Key Breed Facts
Intelligence / Trainability
Children and Other Pets
Caring for a Bracco Italiano
Average Cost to keep/care for a Bracco Italiano
The Bracco Italiano is also often called an Italian Pointer and they are athletic dogs bred in Italy to do just that, point and retrieve. They are not so well known here in the UK, but are highly prized in many European countries as well as their native Italy for their retrieving skills. Braccos are large, heavy dogs yet elegant with it, but their size alone means they need to have enough space to move around freely in a home environment. The Bracco is also known to have a bit of a strange smell about them which is quite sweet and musky that some people like whereas others do not. Although rarely seen here in the UK, people are getting to know about the breed thanks to a Bracco’s gentle nature and the fact these large, impressive dogs always show a tremendous amount of devotion to their owners and families.
The Bracco Italiano boasts being one of the ancient breeds with images them seen in paintings and literature that dates as far back as the 4th and 5th centuries. There is some belief the breed was created by crossing Egyptian coursing hounds with mastiff type dogs. However, there are records of these dogs being used by Italian hunters during the 17th century and their job was to drive game into a hunter's nets which they proved to be very good at doing.
The first Bracco Italian dogs to arrive in England was only in the late eighties and although their fan base is growing, there are still very few of these striking and proud dogs being bred here in the UK at the present time, but in time hopefully their numbers will grow as their reputation for being wonderful companion dogs and family pets grows.
Height at the withers: Males 58 - 67 cm, Females 55 - 62 cm
Average weight: Males 25 - 40 kg, Females 25 - 40 kg
The Bracco is a large, muscular and strong looking dog with a very distinctive head and long, pendulous ears that's not too dissimilar to those of either a Basset Hound or a Bloodhound. Their distinctive heads are long and narrow with dog's boasting lean cheeks and a good width to their foreface. Their occiput is very pronounced with dog's having only a slight stop and a median line that reaches right to the mid skull. Muzzles are straight, deep and a little arched which gives the Bracco a slight “Roman nose”. Eyes are well chiseled below and the corner of their lips are well marked but never pendulous.
Braccos have a very soft look about their eyes which are oval in shape and either dark ochre or brown in colour depending on a dog's coat. Their ears are set level to the corner of their eyes and leathers are long, nicely supple and folded inwards, always a little rounded at the tips. The Bracco has a strong jaw with a perfect scissor bite where their upper teeth neatly overlap their lower ones.
Their necks are well-rounded, powerful and quite short, but always wider at the shoulders which are long, strong, nicely muscled and well laid back. Withers are well defined with the top of a dog's shoulder blades being nicely placed apart. Front legs are straight and powerful showing lots of bone and dogs have well defined tendons.
A Bracco's body is almost square with dogs having broad, deep chests and well sprung ribs. Their loins are slightly arched, wide, short and very well-muscled. Their topline slopes gently from the wither to the middle of a dog's back before rising to a muscular, broad croup. Bellies are slightly tucked up adding to the powerful, athletic appearance of these dogs.
Hindquarters are powerful, muscular with dogs boasting long, well-developed thighs and strong back legs. Their feet are slightly oval in shape with well-arched, strong toes. The colour of a dog's nails matches their coat. Braccos can have single or double dewclaws which are acceptable as a breed standard. Their tails are set quite low which dogs carry down with a slight curve in it.
When it comes to their coat, the Bracco Italiano has a short, dense and quite glossy coat which is shorter and much finer around their heads, ears and on the front of their legs and feet. The pigment of their skin can be anything from pale pink to dark brown to match a dog's coat colour. Accepted breed colours include the following:
Braccos have a nice symmetrical facial mask that matches their coat colour.
Known to be a loyal and devoted dog, the Bracco is a real gentle giant and they love being around people, thriving in a home environment. They are one of the breeds that seems to have an affinity with children of all ages which means they are a great choice as family pets.
Braccos can have a bit of a stubborn streak in them at times which is why their training and education has to start as early as possible. This means introducing a puppy to new situations, as many new people and other animals as possible once they are fully vaccinated. Obedience training is a must for a Bracco because without the right education and guidance, dogs can start to show a more dominant side to their natures which is something to be avoided at all costs in such large and imposing dogs.
These dogs are never happier than when they know their place in the "pack" and when they know they can look up to their owners for direction. They like and need to be kept occupied both physically and mentally. This means lots of outdoor time and playing interactive games as much as possible. Ideally, a Bracco should be allowed as much "off the lead" time in a safe environment as they can be given so they can really let off steam. Letting a Bracco run free in a well fenced back garden is the perfect environment for them to do just this.
Although the Bracco Italiano is a good choice as a family pet is not the best choice for first time owners because they need to be trained and handled by someone who is familiar with the needs of such a large and imposing dog. It's worth knowing that Braccos only mature when they are around 3 years old and as such this needs to be taken into account when training them.
A Bracco's training and education has to start early for them to mature into obedient, well-rounded dogs. Their training has to be consistent, always fair and as with any other large breed, these dogs need to be handled with a firm, yet gentle hand. They are highly intelligent and always eager to please so in the right hands and with the correct guidance the Bracco is easy to train and quick to pick up new things they are being taught. However, they are known to be sensitive by nature and as such these large dogs do not respond well to any sort of harsh correction or handling which would not achieve the right sort of results.
