Grand Griffon Vendeen (Grand Griffon Vendéen)
The Grand Griffon Vendéen is a fearless and strong sporting dog that was initially created for tracking big game on rich French hunting grounds. Thanks to its versatility and keen nose it’s still held in high esteem by hunting enthusiasts in lots of countries. Nevertheless presently the breed is reckoned as a relatively rare one.
The home of the Grand Griffon Vendéen is situated in Vendée, a coastal area in west central France and south of the Loire River. It appeared as the product of careful selective breeding, which lasted for several centuries and its development was initiated in the XV century by one of the royal clerks. At first this new breed was referred as the greffier dog, which purported «the clerks’ dog» but eventually its name was abridged to griffon. It’s said that it was invented by crossing the Saint Hubert Hound and Italian white-and-tan dogs. It’s also probable that the Nivernais Griffon was utilised in its development in order to make the Grand Griffon Vendéen sturdier and tougher. Some experts also believe that the Griffon Fauve de Bretagne, the Chien Gris de St. Louis and the Griffon de Bresse were included in its breeding program.
The Grand Griffon Vendéen was so revered by French royalty that it even earned the nickname of the King’s White Hound. This dog was predominantly used for hunting in packs and demonstrated unbelievable prowess in tracking down and killing wolves, wild boars, roe deer and foxes. It’s unafraid of thick vegetation, thorns and water and can even follow a cold trail for hours on end. While hunting the pack of these dogs would bark continuously in order to pinpoint their location to the human hunters. It should be emphasised that this breed is perfectly capable of operating without assistance and makes a first-rate companion for any avid sportsman.
The French Revolution led to very significant reduction in the breed’s population. In the following decades hunters began giving preference to foreign hounds and the Grand Griffon Vendéen appeared on the brink of absolute extinction. Luckily in the early XX century devoted fanciers of this breed combined their efforts and launched a restoration program by establishing the first breeds’ club in 1907. They achieved their goal but the Grand Griffon Vendéen only partially regained its former popularity. The point is that the industrial progress caused great decrease of available hunting grounds in France and other countries so large Scent Hounds became virtually unnecessary.
The Grand Griffon Vendéen was officially accepted in the AKC Foundation Stock Service in 2004. Today it remains barely known outside its homeland and can be ascribed to rare breeds.
The Grand Griffon Vendéen has an obstinate, independent and self-willed disposition, which is fairly typical for a Scent Hound. Nonetheless in the recent decades this dog also won wide approval in the role of a companion animal. Its docile and friendly nature in combination with prepossessing appearance makes it a great choice for families with children. This dog welcomes any type of physical activity regardless of its intensity and will be happy to frisk with familiar kids for countless hours. Of course some basic socialisation is essential for this breed so it will demonstrate proper manners in any circumstance.
As a rule the Grand Griffon Vendéen is polite with unfamiliar people and most of its specimen are totally excited at the opportunity to make a new friend. That’s why the master should teach his pet to control its spontaneous display of friendship. Despite its size and excellent strength this dog won’t make an effective guardian because of its too kind nature. It has a loud and beautiful voice that it uses frequently and sometimes without any reason. Some of these dogs can become rather good watchers while others are completely deprived of territorial instinct.
As a pack hunter the Grand Griffon Vendéen is usually on the good terms with its counterparts. However due its great vitality it can’t be considered as an optimal addition to a family with a pre-existing very small dog. It will be fine with a familiar home cat (and other non-canine pets) if they got to know each other early enough. But this dog always becomes a passionate chaser of street animals and therefore must be released off-leash only in a securely fenced area.
The most common problems for the breed include:
The Grand Griffon Vendéen has average care requirements. Its coat consists of a rough upper layer and a dense weather-proof lower layer and needs annual manual stripping in order to retain its wiry texture. It’s also essential to regularly trim excessive hair on the dog’s legs, around rear end and its ears.
Systematic brushing will help to keep your pets’ fur free of tangles and dead hair. Make sure to pay enough attention to cleaning of the dog’s ears and brushing of its teeth.
The training of the Grand Griffon Vendéen is a very challenging task. In spite of a well-developed intellect this dog rather prefers to do things its own way than to follow your commands. It also stands out for stubbornness so it’s rather unwise to expect from this dog total obedience.
It’s recommended to encourage the interest of the Grand Griffon Vendéen with its favourite treats and praise. Harsh discipline won’t bring desirable results in the work with this strong-willed canine and can become the reason of its complete refusal to obey your orders.
The Grand Griffon Vendéen was bred as a tireless hunter and therefore needs lots of intensive activity to feel itself fully content with its life. This dog can’t become a good pet for an apartment dweller since it has to spend at least an hour per day playing and wandering in a safely enclosed yard.
Enthusiasts of such outdoor activities as biking and running will like the breeds’ liveliness and outstanding endurance. Be mindful that an under exercised Grand Griffon Vendéen will most likely develop propensities to continuous barking and destructive behaviour at home.