Information about the Basset Griffon Vendéen

Grand Basset Griffon Vendéen

The Grand Basset Griffon Vendéen is a long-backed, short legged hunting breed of dog of the hound type, originating in the Vendée region of France. They are still used today to hunt boar, deer, and to track rabbit and hare, but are more commonly kept as a domestic pet.

They are pack dogs, so owners should either spend a lot of time with them or get a second dog or cat. They have a happy and confident personality, which can sometimes manifest itself as disobedience, but they are great companions.

The UK Kennel Club conducted a health survey of Basset Griffon Vendéens (Petit and Grand varieties combined) in 2004. This is apparently the only completed health survey (as of July 16, 2007) that might include Grand Basset Griffon Vendéen, but it is unclear what proportion of dogs in the survey were Grand Basset Griffon Vendéens instead of the more common Petit.

Average longevity of 76 deceased Basset Griffon Vendéens (varieties combined) in the 2004 UK Kennel Club survey was 12.1 years (maximum 17.3 years). Leading causes of death were cancer (33%), old age (24%), and cardiac (7%).

Compared to surveyed longevities of other breeds of similar size, Basset Griffon Vendéens have a typical or somewhat higher than average life expectancy.

Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen

The Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen (PBGV) is a breed of dog of the scent hound type, bred to trail hares in bramble filled terrain of the Vendée district of France.

Both sexes should be of similar size, range between 12.5 and 15.5 inches (32 to 40 cm) at the withers and between 25 and 40 pounds (15 to 20 kilograms).

Like the other 3 Griffon Vendéen breeds: the Grand Griffon Vendéen, Briquet Griffon Vendéen, and the Grand Basset Griffon Vendéen; they are solid dogs that appear rough and unrefined yet casual. They have short legs, a sturdy bone structure, and a body that is only slightly longer than it is tall at the withers. The body length is not as extreme as that of a basset hound or dachshund.

The dogs have a tousled appearance, with a harsh double coat that is both long and rough.The hair on the face and legs may be softer than body hair. The fur on the face resembles a beard and moustache. They usually have very long eyelashes.

The skull is domed, with drop, oval ears like many hounds share, though dogs tend to have higher domes than bitches. The ears are set low and hanging, and if stretched out should reach the tip of the nose. The tail is usually held upright, and is long and tapered to the end, similar in shape to a saber.

The coloring is primarily white with spots of orange, lemon, black, grizzle (gray-and-white hairs), or sable, sometimes with tan accents. They may be bicolor, tricolor, or have grizzling.

PBGVs are extroverted, friendly, and independent hounds. Sometimes called the “happy breed,” PBGVs have tirelessly wagging tails and expressive, intelligent eyes. PBGVs are typically active and lively. While good with children, other dogs and pets, they may be unsuitable for very young children because of their energy and tendency to play bite. The PBGV standard states that the dog should “give voice freely” — as is typical of hounds, petits are outspoken dogs. If their ‘pack’ begins howling or singing, the dog will join in, with amusing results. PBGVs may howl alone or with a companion; they may howl to music, for fun, or in protest at being left alone. PBGV companions report that sleeping dogs have been known to awaken and howl along with favorite songs.

The PBGV is not a quiet dog. While no PBGV would ever be called “yippy,” their assertive, hound-bray is uncharacteristically loud for their petite stature. The outspoken nature of a PBGV varies from dog to dog, but even the shyest Petit will greet other dogs with a bark or call.

Like other hounds, Petits are stubborn, and sometimes may not respond well to training.

Because they are so extroverted, friendly, and happy, PBGVs make excellent therapy dogs.

PBGVs are excellent hunting and tracking dogs. A “Hunting Instinct Test” with associated AKC certification is currently in development as a part of optional breed credentialing. Petits who work in this manner do not hunt to kill. In the Vendee region of France, the dogs are used to flush and track rabbit in the bramble, sending rabbit out into the open where the hunter takes the rabbit with a shot. Skilled hunting dogs work well with other dogs in the pack, alerting the pack to the presence of a rabbit, or to a rabbit in motion down a trail. “Saber tails,” another PBGV nickname, are typically white at the tip of the tail, so the tail is easily identified by a hunter above the bramble and brush.

As a companion animal, this occasionally pronounced hunting instinct may manifest in the home as a dog that gives chase to birds, squirrel, and cats. For some PBGVs, this instinct may be difficult to overcome with training. Most PBGVs make fine companion animals, and have suitable manners to live among cats and other animals without assuming a hunting role. Potential PBGV owners are cautioned to be aware of this instinct and, if cats are present in the home, work to acclimate the puppy or dog to recognize that the cat is part of the home “pack.”

As scent hounds, most PBGVs should be kept on-leash when in open outdoor areas. Even the most obedient dog may give chase when a scent is found. Petits are natural athletes, and they can run fast and long where scent is involved. Scent will typically trump obedience in the mind of a PBGV.

The outspoken nature and erect tail of a PBGV can be misinterpreted by other dogs, as these manners typically express dominance to other dogs. PBGVs can inspire a misguided need to express dominance on the part of passing dogs. PBGV owners need to be alert to this potential misinterpretation, as Petits are easily outclassed in both size and aggressiveness.