The Bracco Italiano is a truly ancient breed, found in works dating back to the fourth and fifth centuries BC. It is believed that the breed originally came into being by the joining of the Egyptian Hound and Molosser breeds of that time. During the Italian Renaissance period, when Italian aristocracy had exclusive rights to hunt game birds, the bracchi was much favoured. Writings and paintings from the 14th to 16th century endorsed this fact. It is clear to see from those early works that the Bracco Italiano has changed very little over the centuries and still remains true to type. To this day the Bracco is held in high esteem as a working dog in his native country.
The Bracco is one of only two gundog breeds native to Italy. The other being the Italian Spinone. The Bracco should not be mistaken for a short-haired version of the Spinone. The breeds are totally unrelated although they do share similar character traits.
The original purpose of the Bracchi was to drive game into the hunters nets. His pointing skills were (and still are) used by Falconers. However, the introduction of the gun saw the bracchi's job of work change to that of a hunter, pointer, retriever (HPR). The breed has steadily gained popularity with rough shooters and in falconry circles throughout the UK and Europe, who take advantage of his game finding abilities. Today, the bracco has also found his place as a much loved family pet and companion.
The Bracco Italiano is a kindly dog of medium size with a laid back disposition. Bracchi are very stubborn with hound-like qualities that owners ignore at their peril. Potential owners should not be fooled by his "woe is me" expression. This dog is not depressed nor is he a couch potato, contrary to what he would have you believe!
The Bracco Italiano's solid appearance, combined with a powerful, fast trot (unique to the breed) mean that the breed can and will cover vast areas of ground in pursuit of game or anything else that takes their fancy! You may not require his hunting abilities, but that does not mean that they are not present and primed for use at all times!
Firm handling and basic training are vital if you wish to own a breed which is led by its nose. However this is a sensitive breed for all his size and this must be remembered if you do not wish to turn your dog into a quivering wreck. The breed will not tolerate harsh handling in any form.
Bracchi are over all a healthy breed. Hip and Elbow dysplasia and eye's can be a problem and all breeding stock should be tested prior to mating. The breed has suffered from occurrences of 'bendy bones' in the past. This condition has yet to be attributed to a particular cause but appears to be cured by cage rest.
To date (February 2009), two confirmed cases of Glaucoma have now appeared in the UK. There have also been cases of Entropian and Ectropian and some skin problems. Some bracco have spectacular moults (shedding thumbnail size lumps of fur all over). These should not be mistaken for skin complaints, as they are not.
The breed typically has hind dew claws. However the flexibility of theses claws means that they are rarely a problem.