Tough and adapted to all types of hunting, the Bracco Italiano is reliable, intelligent, docile and easy to train. Great family dog and companion very loyal. He has a powerful appearance, with lean limbs, well-developed muscles and a sculpted head. In English, he is the Italian Pointing Dog.
The Bracco Italiano has been called the oldest European pointer, and its history reaches back to the fourth or fifth century BC. While the exact ancestral origins are unknown, it is generally accepted that the Bracco Italiano was first a cross between the Segugio Italiano and the Asiatic Mastiff, which has since become extinct. The breed was developed in northern Italy, with two distinct varieties: the white-and-orange-colored variety known to be from the Piedmont region and the roan-and-brown from Lombardy.
By the medieval period, the breed had become well-established and the Italian aristocracy exported the Bracco across the Old World. The Bracco’s popularity peaked during the Renaissance, and they remained at healthy numbers until the turn of the twentieth century, when they faced a sharp decline.
By the end of the 1800s, the Bracco Italiano faced extinction. Over the years, crossing with hounds and poor breeding resulted in dogs that were too heavily built to perform their work, and the breed suffered from various health problems. Diligent breeding selection and care aided in rebuilding the breed. In the 1920s, it was decided to unify the two variations of the breed in order to preserve genetic diversity.
First, the Piedmontese Pointer was a dog of lighter construction and color, and it originated in the Piedmont region of Italy, as its name suggests. This dog was used for work in the mountains, which its conformation and temperament reflected. The Piedmontese dog was smaller than its counterpart in Lombardy, and its hunting style was reminiscent of some western European pointers in that it traveled with a jaunty gallop. This dog was primarily white, with or without orange markings.
Alternately, the Lombard Pointer was a rich brown roan and had a heavier body type. This dog was used for hunting in the marshy lowlands, and was a trotting breed. These big dogs were bred both for their eye appeal and natural hunting ability.
Shortly after the breed was officially unified, the working standard was written and released, and in 1949 the Societa Amatori Bracco Italiano was founded in Italy. When the Italian conformation standard was published, it incorporated aspects of both breed types, resulting in noted variability within the standard. The breed standard had existed for over a century prior to being compiled into this single document.
The Bracco Italiano was brought to the United Kingdom in the late 1980s, however the United States did not experience the Italian Pointer until approximately 1994. In 2001, the Bracco was accepted into the AKC Foundation Stock Service. In 2005, the first national “Gathering” was held, and the Bracco Italiano Club of America was founded in 2007.
Standing as high as 26 inches at the shoulder, GWPs are a bit taller and heavier than their close relative, the German Shorthaired Pointer. GWPs are balanced, well muscled, resilient, agile, and generally built to beat the bushes all day long without tiring. The harsh wire coat protects against thorny underbrush and foul weather, and the shaggy beard and eyebrows complete an intelligent, worldly expression.
“The need for running in the great outdoors is a must!” says one veteran owner. “This breed will not be happy to be on the couch all day.” GWPs are bright and eager, but their independent, inquisitive nature might frustrate novice owners. A good fit for those looking for a loving companion who enjoys sports and togetherness.
British sportsmen bred specialized hunting dogs for various types of birds and different kinds of terrain, to work on either land or lake, and with disparate hunting techniques—hence the profusion of British setters, spaniels, and retrievers. The hunters of Continental Europe took a different approach: They created bird dogs capable of doing it all. Italy’s Spinone, Hungary’s Vizsla, and Germany’s GWP are examples of these famously versatile hunting companions, sometimes called the “European utility breeds.”
The name German Wirehaired Pointer is the English translation of the German breed name, Deutsch-Drahthaar. The breeding of wire-coated pointing dogs was something of a mania among German sportsmen of the early 1800s. During the second half of the century, dog people in Britain and on the Continent became passionate about classifying dogs by breed rather than merely type. Thus, such harsh-coated gundogs as the GWP, Pudelpointer, and German Broken-coated Pointer, among others, were officially established as separate breeds.
From the breed’s very beginning, fanciers have considered the GWP’s coat to be of the utmost importance. Understandable, considering breeders conceived the GWP as an all-terrain, all-weather hunter, proficient in tall grass, deep woods, or water. The wiry coat serves as a waterproof suit of armor, and the shaggy brows and beard protect the eyes and face from the lacerations of thorny brush and brier.
North American sportsmen began importing GWPs in the 1920s, and the AKC admitted the breed to its studbook in 1959.