Interview with Lynne Bowley – Breeder of Gunsyn Gundogs
Where do you live? How many years in dogs? How many years as a breeder?
Lynne Bowley: The Gunsyn Kennel is based in Scotland, UK. My kennel was established in 1988, originally with Weimaraners, a Saluki, and in 2000, I introduced my first Bracco Italiano to the gang. I have been selectively breeding since 1993, only breeding occasionally for quality not quantity. I am a Royal Kennel Club Assured Breeder of Excellence.
What is your kennel name? How many dogs do you currently keep?
Lynne Bowley: My kennel name is Gunsyn Gundogs. I currently have five Bracchi Italiani (two males and three females):
- Sh. Ch. Gunsyn Everywhere
- Sh. Ch. Lexus Pogonskiego Wzgorja By Gunsyn
- Gunsyn Ginspiration
- Gunsyn Gineva
- Sobers Cosmica With Gunsyn
Which show dogs from the past have been your noteworthy winners?
Lynne Bowley: My most noteworthy winner to date has undoubtedly been Sh. Ch. Gunsyn Aafia. She was the first-ever Champion in the breed in the UK and is still the current breed record holder. “Eva” won Best of Breed at Crufts in 2017 and 2019, and Reserve BOB Crufts 2018. She was my heart dog—a dog of a lifetime. Sadly, Eva never produced any litters, but I had two amazing litters from her older sister Ch. Gunsyn Pomata.
Which have been your most influential sires and dams?
Lynne Bowley: Pomona Dei Vicini Del Monastero At Gunsyn x Hidalgo Di Cacciola produced two significant litters for me, producing the iconic Aafia and brother Albarari and Pomata, who also won Best of Breed at Crufts in 2014. Pomata also produced two litters, one by Polceveras Romeo At Bonario and one by Multi. Ch. UK Sh. Ch. Polceveras Ercole. This was the first Ch. to Ch. mating ever done in the UK. These matings produced several champions, including Int. Ch. Ir. Ch. UK Ch. Gunsyn Sesto Elemento With Brackenmist JW, Sh. Ch. Gunsyn Everywhere, and Sh. Ch. Gunsyn Tusk, who was Best of Breed Crufts 2022.
Can you talk a bit about your facilities? Where are your puppies whelped? How are they raised?
Lynne Bowley: Gunsyn is a small family-run kennel, not a commercial kennel, and I only breed every couple of years. My dogs live in the house and naturally whelp in the house. Puppies are raised in the house environment with lots of outdoor access too. They have a play area separate from the big dogs, but they also run in the garden with them at times to allow them to get used to being among others. Bracchi are such a sensitive breed that as soon as they are able, I take them out and about in the car/van to visit vets, shops, etc., early. Ongoing socialization is essential in this breed.
What is your “process” for selecting Show Puppies? Performance Puppies? Field Puppies?
Lynne Bowley: I tend to stand puppies up quite regularly from about 4 weeks onwards and use a mirror to stand them in front of to see their shape and balance. I also watch them playing and moving outside to see their natural stance and confidence. I also have bird wings on a fishing line and use these to mimic a bird fluttering on the ground to encourage the stalk and point. This is a great way to identify the natural hunters and pointers!
Do you compete in Companion Events? Performance Events?
Lynne Bowley: I do like to work my Bracchi when time allows and they all undergo gundog training. I like to compete in working tests when I can too. Ch Gunsyn Pomata gained her show gundog working certificate in 2016; another first for the breed in the UK.
Are Field Trials or parent club Hunt Tests important to you?
Lynne Bowley: I think it is important to work the breed to maintain its natural instincts and heritage—it is a Hunt, Point, Retrieve Gundog first and foremost, and without doubt, the field is where they are happiest and where you will see the fabulous fast trot.
Are there any health-related concerns in your breed? Any special nutritional needs?
Lynne Bowley: Sadly, the Bracco is not the healthiest of breeds and all dogs should be hip and elbow scored as well as eye tested. In addition, we are concerned about kidney disease and amyloidosis. I would urge all Bracchi owners to have their dogs SDMA tested along with a urinalysis annually. In the US, you are very lucky to have Amanda Inman who is actively researching for the DNA marker of this potentially fatal condition in an attempt to eliminate it from the breed. Bracchi are very
susceptible to ear infections and some experience quite debilitating skin conditions too. You may also see interdigital cysts or furuncles in between the toes.
