- Height: 21.5 to 26.5 inches
- Weight: 55 to 88 pounds
True to his ancestry, the Bracco usually loves to hunt. If given an outlet for this desire, he can also be an excellent family dog. He is usually calm with children and tends to get along with other dogs. However, he may chase cats and other critters if not trained to leave them alone. He will often alert you to anything unusual, but he’s generally friendly toward people, even strangers.
The Bracco tends to do best when he has plenty of interaction with his family. This is a dog for people with an active lifestyle who can have a Bracco with them while they work, whether it’s in a dog-friendly office or on a farm or ranch. As a rule, he loves to hunt but doesn’t require it on a daily or even weekly basis as long as you provide him with other physical and mental activity.
Generally energetic and intelligent, the Bracco’s retrieving and scenting abilities can make him suited to dog sports such as agility, nose work and tracking. Some also do search and rescue and make therapy dog visits. Although the Bracco doesn’t need an excessive amount of daily physical exercise — a daily walk is plenty — he does need mental challenges and companionship. If left alone frequently, he can become a nuisance barker, a digger or destructive in other ways.
The Bracco is best suited to life in a family home with a yard or a country home with an active person or family who will take full advantage of his hunting skills and love of people.
Other Quick Facts
- The Bracco’s short, shiny coat can be solid white; white with orange or dark amber; white with chestnut and may have roan (freckled) markings.
- The Bracco often moves with an interesting extended trot.
- In the field, the Bracco is often a versatile and efficient hunter with a strong ability to air scent; that is, he works with his nose in the air, following scents carried on air currents.
The History of the Bracco ItalianoThe 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.
Bracco Italiano Temperament and PersonalityThe Bracco is described as jaunty but gentle. Typically, he’s a do-it-all dog, capable of tracking, pointing and retrieving birds and other game on land and from water. As a hunting companion, he tends to be methodical and efficient.
Hunting is what the Bracco is known for. If you don’t take him hunting, you will probably find him pointing butterflies, lizards or anything else that catches his eye — or nose. Channel his skills by teaching him to find his toys or competing in nosework or agility competitions (overall health permitting, of course).
When he’s not hunting, he tends to be a calm and sociable dog. Of course, when he’s still a puppy, it helps to teach him that indoors is the place to be restful and outdoors is the place to be active.
The Bracco has a strong desire for human companionship and is often affectionate and devoted to his family. Whether you work at home or in an office, he’ll probably be content to lie quietly beneath your desk, waiting until you can enjoy a lunchtime walk together. When you’re watching television, he’ll snuggle next to you on the sofa, ignoring the fact that he’s not exactly lap-sized. You will probably want to draw the line at letting him beneath the covers with you in bed — but don’t be surprised if he makes himself at home there.
With children of any age, the Bracco has a reputation for being kind and gentle. That doesn’t mean he’s a babysitter. Young children and dogs should never be left alone together, no matter how well they get along.
A Bracco can be companionable with other animals, if raised with them. Puppies raised with cats usually respect them. Otherwise, it may take some time for them to learn to get along with a new cat or not to chase outdoor cats. Pocket pets and birds may always be viewed as prey, so it’s best to keep them separated. If you have chickens or other poultry, your Bracco can learn not to chase them, but he will probably always point them.
Being a Sporting breed, the Bracco is generally adaptable and easy to train, but he can have a stubborn side. Be patient and positive when training this sensitive dog. Because of his strong desire to be with people, you should teach him when he’s young that it’s okay for you to be away from his side, whether for a few minutes or a few hours.
Start training your Bracco puppy the day you bring him home. He is capable of soaking up everything you can teach him. Don’t wait until he is 6 months old to begin training or you will have a larger and more headstrong dog to deal with.
If possible, get him into puppy kindergarten class by the time he is 10 to 12 weeks old and socialize, socialize, socialize.
