Ariegeois (Ariege Hound)
The Ariegeois is a young yet highly gifted hound variety that was developed in France in the XIX century. Despite its unrivalled hunting prowess this dog is virtually unknown in other countries where it’s often considered as the bastard. This breed makes an even-tempered, staunch and lively family companion and it’s fairly popular in this role with common Frenchmen.
Photo: © Christophe Alain Jausselme
The Ariegeois was originally bred in the southern French province, Ariege, in 1912. This hound is the smallest and the most slender among so-called the «Blue mottled breeds of the Midi» that also include the Grand Blue de Gascogne and the Grand Gascogne Saintongeois. It’s speculated the dog came to existence as the result of crossing two above-mentioned breeds as well as the Briquet Hound. To a large degree it owes its creation to an avid canine breeder, Count Vesins Elie.
The small size of the Ariege Hound doesn’t prevent it from being a superb hunter. According to some canine experts it’s just a refined version of the sporting dogs that were engaged in its development. This agile and quick dog is capable of hunting on harsh and varied terrains. It’s a true expert in hare hunting although it also proved to be useful in hunting larger game including deer and wild boars. The breeds’ primary duty is flushing the animal out of its hiding place to the awaiting gun of the hunter. Apart from its great dexterity, hunters praised the Ariegeois for its amazing stamina and resourcefulness.
Nonetheless excellent hunting skills didn’t earn the Ariege Hound international recognition. Because of its mix lineage even the Ariege inhabitants call it the Bastard Hound. Until the foundation of the Club Gascon Phoebus the breed’s number was rather scarce. This organisation put forth lots of efforts into popularisation of the Ariegeois. Pack trials that were carried out at the Ceron Villa revealed prominent working qualities of this dog and attracted attention of broad masses of sportsmen to it. Thanks to the love and loyalty of the thousands of French hunters, the breed was saved from complete demise after the World War II.
The United Kennel Club (UKC) fully recognised the Ariegeois in 1993. Currently lots of its specimens are family dogs that make their masters happy by their easy-going, affectionate and joyful nature.
The Ariege Hound is a sporting dog through and through and exhibits qualities that make it the most qualified for this work. Its devotedness towards its masters is almost boundless so a properly trained and socialised dog commonly becomes a wonderful family pet. Remember that it’s accustomed to lots of physical and mental stimulation and gets quickly bored if it has to spend most of its days without company. Boredom is the main reason of destructive behaviour so an inactive person or a full-time worker won’t make a good owner for this dog. On the whole it’s great with children although it’s probably too vigorous to play unattended with a toddler.
The Ariegeois behaves itself somewhat reservedly around strangers although it rarely demonstrates any sign of open aggressiveness. It’s prone to trust people and treat them friendly so it should never be charged with guarding tasks. This dog is a barker and will loudly announce its opinion on every subject by its sonorous and surprisingly loud voice. Your neighbours may not appreciate such «talkativeness» but it makes the breed a fairly good watcher.
The Ariege Hound frequently hunts in the pack of dozens of other dogs and therefore it suits well for keeping together with its counterparts. But it’s still essential to control the communication of two strange dogs. In spite of its well-developed prey drive this breed is relatively good with other pets (including a house cat) if they were introduced to each other in an early age. This dog should never have free access to homeless animals, which it usually perceives as prey objects.
The most common problems for the breed include:
· ear infections.
The Ariege Hound has very standard grooming requirements. The master has to brush its short smooth hair several times every couple of weeks and bathe this dog no more than three times a year. Of course, the working specimen may need more frequent bathing.
Due to its propensity to ear infections it’s crucial to include regular ear cleaning in care routines. Trim the dog’s nails every other month if your pet doesn’t wear them off in a natural way. Weekly teeth brushing will promote good health in this area for long years.
The training of the docile and smart Ariegeois is commonly a breeze. This dog passionately wants to make its masters happy and has very keen intellect so it can learn basic commands with trivial efforts. Although the breed is characterised with low penchant for dominance it’s still recommended to win the respect of this dog by firm yet kind treatment.
This dog is completely irresponsive to harsh discipline and can demonstrate wilfulness if it feels itself maltreated. As any Scent Hound it can be easily drawn away from training by some attractive smell so exercise tolerance to such kind of behaviour of your Ariegeois.
The Ariege Hound demands a great deal of physical activity to remain fit and healthy. This dog is known for its calm behaviour indoors and it’s usually happy to lie on your sofa for hours on end. Nevertheless the lack of exercise can lead to problems with excessive weight so the master should provide his pet with at least an hour-long vigorous walk every single day.
This breed also craves after some meaningful work to fulfil. If you don’t intend hunting with your Ariegeois then enrol it some advanced tracking or agility course. The dog that is deprived of essential stimulation for its body and mind has tendency to become ill-behaved and hyper active indoors.