Bracco Italiano (Italian Pointing Dog)

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white, pale orange & white (melato), white & chestnut (roano-marrone), white & amber
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The Bracco Italiano (Italian Pointer or Italian Setter) is commonly believed to be one of the oldest hunting dogs in the world. This hardy and good-natured dog was favoured by the Italian nobility since at least the period of the Renaissance. For centuries it remained mostly obscure outside its native Italy but today it’s gaining more and more followers in the United States and other countries.

The Bracco Italiano has rich and long history and its roots have been lost somewhere in the centuries. The possible time of the dog’s origin might have been in the range that envelops the period from the V B.C. to the XII A.D.

The weak and unconvincing evidences prove that the Bracco Italiano or its forefathers existed in Italy as early as IV and V B.C. If it’s true, then the first owners of the dog were either the Romans or the Etruscans and Celts that inhabited the Northern Italy earlier. More persuasive arguments pinpoint that the breed’s development began at the end of the Dark Ages and it acquired its distinct traits by the Early Renaissance.

There are multiple versions concerning what breeds were used in development of the Bracco Italiano. The highest likelihood carries the suggestion that a variety of a coursing dog (sight hound) was interbred with a type of Molosser or Mastiff in order to create this breed. A sight hound was most probably the Segugio Italiano that has been imported to the Italy some 3000 years ago. A group of scientists also assumes that the Bracco Italiano originated directly from the ancestors of the Sengugio Italiano, which have been brought to the region by the Phoenicians or Greeks. The highly possible dogs among the Mastiff/Molosser that were used in breeding of the Bracco Italiano are hunting Cane Corsos or the ancient Molossus, though the Neapolitan Mastiff, English Mastiff, Dogue de Bordeaux, and Great Dane are also suitable for this role.

In the last decade the other opinion prevailed and it states that the breed resulted from interbreeding a scent hound with a sight hound or a Molosser, or all three types of dogs were used. It’s a common view, that among scent hounds the Saint Hubert Hound (Bloodhound) is the most probable candidate since it looks very similar to the Bracco Italiano. Nonetheless, it’s also likely that a few other scent hounds participated in creation of the breed.

The Bracco Italiano gained its popularity for being extremely endowed at bird hunting and gradually it spread throughout Europe. The dog was initially trained for hunting using nets and falcons, but with invention of guns it also became an excellent gun dog, which was capable to locate and retrieve a dead bird out of bushes. This breed took part in the creation of practically all gun dogs and its genes can be found in lineage of many European hunting breeds.

At the end of the XIX century many hunting dogs were brought to Italy from the United Kingdom, Germany, and France. These breeds took place of the Bracco Italiano in hearts of Italian hunters which led to drastic diminishment in dog’s population. Luckily enough there was a century long tradition of breeding this dog in some individual Italian families. They managed not only to save the breed but partially restored its popularity. Today the Bracco Italiano is the most recognisable gun dog in Italy and its number and reputation are rapidly growing in other countries.

The Bracco Italiano has a complete recognition of the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI). In 2006 the United Kennel Club (UKC) gave the dog its full acceptance and recorded it into the Gun Dog Group. The initial step towards complete acknowledgement of the American Kennel Club (AKC) has already been made, when the breed got an admission to the AKC’s Foundation Stock Service (AKC-FSS).

The Bracco Italiano has been a hunter for centuries and this fact strongly influenced its demeanour and habits. The dog is really emotive and loving and strives to be with its family. It develops unbelievingly tight bonds with every member of the family and shows a great loyalty to them. The Bracco Italiano hates being alone and can become upset and worried when it stays on its own for considerable length of time. When correctly socialized this breed treats children with gentle care and it can become the child’s favourite playmate.

Well-socialized Bracco Italiano will be calm but somewhat reserved in the presence of strangers. However, many breed members are going to demonstrate friendliness and joy when they meet new people. Being naturally alert and watchful this dog will most of the time be an acceptable watchdog. The Bracco Italiano is the dog with low level of aggressiveness so it makes a poor guard dog.

The vast majority of the Bracco Italianos are ok with other canine animals and will happily share the roof with another dog. It’s impossible to make any generalisations about the relationship of the dog with other species of animals and more specifically home pets. Most of the members are infamous cat’s killers, which can be explained by the dog’s long history as a hunter. Many Bracco Italianos won’t harass the cat with which the dog has been lived since puppyhood but some will never accept it.

Health Problems
The most common problems for the breed include:

• canine hip dysplasia;
• elbow dysplasia;
• eye problems;
• ear infections;
• enostosis;
• panosteitis;
• umbilical hernias;
• yeast infections;
• anesthesia sensitivity.

The Bracco Italiano is a low-maintenance breed. It will never need a visit to a professional groomer and the care for its coat consists in regular brushing (once a week, perhaps).

The owner should in time get rid of accumulated dirt in dog’s big drooping ears and this systematic cleaning will help to keep them free from infection and irritation. The breed sheds from average to intense and the rate of shedding depends on an individual dog.

The Bracco Italiano is known for its high trainability and quick-wittedness. This dog is able to figure out even the most complicated tasks and executes them flawlessly. But the breed is reckoned to be less docile and more difficult to train than most hunting dogs.

The Bracco Italiano is eager to please in most situations but if it finds something more appealing to do it will completely ignore the trainer’s commands. The handler should spare extra patience and dedication to get reasonable results from lessons with the dog. The training technique should have mild correction and food rewards in its core since tough handling and negative reinforcement doesn’t work with this breed.

The requirements of exercise for the Bracco Italiano are pretty high. It’s a hard-working dog, which can hunt all day long without showing any sign of tiredness. So the owner should provide it with minimum of an hour of brisk walk every single day.

Your dog will joyfully accompany you in jogging but it would rather prefer to run and play off leash. It can become a perfect pet for the family, which chooses active pastime and will eagerly participate in any camping or hiking activities. The Bracco Italiano isn’t recommended for keeping in an apartment and it will feel itself much more satisfied with life in a suburban house with a large adjacent territory.