Be aware, however, that many puppy-training classes require certain vaccines (such as kennel cough) to be up to date, and many veterinarians recommend limited exposure to other dogs and public places until puppy vaccines (including rabies, distemper and parvovirus) have been completed. In lieu of formal training, you can begin training your puppy at home and socializing him among family and friends until puppy vaccines are completed.
Talk to the breeder, describe exactly what you’re looking for in a dog and ask for assistance in selecting a puppy. Breeders see their puppies daily and can make uncannily accurate recommendations once they know something about your lifestyle and personality.
The perfect Bracco Italiano doesn’t spring fully formed from the whelping box. He’s a product of his background and breeding. Look for a puppy whose parents have nice personalities and who has been well socialized from an early age. Neither parents nor pups should be timid, shifty-eyed or sluggish.
What You Need to Know About Bracco Italiano HealthThe Bracco Italiano is a generally healthy breed with an expected life span of 10 to 12 years.
That said, all dogs have the potential to develop genetic health problems, just as all people have the potential to inherit a disease. Health problems that have been seen in the Bracco include hip and elbow dysplasia, kidney disease, entropion (eyelids that roll inward) and ectropion (eyelids that roll outward). Because of his deep chest, the Bracco is among the breeds that can be prone to bloat and gastric torsion. They may also be sensitive to certain types of anesthesia. Run, don’t walk, from any breeder who does not offer a health guarantee on her puppies, who claims that the breed is 100 percent healthy and has no known problems or who tells you that her puppies are isolated from the main part of the household for health reasons. A reputable breeder will be honest and open about health problems in the breed and the incidence with which they occur in her lines.
Health certifications your pup’s parents should have include:
- Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) or PennHIP evaluation of hips, with the results registered with the OFA or the Canine Health Information Center (CHIC)
- OFA evaluation of elbows
- Annual eye exam by board-certified veterinary ophthalmologist, with results registered with OFA
- Optional: OFA evaluation for kidney disease
Careful breeders screen their breeding dogs for genetic disease and breed only the healthiest and best-looking specimens, but sometimes Mother Nature has other ideas and a puppy develops one of these diseases despite good breeding practices. Advances in veterinary medicine mean that in many cases, the dogs can still live good lives. If you’re getting a puppy, ask the breeder about the ages of the dogs in her lines and causes of death.
Remember that after you’ve taken a new puppy into your home, you have the power to protect him from one of the more common canine health problems: obesity. Keeping a Bracco at an appropriate weight is one of the easier ways to help extend his life.
The Basics of Bracco Italiano GroomingThe 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.
Finding a Bracco ItalianoFirst things first: The Bracco is rare in this country. Because there may be as few as five litters born per year, it’s likely you’ll need to join a breeder’s waiting list. Be prepared to wait a year or two before the right puppy is available.
Finding a good breeder is a great way to find the right puppy. A good breeder will match you with the right puppy and will, without question, have done all the health certifications necessary to screen out health problems as much as possible. She is more interested in placing pups in the right homes than in making big bucks.
Good breeders will welcome your questions about temperament, health clearances and what the dogs are like to live with and will come right back at you with questions of their own about what you’re looking for in a dog and what kind of life you can provide for him. A good breeder can tell you about the history of the breed, explain why one puppy is considered pet quality while another is not and discuss what health problems affect the breed and the steps she takes to avoid those problems.
Start your search at the website of the Bracco Italiano Club of America (BICA). Its voluntary code of ethics, which you can find on the BICA website, specifies that members will not sell their puppies to or through pet stores and that puppies must be sold with a contract stating that the breeder will be contacted for help if at any time in the dog’s life the owner can’t keep him.
Look for a breeder who is active in her national breed club and a local club, too, if possible. She should regularly participate with her dogs in some form of organized canine activiy, such as conformation showing, obedience or other dog sports or therapy dog programs.
Ask the breeder to provide you with documentation that your prospective puppy’s parents were cleared for health problems in the breed and have results registered with the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals or the Canine Health Information Center.
