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Bracco Italiano

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The Bracco Italiano is also known as the Italian Pointer or Italian Pointing Dog and is a purebred from Italy classed as a gun dog. It is a proud and athletic dog, developed for hunting but also commonly kept as a companion too due to its loving and gentle temperament. While not as commonly found in the UK or the US they are a popular breed amongst several European countries. It is a medium to large dog with a life span of 11 to 15 years. An interesting fact about this breed is that it has a musky and sweet odor, it does not smell like other dogs! This is an odor some like, and others hate so take a sniff before you bring one home!

The Bracco Italiano at A Glance
Name Bracco Italiano
Other names Italian Pointer, Italian Pointing Dog
Nicknames Bracco
Origin Italy
Average size Medium to large
Average weight 33 to 88 pounds
Average height 21 to 26 inches
Life span 11 to 15 years
Coat type Short, dense, and glossy.
Hypoallergenic No
Color Orange and White, White and Chestnut, White and Amber, White
Popularity Not yet a fully registered member of the AKC
Intelligence High – this is a very quick dog
Tolerance to heat Good – can handle some heat but nothing too hot
Tolerance to cold Good – can handle some cold but nothing too extreme
Shedding Average – some hair will be left around the home
Drooling Above average – known to have some drool and slobber
Obesity High – measure food and exercise well
Grooming/brushing Low to average – brush once or twice a week
Barking Occasional – does bark but it is not constant
Exercise needs Average – will need fairly active owners
Trainability Easy to moderate
Friendliness High – this is a social dog
Good first dog Low – best with experienced owners
Good family pet Very good with socialization
Good with children Very good to excellent with socialization
Good with other dogs Good to very good with socialization
Good with other pets Low to moderate – even with socialization it has a high prey drive
Good with strangers Good with socialization
Good apartment dog Low – needs a home with room and a yard to play in
Handles alone time well Low – does not like to be left alone, requires frequent human interaction
Health issues Fairly healthy but some issues can include hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, eye disorders and joint problems
Medical expenses $485 a year for basic health costs and pet insurance
Food expenses $275 a year for treats and a high quality dry dog food
Miscellaneous expenses $240 a year for license, basic training, toys and miscellaneous costs
Average annual expenses $1,000 as a starting figure
Cost to purchase $800
Rescue organizations Bracco Italiano Breed Rescue – The Kennel Club, BIRO, The Bracco Italiano Club of America Rescue
Biting Statistics None reported
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The Bracco Italiano's Beginnings

The Bracco Italiano is an ancient breed thought to date back to 400 to 500 BC, though it has certainly been around since the Middle Ages. The breed was created by crossing either the Segugio Italiano with the Asiatic Mastiff, or with the Bloodhound. This theory comes from the fact that it was common to get a strong pointing dog with lots of endurance by crossing hounds and gundogs. It became especially popular during the Renaissance periods where it was recognized as a breed and when it was used by Italian nobles for specifically hunting feathered prey. It was used as a hpr (hunt point retrieve) dog and kennels like the Gonazaga and Medici produced highly sought after dogs. To give an idea of how prized they were, it was an acceptable gift to offer royalty.

Over the years two varieties developed, the Piedmontese Pointer from Piedmont and the Lombard Pointer from Lombardy. The former is lighter in both coloring and in size and is white and orange in color. The latter is heavier and taller and white and chestnut in color. Both were combined eventually to lead to something more uniform but you still toady get some that lean more one way or the other. Coming up to the 19th and 20th centuries the Bracco Italiano came close to extinction and number of times. It was no longer as popular for bird hunting and so numbers declined. This is due to the change in hunting methods and the development of guns.

New Lease on Life

Mostly due to the hard work of a number of breeders including Ferdinand Delour de Ferrabouc the Bracco was saved from becoming extinct. This breeder was also a part of the breed's first standard being drafted which was approved in 1949 by the ENCI and then later that year the breed club was formed, SABI (Societa Amatori Bracco Italiano). In 1989 the breed came to the UK. In Italy it remains a popular working gundog and companion having adapted to modern hunting methods. In the UK and other countries it has reached it tends to be more a companion, field dog and even therapy dog.

The Dog You See Today

The Bracco Italiano is a medium to large sized dog weighing 33 to 88 pounds and reaching 21 to 26 inches tall. It is a muscular and powerful dog with a distinctive head, short but strong neck, muscled shoulders and straight powerful front legs and strong back legs. Its feet are oval shaped with arched toes. The dog is squared with bellies that are a little tucked up and the chest is deep and wide. The tail is set low, it has a slight curve and it carries it down. Its coat is dense, shiny and short and can be white, white with orange, chestnut or amber, white with speckles or roan with markings that are solid, or chestnut.

On the head the hair is shorter and finer. Its head is narrow and long with a wide forehead, deep and straight muzzle that has a slight arch and droop lips. Its eyes are oval shaped and depending on its coat color can be dark ochre or brown. Its ears are level with the eyes and hang down long and supple with rounding at the tips.

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The Inner Bracco Italiano

Temperament

Unlike with some breeds who were bred to be hunters and do not do as well at being companions, the Bracco is a great companion and excellent family pet. It is gentle, social, patient and loves to be around people and its family. It is eager to please and as long as it treated and trained fairly and positively it tends towards being obedient. While it will bark when strangers approach it is not a guard dog. It is very devoted to its family, it likes attention and is affectionate in return.

