The Bracco is one of the oldest gundog breeds, which has roots traced back to the Egyptian hound. He is a HPR like the Weimaraner but he works very differently. He has a fast extended trot driving from the rear quarters. His head carriage is high unlike other HPR breeds. Hunting instinct is extremely strong and the tendency to go "deaf" and do his own thing can be a problem. Careful, consistent and firm training are the answer. Don't be completely fooled by his Italian charm.
The Bracco is still a relatively new breed to the UK. The information below is based on my knowledge of owning, working and showing them coupled with the experience I have gained from travelling to Italy and The Netherlands to learn about and work the Bracco with very experienced breeders.
I made the basic mistake of thinking that after all the years of training Weimaraners and even a Saluki, I could train a Bracco in a similar way. It took me some time to work out what makes the Bracco tick. Having said that they are usually willing to please and respond particularly well to positive reinforcement but certainly not to harsh handling.
The ones which are food motivated I find easier to train. However the overriding factor in all cases is the absolute necessity for the Bracco to be totally focussed on you. That may sound simple, but seriously this can be a very stubborn breed and to prevent him going constantly deaf out in the field or woods you must have this connection. Bracchi will naturally check in with you from an early age and this must be rewarded on every occasion whilst out walking. Teaching recall and the stop whistle are absolute essentials in this breed.
Bracchi require to be tested for Hip Dysplasia, Elbow Dysplasia, Eye Conditions such as Entropian, Ectropian and Cherry Eye or Prolapsed Third Eye Lids as well as Kidney Function. Regretfully the breed is prone to to several serious health conditions, but knowledgeable breeders will endeavour to breed avoiding these conditions. Remember it is important to take account of the whole dog and high hip scores don't necessarily mean the progeny will follow. What is important is that the breeder has endeavoured to use combinations which will not pass on hereditary conditions. I like many other breeders have witnessed exceptions to all rules, dogs with low hip scores producing high hips and vice versa. There are no guarantees with any puppy but all responsible breeders will abide by the Breed Club Code of Conduct and the Kennel Club requirements of hip scoring, elbow scoring and eye testing. Ideally Bracchi should have an annual SDMA blood test and urinalysis for kidney disease detection.
As a Kennel Club Assured and experienced breeder for thirty plus years be assured all my dogs are extensively health checked in accordance with current requirements and receive the very best of care and attention at all times. I have never had more than 2 litters from any bitch and my stud dogs are used selectively.
I find the Bracco a fun loving and extremely loyal breed, they are fantastic with children although a touch boisterous, as you would expect from an energetic breed. They do need to be mentally stimulated and are certainly not the breed to consider if you have limited time. A trained Bracco in the field is a sight to behold. Ideally Bracchi should undertake some gundog work to appease their strong hunting instinct and maintain their natural aptitude and purpose as a HPR breed.
They love company, but will tolerate being left for periods of time. They love being outdoors. In the house they can be boisterous but settle down nicely on the sofa. I have to admit the biggest problem I have in the house is the slobber! Make sure you have washable paint and plenty cleaning cloths, they are not the breed for the house proud or if you do not tolerate dog slobber.
DOG OR BITCH?
The usual question in any breed. The dogs are large and heavy, they do need plenty of room with brain and body exercised daily. They are generally very sociable with all dogs but caution should always be exercised if there are bitches in season. They are Italian remember and I often tell the story about Luigi who I swear came with a leather jacket and Ferrari (when the girls were around). Bitches are just as boisterous and sociable with all breeds. Seasons can of course cause changes in behaviour and the breed are prone to phantom pregnancies. Daily brain and body exercise is essential.
For me the Bracco is the clown in our pack, if there is something to get up to they will! They are prone to stealing all the fruit off your trees, sitting on top of your garden furniture, digging craters, playing football preferably in goals because they can run off with the ball, picking up and carrying anything which is lying around particularly cushions.
If you have plenty of garden ground (and don't mind your grass being dug up), time for training and exercise, a sense of humour, don't mind slobber on walls and windows, good veterinary insurance - this may be a breed for you to consider.