Do you think your breed is supported by a sufficient number of preservation breeders?
Lynne Bowley: I guess by preservation breeders you mean people who understand the breed, its form and function as well as health, and who strive to breed healthy animals that fit the Breed Standard as well as being fit for function. I can’t comment in the US about this, but certainly in the UK there is a small number of people who are passionate and knowledgeable about the breed, having its welfare at the foremost of their breeding plans. I think the UK breeders have done a huge amount to improve the health and conformation of the breed in general. I hope going forward that all breeders respect the original Breed Standard and function; it would be a very sad day to see the Bracco molded into a generic HPR Gundog, losing the key and unique features of Head, Outline, and Movement.
Is your breed well suited to be a family dog? Who are the best candidates to own your breed?
Lynne Bowley: Is the breed suited to be a family dog? Yes, he is. The Bracco thrives in a busy household, but he is not a fashion accessory, and a lifetime commitment to training and exercise are essential. You certainly can’t be house or garden proud with a Bracco! They do manage to cover most surfaces in slobber and dig massive holes in your garden, managing to drag the soil indoors with their huge feet. Bracchi thrive in company and certainly cope better living indoors with a family rather than in a kennel. The ideal home is with people who have done their homework and research; they will be time rich and have endless patience but also a sense of humor! The Bracco is best-suited to a home where they are given the opportunity to demonstrate and use their natural hunting instinct—in a controlled way, not simply free-running.
What is the biggest misconception about your breed? What is your breed’s best-kept secret?
Lynne Bowley: The biggest misconception, in my opinion, is that they are easy to train! Braccho pups generally love to learn and will lap up training, lulling their owners into a false sense of security. Once the nose switches on, look out! That lovely, obedient puppy off-lead may just test your patience to the limit, preferring to use his newfound scenting talent than listen to any recall whistle. “Nose on and ears off” is common practice in the breed. They will certainly test your stop whistle control.
If you could share a comment or two with judges of your breed, what would you like to say to them?
Comments for Judges of the Bracco: Please look for breed type, in particular, the key features. The Unique Head, narrow, chiseled, divergent with a large nose. The Outline, overall appearance almost square, topline slopes down from raised withers to middle of the back, without dipping, rising slightly to a broad croup. Movement, powerful drive from hindquarters, extended fast trot, head carriage above topline.
Do you have any words of wisdom to pass along to newer breeders?
A Plea to Newer Breeders: Please aim to learn about the unique characteristics of this HPR breed, understand the history and Breed Standard, and question yourself, “Why are you breeding? Will the combination improve the breed?” Make certain that you health test all breeding stock, including kidney function, and ask experienced people in the breed for advice on pedigrees and what is behind the dogs you have or propose to breed from. Be honest with yourself about your intentions and strive to preserve the Bracco in its true form; it is not a generic HPR Gundog.
For a bit of fun, what’s the most amusing thing you’ve ever experienced with a Sporting Dog?
Lynne Bowley: Life with Bracchi is always amusing. They are clowns, after all, especially the males. One of the most amusing things I have ever experienced with a Bracco was when my first Bracco, “Luigi,” launched himself onto the crotch of a young man at a show who happened to be walking past.
Unbeknownst to everyone watching, Luigi had actually launched himself at the bum bag full of liver cake, which the man happened to have dangling from his waist. The poor guy was unable to move, as Luigi was attached to his bum bag and was not going to give it up. Needless to say, the crowd was very amused at the situation, as I was wrestling with Luigi to release the bum bag in between the guy’s legs! No one was hurt, in case you are wondering, but it was extremely funny to watch, and the young guy could also see the funny side of it and what it must have looked like to others!
I have loved and lost eight Bracchi, eight Weimaraners, and one Saluki over the past 35 years in dogs, and I wouldn’t change any one of them. I just wish several of my Bracchi had reached a ripe-old age, but tragedy has taken four of them far too soon. They are a precious breed and they have certainly stolen my heart. Let’s all work together to promote and preserve this quirky, unique, fun-loving breed for many years to come.