Key Breed Facts
Intelligence / Trainability
Children and Other Pets
Caring for a Bracco Italiano
Average Cost to keep/care for a Bracco Italiano
Breed Specific Buying Advice
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. As such, more well-bred Bracco Italianos are now registered every year with the Kennel Club although anyone wanting to share a home with one, would need to register their interest with a breeder and go on a waiting list for the pleasure of doing so.
The Bracco Italiano is an ancient hunt/point and retrieve breed that boasts an interesting and noble ancestry. There are records of the breed that date back to the 4th and 5th Centuries, but they were recognised as a unique breed native to Italy back in the Middle Ages. These noble dogs were bred by wealthy families which included the Gonzagas and the Medicis and were always highly prized and sought after so much so that they were often offered as gifts to foreign royals and nobles which included the Court of France. However, it was during the renaissance that Braccos became a popular choice of hunt/point and retrieve dog with the aristocracy of the day in Italy.
Breed numbers fell into decline during the late 19th Century and well into the early 20th Century, but thanks to one enthusiast, a breeder called Ferdinand Delour de Ferrabouc, the Bracco Italiano was saved from vanishing altogether. He also established the first breed standard, however, a final breed standard was only established much later in 1949 by the ENCI. Several months later, the SABI (Societa Amatori Bracco Italiano) was set up.
With this said, the actual true origins of the Bracco remain unclear, but there are those who believe the breed has Egyptian Hound and Molossus as well as Persian Mastiff in their ancestry. Their white and orange colouring comes from the Piedmontese Pointer, a much lighter dog bred to work in the mountainous regions of the country. It is thought the white and chestnut colouring comes from the Lombard Pointer, a heavier and taller breed.
Many breed enthusiasts believe that the Bracco Italiano can be found in the lineage of many other gundog breeds. They were originally bred to drive game into hunter's nets, but when guns started to be used, Braccos were used to hunt/point and retrieve rather than to drive birds into nets. It was in 1937 that a Working standard was established for the breed.
Today, the Bracco is still very much highly prized in their native Italy as a working gundog and it often seen in field trials throughout the country. The breed was introduced to the UK in 1988 by Jonathon and Liz Shaw with the first Bracco called Zerbo being released from quarantine in 1989. Since this date, they have imported many other Braccos which they have bred from always choosing their breeding dogs extremely carefully to ensure the continued health of the breed.
Anyone wanting to share a home with a Bracco Italiano would need to register their interest with breeders and go on a waiting list because few well-bred puppies are bred and registered with the Kennel Club every year, but the good news is that the wait is well worth it.
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 shaped 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 shaped 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 for Kennel Club registration are as follows:
It is worth noting that Braccos have a nice symmetrical facial mask that matches their coat colour.
When a Bracco Italiano moves, they do so with great purpose showing lots of power in their hindquarters. They are capable an extended trot for long periods and always carry their heads proudly above their toplines.
The Kennel Club frowns on any exaggerations or departures from the breed standard and would judge the faults on how much they affect a dog's overall health and wellbeing as well as their ability to perform.
Males should have both testicles fully descended into their scrotums and it is worth noting that a dog can be a little lighter or heavier as well as slightly taller or shorter than set out in the Kennel Club breed standard which is only given as a guideline.
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 must 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.
The Bracco Italiano is not the best choice for first time owners because they are better suited to people who are familiar with the needs of such a large dog, bearing in mind they need lots of space to express themselves and a lot of physical daily exercise to be truly happy dogs.
Braccos are very social by nature and even though they have working and hunting dogs in their lineage, they do not have a very high prey drive. However, this is not to say that a dog would not give chase to a smaller animal when the mood takes them and this includes squirrels and the cat from next door. As such, care should be taken as to where and when a Bracco can run off the lead, more especially if there are wild animals or livestock close by.
Braccos have a very playful side to their natures and enjoy playing interactive games which includes activities like "fetch". However, it's best to teach a dog that "playtime" takes place outside to avoid breakages around the home, bearing in mind that Bracco puppies grow up to be large, strong dogs.
The Bracco Italiano is a large breed that needs enough room to express themselves as they should. As such, they are not well suited to apartment living, being much happier living in a house with a large, secure back garden that a dog can roam in whenever possible.
