Artois Hound

Linda Simon
Dr Linda Simon (MVB MRCVS, University College Dublin)
Photo of adult Artois Hound
P.Marlow /

A medium-sized scent hound with a solid, muscular body, the Artois Hound has a handsome head, with drooping ears and deep brown eyes. Around 500 years old, this breed has hunted alongside French nobility, though fell from favour in the 1800s. Largely replaced by more ‘fashionable’ options, such as the English Foxhound, the Artois Hound came close to extinction on a number of occasions.

With a big heart and a naturally loyal personality, this dog can do well within active family homes and will bond strongly with their owner. They require a good amount of exercise and the appropriate training to ensure that they act calmly when inside.

About & History

The Artois Hound, or Chien d’Artois, is a breed that has been in existence for over 500 years, and probably stems from the Bloodhound. Developed in the north of France, this dog would have been mixed with a number of English hounds that crossed the channel over the years. There is even some speculation that the Artois Hound is the predecessor of the popular English Beagle.

A hunter through and through, the Artois Hound continues to carry out the same role today that it was originally bred to do. The Artois Hound is a scent hound that is particularly adept in the pursuit of hare, foxes and boar and tends to hunt in a small pack. Their robust bodies give these dogs the strength to hunt quickly through thick overgrowth, though they are equally fast over barren fields. They have distinctively high-pitched barks that they use to their advantage when working.

Perhaps it would be fair to say this this breed’s popularity peaked in the 17th and 18th century when they were a common choice of hunting hound among the nobility. The breed suffered hugely during the World Wars, and breed numbers were so low after the Second World War that many feared the Artois Hound extinct. Unlike their far more popular ‘cousin’, the Beagle, the Artois Hound remains largely unknown outside of France today. Within their native France, they are happy to assume both the roles of companion animal and hunting hound.


The attractive Artois Hound has a muscular and well-proportioned body that is medium in size. The head of this dog is rounded and wide and they have an obvious stop that leads to a good-sized muzzle. Typical of the hound dog, they have pendulous ears covered in soft fur that are set high on their skull and should reach their nose. Their wide, brown eyes give the Artois Hound a soulful, pensive expression.

Their nose must be black and has wide-open nostrils. Their upper lip is expansive, often completely covering the lower lip when viewed from the side. Their thick necks are both long and strong and may have a slight dewlap. Their back is wide and muscular, while they have well-sprung ribs and a deep chest. Their straight limbs are lean and powerful, allowing for a nimble gait. Their tails are long and are often described as being carried in ‘a sickle fashion’.

The coat of the Artois Hound is tri-colour, i.e. white, black and dark fawn. They may have a mantle or large patches of colour. Their thick coat offers them protection from the environment when working. Individual dogs will measure from 21 to 23 inches with weights in the region of 62 to 66lbs.

Character & Temperament

Primarily a hunter, the Artois Hound has a strong instinct to scent and pursue prey. Their well-developed sense of smell will supersede all of their other senses and they will prioritise the hunt over everything. They are noted for both their stamina and speed – two traits which ensure a high level of success when working. While it’s true that this breed has typically been used in small packs, they are undeniably independent. They tackle every task set to them head-on and with courage.

Despite their dedication to the field, the Artois Hound can make a well-balanced family pet in the right scenario. They will happily dedicate themselves to their family and are known for being faithful. As long as they have the opportunity to burn off their excessive levels of energy, they can behave calmly and with respect towards all family members. They enjoy bonding with children and will happily play a number of games with them, though may ‘play too hard’ for younger children.

While one would assume that the Artois Hound would make a good watch dog because of their loyalty and piercing bark, it is generally accepted that they fall short of this task, tending to lack the territorial behaviour required.

Their strong prey drive makes the Artois Hound a bad choice for a multi-pet household, although they can get along with other dogs that they have been introduced to from an early age. Owners need to be particularly conscientious of walking this breed off the lead or if allowing them access to an un-gated garden, as once the Artois Hound catches the scent of a smaller animal, there is little an owner can do to stop the inevitable chase.


Photo of Artois Hound puppy
P.Marlow /

Training an Artois Hound can be a task and a half, and they do not lend themselves to most traditional training methods. This smart dog has a mind of its own and can be frustratingly stubborn. They do best in the hands of a trainer that knows what they are doing and can communicate clear signals and a consistent message. If possible, the member of the family to which this dog has most closely bonded should take on this role. Best results will come from short and interesting sessions that end in plenty of treats and praise.

The best time to shape the mind of an Artois Hound is when they are maturing, as this is when they are most responsive and most open to accepting that they are not the alpha dog in the relationship. An owner that adopts an adult Artois Hound that has not been adequately trained may struggle to gain control.


A strong and resilient breed of dog, most Artois Hounds live healthy lives. The average lifespan for this dog is 12-14 years old. Potential health conditions include:

Ear Infections

Many hounds are afflicted with chronic ear infections due to the humid and dark environments created within their ear canals that are ideal ‘mini-incubators’ for micro-organisms. A red, itchy ear that smells bad should be assessed by a vet and will likely benefit from medicated drops containing anti-fungals, antibiotics and steroids.

Hip Dysplasia

A condition that results in progressive lameness and pain, hip dysplasia can be a devastating diagnosis for any dog, though for a working dog in particular. It is prudent that affected dogs are neutered to ensure they do not pass on their faulty genes.

Exercise and Activity Levels

If you are searching for a breed that you can enjoy a leisurely stroll with you every now and then, or one to accompany you on a short walk around the block, it is best to look elsewhere! With very high exercise requirements, the Artois Hound needs a committed owner and a certain type of lifestyle. Ideally, this breed would be housed with a family that actively hunt, have plenty of land and a large home. If hunting is just not an option, a one-hour jog or hike would be a good alternative.

Mentally stimulating games, such as puzzles and scent work, are essential for the sanity of the Artois Hound. Simply giving them access to a yard will not suffice, as their intelligence demands some form of mental stimulation. A demotivated Artois Hound will very probably develop nuisance behaviours, including inappropriate barking and destructiveness within the home or garden.


This smooth-coated hound needs minimal grooming, and a weekly brush will suffice. Over-bathing is not advised, and these dogs only really need a bath if they have gotten especially dirty or smelly after being outside. They should have their large ears dried after they get wet, and the canals should be cleaned on a weekly basis.

Famous Artois Hounds

There are no celebrity Artois Hounds and they are even scarce on popular sites like Instagram where most breeds have somewhat of a celebrity to follow. But for the Artois Hound, he is obviously far too busy exploring the great outdoors to enjoy any limelight at this time.


Throughout their history, this breed has been mixed with other hounds. Currently, with such small breed numbers, it is not surprising that breeders’ efforts are going into maintaining the purity of the Artois Hound rather than out-breeding and creating cross-breeds at this moment in time.

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