Griffon Nivernais

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all kind of colours always darkened
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The Griffon Nivernais is a sturdy and well-built breed with its homeland in France. This tireless dog is really passionate about its work of wolf and bear hunter. It possesses bellowing voice and excellent scent for which it is considered to be the best hound to hunt boar. Most probably the Griffon Nivernais is the oldest hunting dog of France.

The Griffon Nivernais came to existence around the beginning of the XIII century in the Morvan and Nivernais districts of central France. There are plenty of suggestions about the dog’s origin. One of them states that the breed has the Gallic hound (Canis Segusius) in its lineage imported by the Gauls. Other group of scientist think that the grey-coated now-extinct greyhound Gris de Saint Louis (was mentioned in the book «La Chasse Royale» written by King Charles IX) and the French local breed the Chien de Bresse played the key role in the creation of the Griffon.

The dog possesses rough and shaggy fur, which keeps it safe from brushing in wild and impassable terrain. There are several possible candidates who might have donated its gene of wiry coat to the dog among which are the Phoenician Sighthound and the Eastern herding and water dog.

For hundreds of years the Griffon Nivernais served for farmers and shepherds in the mountainous regions of central France. It was particularly useful for keeping wolves and wild boars at bay. The popularity of this breed with the royals began with King Louis IX and lasted for 200 years. The interest of the Royal Court for the breed subsided during the reign of Francis I who preferred white-coated hounds. It regained its popularity when Louis XIV ascended the throne since the Sun King was also the Griffon’s admirer.

The French Revolution brought a serious loss to the Griffon Nivernais’ population and put it on the edge of extinction. Century later (in 1900) some concerned breeders organized the breed club and scoured all over country in order to find survived purebred specimens. The quality dogs were found in the Nivernais region and subsequently they were interbred with the Griffon Vendeen, the Otterhound and the Foxhound with the goal to enhance its heredity. The Griffon Nirvernais came back to its former stance under a new French name Chien de Pays which is translated as «local breed».

The Griffon Nirvernais hasn’t yet earned the recognition of the American Kennel Club (AKC) but it’s been accepted by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) and the United Kennel club (UKC).


The tough appearance of the Griffon Nirvernais and its the reputation of the fierce hunter hides its amicable and trustful individuality. The dog can be easily integrated into the life in the family where it will become a loyal and loving friend for all its members. It craves to give and receive attention and wouldn’t mind to be petted. The Griffon Nirvernais is fine with a child but prefers to deal with older kids. However, a proper socialisation is needed to teach the dog the right ways of communication with them.

The Griffon Nirvernais tolerates strange people and as a rule it is going to welcome them by wagging and trying to lick. The future owner should be aware that the dog is an avid barker, which is a usual trait of any scent hound. On the bright side this habit makes out of the Griffon Nirvernais a superb guardian for the owner’s property.

For centuries the Griffon Nivernais hunted in packs where the suppression of the canine aggression was a matter of survival. It can be introduced in the home with other living dog without any troubles. This breed is a chaser so it poses considerable danger for street cats and other animals. But if they have been lived together from the early age they will get along just fine in the adulthood as well.

Health Problems
The most common problems for the breed include:

• canine hip dysplasia;
• progressive retinal atrophy.

As the primarily working breed the Griffon Nivernais has low grooming requirements. Nonetheless its coat should be brushed systematically and thoroughly preferably on a weekly basis.

The ears of the dog should get special attention particularly if the dog has been participating in the hunt. Infrequent baths should be done only when it’s absolutely necessary since water washes off the natural oil of the dog’s hair.

The Griffon Nivernais likes to make its own opinion on everything so it’s not so easy trainable. The trainer should possess the qualities of a powerful and self-assured leader to get optimal results from the lessons with the dog. Positive attitude, methods rich of praise and tasty treats are also integral elements of success in training the Griffon Nivernais.

A professional training is required if you plan to use your Griffon Nivernais as a hunting dog. At the same time your pet should pass correct socialisation and obedience training. The latter should be initiated when the puppy is about 3 or 4 months and is more susceptible to training.

It’s undoubtedly that the Griffon Nivernais is a rural boy and as such it demands a significant amount of physical activity. When it’s not assigned to perform hunting duties the dog must be taken for a long and brisk walk every single day.

This dog is not the best option for the life in an apartment and it can become quite miserable without an opportunity to run and investigate unrestricted. The master should make sure that the dog is exercised in sufficient degree. The Griffon Nivernais is sensitive to the heat so it would be clever to put off or shorten the walk in unusually warm days.