches; females, 22 to 24. Weight should range from 55 to 88 pounds for both genders. The coat is short and shiny, of a fairly harsh texture, and can come in several color combinations: white-orange or roano-brown, with chestnut or amber patches on the face, the ears, the body and the base of the tail.
We’ve mentioned the Bracco’s need for physical exercise; just as important is her need for mental challenges. Obedience training, from puppyhood and going forward from there, is a must for the Bracco. Hunting is this breed’s forte, and she’s happier when hunting than not, but she does not have to be used as a gun dog. Hunting trials can help bond dog and owner and keep everyone happy. Training needs to be gentle, with positive rewards.
At home, she’s not much of a guard dog. She is not a frequent barker, and she’s probably too even-tempered to give an intruder much trouble. According to owners, however, she is one of the sweetest housepets a family can have.
The Bracco is subject to orthopedic problems like hip and elbow dysplasia. They may face kidney problems at some point in life, and because of their deep chests, bloat (torsion) cannot be ruled out. Follow your vet’s advice on dealing with these potential problems.
The Bracco needs just a gentle, all-over stroking with a hound glove (great chore for the kids!) to stay neat and tidy.
The Bracco Italiano Club of America (http://www.thebraccoclub.org/) should be your first stop when looking to rescue or rehome a Bracco Italiano.