Italians are still discovering America, and America is discovering Italians. The American purebred dog world has had the Spinone Italiano for a number of years and is now meeting the Bracco Italiano.
The first known registration of a Bracco in the US was with the North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association in 1998 and the first with AKC FSS in 2004. A club was formed in 2007 by Amanda Inman, a young woman (16 years old) with a passion for the breed, along with Mike and Peggy Casper. Their goal was to maintain a truly versatile dog and to have full AKC recognition. As more owners came on board with that club, the desire to seek AKC recognition lessened, and the club had no pressing interest to pursue that goal. In 2014 the Bracco Italiano Society of America (BISA) formed to move the breed forward to full recognition.
Spinone owner and Delegate for the Spinone Club of America (SCOA) Karen Lucky offered Bracco fanciers SCOA’s help. The SCOA Board approved joint Nationals, and in 2014 the old club put on a National Specialty with SCOA. It was a big success, with 19 dogs for 25 entries. In 2015, after some negotiating, it was decided BISA would be the organization to go forward with SCOA. This year’s Bracco Specialty had 25 dogs for 30 entries. As BISA is not sanctioned for conformation, it follows SCOA events. The Bracco is approved to participate in hunt tests and does so with great enthusiasm. SCOA hosts some great hunts!
Although the Bracco is an ancient breed, it is new to AKC and its ways. SCOA’s friendly arm around BISA’s shoulders has made all the difference in what can be a very intimidating process. Its organizational and financial help is so deeply appreciated. The warm welcome to the world of conformation is priceless.
To have an established club that has “been there, done that” helping us along has been invaluable. Not just in participating in a National Specialty and all that that entails, but the opportunity to educate judges and to show the numerous differences between the two breeds (there is no “smooth Spinone” or “wire-haired Bracco”!). The two are not interchangeable; however, both are charming, amorous Italians!
BISA is also showing the newer Bracco people the importance of a breeding program, the fun of showing your dogs, the joy of a ribbon, all with a dog that hunts!
Comparing the Spinone and Bracco
Adapted from a breed comparison by Amanda Inman Fisk
Both standards describe a powerful, balanced dog. The Spinone standard places more emphasis on strong bone, robust construction and muscle, while the Bracco has a harmonious sculptured, chiseled appearance. The Spinone is strictly square; the Bracco may be square or slightly longer than tall. The Spinone standard describes a dog of curves, while the Bracco standard stresses angles and chiseling.
The overall carriage and shape of the head is the same in both breeds. Both have diverging planes that are characteristic to and vital in developing type as well as reflecting their function as trotting breeds. Spinone lips should be fitted to the jaw, while Bracco lips are floppy and more pendulous.
Both breeds have beautiful soft expressions, with the Spinone having large round eyes, frontally placed. Bracco eyes are also large, but are oval shaped and placed semi-laterally.
The ears of both breeds have rounded tips, are set level with the zygomatic arch and are long enough to reach the end of the nose. The Bracco’s ears have considerably more erectile power than the Spinone’s.
The toplines on both have two lines: one straight from the withers to the 11th vertebrae and the second that continues to the loin. The Spinone has a well-arched loin, with the Bracco only slightly arched. Both breeds have minimal tuck-up. The Bracco has a “skirt,” giving the look of an almost straight underline.
Both are trotting breeds but move differently. With his freely moving shoulder and rear angulation, the Bracco has a fast, extended and lively trot. The Spinone trot is more collected, although still easy and loose. The Bracco head is carried high above the topline, and the Spinone is just above the backline.
The Spinone has a dense, wiry coat that is thick and tight to the body. The Bracco has a short, glossy coat with soft, pliable skin that is well separated from the tissues underneath.