Blue Picardy Spaniel

Linda Simon
Dr Linda Simon (MVB MRCVS, University College Dublin)
 
Photo of adult Blue Picardy Spaniel
Pleple2000 / Wikipedia.org

A medium-sized French hunting Spaniel that was established just over 100 years ago, the Blue Picardy Spaniel has traditionally been used to flush and retrieve birds as a gun dog. Best known for their beautiful, blue fur, the Blue Picardy Spaniel is otherwise almost indistinguishable from their close relative the Picardy Spaniel, who has a brown and white coat.

The lovable personality and gentle nature of this breed has meant that their popularity has increased over time and that they have adapted well to life as a companion animal. More people outside of France are beginning to recognise the breed and they have recently been exported to the USA and Canada.

About & History

The Blue Picardy Spaniel, or Espagneul Bleu de Picardie, is closely related to the Picardy Spaniel and the English Setter, as well as the Gordon Setter. They are a descendant of the French Spaniel, which is a hunting dog that was developed within France during the 14th century and is the forefather of many similar breeds.

Within France, hunting was rife in the early 1900s, and at this time, English hunters would pass through Picardy with their hunting dogs – many of which were Blue Belton English Setters and other closely related British breeds. As these dogs would have to stay for months due to quarantine rules, they were often mated with the local French hunting Spaniels. The unique coat colour produced by this mix gave rise to the name of the Blue Picardy Spaniel. These dogs traditionally hunted birds by flushing them out for the hunters to capture them. Blue Picardy Spaniels are capable of hunting in packs or as individuals – an attractive trait for those hunters who did not have the funds for several dogs.

In 1938, the Blue Picardy Spaniel was recognised as a separate breed from the Picardy Spaniel, rather than just a variant distinguished by fur colouration. The UKC have accepted the Blue Picardy Spaniel within their gun dog group since 1996.

While more commonly seen within its native France, in recent years, the Blue Picardy Spaniel has been exported to countries, such as Canada and the USA. Overseas, they are particularly valued for their ability to make good family pets, as well as their working ability.

Appearance

Blue Picardy Spaniel Large Photo
Pleple2000 / Wikipedia.org

The Blue Picardy Spaniel is described as ‘built for work’ within their breed standard. They should thus be well proportioned with no exaggerated features and with a lean and athletic body. They possess a wide head and long muzzle with hanging lips. Their large, dark nose should have wide nostrils to allow for better scenting ability. Their dark eyes have a gentle and relaxed expression. Their characteristic pendulous ears are long and covered in dense, silky fur. All limbs are muscular, ending in round feet.

Their fur is medium-length and wavy and feathering is apparent on the thighs, tail and feet. This breed is perhaps best known for its stunning coat colour: a black/grey speckling, which gives off a blue hue with black patches in varying locations. This coat colour differentiates them from the Picardy Spaniel – an entirely different breed of dog.

Breed members measure between 57cm and 60cm and weigh between 20kg and 27kg, though females may be smaller than this.

Character & Temperament

Broadly speaking, the Blue Picardy Spaniel is an intelligent dog that works well as a hunter and makes a superb family pet. Mild-mannered and docile, they get along with children particularly well.

One of the most attractive traits of the Blue Picardy Spaniel is the level of affection and respect it has for its family. A very people-orientated pet, they crave human company and form close bonds with all members of their family. They are not afraid to show their affection and enjoy being physically close to people. Caution should be taken that the Blue Picardy Spaniel does not become overly reliant on the constant company of their owners as this can lead to separation anxiety whenever the dog has to be left alone. The love that they have for people means that the Blue Picardy Spaniel would make an awful guard dog, more likely to lick an intruder’s face than frighten them away!

A well-respected hunting Spaniel, the Blue Picardy Spaniel is a versatile worker, capable of working on a variety of terrains, both flushing out and retrieving its game. This breed is very responsive to its master and is an instinctive hunter and retriever. As mentioned, Blue Picardy Spaniels are content to work either alone or alongside other dogs and, as such, are very tolerant of their fellow canines. With regards other animals, they can be taught to co-exist with smaller animals, including cats. As Blue Picardy Spaniels never attack or kill their prey, they tend to live alongside other animals more harmoniously than most hunting breeds of dog.

Trainability

Training a Blue Picardy Spaniel can be an enjoyable task, as they have a versatile nature and are always keen to please. It is generally said that they are easy to train, particularly if training them for anything hunting related.

A perfect candidate for obedience training, agility, flyball and more, the Blue Picardy Spaniel is a true athlete who lives to please its master.

Health

Assumed to be a healthy dog thanks to their history as a working animal and the fact that they have not been bred to have any exaggerated features, the Blue Picardy Spaniel will usually live to around 13 years of age. There are no health studies to speak of, and as the breed is relatively new, any discussions regarding their health are based on owner’s experiences and comparisons to closely related breeds. The following conditions are worth mentioning:

Ear Infections

Very much prone to the development of ear infections (as is any dog with long, floppy and furry ears), the Blue Picardy Spaniel benefits from an educated and dedicated owner that is willing to maintain their ears in good condition throughout their lifetime.

Ectropion

An eversion of the lower eyelid is called ‘ectropion’. As the eyelid does not fit snugly over the eye, the local tissues and structures can become dry, irritated and inflamed. Inevitably, this will result in localised pain.

Some dogs will have a visible tear staining and may also paw at their face or rub it along the ground. A minor surgery can correct the deformity, though even after correction, affected dogs should not be bred from, as there is a known genetic component to the condition.

Canine Hip Dysplasia

A disease that is frequently diagnosed in medium-sized and larger dogs, hip dysplasia can cause an animal lifelong discomfort and mobility problems.

Exercise and Activity Levels

An active breed, the Blue Picardy Spaniel benefits from at least an hour of exercise each day. They are content to run alongside a jogging companion or to be taken on a long hike. They equally enjoy expending their energy by participating in fun activities, such as chasing games or Frisbee.

Without adequate exercise, it is likely that the Blue Picardy Spaniel will become bored and it is possible that they may act out. Typical behaviours can include hyperactivity and destruction of doors and furniture within the home. It is essential that owners recognise that these actions do not reflect a naughty dog, but rather an under-stimulated one.

Grooming

The glossy coat of the Blue Picardy Spaniel can be achieved by brushing it every other day. A high-quality diet will also help with general coat sheen. Professional grooming is not often required, though some owners will choose to have their dogs clipped for the summer months.

Special attention must be paid to both the feet and the ears of the Blue Picardy Spaniel. Fur grows between their toes and needs to be teased and trimmed regularly to avoid uncomfortable matting. Their ears require constant surveillance, as they are prone to developing ear infections, also known as otitis externa. The first signs of an ear infection are easy to spot. The dog will shake its head and may rub its ear on the floor.

They may resent their ear being examined and it will be red and painful. The ear will often emit a bad smell and debris and dark wax mat be seen within the ear canal. At this stage, an appointment should be scheduled to see a vet as soon as possible, as the sooner an infection is addressed, the better the odds that the therapy will be effective.

Famous Blue Picardy Spaniels

Kate Bosworth, the American actress, owns a Blue Picardy Spaniel called Happy.

Cross-Breeds

There are no well-established Blue Picardy Spaniel crosses, though the breed is itself a cross of the Picardy Spaniel and the English Setter and Gordon Setter.

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