~ A Basic History ~

The PBGV is of ancient descent, in fact his origins can be traced back to the sixteenth century . People often ask, has he got 'terrier' in his background? The answer to this seems to be very vague in all the literature relating to this breed, but a shaggy smaller Basset/Terrier type dog was in existence around the early to middle 1600's where the word 'Hound' meant a dog hunting above the ground and the word 'Terrier' a dog that went underground into burrows etc.

Terrier/Basset historical photo

He seems to have been developed for a particular use (more about this later) over a period of time from the early Greyhound Griffon types that were involved in the evolution of deerhounds etc that we know today. As Kings and noblemen in Europe always had a hunting pack in tow when they traveled around the county there was much cross breeding between prized dogs who showed great hunting ability regardless of their type, and colour and if in using these dogs it happened to improve the offspring's appearance, it was a bonus. One cross which had a great influence on the appearance of the PBGV and its larger cousins especially with regard to its colour and coat patterns , was the breeding done with the 'chien blanc du roi" (translated as the white dog of the king). This was a scent hound who's height and type was very like the Deerhound/Greyhound and although not a pure white dog (in fact it ranged in colour from almost pure white to spotted or patched with red, black, lemon, or badger markings, and strangely even in some cases, solid black or badger - really confusing the word "white' in the name.) it had the effect of adding the genes for the white pattern and some of the other colour patterns to the next generation of early ancestors to pass on in the breed's development.

The Vendeen is an area of France which is distinguished by its rough terrain, covered in rocks, thorny brambles and brush. A special type of dog was needed to hunt in this type of countryside. He needed to be rustic and hardy. (Words that have stayed with the breed to modern day) He had to possess a thick skin and a coat that was wiry and rough so as to not be torn to piece by these harsh conditions. He needed to have a great amount of white colouring on his body so that he could be easily seen by the hunter and so emerged four rough coated breeds all similar but slightly different due to their specific uses over the years from this area.

Historical Photo

The Grand Griffon Vendeen, the Briquet, the Grand Basset Griffon Vendeen and the Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen who can all be traced back to the original dog of the area the 'Griffon Vendeen' a powerful ancestor with a rough coat used by noblemen on horses to hunt large animals such a stags. Unfortunately the ordinary man and farmer could not afford a horse, and needed a dog which they could follow on foot and could pursue smaller table fare such as rabbits and hare, a dog that hunted not by sight but by scent , so gradually an off-shoots of these larger animals developed by the crossing with smaller scenting dogs of the era and hence the emergence of the Grand Basset Griffon Vendeen and his smaller cousin the Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen. The Grand being used for larger game such as roedeer and wolf, while the Petit was used to trail and drive smaller game such as rabbit and hare.

The French still to this day are passionate hunters and the art of 'Venery ' (defined as man hunting with the use of a hound) is very much alive in France. This has kept these rough little hounds very much as they are supposed to be 'rustic and hardy'. They are mainly hunted in packs or braces although work quite well individually and in Europe and especially France there are still many packs kept and hunted for competition or just the pleasure.

Modern PBGV's hunting
Modern day PBGV's Hunting in the Vendeen region in France

To learn more about the history of the breed and their Australian History. Click here