Picardy Spaniel (Epagneul Picard)
The Picardy Spaniel (Épagneul Picard) is a robust and tireless working dog, which was originally developed in the Valley of Somme in the Picardy area of France. It’s endowed with supreme hunting talents, which make it a valuable pet for every avid hunter. This breed suits perfectly for the role of a companion animal due to its cheerfulness and amicable nature.
The Picardy Spaniel is an old French breed, which origin dates back to the XIV century. Its thorough description can be found in the works of Gaston Phoebus and Henri de Ferriere, famous writers of the XIV century. Evidently that the precise ancestry of the breed is impossible to trace but it’s thought to have descended from the ancient French spaniel that is commonly referred as the Chien d’ Oysell.
At that time hunting was one of the most popular pastimes among French elite. Shortly after its creation this dog acquired lots of noble and royal fanciers, which admired its hunting prowess and versatility. These canines were widely portrayed by Desportes and Oudry in hunting scenes alongside with their influential masters of royal origin.
The popularity of the Picardy Spaniel soared when the hunting was made generally acceptable for all social classes in the wake of the French revolution. As soon as great masses of population became involved in this occupation the breed gained universal recognition throughout France although majority of its specimens were bred in the fenlands of northwest France. It was especially treasured for its all-weather coat, which allowed the dog to effectively resist any kind of adversary weather conditions. The breed specialised in hunting ducks and various waterfowls in treacherous marshes but it was truly all-round hunting dog, which can be tasked to get after a wide array of quarry both furred and feathered.
The Picardy Spaniel lost its leading stance as a hunting dog during the early XIX century when the French breeders began to give preference to English sporting dogs. The breed’s number shrank substantially although it preserved small but loyal following among local hunters. The Picardy Spaniel was formally acknowledged as a distinctive breed in 1907 and in 1908 its standard was finally set up.
Unfortunately two World Wars brought catastrophic consequences for the breeds’ population so it was virtually wiped out from the surface of the earth. The group of breeders under the guidance of François Prin devoted much of their unified efforts in the re-establishment of this dog in its homeland. By the 80s of the XX century it became clear that their work was rewarded with a complete success. Today the Picardy Spaniel regularly performs at the highest level at field trials and dog shows as well as serves as highly capable hunting dog.
Despite its hunting background the Picardy Spaniel is well-known for its friendly nature and good manners. The dog is keen to always be surrounded by love and attention of its family. It tends to experience severe separation anxiety if left alone for too long. A well-socialised specimen will make a fabulous pet for families with children because of its essential playfulness and mischievousness.
The Picardy Spaniel has good reputation with unfamiliar people and usually immediately perceives them as potential playmates. Of course this dog acts somewhat reserved by the initial introduction but it can be rather explained by shyness than by suspiciousness. It’s sensitive and alert enough to signal about approach of a stranger to its master so it can be turned into a fairly good watchdog. At the same time it will be incapable of applying necessary force if someone breaks into your house. This purports that it’s ill-suited for the role of a guard dog.
The breed also has very few issues with other dogs as it had to effectively interact with dozen of other canines during hunting expeditions. Anyway the dog should be exhibited to the company of another dog as early as possible to avoid communicational problems in the future. The Picardy Spaniel remains first and foremost a sporting dog and therefore it can’t be trusted with other small species of animals. But it will be able tolerate a home cat with which it has co-existed since its puppyhood. However stray cats and other creature have very short life expectancy if they have fallen within eyeshot of an unleashed Picardy Spaniel.
The most common problems for the breed include:
· eye problems;
· canine hip dysplasia;
· ear infections;
The Picardy Spaniel’s wavy medium-length coat needs hand-to-mouth grooming. Actually its maintenance adds up to diligent weekly brushing, which is intended to prevent mats and tangles from development. The dog’s nails require regular trimming preferably every two month.
The big ears of a working specimen should be subjected to periodical thorough inspections and cleaning procedures since they are highly prone to infections and irritation. The breed is a seasonal shedder but it commonly loses hair in small portions all the year around.
The training of the Picardy Spaniel is generally an easy task due to its eagerness to please and cleverness. This dog greatly enjoys an opportunity to oblige its master so it’s able to learn fairy sophisticated tricks. It commonly attains incredible success in various canine sports including agility and obedience trials.
The Picardy Spaniel is noted for its good-naturedness and sensitive nature so hard training methods are absolutely unacceptable in the work with this dog. This type of techniques will most likely result in intimidated and nervous dog, which will completely disregard your commands. The breed responds best to positive reinforcement in the form of its favourite tasty treats.
The Picardy Spaniel is in effect a country dog, which feels itself most comfortable in a spacious yard where it has an opportunity to run and play unrestrained. In any event the daily long walk is a must for this dog. It will become a willing and high-spirited companion for enthusiasts of such outdoors activities as bicycling, jogging, hiking, camping, and fishing.
This breed absolutely loves water and will be glad to have a regular walk to some local pond. The dog, which can’t expend it excessive energy in meaningful way, will usually turn into a nasty creature with tendency to on-going barking, over excitability, destructiveness and sometimes even aggressiveness.