Bracco Italiano

55-88 lbs
Italian Pointer

The Bracco Italiano is one of two hunting dogs native to Italy — the other is the Spinone Italiano. Although its background and heritage is as a hunting dog, like so many other similar breeds, Bracco Italiano dogs have become increasingly domesticated in recent years and make a lovely family pet.

In this breed profile, we’ll talk you through everything you need to know about the Bracco Italiano, so if you’re thinking about bringing one into your home you’ll learn more about its history, temperament and character, and its maintenance needs — including exercise and grooming.

Our guide will tell you:

  • The Bracco is one of the oldest Italian dog breeds
  • Bracco Italianos are sometimes known as 'Italian Pointer' or 'Italian Pointing Dog'
  • The breed once came close to extinction
  • The Bracco Italiano temperament is a calm and gentle one

Bracco Italiano breed overview

It’s easy to guess where the Bracco Italiano comes from, but outside its native Italy, this is a relatively rare breed and perhaps not that well known. Indeed, the Bracco Italiano dog was only officially recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 2022. The Bracco Italiano Club of America (BICA) was founded earlier than that though, in 2007.

The Bracco is part of the Sporting Group of breeds that also includes the likes of the Golden Retriever, Irish Setter and American Water Spaniel. Specifically, it’s a pointing breed; pointers were trained to alert hunters to the location of game and other targets. It’s for this reason that the Bracco is often colloquially called simply ‘the Italian pointing dog’.

Those natural instincts aside, Bracco Italianos tend to be relaxed and affectionate, and very much enjoy being at the center of a loving family. But, like all breeds, it has certain needs that must be met for it to thrive. 

A Bracco Italiano price can vary, but you should always source from a reputable breeder. The AKC lists available Bracco Italiano puppies and there’s more advice on breeder information from BICA. Do your research thoroughly before making any decision. There’s also, of course, the option of rehoming a Bracco Italiano that’s been rescued.

Getting a dog as a pet is a big decision. It’s your responsibility, as a pet parent, to provide the love and care a dog needs. That includes having a pet insurance plan in place — search policies from leading providers in seconds here.

purpose Purpose
Gun dog
history Date of Origin
Ancient Times
ancestry Ancestry

Bracco Italiano Health

Average Size
Male Bracco Italiano size stats
Height: 23-36 inches Weight: 55-88 lbs
Female Bracco Italiano size stats
Height: 22-34 inches Weight: 55-88 lbs

Bracco Italiano Breed History

We already know the Bracco Italiano is one of just two gundogs native to Italy, but we’ve also learned that it’s also one of the oldest Italian dog breeds — believed to date back as far as the fourth or fifth century BC. They were seen to be a noble breed and were prominent in Renaissance Italy, often given as cherished gifts by the Italian government to counterparts in neighboring countries.

They were actually two distinct versions of the Bracco Italiano. Both originated from northern Italy but one type from Piedmont and the other from Lombardy. They were distinguished by the Bracco Italiano colors; Piedmont Braccos tended to be white and orange, while the Lombardy breed was typically roan and brown.

A Bracco Italiano was prized for its role in helping hunters. It would flush out birds for hunters, and point out and retrieve game. Despite its status, Bracco Italiano dogs were threatened with extinction in the late 1800s as a result of poor breeding practices.

Uniting the two versions of the Bracco Italiano increased genetic diversity, and the intervention of breeder Ferdinando Delor de Ferrabouc is largely credited with being a major influence in saving the breed.

Bracco Italiano Breed Appearance

The Bracco Italiano is a large breed, capable of weighing up to 80 - 90 lbs when fully grown. For a relatively big dog though, it should look strong and lean, with a well muscled body. It’s powerful, rather than large and lumbering.

Bracco Italiano dogs are noted for their dignified, regal appearance; it’s easy to see why they were considered such a noble breed centuries ago. Ears are long, almost droopy, while eyes are large and full of expression — the Bracco Italiano almost has a doleful (some might soulful) look. Facially, with its loose jowls, it looks like a blend of pointer and Italian Bloodhound.

The coat is short, dense and glossy. Bracco Italiano colors are either white, orange and white, chestnut and white, or amber and white. Some might have a roan pattern in their coat.

Similar breeds to the Bracco Italiano

Bracco Italiano dogs are a wonderful addition to a home, but when it comes to pet parenthood, there’s a lot to think about. A dog has to be the right breed for you. If you like the look and sound of a Bracco Italiano, you might also be interested in these similar breeds:

Bracco Italiano Breed Maintenance

If you’re not a fan of regular grooming, we have good news. The Bracco Italiano is a minimal shedder, so maintenance is on the low side; a weekly brush through should suffice, unless your dog has been enjoying itself in wet and muddy terrain and needs some extra attention. Braccos will happily trample through undergrowth, so look out for any dirt or debris in its coat.

