American dog lovers, say “benvenuto” to bracco Italiano: The former Italian bird-hunting dog is the 200th member of the American Kennel Club’s list of recognized breeds, the organization announced Wednesday. This means that handsome, powerful yet lovable pointers can now be top performers at many American dog shows, including the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club event next year.
Bracco (pronounced BRAH’-koh) dates back more than two millennia in Europe but was not introduced to the United States until the mid-1990s, according to the AKC. It is sometimes called the Italian pointer or the Italian pointer.
The ideal bracco should be “tough and suitable for all types of hunting, dependable, docile, and intelligent,” while being friendly and not shy or aggressive, according to the AKC standard for the medium-to-large breed.
“It’s very easy to live with and be with them, and yet it’s like a switch – when it’s time to jump in the back of the truck and go hunting, and they have a job, they light up like a Christmas tree,” said owner and breeder Lisa Moller of Portage, Wisconsin.
She and her husband Dale relied on Labrador retrievers as pheasant hunting aids before a friend introduced them to a bracco about five years ago. The couple were quickly struck by the dog’s methodical hunting style in the field and his affectionate nature at home: “They’re very velcro,” Lisa Moller said.
The dogs – the correct plural is “bracchi Italiani” – have a deep bark and deploy it easily to spot backyard wildlife, so “they may not be the right dog for everyone”, a she noted.
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AKC Executive Secretary Gina DiNardo called the bracco the perfect companion for active families who can provide “the love and attention it needs.”
The AKC opened the nation’s oldest dog registry with just nine breeds in 1878. In the past decade alone, the club has added more than 20 breeds, ranging from the little Russian toy to the mighty Dogo Argentino. The criteria involve the total number and generations of registered dogs nationwide, their geographic distribution, and other factors.
There are still many breeds that are registered elsewhere but not by the AKC, or not officially recognized at all. Some aficionados avoid or are torn by the exposure that AKC recognition brings to a breed.
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Animal rights activists decry dog breeding, and they say adding more breeds only exacerbates the crazy demand for purebred pets and fuels the puppy mills that feed them.
The AKC says it promotes responsible breeding aimed at preserving the characteristics that equip dogs for various tasks and make it easier for owners to find a puppy they can live with and commit to.