Deutsche Bracke

Linda Simon
Dr Linda Simon (MVB MRCVS, University College Dublin)
 
Photo of adult Deutsche Bracke
Rumo / Wikipedia.org

A beautiful and distinctive-looking hound, the Deutsche Bracke, also popularly known as the German Hound, is a tri-colour small to medium-sized hunting dog that originated in Westphalia, a region in the North West of Germany. Not well known outside their homeland, they are popular within Germany, where they are still commonly kept as hunting dogs, as well as family pets.

Their high exercise requirements need to be met on a daily basis, and they can be prone to bad behavior if under-stimulated. Intelligent, kind and a dog that truly enjoys the company of people, these dogs flourish when kept indoors, rather than in the outdoor kennels where they have traditionally lived.

About & History

An ancient breed, whose true origin is difficult to verify, it is thought that the Deutsche Bracke, or German Hound, originated from a mixture of a pointer breed, Beagles, Greyhounds and Bloodhounds. Traditionally used as scent hounds to assist hunters in locating a variety of game in harsh weather conditions over irregular terrains, they are used as both hunting and companion animals today.

This breed is also known as the Olpe hound because of their popularity within Olpe, a region situated in North-Rhine Westphalia, Germany. Here, they were bred for their efficiency and stamina, seeking out a variety of animals, including wild boar and hares. Their sensitive nose can pick up on even the slightest of scents, and they take advantage of their loud and resonant barks to alert their master of their find. They have been used to hunt either alone or in pairs.

While almost certainly older, the first records of the Deutsche Bracke begin to appear in German literature and art in the 18th century. Around this time, there were several similar Bracke breeds in existence within Germany, but it is thought that other than the Deutsche Bracke, these dogs are now mainly extinct.

It was not until 1955 that the first breed standard was written for the Deutsche Bracke. While now recognised by the German Kennel Club, as of 2018, the Deutsche Bracke is not yet officially acknowledged by the American or UK Kennel Clubs. Though popular in their German homeland, as well as in mainland Europe, they are very rare in the UK and the rest of the world.

When discussing the history of the Deutsche Bracke, it is important to mention the Westphalian Dachsbracke, a breed of dog very similar in appearance to the Deutsche Bracke, though noticeably smaller. This breed was originally created to fulfill the needs not met by the taller Deutsche Bracke, i.e. to track and hunt through the under-bush, and in other hard to reach locations. It is thought that this breed may be a cross of the Dachshund and the Deutsche Bracke.

Appearance

Deutsche Bracke Large Photo

A good-looking hound, the Deutsche Bracke has an elegant, though sturdy silhouette. Their head is typically ‘hound-like’ with large, pendulous ears, a narrow face and soulful eyes. Their nose is particularly interesting and is the best way to identify the breed. It is mainly dark, but with a strip of flesh-coloured pigment in the middle. Their chest is unusually deep and should extend to below the elbow when standing. They have a slight arch in their back, and their overall body shape is rectangular. Their tail should be very long and slim.

They measure 40-53 cm and typically weigh between 13 and 18kg. Their short coat is tri-colour and exhibits the classic ‘Bracken’ markings: white fur on their muzzle, neck, chest, legs and the tip of their tail.

Character & Temperament

A good example of a working dog that has adapted to family life, the Deutsche Bracke flourishes both in the company of other dogs when hunting, and in the home of its human family. They are particularly sweet-natured and tolerant of children. Their reliance on people must not be over-looked, and these dogs require constant interaction with humans to avoid the development of undesired behaviours or anxieties. They look to their human master for guidance, and bond well with their own family, though they may initially be standoffish with new people.

They make good guard dogs, alerting their owner of the presence of an unknown person by barking loudly. Bred to hunt, extreme care must be taken when animals, such as cats or mice are present, as the Deutsche Bracke’s instinct will be to hunt them.

Trainability

An intelligent breed, the Deutsche Bracke responds best to firm and consistent training. They can possess an independent streak and can sense if a trainer is uncertain, taking advantage of the situation and choosing not to perform tasks that they are well able to do. Positive reinforcement is key, and this breed will not respond well to harsh criticisms or punishment. Keeping a session short and interesting will work best for this bright breed, who can find repetitive tasks a bore.

Guided by their nose, scents can commonly be a distraction when training. Recall becomes a forgotten skill when an enticing squirrel is nearby.

Health

The typical lifespan of a Deutsche Bracke is 10-12 years. While thought of as a healthy and robust dog, the Deutsche Bracke is more prone to certain conditions than other breeds. These conditions include:

  • Bloat (GDV) – Bloat is known to be more common in dogs with deep chests. The exact cause is unknown, although eating a large meal and then exercising vigorously can precipitate an event. The dog’s stomach will fill with liquid and gas and the dog’s abdomen will appear physically bloated (hence the name). In some cases, this bloat will progress to a condition called Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (GDV), and the stomach will rotate on its axis, entrapping the contents. Affected dogs will panic and may drool and pant excessively. An immediate trip to the vet is necessary if the dog is to survive.
  • Hip Dysplasia – An orthopaedic condition affecting the hips that should be screened for before mating to reduce the prevalence in a population. Dogs whose hips have not formed properly will be prone to lifelong pain and lameness. While corrective surgeries do exist, most dogs will be treated with medication and supportive therapies, such as hydrotherapy. This is a progressive condition, meaning it gets worse as the dog ages.
  • Cryptorchidism – This is a relatively common condition in which one or both of the male’s testicles will fail to descend. The testicle that remains inside the body is prone to developing testicular cancer, as the temperature inside the body is too hot. Surgery to remove the offending testicle is advised. While it is possible to remove the retained testicle and allow the dog to breed with their remaining external testicle, this is not advised, as cryptorchidism is a known inherited condition, and so male offspring are likely to be affected.
  • Eye Conditions – There are several eye conditions, including glaucoma, cataracts and progressive retinal atrophy, that the Deutsche Bracke is known to suffer from. Screening of breeding parents (before mating) by a veterinary ophthalmologist is strongly advised.

Exercise and Activity Levels

This is a dog that relishes activity and should be given the opportunity to work whenever possible. A large, fenced-in garden in a suburban area is a minimum requirement, though countryside homes with ample land to roam are preferred.

A vigorous walk that lasts at least an hour is recommended each day, and the Deutsche Bracke will gladly accompany you when you jog or hike. Due to the high exercise needs of this breed, failure to provide an appropriate outlet will almost certainly result in a dog that misbehaves and develops nuisance behaviours.

Grooming

The coat of the Deutsche Bracke is low maintenance and only requires brushing every now and then to remove dead fur. Their coat will naturally tend to stay clean and does not require bathing often.

Their pendulous ears need to be checked and cleaned regularly to avoid infections. This is a task that should begin early in the life of the Deutsche Bracke, alongside other routine grooming requirement, such as tooth brushing and claw clipping. If not started early enough, an adult Deutsche Bracke may not tolerate these simple chores.

Famous Deutsche Brackes

There are no well-known Deutsche Bracke hounds yet, and they are seldom sighted outside of their native Germany. However, as with most breeds, there are plenty of quasi-famous Deutsche Brackes on Instagram, which can sometimes provide great insight to what it's like to own the breed.

Cross-Breeds

It is widely thought that the Westphalian Dachsbracke is a product of mixing the Deutsche Bracke with the Dachshund.

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