They do respond very well to positive reinforcement training and are known to understand what is asked of them extremely quickly, but it's important to bear in mind this means they quickly pick up both the good and the bad which is why their training has to be consistent.
Braccos are known to be gentle and placid by nature as such they are a good choice for families with children if their owners are familiar with this type of dog. They seem to have a real infinity with kids and like nothing more than to be around them forming very strong bonds with all the members of the family.
If a Bracco Italiano has been well socialised from a young age and introduced to as many other dogs, animals and situations as possible, they do mature into more well-rounded and relaxed dogs which in short, means they can quite happily live in a household with other dogs and pets. With this said, care has to be taken when a Bracco is around any other animals they don't know because their hunting instinct might kick in with disastrous results.
For further advice please read our article on Keeping Children Safe around Dogs.
The average life expectancy of a Bracco Italiano is between 12 and 14 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.
Like so many other breeds, the Bracco is known to suffer from a few hereditary health issues which are worth knowing about if you are planning share your home with one of these active and good looking dogs. The conditions that seem to affect the breed the most include the following:
As with any other breed, Braccos need to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in top condition. They also need to be given regular daily exercise to ensure they remain fit and healthy. On top of this, dogs need to be fed good quality food that meets all their nutritional needs throughout their lives.
Braccos boast having short coats which means it does not take much to keep things looking tidy and their skin in good condition. A weekly brush would be okay, but more frequent grooming would ensure a gleaming coat and there's not much these dogs enjoy more than the one-to-one contact they are given when they are being pampered and brushed.
It's also important to check a dog's ears on a regular basis and to clean them when necessary. If too much wax is allowed to build up in a dog's ears, it can lead to a painful infection which can be hard to clear up. In short, prevention is often easier than cure when it comes to ear infections. Because a Bracco's ears are so long, it's important to check the ends regularly to make sure there are no foreign objects caught in them which includes things like tiny thorns.
The Bracco Italiano is an athletic and energetic dog known to be light on their feet and as such they need to be given a lot of daily exercise which ideally should be a minimum of 2 hours a day. They also need to be let off their leads as often as possible so they can really stretch their legs and let off steam. A shorter walk first thing in the morning and then a much longer, more interesting one in the afternoon would be fine, but these large dogs also do well when they are allowed to roam around a back garden as much as possible. With this said, the fencing has to be very secure to keep a Bracco in. They also enjoy swimming so care has to be taken when walking a Bracco off the lead anywhere near any dangerous and deep water courses.
With this said, young Bracco puppies should not be given too much exercise because their joints and bones are still growing and too much pressure on them could result in causing a dog a few problems later on in their lives. Puppies should not be allowed to jump or down from furniture, in and out of the car or up and down stairs because it puts too much pressure on a puppy's growing joints.
If you get a Bracco puppy from a breeder, they would give you a feeding schedule and it's important to stick to the same routine, feeding the same puppy food to avoid any tummy upsets. You can change a puppy's diet, but this needs to be done very gradually always making sure they don't develop any digestive upsets and if they do, it's best to put them back on their original diet and to discuss things with the vet before attempting to change it again.
Older dogs are not known to be fussy or finicky eaters, but this does not mean you can feed them a lower quality diet. It's best to feed a mature dog twice a day, once in the morning and then again in the evening, making sure it's good quality food that meets all their nutritional requirements. It's also important that dogs be given the right amount of exercise so they burn off any excess calories or they might gain too much weight which can lead to all sorts of health issues. Obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years so it's important to keep an eye on their waistline from the word go.
Because Braccos are prone to suffer from bloat (gastric torsion), it is really important that they be fed twice a day instead of giving them just one larger meal a day. It's also a good idea to invest in a stand to place their feed bowl which makes it easier for these large dogs to eat comfortably without having to stretch their necks down low to reach their food. You should never feed a dog just before or just after they have eaten either because this puts them more a risk of suffering from bloat.
If you are looking to buy a Bracco Italiano you may have to go on a waiting list because not many puppies are registered with The Kennel Club every year. You would need to pay anything upwards of £600 for a well-bred pedigree puppy. The cost of insuring a male 3-year-old Bracco in northern England would be £49.39 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £99.20 a month (quote as of May 2016). When insurance companies calculate a pet's premium, they factor in several things which includes where you live in the UK and a dog's age and whether or not they have been neutered or spayed.
When it comes to food costs, you need to buy the best quality food whether wet or dry, to feed your dog throughout their lives making sure it suits the different stages of their lives. This would set you back between £50 - £60 a month. On top of all of this, you would need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with a Bracco Italiano and this includes their initial vaccinations, their annual boosters, the cost of neutering or spaying your dog when the time is right and their yearly health checks, all of which quickly adds up to over a £1200 a year.
As a rough guide, the average cost to keep and care for a Bracco Italiano would be between £110 to £160 a month depending on the level of insurance cover you opt to buy for your dog, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a pedigree Bracco puppy.
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