Learn All About the Bracco Italiano Dog

Characteristics, History, Care Tips, and Helpful Information for Pet Owners

bracco italiano dog

 

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The Bracco Italiano, also known as the Italian Pointer or Italian Pointing Dog, is a popular hunting breed in its native country of Italy, but the breed is rare in the United States. One of only two native Italian gun dog breeds (the other is the Spinone Italiano), the Bracco Italiano is classified as a versatile hunting breed. This means the Bracco Italiano is equally skilled at all aspects of bird hunting: scenting birds in the field, pointing them out and retrieving downed birds to the hunter. They come in a variety of striking colors, including white; white with orange markings; white with chestnut markings; white speckled with pale orange; and white mottled with chestnut (roan-chestnut).

The Bracco Italiano loves to hunt. In fact, its drive to hunt is so ingrained that a providing the Bracco with a hunting home is almost a prerequisite to owning this breed. The Bracco is a slow and methodical hunter. The Bracco also has an exceptional nose, is a great retriever and has a very soft mouth (a hunting term that refers to the dog’s ability to retrieve and carry birds in its mouth without damaging them). 

The gentle-natured Bracco Italiano forms strong bonds with their human families and needs to be included as a part of the family. They tend to get along well with dogs and other household pets, and are good with children (always supervise interactions between dogs and kids and other pets). 

Breed Overview

Group: Sporting

Height: 21 to 27 inches tall at the shoulder

Weight: 55 to 90 pounds

Coat: Short, dense and glossy

Color: Solid white, white with orange or chestnut patches, orange or chestnut roan

Life Expectancy: 10 to 14 years

Characteristics of the Bracco Italiano

Affection Level High
Friendliness High
Kid-Friendly High
Pet-Friendly High
Exercise Needs High
Playfulness High
Energy Level High
Trainability Medium
Intelligence Medium
Tendency to Bark High
Amount of Shedding Medium

History of the Bracco Italiano

The Bracco Italiano originated in Northern Italy. The Bracco Italiano has been an official breed with a written breed standard since 1949, but its roots go much farther back, to the 4th and 5th centuries BC. Originally, two types existed simultaneously: a white-and-orange variety in the Piedmont area and a roan-and-brown variety in the Lombardy area. When the Bracco Italiano neared extinction in the late 1800s, dedicated breed fanciers rebuilt the breed and during that process, brought the two varieties together into one breed. 

The first Bracchi Italiani (the proper plural spelling of the breed name) didn’t step onto American soil until the 1990s. The Bracco Italiano Club of America, which is the national parent club for the breed in the United States, formed in 2007. The Bracco Italiano is part of the American Kennel Club’s Miscellaneous Class, which is a stopping point on the way toward full recognition with the AKC, though it's closest to the Herding Group. The Bracco Italiano is also recognized by the United Kennel Club, where it is part of the Gun Dog Group.

Bracco Italiano
Dante Compatriota di Bonfini (Galileo) and Penotti di Monte Alago with a litter from 13 pups born October 22, 2002, Homstar Kennel UK. Labberté K.J. [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)
Bracco Italiano
Dante Compatriota di Bonfini (Galileo). After an oil painting on linen from Pawel Kromholz. 60x70, 2003. Labberté K.J. [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]
Bracco Italiano
Bracco Italiano Giotto (Omar x Ronda delle Cascate). Gábor Essösy [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)

Bracco Italiano Care

The short, glossy coat is easy to care for—brush a few times a week with a hound glove or boar’s hair brush to remove loose hair. Check the long, pendulous ears frequently and clean with a pet-safe ear cleaner as necessary. Bracchi Italiani can drool a lot, so this breed may not be the best choice for the fastidious. 

The Bracco Italiano is loyal and willing to please, and can be quite trainable aside from occasional stubbornness. Bracchi do not respond well to harsh training techniques—positive reinforcement, repetition and a gentle delivery will garner better results. If you intend to hunt with your Bracco Italiano, start training early with lots of bird exposure. In addition to hunting, the Bracco Italiano excels at field trials, tracking and nosework.

These large, athletic dogs have the strength and endurance to work all day in the field, but with enough regular exercise (preferably hunting, but long walks, jogging and even swimming are also good), the Bracco Italiano is calm and obedient in the home. Without enough exercise and “work” (hunting or another activity that engages their instincts and skills), Bracco Italiano may become destructive in the home.

Common Health Problems

The Bracco Italiano is a relatively healthy breed. However, like most purebred dogs, the Bracco Italiano has a few known health issues, including entropion (eyelids that roll inward, rubbing against the eye and causing irritation), ectropion (eyelids that roll outward, exposing the inner surface of the eye), cataracts, hip and elbow dysplasia, and kidney disease. Reputable breeders test their adult Bracchi Italiani for certain health issues before breeding them to avoid passing on these problems. When buying a Bracco Italiano puppy from a breeder, ask about the results of these tests on the parents of the litter. 

Diet and Nutrition

The large and active Bracco Italiano needs a lot of fuel and tends to eat a lot. Bracchi that do a lot of hunting and get a lot of exercise can even have difficulty keeping weight on their large frames. A high-quality, calorie dense food can help in these cases. On the flip side, a Bracco that doesn’t exercise as much should be fed carefully measured meals to ensure he doesn’t become overweight. Excess weight can contribute to joint issues like hip dysplasia and health conditions like diabetes.

Pros

  • Excellent hunter

  • Loving and loyal

  • Family- and pet-friendly

  • Unique and attractive 

  • Calm in the house (with enough exercise)

Cons

  • Tends to bark a lot

  • Drools

  • Needs a lot of exercise

  • Hunting home preferred

  • Can be destructive without enough exercise and engagement

  • Rare breed in the U.S.

Where to Adopt or Buy

If you’re looking for a beautiful, unique and exceptionally skilled hunting breed, the Bracco Italiano might be for you. Those who choose to bring a Bracco into their lives will find unparalleled loyalty, love and affection. It can be hard to find a breeder of these rare dogs in the United States, but it is possible. Start with the Bracco Italiano Club of America, which maintains a list of breeders in the United States, as well as a rescue page on its website.

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

If you like the Bracco Italiano, you might also like these breeds:

Otherwise, check out all of our other dog breed articles to help you find the perfect dog for you and your family.