The Working Bracco
The Bracco Italiano is a gundog breed, part of the sub group of Hunt, Point, Retrievers. This means that the Bracco is an all round gundog, ideal for “rough shooting” – a single man and dog, lesser used on driven shoots although they can make themselves useful here too.
A Bracco should range out a good distance from his handler, quarter the ground (go back and forth, into the wind) in the characteristic extended trot. As the breed scent from the air rather than the ground, his head should be raised up above the level of his topline.
Bracchi are “bird dogs” primarily used to find game birds such as pheasant, woodcock, grouse or partridge. On coming across the scent of a bird the dog will stop abruptly, decide where exactly the bird is and creep towards it. On coming close to it, the dog will point. Pointing means the dog alerts his handler to the location of the bird, and holds the bird there simply by using the birds instinct to sit still to avoid detection against it.
On command the dog will flush the bird by moving quickly towards it, which makes the bird take flight. Once he has flushed his quarry, the dog should watch the bird fly away, and should mark where it falls when shot. The handler can then send him out to retrieve it.
Whether the Bracco Italiano is a working gundog or not, during the year, he is eligible to compete in the UK in various hunting related disciplines under rules set by the Kennel Club. The ultimate discipline is that of the Field Trial.
Field trials are arranged during the shooting season by the various HPR breed clubs and societies. These trials give the dog and handler the chance to compete with all other HPR breeds in what is described by the Kennel Club as and event run "as close to a normal shooting day as possible".
Gundog Working Tests
During the closed season where game birds are not shot the same Clubs and Societies host Working Tests which are also regulated by the Kennel Club. These tests consist of a number of tests simulating situations which may be encountered in the shooting field, such as hunting, retrieving and obedience. The dogs are awarded points which culminate in the final awards being presented.
Spring Pointing Tests
There is another activity which is peculiar to the pointing breeds which is run during the spring months and is called the "Spring Pointing Test". These events are not licensed by the Kennel Club but adhere to the regulations found in field trials with regards to the faults committed by the dog and handler. The tests are judged by approved Kennel Club panel judges and provide an opportunity for a dog's hunting, pointing and flushing abilities to be graded. The grading is classified as Good, Very Good or Excellent. Young dogs under 2 years old can be graded on pheasant but older dogs can only be graded when working partridge.