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The Bracco Italiano is an ancient breed being mentioned in writings of the fourth and fifth centuries B.C. The most probably theory of its origins is that it sprang from a union between the Molussus and the Egyptian Hound, and are forerunners of many of today's modern sporting dogs.
Centuries ago, hunters in Italy developed the Bracco Italiano for the specific purpose to drive game into the hunters nets. With the invention of the gun the role changed to that of the hunt, point and retriever to which it has remained faithful to the present day. Although the breed developed to accommodate the hunters needs the breed has remained very true to type.
The Bracco is the most hound like of all the gundog breeds and facially more akin to the bloodhound however he is a true gundog; a stylish and enthusiastic hunter, has a superb nose, will hold a staunch point and retrieve keenly to hand. The work of the Bracco Italiano made it the breed it is today and although are wonderful companion breed their instincts are very strong and therefore must are at their most happiest when working.
In Italy the Bracco Italiano is held in high esteem as a working gundog and today the breed enters more field trails than any other breed. Its popularity has outstripped all the other gundog breeds available in Italy including the Spinone.
The Bracco Italiano arrived in the UK for the first time about 15 years ago and although the numbers have steadily risen, it is still a minority breed. The approach has been one of quality rather than quantity and long may the philosophy continue! January 2008 saw the breed move from the Import Register to the Rare Breeds register within the UK. The breed was shown at Crufts for the first time in March 2009.
The Bracco Italiano is a trainable dog but not easy to train - they are extremely sensitive and will not tolerate any harsh handling. They are an extremely intelligent gundog, have very strong hunting instincts and have inherited some of its ancestral hound traits of being single minded and stubborn.
Do not be deceived by the soulful look of the Bracco Italiano - this is a dog bred for stamina and is fully capable of hunting for a whole day. It has the most fantastic trot which enables it to cover long distances whilst using the least energy. Unless you are extremely quick, fit and agile you will not be able to keep up with a Bracco Italiano who is intent on hunting for itself at long distances from you. If your dog is not provided with adequate physical and more importantly mental exercise it will find mental exercise for itself. As mentioned before, the hunting instinct is very strong in this breed and if a dog learns that it can hunt for itself, whenever it wants to you will have many problems with ensuring your Bracco returns to you.
Early and consistent training is required, whistle training is highly recommended. Little and often for training appears to produce the best results.
In the field, the Bracco has been bred to work independently and at long distances from its handler, this may be the ideal in Italy but unfortunately does not work extremely well within the UK. This coupled with how difficult a Bracco can be to train has led to there being relatively few true working Bracco within the UK. There are however a few Bracco who compete in field trials and working tests and in Scotland there are 2 fully trained Bracco working on a commercial shoot. In addition Bracco are working as Pets as Therapy dogs within the UK and 1 Bracco has been trained as a search and tracking dog.
The Breed Standard is published with the kind permission of The Kennel Club
General Appearance – Strong, well balanced, powerful hunting dog, of noble appearance. Almost square, well muscled, with deep chest. Distinctive sculpted head with chiselling under eyes.
Characteristics – Strong and untiring, working in all types of terrain, excellent scenting abilities. Dignified and intelligent.
Temperament – Hardy and adaptable, gentle and even tempered.
Head and Skull – Long, angular and narrow at the zygomatic arches. Cheeks lean. Seen from the front, sides of muzzle converge slightly. Foreface of good width. Pronounced occiput and slight stop. Median line visible to mid skull. Measurement from nose to stop equal to that from stop to occiput. In profile, muzzle deep, straight or slightly arched. Well chiselled below the eyes. Viewed from the side, the planes of the muzzle and skull are divergent. Nose large and spongy, protruding slightly over thin lips. Corners of lips marked but not pendulous.
Eyes – Soft expression, fairly large, oval with close fitting eyelids. Neither protruding nor deep set. Dark ochre or brown depending on coat colour.
Ears – Set on level with corner of eyes. Leathers extend to tip of nose. Supple and folded inwards. Base rather narrow, widening out but lying close to cheeks. Slightly rounded tips.
Mouth – Jaws strong with a perfect, regular and complete scissor bite, i.e. upper teeth closely overlapping lower teeth and set square to jaw.
Neck – Powerful, well rounded, moderately short, widening towards shoulders, with distinctive divided dewlap.
Forequarters Strong. Shoulders long, well muscled and well laid back. Well defined withers. Top of shoulder blades well separated. Forelegs strong and straight with good, oval bone and well defined tendons. Pasterns of good length, slightly sloping. Point of elbow lies directly below top of withers.
Body – Overall appearance almost square. Length of body, measured from point of shoulder to point of buttock, equal to or very slightly longer than height at withers. Chest broad, deep reaching to the level of elbows. Well sprung ribs. Loin wide and slightly arched, short and well muscled. Topline slopes very slightly down from raised withers to middle of back, without dipping, rising slightly to broad muscular croup. Slight tuck up.
Hindquarters – Thighs long, parallel, muscular with rear edge almost straight. Good bend of stifles. Rear pasterns relatively short and lean with good width between the hocks.
Feet - Strong, slightly, tight and well arched. Nails tone with coat colour. Dewclaws acceptable and double dewclaws tolerated.
Tail – Docked: covers genitals. Set on as a continuation of croupline. Thick at base. Straight with a tendency to taper. When moving carried horizontally or slightly lower. Undocked: carried horizontally. May be slightly curved but never held high or carried bent over the back.
Gait/Movement – True moving with powerful drive from hindquarters. Capable of untiring, extended fast trot. Head carried raised above topline.
Colour – White. White with orange, amber or chestnut markings. White may be speckled. Roan with solid markings. If chestnut a warm shade with a metallic sheen is preferred. Symmetrical face mask preferred, absence tolerated.
Coat – Short, dense and glossy. Shorter and finer on head, ears and front part of legs and feet. Skin tough but elastic. Pigment of skin, eyelids, nose, lips and pads, pale pink to dark brown, depending on coat colour, but never black.
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