Although Braccos form strong ties with their families, they are never clingy being more independent by nature than some other breeds. As such, they do not mind being left on their own providing it is never for too long which no dog likes. As such, they are not known to suffer from separation anxiety and will settle nicely when there is nobody at home to keep them company.
Braccos are not known to be "barkers", but this is not to say they will not voice an opinion to let an owner know when something they don't like is going on around them. Like a lot of larger breeds, they have a deep and impressive bark and they generally only bark when needed.
Most Braccos enjoy swimming and will take to the water whenever they can more especially when the weather is hot. It's important to dry off a dog's ears when they have been in the water to prevent any infections from flaring up. Anyone who owns a dog that does not like water should never force them to go in because it would just end up scaring them. With this said, care should always be taken when walking a Bracco off the lead anywhere near more dangerous watercourses just in case a dog decides to leap in and then needs rescuing because they cannot get out of the water on their own.
Braccos are natural watchdogs and are always quick to let an owner know when strangers are about or when something they don't like is going on in their environment. However, rarely would a Bracco show any sort of aggression when protecting their families or property, preferring to keep their distance and bark to alert their owners.
A Bracco's training and education must start early for them to mature into obedient, well-rounded dogs. Their training must 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 must be consistent.
Bracco puppies are extremely cute, but they quickly grow into large dogs. It is all too easy to spoil a puppy when they first arrive in a new home, but owners need to start out as they mean to go on by laying down rules and boundaries. This helps establish a "pecking" order and who is the alpha dog in a household. It also helps a puppy understand what an owner expects of them and what is acceptable behaviour and what is not. The first command a Bracco puppy should be taught as early as possible are as follows:
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 should 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:
Some Bracco puppies have been reported as having "bowed legs" which is more of a problem with dogs in Italy and in Europe than it is in the UK. In most cases in the UK, a puppy's legs straighten and the problem does not seem to be hereditary. However, a puppy's exercise should be limited should their legs show signs of bowing although like any other fast-growing breed with larger bones, all Bracco puppies should not be over-excised when young to prevent any joint issues developing later on.
Bracco Italiano puppies would have been given their initial vaccinations before being sold, but it is up to their new owners to make sure they have their follow-up shots in a timely manner with the vaccination schedule for puppies being as follows:
There has been a lot of discussion about the need for dogs to have boosters. As such, it's best to talk to a vet before making a final decision on whether a dog should continue to have annual vaccinations which are known as boosters.
A lot of vets these days recommend waiting until dogs are slightly older before spaying and neutering them which means they are more mature before undergoing the procedures. As such they advise neutering males and spaying females when they are between the ages of 6 to 9 months old and sometimes even when a dog is 12 months old.
Other vets recommend spaying and neutering dogs when they are 6 months old, but never any earlier unless for medical reasons. With this said, many breeds are different and it is always advisable to discuss things with a vet and then follow their advice on when a dog should be spayed or neutered.
Some Braccos gain weight after they have been spayed or neutered and it's important to keep an eye on a dog's waistline just in case they do. If a dog starts to put on weight it's important to adjust their daily calorie intake and to up the amount of exercise they are given. Older dogs too are more prone to gaining weight and again it's essential they be fed and exercised accordingly because obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years. The reason being that it puts a lot of extra strain on a dog's internal organs including the heart which could prove fatal.
Some Braccos are prone to suffering from allergies and ear infections so it's important to keep an eye on their ears and to make sure they are kept clean. Allergies can be notoriously hard to clear up and finding the triggers can be challenging. With this said, a vet would be able to make a dog with an allergy more comfortable while they try to find out the triggers which could include the following:
All responsible Bracco Italiano breeders would ensure that their stud dogs are tested for known hereditary and congenital health issues known to affect the breed by using the following schemes:
Apart from the standard breeding restrictions for all Kennel Club registered breeds, there are no other breed specific breeding restrictions for the Bracco Italiano.
The Kennel Club strongly recommends that all breeders use the following schemes on their dogs:
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.
Bracco puppies are boisterous and full of life which means it's essential for homes and gardens to be puppy-proofed well in advance of their arrival. A responsible breeder would have well socialised their puppies which always leads to more outgoing, confident and friendly dogs right from the word go. With this said, any puppy is going to feel vulnerable when they leave their mother and littermates which must be taken into account. The longer a puppy can remain with their mother, the better although it should never be for too long either.
