Kelb tal-kaċċa ta' Malta
The Identity of Malta
A breed that all maltese dog lovers not only hunters should be proud of, is the ‘Kelb tal-Kacca ta’ Malta’, which means Maltese Hunting Dog.
The breed of which is similar to the Bracco Italiano or even more likely the french ‘Braque of Saint Germain’, has few literature to be accounted for, and so it’s origin is still a mystery.
When one evaluates Malta’s different conquests throughout the decades, we can certainly look from the 11th Century when Normans conquered the Maltese islands in 1091, then in 1530 the King of Spain gave the islands to the Knights of St.John, one must realise that hunting was considered as an exclusive priviledge to the knights at that time and so during the 16th century hunting in Malta was already regulated.
The oldest document called ‘Bandu’ which had the same power as that of a present legal notice that could possibly be referring to the said breed is that of 1773 issued by the Grand Master Ximenes which allowed the use of the Braque dog for hunting. The breed has a very friendly character, intelligent, affectionate, clean and intensely loyal. A breed which is considered to be an all rounder within the hunting world, as it’s main purpouses are to hunt, flush and retrieve game. Through time the breed evolved and adapted very well to the Maltese geology and climate. Having short smooth coat to cope mild winters and harsh summers, and of a medium size body which are considered superb for the local small sized migratory game (Quail, Turtle Dove, Song Thrush, etc).
Having some apperance characteristics of Bracco’s, with large ears and ‘Braque’ type face, and often a pink coloured nose and flews. Colour shades can vary from light lemon to dark orange patches over a white coat. The lemon patched dogs are sometimes even refered to by locals as the ‘Kelb tal-Kacca ta’ Ghawdex’. Ghawdex is the Maltese word referring to the island of Gozo located North West of the Maltese islands. The lemon patched dogs are somewhat smaller in size and height respectively also, which some argue that it is the proper Kelb tal-Kacca. The Kelb tal-Kacca ta’ Malta, works very calm but covers all areas easily without any doubt, when one considers the concentrated amount of hunters (83 hunters in every square mile) and the small countryside areas found on the islands (152 square miles total area of the Maltese islands), the kelb tal-kacca is the ‘perfect’ hunting dog for our islands.
Throughout the years we have seen various photos of this breed which due to it’s once common abundance, the importance for safeguarding this particular breed was always inspired by the Maltese, of which we have always been proud of our cultural heritage and this pride extends to socio-cultural aspects, including hunting and dog breeding. At present the Kelb tal-Kacca ta’ Malta is not internationally recognized as a breed, thus is only found in Malta and very few in Australia as were exported by Maltese immigrants. Back in 2001 a postage stamp was published with an art work of the Kelb tal-kacca ta’ Malta.
The local breed population has been decreasing due to foreign gun dog breed imports. After establishing a club in 2012 for the intention to gather the owners and safeguard the breed, In 2014 the Federation for Hunting and Conservation Malta (FKNK), commisioned a study under the responsability of Dr. James Galea of whom is a dental surgeon with a passionate interest in gun dogsand veterinary Dr. Martin Debattista teamed up to carry out genetic research. A year later in July 2015 the study was evaluated by Italian Universities specializing in DNA research, after taking samples from 20 dog’s. The study clearly concluded that the breed is unique and indigenous to the Maltese islands, and so, one can no longer consider the Kelb tal-Kacca ta’ Malta to be a mongrel or crossbreed. Due to very close related genetic pool of the breed on the island, and also possible recent cross breeds with German Pointers, the project has now reached it’s final goals and a ‘Stud Book’ is in proccess of being compiled, which identifies stud dogs with very minimum genetic defects, of which unfortunately genetic structure problems are much visible to the breed.