Griffon Bleu de Gascogne

Linda Simon
Dr Linda Simon (MVB MRCVS, University College Dublin)
 
Photo of adult Griffon Bleu de Gascogne

An unusual and rare breed that is not often sighted outside of their native France, the Griffon Bleu de Gascogne is thought to be a cross between the Bleu de Gascogne and the Griffon Nivernais. They are a medium to large sized scent hound, and are a versatile hunter of all kinds of game, capable of hunting solo or alongside other dogs. Quick to learn, they are very trainable, though can be reserved with those they don’t know.

Tolerant of children and other animals, they are affectionate with their family and are increasingly being seen as companion animals, rather than just working hounds. Recognizable by their striking coat and unusual colourings, they are a handsome breed of dog, that will surely only become more popular with time.

About & History

The Griffon Bleu de Gascogne is a scent hound that originated in France from the mixing of a Bleu de Gascogne and, most likely, the Griffon Nivernais. Their breed name contains the area in which they originated: Gascogne. This is a region by the Pyrenees Mountains within the southwest of France.

There are several Bleu De Gascogne breeds, including the Grand Bleu de Gascogne, Petit Bleu de Gascogne and the Bassett Bleu de Gascogne. While the Griffon Bleu De Gascogne shares a similar coat colour and pattern to these breeds, it is unique as it has long, shaggy hair.

In 1920, the first Griffon Bleu de Gascogne breed standard was written in France. Not much has changed in terms of their physical appearance since then, except the dog tends to be somewhat taller today. This breed has traditionally been used for hunting game. They tend to mainly hunt wild boar in France and northern Spain, though can also be used to hunt other animals, such as hare and deer. Their versatility when working is a prized asset, and they can hunt either alone or in a pack. They have been raised as working dogs and have only recently found a place as a family pet, so are perhaps not as well adapted as are other breeds to life within the home.

There was a time when this breed came dangerously close to extinction, but it has just experienced a surge in popularity. Several have been exported internationally with their rarity making them more desirable.

Appearance

Griffon Bleu de Gascogne Large Photo
Alephalpha / Wikipedia.org

This is a medium to large breed dog that measure 48 to 57cms. They will weigh between 16 and 27kg when fully grown. Their coat colour is a mottled white and black and tends to take on a ‘blue hue’. Their fur is wiry and longer than the other Bleu de Gascogne breeds. They have characteristic well demarcated light brown eyebrow fur. The overall impression that this gives is called ‘quatreoeuille’ or ‘four eyes’. This same tan colour will also be seen on their legs, cheeks and ears, as well as under the tail.

Their ears are long and droopy, though not as long as many other hounds. They have, however, retained the classic pleading hound dog expression in their soulful brown eyes. Their body should be well proportioned and muscular, ending in a long tail that has a distinctive curve at the end.

Character & Temperament

Working dogs by nature, the Griffon Bleu de Gascogne loves to be out in the field hunting. They hunt by scent and are known for having a superb sense of smell. They are smart and compliant and are generally successful at their job.

Affectionate and gentle, this breed tends to get on well with other animals and children. They can, however, be excitable, so should be monitored with young children. Conversely, they can be shy and reserved with those they don’t know, so good socialisation and confidence building should begin from an early age. They also have a tendency to bark (loudly!) at strangers.

Trainability

Photo of Griffon Bleu de Gascogne puppy

Intelligent, though sensitive, the Griffon Bleu de Gascogne requires a patient trainer who works with them. They respond best to a calm trainer who uses positive reinforcement. They will instinctively excel in trail and scenting games and relish the opportunity to use their skills.

Health

They tend to be a healthy breed that live to the age of around twelve. There are a number of conditions to which it is thought that the Griffon Bleu de Gascogne is predisposed, although there is only anecdotal evidence available. These conditions include:

  • Allergies – Many dog breeds are affected with allergies and can potentially be allergic to a vast array of things, such as grasses, pollens, house dust mites and everyday foods. In some cases, determining what the dog is allergic to and avoiding it can solve the issue, however, in the majority of dogs, they will be allergic to more than one thing, and will need lifelong medication to manage their condition.
  • Bloat – This condition is also known as GDV, or Gastric Dilatation Volvulus. The stomach of affected animals will twist on itself, trapping its contents. Emergency surgery is the only way to fix the issue. The exact reason why this happens is unknown, though it is thought that it is more likely to occur when a dog has exercised vigorously on a full stomach.
  • Ear Infections – Any dog with long, pendulous ears will be more prone to ear infections. The moist, humid environment created within the ear canal is a breeding ground for various yeasts and bacteria. A dog with an ear infection will shake and scratch at their ear, and it will often emit a foul odour. Treatment consists of cleaning, and medicated drops. To prevent infections, the ears should be kept clean and dry at all times. Drying ears after swimming or bathing is essential.
  • Elbow Dysplasia – An orthopaedic condition affecting the dogs’ elbows. A variety of factors are though to play a role in the development of the disease, including genetics, diet, exercise and trauma. Treatment will vary but may include both medication and surgery. The prognosis of this condition is guarded, as many animals will go on to develop osteoarthritis in later life.
  • Hip Dysplasia – This is a condition that results from the malformation of the hip joints in the hind limbs. It is a relatively common condition seen in general practice, typically affecting larger dogs. This disease can progress to the point that the dog struggles to walk and can be in severe pain. It is critical that breeding parents are screened for this disease to reduce the incidence within the general population.

Exercise and Activity Levels

A working dog by nature, the Griffon Bleu de Gascogne enjoys being active and has a relatively high exercise threshold. They enjoy long hikes or jogs and appreciate any opportunity to hunt or participate in scent trials. Caution is advised when walking with the Griffon Bleu de Gascogne off the lead, as their hunting instincts may get the better of them if there are small animals around.

Failure to provide an adequate outlet for their energy will likely result in undesirable behaviours, such as destructiveness within the home. It is not recommended that this breed be kept in an apartment or similar small home, as they benefit from open spaces. Ideally, they would live in a rural setting.

Grooming

Relatively low maintenance, a Griffon Bleu de Gascogne will only need brushing once to twice a week. Many owners will never cut or shave their dog’s fur, in order to maintain their coat pattern all year long. Their coat can be plucked once or twice a year by a professional groomer.

Brushing teeth and clipping claws are tasks which should be presented to the Griffon Bleu de Gascogne as a pup to ensure acceptance. In general, teeth should be brushed daily or every other day, while claws will need clipping every few months.

As they possess the classic, long and droopy hound ears, the Griffon Bleu de Gascogne is more prone to ear infections than other breeds. Their ears should be checked regularly and should be completely dried after any swim or bath. The development of head shaking, ear scratching, or of a foul-smelling discharge in the ear will require a trip to the vet, as is likely indicative of an infection.

Famous Griffons Bleu de Gascogne

Rare today, there are no famous Griffon Bleu de Gascognes in existence just yet.

Cross-Breeds

There are no officially recognised or popular Griffon Bleu de Gascogne crosses.

User comments

There are no user comments for this listing.