Petit Bleu de Gascogne

Linda Simon
Dr Linda Simon (MVB MRCVS, University College Dublin)
Photo of adult Petit Bleu de Gascogne
Katarzyna Bujko /

The dark brown eyes, slate blue coat and pendulous ears of the Petit Bleu de Gascogne will be very familiar to any fans of the original Grand Bleu de Gascogne dog. Indeed, the two share many physical and character traits, differing only by their size and the prey that they are best suited to hunt. The Petit Bleu de Gascogne breed was deliberately bred by those French hunters who wanted to hunt rabbits and hares rather than boar and deer.

Though commonly kept as a pet nowadays, the Petit Bleu de Gascogne retains its hunting instincts and still has superb scenting abilities and the endurance to track for miles. Despite this, they can make wonderful and affectionate family members, as long as their owner dedicates plenty of time to keeping them entertained and are strict with their training.

About & History

While the Petit Bleu de Gascogne dogs are indeed smaller versions of the Bleu de Gascogne dogs, they were not actually named "petit" (the French word for small) because of their size. They are a medium to large sized hound, and in fact, the "petit" refers to the size of the game hunted by the breed.

Its closest ancestor, the Grand Bleu de Gascogne, is a French hound typically used to hunt large game, such as wild boar and deer. When the need arose for a similar dog that specialised in smaller game, such as rabbits, the Petit Bleu de Gascogne took on that role. They were never meant to be a substitute for the Bleu de Gascogne, and instead, were used alongside them. Both breed variants hunt successfully in packs.

While it is generally assumed that smaller variants of the Bleu de Gascogne were used in the creation of the breed, it has been theorised that smaller French hounds were also used. Developed in around the 16th century, the population size of the Petit Bleu de Gascogne took a hit during both the French Revolution and both of the World Wars. While they remain quite well known in France, they are not popular in the rest of the world. In fact, they are not largely recognised internationally, though are official members of the UKC, having joined their scent hound group in 1991.


Petit Bleu de Gascogne Large Photo
Katarzyna Bujko /

The only physical feature that separates the Petit Bleu de Gascogne from the original Bleu de Gascogne is its size. Males will measure between 56cm and 61cm, while the shorter females measure from 51 to 56cm. Typical breed members weigh from 18 to 22kg. They are often described as being 'well-proportioned', so have not suffered from being 'shrunk down' through the years.

A hunting dog through and through, the Petit Bleu de Gascogne must have a muscular and powerful body. Their head is long and slim, carrying low-set, slim ears that reach the tip of their large, black nose. They have the much-loved eyes of the hound dog: dark brown and deep-set, with a pitiful expression. The droopy skin around their mouth adds to this ‘sad’ look on their face. Their sturdy limbs carry a long torso and prominent chest. Their endearing tail is carried in a saber like fashion.

Their dense coat is one of their trademark features, and while described as 'blue' is actually a particular mix of black and white that gives off a blue hue. Several specific markings are described in their breed standard, including tan markings above their eyelids and a white blaze on their face.

Character & Temperament

A tenacious hunter, the Petit Bleu de Gascogne will stalk their prey with quiet determination. Their stamina is impressive, and they tend to hunt at their own pace, not taking off at a great speed, but rather conserving their energy, determined to catch up to their prey eventually. Within France, their melodic bark when on the trail, as well as their superb scenting ability, have set them apart from other hunting breeds throughout the years.

The well-balanced nature of the Petit Bleu de Gascogne has meant that they can potentially adapt nicely to family life. While individual personalities will vary to some degree, it would be unusual for a breed member to be overly shy or aggressive, and most are downright friendly. Indeed, they have worked closely with humans and animals over the centuries and tend to tolerate others well. It is widely accepted that they should not be homed with smaller pets, such as rabbits and guinea pigs, as they are never likely to accept them as family members – instead, seeing them as prey.

Many breed members are just too laid-back and accepting to make good watchdogs; that is providing they get enough exercise. When bored, it is not unheard of for the Petit Bleu de Gascogne to wreak havoc in a home and howl non-stop. While some may describe their vocal abilities as 'musical', others may not be so kind.


Often described as difficult to train, the Petit Bleu de Gascogne is an independent soul that doesn’t always appreciate being told what to do. Undeniably smart, they can pick up on training tasks quickly; provided they are in the mood to do so. Positive reinforcement and firm techniques will be your ally and should help keep these crafty canines on your side. While they are known for their determination, this characteristic tends to be reserved for tasks that they enjoy, such as hunting. When it comes to their training, short and interesting sessions are key to reduce any lack of focus.

As with many dog breeds, exposing the Petit Bleu de Gascogne to a variety of animals and people from an early age will ensure they develop into well-socialised and confident adult dogs.


Generally living to around 11 years of age, the Petit Bleu de Gascogne enjoys good health, and does not have many genetic predispositions. This is a fact that is widely publicised by proud breed fanciers. This good health is likely due to a combination of their genetic diversity and the fact that they have been used as working dogs for so long. Nevertheless, a prudent owner will be on the watch for the following conditions, which may be seen during the dog’s lifetime, including:


The deep chest of the Petit Bleu de Gascogne means it is more likely than most to develop this condition whereby the stomach expands and may twist over on itself. Signs will be obvious immediately, and can include non-productive retching, panting and a visibly large belly. This is not a condition that can be treated at home, and the dog must be brought to an emergency vet clinic for treatment straight away.

Ear Infections

When you combine the large, droopy hound dog ears of the Petit Bleu de Gascogne, with their love of nature and the outdoors, it is only a matter of time before they develop an ear infection. Getting ears wet when swimming and the collection of debris within the ears, can both lead to otitis externa.

Exercise and Activity Levels

The Petit Bleu de Gascogne was built to work and has medium to high exercise requirements. They absolutely need access to land to wander on and are not suited to life in small dwellings.

Great care must be taken when outside, as the Petit Bleu de Gascogne will always obey his nose. A secure and high fence is needed to prevent any escape attempts from the garden. Walking off lead is always a risk, as even the most highly trained Petit Bleu de Gascogne is likely to give chase to a tempting rabbit or squirrel they scent. However, this dog loves the opportunity to have the freedom to amble and sniff and should be allowed to do so if the environment allows.


The Petit Bleu de Gascogne does not require much intervention in the line of grooming. Their short coat should be brushed down once or twice a week. Their ears, paws and coat should be checked for any stickers or brambles after a foray outside.

The biggest grooming commitment when it comes to the Petit Bleu de Gascogne involves their ears. Once or twice monthly cleaning is necessary to remove waxy debris and keep their ear canals clear. Ear canals should also be thoroughly dried after any excursion involving water.

Famous Petit Bleus

There are no Petit Bleu de Gascogne dogs in the limelight just yet but we are particularly fond of the gorgeous Baron from Instagram who lives in Poland with his humans.


There are no well-known Petit Bleu de Gascogne crosses.

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