Griffon Fauve de Bretagne

Peter Richards
Peter Richards (BVSc, MRCVS, University of Bristol)
Photo of adult Griffon Fauve de Bretagne

The Griffon Fauve de Bretagne is one of the oldest scenthound breeds from France. They were originally used for hunting all kinds of different animals, but one of their main purposes was hunting wolves. Wolves were considered a pest species, a danger to both people and livestock in Medieval France. However, their success as wolf hunters would ultimately spell their own demise. Once wolves were eradicated from Brittany, there was less demand of Griffon Fauve de Bretagne and the breed was pushed close to extinction. Thanks to the efforts of a breeding program in the 1940s, the breed was revived and returned to hunting, as well as family life.

Griffon Fauve de Bretagne are friendly, gentle and affectionate dogs. They are not aloof around strangers and are genuinely a friend to all. They make great family dogs since their patience and even temperament allow them to play with children without getting too excited. However, their ability to adapt to a domestic environment is linked to adequate exercise. Griffon Fauve de Bretagne are active dogs with great stamina. Everyday their energy reserves need to be expended on long walks or other activities so that when they get home they’re calm and ready to curl up and sleep.

About & History

In the early Medieval period, Brittany was not part of France. Instead, it was a small, largely independent kingdom ruled by the Dukes of Brittany. Like much of the aristocracy at the time, hunting was a favourite pastime of the Dukes and their families. These hunting dogs were the ancestors of the modern Griffon Fauve de Bretagne. They were used to hunt a wide variety of different game, from hares to deer to wolves. Their keen sense of smell made them popular hunting dogs so much so that when Francois I achieved the union of Brittany and France, the king kept a pack of Griffon Fauve de Bretagne himself.

The Griffon Fauve de Bretagne’s popularity couldn’t last forever. They had carved out a specific niche in the hunting world. Once the wolf population was eradicated from Brittany in the 19th century, the Griffon Fauve fell from favour and began to decline. In the 1940s, a group of breeders decided to revive the breed, culminating in the foundation of the Club de Fauve de Bretagne in 1949 by Marcel Pambrun. While the modern Griffon Fauve is still used as a hunting dog, mainly for boar, they have also found their way into people’s homes as a family pet. Outside of France, the breed remains rare and they are kept almost exclusively as family pets.

At some point in Bretagne history, the Griffon Fauve were split into three different breeds according to size. The largest, the Grand Fauve de Bretagne is now extinct. However, the smaller brother breed to the Griffon Fauve de Bretagne still exists in the Basset Fauve de Bretagne.


Griffon Fauve de Bretagne Large Photo

Griffon Fauve de Bretagne are medium-sized dogs with an adult height of 48 to 56cm and weight of 17 to 21 kg. Their facial structure and conformation are unremarkable. Their ears are long, oval and hang down to just below the jawline. The distinctive feature of a Griffon Fauve is the coat. Their fur is shaggy and coarse giving the dog a rough, rustic appearance. The hair is slightly longer on the eyebrows and muzzle giving them a bearded appearance. Feathering is also present on the limbs. Their coat is a tawny colour (fauve is the French word for tawny) but can vary in shade. Some Griffon Fauve have white markings on the chest, but aside from this, the coat colour is uniform.

Character & Temperament

Griffon Fauve de Bretagne are friendly, social dogs. Their friendliness is not limited to their family, and a well-socialised Griffon Fauve should greet strangers, as well as those they know. Children get on well with Griffon Fauve and they will keep each other entertained for hours. However, Griffon Fauve can be boisterous so might accidentally knock small children to the floor. Griffon Fauve are affectionate dogs that love to spend as much time around people as possible.

As well as a cuddly companion, Griffon Fauve are active dogs. Their working history is not far behind them, so they still enjoy a good romp in the woods. Their hunting instinct is still strong and they love to follow scents, often at the expense of listening to their owners. You’ll have to train your Griffon well to make sure that they remain under control and don’t get distracted by all the wonderful smells around them. They are an alert breed that keeps an eye on their surroundings at all times, making them excellent watchdogs.

Overall, the Griffon Fauve is a well-balanced breed. So long as they’re getting enough exercise, they are gentle and affectionate dogs with an easy-going attitude, patience and a sociable streak.


Griffon Fauve de Bretagne are slow learners. The breed is not unintelligent, but they are easily distracted and stubborn. Training a Griffon Fauve requires time and patience to get good results. Training sessions should be kept short and frequent so that you’re not constantly battling against the Griffon Fauve’s attention span. Positive reinforcement is the best tool to use with this breed. Their stubborn nature means that heavy handed methods will be met with resistance and eventual failure.

A successful training regime will make interacting with and exercising your Griffon much less stressful. As with other hunting dogs, Griffon Fauve can get carried away following a scent, so good recall is a must for this breed. Socialisation is also an important part of creating a well-rounded dog. Make sure that your puppy encounters as many new sights, strangers and dogs as possible. This will help them adapt to new situations as adults and respond calmly to new people and animals in their environment.


The Griffon Fauve de Bretagne is generally a healthy breed with a life expectancy of 10 to 13 years. Since the breed is rare, specific details about disease predisposition are difficult to come by. As a result, it’s probably worth taking into account a common condition, which affects dogs of a similar size.

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a condition in which the components of the hip joint don’t fit together correctly. This causes abnormal wearing of the cartilage within the hip joint, leading to arthritis and associated joint pain. Hip dysplasia is a disease of degrees with some individuals only experiencing mild discomfort in later life while the most severely affected individuals will have trouble working as early as 5 or 6 years old.

Since hip dysplasia is known to have a genetic component, hip scoring of breeding dogs is now commonplace to reduce the likelihood of producing affected puppies.

Exercise and Activity Levels

Griffon Fauve de Bretagne were bred as hunting dogs. This working background has left them with a great appetite for exercise and outdoor activity. They should be getting between 90 minutes and 2 hours of good quality exercise per day. Griffon Fauve have excellent stamina, so long walks are definitely on the menu. They would be happiest with off the lead exercise in a stimulating environment. Good recall is essential for your Griffon, as they will be off following scents before you know it.

Their stamina would also make them excellent jogging partners. Griffon Fauve would do best with access to at least a small or medium sized garden during the day where they can expend energy. This garden should be well fenced since Griffon Fauve will find and exploit any weaknesses to get out. If your Griffon Fauve is not getting enough exercise, they can become bored and frustrated, which will result in undesirable or destructive behaviour.


Griffon Fauve are low maintenance when it comes to grooming. Some recommend that their coat should be stripped twice a year, but this is down to owner preference. In general, Griffon Fauve only requires weekly brushing to remove loose hair. They don’t undergo seasonal shedding, but shed lightly throughout the year. Other aspects of grooming are also important. Nails should be checked every two weeks to make sure they’re not getting too long. More diligent owners might want to consider tooth brushing daily or every other day to improve oral health.

Famous Griffons Fauve de Bretagne

There are no modern examples of famous Griffon Fauve de Bretagne, despite their strong links with the Medieval French aristocracy.


There are no modern Griffon Fauve de Bretagne cross-breeds, however, the Basset Fauve de Bretagne is a similar breed that has a common heritage with the Griffon Fauve de Bretagne.

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