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Discovering Italian dogs: Bracco Italiano

Before reading a few peculiar facts about Bracco Italiano, I invited you to browse over the full collection that deals with the origins of Italian dogs! You can get to the Maremmano-Abruzzese Sheepdog, the Neapolitan Mastiff, the Lagotto Romagnolo and the Maltese by clicking on the links!

You know, a dog is a man’s best buddy. During my time as a veterinary student in Italy, I had the opportunity to interact with various canine breeds, each of which was distinct and special. Given my background, I may be biased and nonobjective, but everyone has their unique charm that I can’t convey in words.

Italian Bracco at the Milan Exhibition
A lot of Italian Bracchi at the Milan exhibition – 1930 | Credit

These anecdotes about Italian dogs bring you closer to Italian culture by showing how these animals evolved alongside our fathers over time.

Today, I’d like to tell you a little bit more about the Bracco Italiano (Italian Bracco). In brief, it has a charming face, large ears, and a regal manner.
If I were ever asked, “Which breed of dog is the greatest pride of Italian breeders?” I would say loudly, quickly, and without hesitation: the Italian Bracco.
Have fun reading!

The story of Bracco Italiano

This breed has been around for a very long period. Our fascination stems from the reality that these specimens have affected the selection of many other races over the course of history, providing the groundwork for extremely high breed standards.

The meaning of the name

It’s interesting to observe how, by delving a bit further into recollections and customs, you can connect facts to what appears to be extremely remote.
It is difficult to trace the origins of idioms and names that have been in use in Italy for decades and centuries. However, in this situation, it is attainable, and our curiosity is satisfied between the XIII and XIV centuries. Always in Italy, not by chance.

Legendary writer Dante Alighieri appears to have referenced it in the famous Sonar Bracchetti. The phrase bracchetti that is, “dog barking” or, in some interpretations, “dog biting,” would derive from today’s and more modern term Bracco.
To pique your interest, I’ve included some reference verses below.

Sonar bracchetti, e cacciatori aizzare,
lepri levare, ed isgridar le genti,
e di guinzagli uscir veltri correnti,
per belle piagge volgere e imboccare

assai credo che deggia dilettare
libero core e van d’intendimenti!
Ed io, fra gli amorosi pensamenti,
d’uno sono schernito in tale affare,

e dicemi esto motto per usanza:
“Or ecco leggiadria di gentil core,
per una sì selvaggia dilettanza

lasciar le donne e lor gaia sembianza!”.
Allor, temendo non che senta Amore,
prendo vergogna, onde mi ven pesanza.

The origins

We take a backward stride and arrive in Athens. Xenophon‘s writings appear to describe the vigor and existence of a dog quite similar to our beloved Bracco.

However, the story is not finished. Covering a dog’s traces is a difficult task.

After appearing in countless Roman-era works, we may finally see Bracco represented in the current appearance, in various representations.
It first appears in the frescoes in Siena’s Palazzo Pubblico in 1338, by the hands of Ambrogio Lorenzetti.

Salon of Nine, Siena
Salon of Nine – Siena | Credit

The modern-day aristocracy’s dog

Testimonies from the Renaissance and the Modern Age describe this breed as being extremely powerful, swift, and, above all, docile. For these reasons, it will become the favorite dog of great families who have shaped Italian history, such as the De’ Medici, Gonzaga, and Estensi.
It also appears that during these times, the Bracco was utilized in table crossings to develop other breeds.

However, from the ‘800s onwards, focus and attention is diverted to the dog world. The specimens of the period are becoming less common in their daily activities. The selection criteria were no longer met, and its proud foundations gradually disintegrated. Its personality grew entwined, and it became a very heavy dog, losing agility but not that unrivaled nose for prey.

Bracco Italiano
Italian Bracchi – Nowadays | Credit

Today’s Bracco Italiano

We should wait till the 1900s to see the first genuine and enthusiastic interest in this unique species among breeders. They took on a challenging task: restoring breed standards and improving its quirks. In doing so, they have established the foundation for a national repopulate while attempting to maintain as much purity as possible.

Bracco Italiano
Italian Bracchi at the Lodi meeting – 1949 | Credit
Italian Bracchi
Absolute winners at the Milan exhibition – 1940 | Credit


The ENCI certified the breed in February 1949, and nine months later the Società Amatori Bracco Italiano (S.A.B.I) was formed to maintain the breed’s welfare and purity.

This concludes the story of the Italian Bracco. It is always interesting to learn about Italy’s history from various perspectives. We accomplished it this time through the eyes of our four-legged companion.

If you are an animal enthusiast like me, don’t miss Life in Italy’s insights on other Italian breeds!
See u soon!

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