It's best to pick a puppy up when people are going to be around for the first week or so which is the time needed for a puppy to settle in. Puppy-proofing the home and garden means putting away any tools and other implements that a boisterous puppy might injure themselves on. Electric wires and cables must be put out of their reach because puppies love chewing on things. Toxic plants should be removed from flowerbeds and the home too.
Puppies need to sleep a lot to grow and develop as they should which means setting up a quiet area that's not too out of the way means they can retreat to it when they want to nap and it's important not to disturb them when they are sleeping. It's also a good idea to keep "playtime" nice and calm inside the house and to have a more active "playtime" outside in the garden which means puppies quickly learn to be less boisterous when they are inside.
The documentation a breeder provides for a puppy must have all the details of their worming date and the product used as well as the information relating to their microchip. It is essential for puppies to be wormed again keeping to a schedule which is as follows:
There are certain items that new owners need to already have in the home prior to bringing a new puppy home. It's often a good idea to restrict how much space a puppy plays in more especially when you can't keep an eye on what they get up to bearing in mind that puppies are often quite boisterous which means investing in puppy gates or a large enough playpen that allows a Bracco puppy the room to express themselves while keeping them safe too. The items needed are therefore, as follows:
All puppies are sensitive to noise including Bracco Italiano puppies. It's important to keep the noise levels down when a new puppy arrives in the home. TVs and music should not be played too loud which could end up stressing a small puppy out and could end up making them shy and retiring.
As previously mentioned, Bracco Italiano puppies would have been given their first vaccinations by the breeders, but they must have their follow up shots which is up to their new owners to organise. The vaccination schedule for puppies is as follows:
When it comes to boosters, it's best to discuss these with a vet because there is a lot of debate about whether a dog really needs them after a certain time. However, if a dog ever needed to go into kennels, their vaccinations would need to be fully up to date.
Older Braccos need lots of special care because as they reach their golden years, they are more at risk of developing certain health concerns. Physically, a dog's muzzle may start to go grey, but there will be other noticeable changes too which includes the following:
Older dogs change mentally too which means their response time tends to be slower as such they develop the following:
Living with a Bracco Italiano in their golden years means taking on a few more responsibilities, but these are easily managed and should include taking a look at their diet, the amount of exercise they are given, how often their dog beds need changing and keeping an eye on the condition of their teeth.
Older Braccos need to be fed a good quality diet that meets their needs at this stage of their lives all the while keeping a close eye on a dog's weight. A rough feeding guide for older dogs is as follows bearing in mind they should be fed highly digestible food that does not contain any additives:
Older Braccos don't need to be given the same amount of daily exercise as a younger dog, but they still need the right amount of physical activity to maintain muscle tone and to prevent a dog from putting on too much weight. All dogs need access to fresh clean water and this is especially true of older dogs when they reach their golden years because they are more at risk of developing kidney disorders.
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 builds 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 secure back garden as much as possible. With this said, the fencing must be very secure to keep a Bracco in. They also enjoy swimming so care must 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 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 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 exercise a dog just before or just after they have eaten either because this puts them more a risk of suffering from bloat.
Puppies need to be fed a highly nutritious, good quality diet for them to develop and grow as they should. As a rough guide, a Bracco puppy can be fed the following amounts every day making sure their meals are evenly spread out throughout the day and it's best to feed them 3 or 4 times a day:
Once a puppy is 15 months old they can be fed adult dog food.
Once fully mature, an adult Bracco must be fed a good quality diet to ensure their continued good health. As a rough guide, an adult Bracco Italiano can be fed the following amounts every day:
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 December 2017). 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 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 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 well-bred, healthy Kennel Club registered pedigree Bracco puppy.
When visiting and buying any puppy or dog, there are many important things to consider and questions to ask of the breeder/seller. You can read our generic puppy/dog advice here which includes making sure you see the puppy with its mother and to verify that the dog has been wormed and microchipped.
The Bracco Italiano is one of the lesser known breeds in the UK, although their numbers are slowly rising and well-bred puppies can often command a lot of money. As such, with Braccos there is specific advice, questions and protocols to follow when buying a puppy which are as follows:
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