Picardy Spaniel

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

A medium-sized hunting dog, the Picardy Spaniel possesses the typical silky ears, expressive eyes and sturdy body of other working Spaniels. Unlike the closely related Blue Picardy Spaniel who has a blue roan coat, the Picardy Spaniel has a brown roan coat with tan markings.

The Picardy Spaniel was traditionally used as a hunting dog by French nobility and is still used as a gun dog today to hunt and retrieve water fowl, as well as small prey, such as hare. This breed is also welcome within the family home and is a popular pet within France; well respected for having a sweet nature and known for being a sort of ‘nanny’ figure to young children. Owners should not under-estimate the exercise requirements of this breed, however, and must be prepared to bring them on long hikes and provide them with plenty of jobs to keep the occupied throughout the day.

About & History

The dog from which the Blue Picardy Spaniel descends, the Picardy Spaniel is often referred to as one of the oldest Spaniels of all time. Bred to be a versatile hunter, the Picardy Spaniel has always been used as a working dog and has the athletic body and weatherproof coat to prove it. Whether hunting in wooded land or wetlands, the Picardy Spaniel is known for the ease with which it expertly traverses a variety of terrains. Both a gun dog and a retriever, it happily hunts a number of wildlife, including snipe and pheasant, as well as rabbits and duck.

A dog with a noble history, it was mainly the upper classes and royalty that worked the Picardy Spaniel, and the dogs and their masters have been depicted in beautiful artwork throughout the centuries. The breed’s place in society dramatically shifted after the French revolution when they suddenly became accessible to all classes of people. While the Picardy Spaniel was a popular choice of hunting dog in the past, with the importation of a high number of European (particularly English) hunting dogs in the early 1900s, they began to fall out of fashion and their population size decreased dramatically.

Along with the Blue Picardy Spaniel and the Pont-Audemer, the Picardy Spaniel forms part of the Club des Espagneuls de Picardie et de Pont-Audemer, which was initially founded in 1921 and is often abbreviated to CEPPA. The UKC have recognised the Picardy Spaniel within their ‘Gun Dog’ group since 1996 and the breed has also been accepted within the FCI in their ‘Pointing Dogs’ group.


Picardy Spaniel Large Photo
Pleple2000 / Wikipedia.org

Very similar in appearance to the better-known English Setter, the Picardy Spaniel is smaller than its cousin from across the pond. It is easily distinguished from the similar Blue Picardy Spaniel by its coat colour, which is brown rather than blue.

The overall appearance of the Picardy Spaniel is that of a well-built and powerful dog that has a wide back and strong limbs. Their skull is rounded and they have a long and tapering muzzle, which contains a set of teeth that must meet in a scissors bite. While their lips hang a little, they could not be described as drooping. Their friendly eyes are an amber colour, while their nose is a light brown. They possess the typical pendulous Spaniel ears that are covered in glossy, crimped fur. As with the rest of their body, their neck is well muscled. It leads to a powerful body with a deep chest. Their long limbs end in relatively large feet that have interdigital fur (a nuisance for trapping debris when outside). Their tail is feathered and reaches to just above the hocks.

The coat of the Picardy Spaniel is one of its defining features and should be dense with a slight waviness to it. The fur colour is known as ‘brown roan’, which is a particular speckling of white with brown fur. Brown patches are distributed throughout the body and there is always a brown patch above their tail. Tan patches are typically found on the face and limbs. Neither white patches nor black fur are permitted on the coat.

A medium size, adult dogs typically stand between 55cm and 60cm, though males may reach heights of up to 62cm. The average Picardy Spaniel weighs between 20kg and 25kg.

Character & Temperament

Well-loved for their gentle nature and adaptability, it is little wonder that the Picardy Spaniel has made a name for itself as a house pet. While best known for their hunting ability, they are a versatile breed that can be equally content pursuing other activities and socialising with both people and animals. With a reputation for being good with children, the laid-back Picardy Spaniel will tolerate even young family members and tends to remain relaxed and docile even around the rowdiest of toddlers!

With a natural desire to hunt, Picardy Spaniels are born to work and enjoy nothing more than being given the opportunity to perform the task at which they excel. They are happy in the company of other dogs but care should be taken when mixing with smaller pets, who may be innocently mistaken for prey.


Photo of Picardy Spaniel puppy
Rachelle Vafidis / Wikipedia.org

This intelligent and hard-working dog is a pleasure to train and makes life easy for their trainer with their willingness to work and naturally good memory. They respond very well to practically any task set to them and are always eager to learn something new. Their zest for life only becomes a drawback when an owner fails to provide them with sufficient stimulation or training, which will usually result in a bored and frustrated Picardy Spaniel.

When out on the hunt, the Picardy Spaniel will work in close connection with their master and needs little in the way of instruction. They are an ideal partner for the novice hunter and will quite happily show them the way!


With a respectable lifespan of between 12 to 14 years, the Picardy Spaniel generally enjoys good health. Having been used for centuries as a working Spaniel, the fittest and hardiest of the breed would have been allowed to pass on their genes, allowing for a resilient gene pool. A couple of conditions to be on the watch for include:

Ear Infections

Unsurprisingly, the Picardy Spaniel suffers with a tendency towards developing ear infections during its lifetime. While the characteristic Spaniel ears are beautiful to look at, they form a natural petri dish for infection. The humid ear canal traps moisture and heat, resulting in an overgrowth of a number of pathogenic yeast and bacteria.

The thick, insulating fur only adds insult to injury, increasing the temperature within the canal. Owners can attempt to reduce the likelihood of an infection setting in by keeping the inside of the ear as clean and dry as possible at all times. While the Picardy Spaniel naturally loves the water, they should only be allowed in if an owner is prepared to thoroughly dry their ears afterwards.


Picardy Spaniels anecdotally gain weight easily, particularly those that are not used for hunting. While a propensity to being over-weight is not necessarily a ‘disease’, an overweight dog is more prone to developing heart disease, joint issues and certain cancers. Owners should aim for a lean dog and any obese Picardy Spaniels should be put on a strict diet and exercise programme if their quality of life is to be maintained.

Exercise and Activity Levels

As expected of any hunting dog, the Picardy Spaniel has certain exercise needs and should not be kept within an inactive household. While they can adapt to living in small homes, this will only work if they have ample outdoor access and an activity-packed day. In an ideal world, this dog would live in a rural setting and be allowed to hunt from time to time. Their garden should have a fence in order to avoid them setting off on an adventure after a tempting scent or sight.

The Picardy Spaniel has traditionally hunted in marshes and wetlands and could be described as a ‘water baby’, as they will accept any swimming opportunity offered to them.


The thick coat of the Picardy Spaniel should be brushed at least twice a week, focusing on the ears, limbs and tails to prevent matting and tangles. The ears of the Picardy Spaniel require special attention, benefitting from weekly cleaning with a veterinary-approved ear cleaner.

Famous Picardy Spaniels

Despite their handsome good looks, there are no celebrity Picardy Spaniels just yet.


The Picardy Spaniel crossed with the English Setter gives us the Blue Picardy Spaniel.

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