Pippa Elliott
Dr Pippa Elliott (BVMS MRCVS, University of Glasgow)
Photo of adult Poitevin

The Poitevin is a scent hound, bred in the French region of the same name as a hunting dog. His heritage goes back to the 17th century, where his job was to hunt down wolves and see off nuisance wildlife. In the present day, he is considered a rare breed and little found outside his native region of France.

The Poitevin is the canine equivalent of an endurance athlete. His rangy, muscular physique means he thinks nothing of following a scent and traveling up to 60 kilometres a day. In fact, it is his physicality and mental toughness that dictate many of his qualities. This breed is happiest when part of a pack.

A good, honest working dog, he’s poorly suited to apartment life or long periods of inactivity. Indeed, he has a strong hunting instinct and can’t differentiate family pets from prey, meaning the two should not be kept together. Neither is he a good candidate for a family with young children. In short, the Poitevin is at his best when kept in groups for hunting or working.

About & History

In the 1690s, the Marquis de Layrre looked around and decided no one single dog breed existed, which had all the attributes he wanted a dog to have. Obviously, with time on his hands, the Marquis set about blending breeds in order to produce the kind of exceptional canine athlete he required.

The Marquis’ wish list included a dog with a great tracking nose, in exhaustible energy, and the physical strength to take on wolves or bring down deer. The answer, the Poitevin, was created by breeding two types of French scent hound: the Chien Ceris and the Montemboeuf, along with Irish scent hounds and Greyhounds.

The resulting breed became popular in the local environs of France, but never gained more widespread notoriety. It seemed the breed may not even survive after series of catastrophic events, which hit their numbers severely. However, the Poitevin did (just about) weather the French Revolution, a serious rabies outbreak, and then World War II, in enough numbers for breed enthusiasts to be able to revive it.

To prevent health problems from in-breeding, a line of English Foxhounds was introduced into the breed to strengthen the blood line. As Poitevin numbers gradually rose, breeders began to select dogs with the more typical appearance to bring the breed full circle back to its roots.


Poitevin Large Photo

The Poitevin is a kaleidoscope of a dog, bearing a resemblance to several other breeds, depending on how you squint. Whether you consider him a stretched English Foxhounds or a chunky Greyhound, some features are constant, such as his leggy but muscular appearance, long nose, and whip-like tail. His deep chest is designed for running, whilst those long back legs are a muscular propulsion unit powering his impressive endurance.

His colouring is distinctive with his short coat, having white extremities (including the tail tip), a tan body, head, and ears, with a black saddle region.

Character & Temperament

If you had to sum the Poitevin up in one word it would be 'Aloof'. This is a not a breed that unquestionably seeks out human company; indeed, the reverse is true. Whilst he is loyal to his immediate master, he has little interest in people and prefers the company of other dogs.

However, he also has a strong prey drive, so any canine companions need to be his size or larger or risk being mistaken for an animal that needs chasing and bringing down. Neither are they a co-operative dog. Their ability to hunt and bring down wild boar, wolves, or deer means they are apt to make their own decisions. Their strong-willed nature borders on stubbornness and makes them a trial to train. The Poitevin dislikes being left alone, and thinks nothing of voicing his dissatisfaction by howling or barking.


Training a pack animal with a strong prey drive is always going to be a challenge, and in this respect, the Poitevin doesn’t divert from type. He requires an experienced handler that uses reward-based training methods but who sets clear boundaries.

In addition, it’s wise to give the Poitevin plenty of mental stimulation, such as puzzle feeders along with regular obedience training, so that he has a focus for mental activity. Given the Poitevin’s potential strength and energy, it’s also important to source a puppy that is well-socialised before he goes to is new home. Then continue the socialisation process so that he isn’t anxious or fearful when faced with novel situations.


The Poitevin is that happiest of hounds, a breed with few (if any) health problems linked to it. With a reputation for being a hardy pack animal, their issues are not so much ones of breeding but of caring for an active dog exposed to a number of natural hazards.

Regular Deworming

When a dog is a hunter by profession, he’s quite likely to scavenge and snack on prey or dead wildlife. This makes him more likely to pick up worms: both common and uncommon. Regular (monthly) deworming is essential if he isn’t to carry a worm burden that could have serious consequences with regards to his health.

A dog eating raw carcasses is exposed not only to the common roundworm, but tapeworms, hookworms, lungworms, and whipworms. As well as ill-thrift, the dog may have bloody diarrhoea, and in the case of lungworms could develop a fatal bleeding disorder.

A Poitevin owner should talk to their vet about which is the best dewormer for their dog. Not all wormers treat against a full spectrum of internal parasites, so the vet will need to run a risk assessment on your dog to decide which products to use and how often.

External Parasite Control

A dog leading an active outdoor lifestyle comes into contact with any number of external parasites, including fleas, sarcoptic mange mites, sand-flies, and ticks.

Depending on where you live, ticks can be a source of potentially serious tick-borne diseases, such as Babesiosis, and a tick preventative product in essential. In addition, an owner should check their dog over at the end of each day, and use an approved method of removing ticks before they can transmit disease. Again, your vet is a good resource to find out how these parasites may affect your dog and how best to treat them.

Exercise and Activity Levels

The Poitevin needs plenty of exercise, in fact, more than most dogs. He will be a match for a marathon runner in-training, such is the amount of exercise he needs every day. This is an investment in your sanity as a Poitevin that doesn’t get enough exercise is likely to get bored and resort to barking or howling.


The only easy thing about the Poitevin is his coat care. He has a short coat, so there’s little to get knotted or tangled. Twice weekly brushing with a bristle brush or grooming glove will help to spread the natural oils that condition his coat. Be wary of bathing a Poitevin unless he gets especially dirty, as you may wash away his waterproof protective coating.

As with any active dog, check him over at the end of each day for debris that is stuck in his ears or paws. Be especially vigilant for ticks or other parasites that become attached when he’s roaming in the countryside, and remove parasites promptly to prevent him acquiring tick-borne diseases.

Famous Poitevins

The Poitevin seems to be a dog that runs under the radar and has shunned social-media fame. For more information on the official breed standard of the Poitevin hound, then check out the United Kennel Club.


Breeders are currently focussing their efforts on reverting to a Poitevin that is as close to the original breed as possible. Since this is an exceptionally rare reed, this is easier said than done and creating cross-breeds is not something breeders are looking to do.

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