What might need a bit more focus are those fantastic ears. Breeds with long and heavy ears can be at risk of infection if dirt accumulates inside them and they’re not cleaned regularly. It can be a common issue with gun dogs and sporting breeds, especially those that love the water, as moisture gets trapped in the inner ear.

Read our guide on cleaning a dog’s ears here.

Bracco Italiano health

An active, energetic and hard-working breed by nature, the Bracco Italiano is — like all dogs — at risk of health problems from time to time. There are some health conditions that the breed is particularly associated with, including:

Hip dysplasia
Elbow dysplasia
Eye issues — entropion and ectropion
Kidney disorders — renal amyloidosis

Hip dysplasia

Hip dysplasia can be an inherited condition that develops when a dog is still young, or can occur later in life due to injury or obesity. With hip dysplasia, the ball and socket of the hip joint suffers malformation, so the head of the femur grinds in the joint socket instead of moving smoothly. It can happen in one or both hip joints.

The condition restricts movement, and is usually painful for the dog. Signs of hip dysplasia in a Bracco Italiano, as in any other dog, include limping, difficulty getting up or climbing stairs, lameness and decreased activity.

Elbow dysplasia

Elbow dysplasia is essentially arthritis in the elbow joint. It can affect Bracco Italiano puppies as well as adult Bracco Italiano dogs. While it's primarily a genetic developmental disease, it can be caused by a fast growth rate, poor diet and rapid weight gain. Limping after exercise, stiffness after resting and a reluctance to exercise are all signs of elbow dysplasia.

Entropion and ectropion

Entropion and ectropion are both eye issues. With entropion, the dog’s eyelid — or eyelids, both eyes can be affected — folds inwards. This rubs against the eye and causes obvious discomfort, potentially leading to inflammation and, in the most serious of cases, ulcers in the cornea.

Ectropion is the opposite. With this condition, the eyelids roll outwards, leaving the eyeball exposed to elements like dirt and debris. This exposes a risk to infection, and the eye can become inflamed. You might see your dog pawing at his eyes or suffering frequent conjunctivitis. Sometimes, surgery is needed to resolve ectropion, though not always.

Renal amyloidosis

Renal amyloidosis is a kidney disorder that’s thankfully relatively rare in dogs but is nevertheless a serious condition. It occurs when proteins known as amyloid are deposited near organs and cells, and though it typically affects older dogs, a dog can be diagnosed with it at any age. Look out for the signs; loss of appetite, urinating more frequently than usual, excessive thirst, weight loss and vomiting are all symptoms of renal amyloidosis.

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What to feed a Bracco Italiano

A Bracco Italiano is a big dog, and tends to have an appetite to match. This is especially true if they’re really active, and even more so if used in a working capacity in the field. A Bracco Italiano can use a lot of energy, so this needs to be replaced and replenished.

There’s lots of choice on the market but a dog food recipe that’s been formulated for large dogs is best. If your Bracco is used as a working dog — hunting and retrieving — you might also want to consider food for working breeds.

A word of caution, though. If your Bracco Italiano is only moderately active, it won’t need such a high-calorie diet and there’s a risk of overfeeding. Be sensible with portions to avoid him or her becoming overweight or even worse, obese.

Bracco Italiano Temperament

It’ll come as no surprise to learn that the Bracco Italiano is an energetic dog — in keeping with a typical gun dog breed. Sporting breeds are hard-wired to be active; it’s their default setting, and Bracco Italiano dogs are no different. 

If you’re the pet parent of a Bracco, it’s important that your dog gets regular exercise — and not just a sedate stroll around the block twice a day. To stay physically and mentally satisfied, Bracco Italianos need a couple of strenuous walks a day and ideally the opportunity for a good off-lead run regularly. They’ll love access to outdoor space at their home — just make sure that space is enclosed.

Your Bracco Italiano will also love to play, and should enjoy agility and scent work as these tap into their natural instincts.

However, provided they get sufficient exercise, most Bracco Italiano dogs are calm in and around their home, and have a gentle disposition. They’re big softies, essentially. This placid Bracco Italiano temperament makes them lovely companion dogs and usually happy to live with children of all ages, other dogs, and potentially even cats.

A high level of intelligence means Bracco Italianos are easy to train — they want to please their pet parents. They can be a little stubborn, however, and don’t react well to being told off; you might find they just ignore you completely in these situations. 

Positive reinforcement training can work very effectively, especially with Bracco Italiano puppies (and training is always better off starting early, in any case).

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