A Snippet of Bracco Italiano History

The Bracco Italiano is one of only two native Italian Gundog breeds (the other being the Spinone), and is believed to be the ancestor of  European pointing breeds such as the English Pointer, Brittany, German Shorthaired Pointer, and Portuguese Pointer. It’s considered to be one of the oldest of all gun dogs, a notion supported by paintings and text from the fourth and fifth centuries B.C.

Some sources suggest that the Bracco was a cross between the Asiatic Mastiff and the Segugio Italiano, while others claim that the ancient St. Hubert Hound is its more likely ancestor. We may never be as certain of its distant origins as we are about its popularity with Italy’s upper crust during the Renaissance. Bred by both the Medici and Gonzaga families, Bracchi were often gifted by Italian officials to foreign dignitaries to hunt feathered game. During this time, they were known as “bracchi of the net,” for the practice of hunters throwing a large net over a covey of birds.

At one time, there were two distinct types of Bracco Italiano: One type, the white-and-orange Piedmontese from Piemont, was described as being light boned, very similar to the French short haired pointing, and most suited to work in the mountains. The other type was the heavier, roan-and-brown colored Lombardict with the jaunty gallop, a dog bred in Lombardia and better equipped to hunt marshy lowlands.  One source we came across suggested that the Piedmontese and Lombardic were simply color variants of the same breed, rather than distinct varieties. We leave that discussion to breed experts.

The fact remains that by the end of the 19th century, the Bracco Italiano faced extinction. It was saved primarily by the efforts of the Societa Amitori Bracco Italiano and an Italian breeder, Ferdinando Delor de Ferrabouc.  One source writes that to preserve genetic diversity, the two variations of the breed were combined, and a height chosen in the new standard that ranged from the minimum height of the “light” Bracco, to the maximum height of the “heavy” Bracco.

In 1980, the Bracco Italiano was brought to the United Kingdom, though it would be nearly 15 years before the breed came to the United States. In 2001 the Bracco was accepted into the AKC Foundation Stock Service.  Perhaps a Bracco owner can tell us when full AKC acceptance may be expected?

Photo of 10 month old Stella D’Aulico during her NA testing by Kurt Meisel


11 thoughts on “A Snippet of Bracco Italiano History”

    • Good to know, Valerie, we’ll be sure to mention it again!

  1. re your last question as to when the bracco will be accepted into the AKC – we, as long-time bracco breeders, hope the answer is “never.” In the UK, roughly 75% of Braccos are now being conformation-shown, but not hunted – and the US is close behind. The increased popularity of a breed, which is usually brought on by its inclusion into AKC, generally morphs into owners showing, but unfortunately, not in usage of what the dog was bred to do, i.e., hunting. Most all gundog breeds now have a very large segment of their populations which have no clue what a bird is, and that is tragic. We believe strongly in producing braccos which conform to the breed standard, look and act like braccos, and are “born with bird” in them – and to that end, we place our pups in hunting families.

    • We concur, Lane. We feel that our breeds need to stay close to their roots, so to speak, if not in the field, then field testing. It’s not only good for the dog, but critical for an owner wanting to learn more about their breed, why it’s built the way it’s built, and how this translates to working ability.

  2. Please try to attend the BICA show in Oct. Guaranteed good time and great dogs! For 2017 plan on attending the National Specialty of THE BRACCO ITALIANO SOCIETY OF AMERICA. Held the first week in April at Purina Farms in conjunction with the Spinone Club of America!

  3. Oh boy! asking about AKC is sure a “hot button” for some. Don’t wnat to get into that debate on here but obviously there are pros and cons on both sides of the issue. Hence the reason for two clubs. The Bracco Italiano Club of America is the older club and originally formed with gaining full AKC as a goal. Alone the line, for many members, it became more hunting oriented and AKC recognition was removed and placed on the far back burner. Others felt,after almost 15 years in FSS, now was the time to move forward in AKC. The Bracco Italaino SOCIETY of America was formed to work towards that goal. Except for that one issue, BOTH clubs want the same for the breed and work for the same goals as breeders. First and foremost all agree this is a dual breed, health is upmost importance, correct to the standard and hunting ability are valued equally. Both clubs have wonderful ,devoted people- in fact many are members of both organizations.

    • This is really helpful, Marilyn, thank you for that! So when posting information about which club to consult, it’s wise to share both club names?

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