The Bracco Italiano is an unusual type of dog, with some very specific uses. He is not like the mellow Labrador Retriever, fine with being a housedog, waiting at home for the family at the end of the day, content to be fed, patted every once in a while and given a run occasionally. There’s nothing wrong with that sort of dog – it’s just that it’s not what the Bracco is all about. The Bracco wants to be with you, doing what you’re doing, when you’re doing it. They deal with being left home by themselves badly, but can do it if they’ve been kept busy, both mentally and physically, for the past few days.
The Bracco Italiano must hunt, and will, in our experience, under any circumstances. We know non-hunting Bracco Italiano owners who find their Italian pointing dogs hunting butterflies, lizards, shadows, rainbows….. they simply must hunt. It is possible to move this toward other mental exercises – agility, tracking, etc., but unattended Braccos will always revert to the pointing activity they love – it’s a biological imperative. To that end, we try very much to place our puppies in hunting homes, if at all possible. NAVHDA (North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association) does not allow member hunters and their dogs to kill birds, so non=hunters do not have to feel uncomfortable – they are there to work their dogs, not to kill birds. From the Bracco’s point of view, the chance to do what he was bred for, i.e., point, is everything. So – a non-hunter can have a Bracco and give him what he needs – his way of life – hunting without necessarily killing.
If you go to work, The Bracco Italiano is very capable of going with you, lying under the desk and going for a quick walk at lunch, as long as he gets to go hunting something on the weekend. If you’re watching TV, he’d much prefer lying on the couch with you, head on your shoulder if at all possible. He’d also love to be in bed, under the covers with you – and that’s one of the challenges of being owned by a Bracco – deciding which of his desires are reasonable and which put him in the driver’s seat! (not acceptable!)
Speaking of people…. if you haven’t realized yet, this dog is extremely involved with his people. He does love everyone he meets – but his family is of particular importance, and he wants to be involved with them. Children seem to be a special connect for him….. our dogs automatically want to meet the smaller people first – maybe because they’re on the same level, maybe because the dog can find what the little person is eating much more easily! Whatever the reason, the Italian Pointer loves kids.
We are often asked if the Bracco Italiano is good with other animals – our experience is that our dogs are good with dogs they know – but being intact males and females in a pack, they tend to throw their weight around. As individuals,they get along well with other dogs. Ours have required training in order to not chase our outside cats, but the puppies raised with friendly cats just love them. We’ve trained our Italian pointers not to chase our chickens, guinea hens and ducks, but they still love to point them anyway. As a general rule, we think it’s safe to say that a Bracco can be guided into getting along with just about any animal.