Avoid breeders who seem interested only in how quickly they can unload a puppy on you and whether your credit card will go through. You should also bear in mind that buying a puppy from a website that offers to ship your dog to you immediately can be a risky venture, as it leaves you no recourse if what you get isn’t exactly what you expected. Put at least as much effort into researching your puppy as you would into choosing a new car or expensive appliance. It will save you money in the long run.
Lots of reputable breeders have websites, so how can you tell who’s good and who’s not? Red flags include puppies always being available, multiple litters on the premises, having your choice of any puppy and the ability to pay online with a credit card. Quickie online purchases are convenient, but they are almost never associated with reputable breeders.
Whether you’re planning to get your new best friend from a breeder or another source, don’t forget the adage “let the buyer beware.” Disreputable breeders and facilities that deal with puppy mills can be hard to distinguish from reliable operations. There’s no 100-percent guaranteed way to make sure you’ll never purchase a sick puppy, but researching the breed (so you know what to expect), checking out the facility in person (to identify unhealthy conditions or sick animals) and asking the right questions can reduce the chances of heading into a disastrous situation. And don’t forget to ask your veterinarian, who can often refer you to a reputable breeder, breed rescue organization or other reliable source for healthy puppies.
Before you decide to buy a puppy, consider whether an adult Bracco might better suit your needs and lifestyle. Puppies are loads of fun, but they require a lot of time and effort before they grow up to become the dog of your dreams. An adult Bracco Italiano, if one is available, may already have some training and will probably be less active, destructive and demanding than a puppy. With an adult, you know more about what you’re getting in terms of personality and health and you can find adults through breeders or shelters. If you are interested in acquiring an older dog through breeders, ask them about purchasing a retired show dog or if they know of an adult dog who needs a new home. If you want to adopt a dog, read the advice below on how to do that.
Adopting a Dog From a Rescue Group or ShelterBear in mind that the Bracco is a rare breed and few are available in this country. It is unlikely that you will find one in a shelter or through a rescue group. If you want to search, though, here’s how to get started.
1. Use the Web
Sites like Petfinder.com and Adopt-a-Pet.com can have you searching for a Bracco in your area in no time flat. The site allows you to be very specific in your requests (housetraining status, for example) or very general (all the Bracchi available on Petfinder across the country). AnimalShelter.org can help you find animal rescue groups in your area.
You can also check local newspapers for “pets looking for homes” sections you can review. Keep in mind, however, that when you acquire a dog this way, he probably hasn’t been evaluated by a person experienced in the breed who is affiliated with a rescue group. If you happen to know someone who is familiar with the breed, ask him or her to go with you to meet the dog.
Social media is another great way to find a dog. Post on your Facebook page that you are looking for a specific breed so that your entire community can be your eyes and ears.
2. Reach Out to Local Experts
Start talking with all the pet pros in your area about your desire for a Bracco. That includes vets, dog walkers and groomers. When someone has to make the tough decision to give up a dog, that person will often ask her own trusted network for recommendations.
3. Talk to Breed Rescue
Most people who love the Bracco love all of them. That’s why breed clubs have rescue organizations devoted to taking care of homeless dogs. The Bracco is a rare breed so few dogs are available through rescue but the national breed club works to place dogs when they are in need of a new home.
The great thing about breed rescue groups is that they tend to be very upfront about any health conditions the dogs may have and are a valuable resource for advice. They may also offer opportunities to foster a dog if you are an experienced dog owner.
4. Key Questions to Ask
You now know the things to discuss with a breeder, but there are also questions you should discuss with shelter or rescue group staff or volunteers before you bring home a pup. These include:
- What is his energy level?
- How is he around other animals?
- How does he respond to shelter workers, visitors and children?
- What is his personality like?
- What is his age?
- Is he housetrained?
- Has he ever bitten or hurt anyone that they know of?
- Are there any known health issues?
Puppy or adult, breeder purchase or adoption, take your Bracco to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot problems and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that can help you avoid many health issues.