When it is hunting it is effective and efficient able to track, point and retrieve game from land and water, especially birds. If those talents are not channeled families find their Bracco tend to become easily distracted by things that flutter or move, and will chase after scents. Otherwise it is a calm and social breed when it is getting enough stimulation physically and mentally. It does not like to be alone for long periods and when you are home it will stay close to you. It likes to be snuggles with you on the couch when it is relax time and it would even share your bed if you allow it.

Living with a Bracco Italiano

What will training look like?

Braccos are generally easy to train as long as you remain firm, consistent and use positive training techniques. It is sensitive so does not respond well to being yelled at or physically punished and it can have a stubborn side. Start training and socialization at a young age and have sessions that are short but engaging and frequent. Give it treats to motivate, offer it encouragement and rewards and praise its successes. Socialization should involve introducing it to different people, places, situations, sounds, animals and so on. This helps it adjust to them and teaches it appropriate responses.

How active is the Bracco Italiano?

Bracco Italianos are fairly active dogs so need some activity and mental challenge but it is not as high as some sporting and hunting dogs. If it is not getting out every day hunting then give it 45 to 60 minutes a day in total, which includes a couple of walks as well as some play time with you. It should also have opportunities for safe off leash run time. This dog has an interesting gait, it tends to start taking long strides but at a slow trot that then accelerates to a faster gallop. Owners need to be happy to give up an hour a day to keeping their dog healthy and happy and should make sure some of the toys and activities also make the dog use its brain as well as burns off some energy.

Caring for the Bracco Italiano

Grooming needs

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There will be come hair around the home with a Bracco living there as it does shed an average amount. Brushing once or twice a week will help take care of some of that loose hair and will also keep the coat clear of debris, shiny and looking good. Avoid bathing too often, some people stick to bathing schedules that are too frequent and that dries out the skin of its natural oils and leads to skin problems. The same thing can happen if you use a shampoo other than one designed for dogs. As it does have some drool and slobber, especially when drinking or eating, be ready to wipe its mouth sometimes.

Other grooming and maintenance needs include cleaning its ears once a week by wiping down the areas you can reach, not inserting anything inside it. Also check for sings of infection. It is likely your dog will have times where its ears get into its food or water, or get debris on the ends so will need wiping when that happens. Its teeth need to be brushed two to three times a week using a dog toothpaste and toothbrush. The nails should clipped if they are not worn down with its physical activity, taking care not to go too far down into where there are blood vessels and nerves.

Feeding Time

The Bracco will eat about 3 to 5 cups of a decent quality dry dog food, split twice daily. Feeding it in two meals rather than one reduces the chances of having bloat become a problem. How much exactly can vary from one dog to another depending on its size, level of activity, age, health and build. Make sure it has water that is changed for fresh when possible.

How is the Bracco Italiano with children and other animals?

These dogs are known to be gentle and great with children, especially if raised with them and with socialization. It is kind, can be playful, affectionate and patient. It tends to be good even with small children though you should still supervise them together to make sure your toddler does not hurt the dog with its tugging and pulling. Make sure you teach them how to play and touch kindly. With other pets it can live with animals like cats if ti has grown up with them, but if a cat is introduced to the home when it is older and established it may take it longer to adjust. However smaller pets and birds are prey to it so it is not as good with them, or with things like chickens. It does tend to get along well with other dogs though.

What Might Go Wrong?

Health Concerns

This dog has a life span of 11 to 15 years and is quite healthy apart from a few issues it can be prone to such as joint dysplasia, eye problems, bloat and anesthesia sensitivity. Buying from a decent breeder is a good way to lessen the chances of having a pet with health issues.

Biting Statistics

The Bracco Italiano does not come up when looking at reports of US and Canada dog attacks in the last 35 years, that did bodily harm to people. It is not a people aggressive dog in general but since no dog breed is 100% safe, any can have an off day it is important to give your dog the skills it needs to be more likely to avoid trouble. Socialization and training are key, along with making sure it gets enough physical and mental challenge, it gets enough attention and love and a good diet.

Your Pup’s Price Tag

A Bracco Italiano puppy will cost about $800 from a decent breeder of pet quality dogs. If you are looking to get something from a top breeder and want a dog to show, the cost is going to be a lot more. Finding trustworthy breeders will take up more of your time but the effort is absolutely worth it. Do not be tempted to speed things along with backyard breeders or puppy mill sourced places like many pet stores. Another option is to look at shelters and rescues. While finding this kind of purebred is not likely it happens, and if a mixed breed is acceptable there are many dogs that need a home. Adoption costs around $50 to $400.

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Once you have found the dog or puppy you are bringing home there are some things it will need like a crate, carrier, bowls, collar and leash and so on. This will cost around $240. Once you have it home you should take it to a vet as soon as possible for tests, shots, procedures and an exam. These will cost around $290.

There are also costs that are ongoing and necessary and part of being a responsible owner. Feeding your Bracco an excellent quality dry dog food and dog treats will come to about $275 a year. Basic medical care like flea and tick prevention, vaccinations, check ups and pet insurance will cost about $485 a year. Other costs like toys, basic training, license and miscellaneous items will come to around $240. This gives a starting figure cost of $1000 a year.

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  • The Bracco Italiano is an attractive Italian hunting dog, highly valued in Italy and less common elsewhere. It can be easily kept as a devoted, gentle and sweet companion and not be used to hunt with as long as it is still well exercised and stimulated. It is great with children, good with other dogs and can learn to get along with other non feathered pets. It is sensitive though and will need a certain amount of companionship.

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