Jacopo frequently filled his paintings of sacred or everyday scenes with animals, such as this sleek hunting dog, which he kept in the garden of the family house. This study from life shows Jacopo’s willingness to experiment with coloured chalks as an effective substitute for paint, and reproduce the fall of light on the dog’s glossy coat. Jacopo, along with his four sons, ran one of the largest painting workshops in Venice and its surroundings. The ceaseless activity of the Bassano workshop encouraged the preparation of figure studies, such as this one, which were repeatedly copied and reused in a number of compositions. A dog posed in a similar direction and in reverse appears in several Bassano studio paintings from the 1580s onwards. The drawing may have been one of those Jacopo kept pasted on to canvas rolls or stored in large portfolios in the family workshop.