The Grand Bleu de Gascogne is a charming scenthound that was originally bred in France. They are an ancient breed and one that's always been highly prized for their hunting skills. They are considered to be real aristocrats because they are that much taller and distinguished looking than many other hounds. As such they have real presence wherever they go. The Grand Bleu de Gascogne always has a sad appearance about them but they are known to be kind placid gentle giants with the added bonus being they are always well-behaved around children.
The Grand Bleu de Gascogne is one of the most ancient of French scenthounds and it is thought they have been around for hundreds of years. Some breed enthusiasts believe that they are descendants of several ancient breeds which includes hounds that were introduced to the Mediterranean region by Phoenician traders. These hounds were then crossed with other native hounds which included the St. Hubert Hound.
As time passed the Grand Bleu was used to develop other breeds and as such became the foundation dogs for other French native hounds. With this said no actual records of the breed exist in these earlier times but there are written records of the breed that date back a few hundred years with one being that of the pack of hounds that were kept by the Comte de Foix in the 14th Century. Later during the 16th and 17th Century the Grand Bleu was a firm favourite hunting dog at the court of Henry IV of France. Later in the 18th Century a pack of Bleu de Gascogne was presented to George Washington.
During earlier times the Grand Bleu was highly prized by the French hunting fraternity which was mainly the royals and nobility of the land. However as time passed breed numbers fell into decline mainly due to the effects of the French Revolution when anything to do with the nobility was frowned upon and this included their packs of hunting dogs. The First and Second World Wars also had a negative impact on the breed with their numbers falling dramatically throughout France.
Today the Grand Bleu de Gascogne is still considered as a “rare” breed even in their native France and these proud scenthounds are very rarely seen in the UK with very few well-bred puppies being registered with the Kennel Club every year. As such anyone wanting to share a home with a Grand Bleu would need to register their interest with breeders for the pleasure of doing so.
Height at the withers: Males 64 - 70 cm Females 60 - 65 cm
Average weight: Males 32 - 39 kg Females 32 - 39 kg
The Grand Bleu de Gascogne is an impressive large dog with males being that much bigger than their female counterparts. They are the noble aristocrats of all hound breeds and they are dogs that command a lot of presence no matter where they happen to be. They have long elegant heads which boast very distinct and characteristic markings and colours. They have a very pronounce occiput which accentuates the length of a dog's head. There's a slight stop and quite a bit of loose skin that covers a dog's head which gives these hounds a very "sad and melancholy" look about them.
Their eyes are a nice dark chestnut with dogs having a very trusting look about them. Ears are set quite low and they are fine curling inwards and ending in a point. The Grand Bleu has a strong jaw with a perfect scissor bite where their upper teeth neatly overlap their lower ones. Their necks are moderately long and rounded with dogs having a moderate dewlap.
Their front legs are well boned strong and straight with dogs having well laid back muscular shoulders. Chests are well developed long deep and wide with ribs being quite round too. Their backs are long and well-muscled with dogs having wide deep flanks which adds to their athletic appearance. Their hindquarters are powerful well-muscled and broad with back legs being well developed and muscular. The Grand Bleu also has quite prominent hip bones which is perfectly normal for the breed. Their feet are long well-padded and oval in shape. Tails are set well being thick and long which dogs carry in the shape of a sickle.
When it comes to their coat the Grand Bleu de Gascogne boasts having a smooth short and very weather resistant coat. The accepted breed colour for Kennel Club registration are as follows:
It is worth noting that the accepted breed colours for Kennel Club registration can differ from those set out in the breed standard which are as follows:
When a Grand Bleu de Gascogne moves they do so taking long loose strides covering a lot of ground when they do.
The Kennel Club frowns on any exaggerations or departures from the breed standard and would judge the faults on how much they affect a dog's overall health and wellbeing as well as their ability to perform.
Males should have both testicles fully descended into their scrotums and it is worth noting that a dog can be a little lighter or heavier as well as slightly taller or shorter than set out in the Kennel Club breed standard which is only given as a guideline.
The Grand Bleu de Gascogne true to their breeding is the type of dog that thrives in a home environment where owners work in the great outdoors or who love spending as much time outside with a high energy canine companion at their side. They are very intelligent dogs and they are happiest when they are working or being exercised. As such they are not a good choice for people who live more sedentary lives.
These handsome hounds retain their strong hunting instincts even in a home environment and as such they are not the best choice for first time owners because they need to be socialised trained and handled by people who are familiar with the specific needs of this type of active intelligent scenthound. They mature very slowly and only reach full maturity when they are around 2 years old which has to be taken into account when training a Grand Bleu de Gascogne.
The Grand Bleu has a tremendous amount of stamina and would happily follow a scent for hours on end if they are allowed to. As such care has to be taken as to where and when they are allowed to run off their leads. They are known to be quite vocal and have a good range of sounds which they use when out hunting. These range from a typical hound-like bay to a full-on howl which helps these skilled scenthounds communicate with each other and their handlers.
Although large in size and impressive looking the Grand Bleu is a gentle giant in the home environment and likes nothing more than to chill out in the evening with their families around them after a busy day working in the great outdoors. With this said they are just as happy living in their own outdoor kennel providing there is a large enough run attached to it for a Grand Bleu to be outside whenever they want and to run around in.
A Grand Bleu de Gascogne is not the best choice for first-time dog owners because they need to be socialised handled and trained by people who are familiar with the specific needs of a scenthound and one that can be harder to train than many other breeds.
Although a Grand Blue is social by nature they were bred to “hunt” and therefore they have a high prey drive and will happily take off after any scent they pick up when out on a walk. As such care should always be taken as to where and when a dog can run off the lead more especially when there is wildlife and/or livestock close by.
Grand Bleu have a playful side to their natures more especially when they are young although it is important for owners to differentiate between “playing” and when a dog is showing a more dominant side to their natures. It’s also a good idea to teach a Grand Bleu that playtime takes place outdoors and not in the house to avoid any breakages thanks to the breed’s whip-like tail.
Grand Bleu are better suited to households with large secure well-fenced back gardens a dog can safely roam in whenever possible to really let off steam. They are not the best choice for anyone who lives in an apartment because these large hounds need the right environment and enough space to express themselves as they should.
Although a Grand Bleu is loyal and forms strong ties with their families they do not generally suffer from separation anxiety providing they are never left on their own for too long that is. Any dog that’s left to their own devices for longer periods of time could develop some unwanted and destructive behaviours around the home which is their way of relieving the stress they are feeling and a way of keeping themselves entertained.
Grand Bleu are known to be “barkers” and will an opinion when they think it is necessary to do so which is when they think they have found something interesting that an owner needs to know about which is the “hunting” instinct in them. As such it could be a problem with neighbours who might not enjoy listening to a Grand Bleu’s distinctive howl.
Most Grand Bleu love getting their feet wet and will take to the water whenever they can more especially when the weather is hot. However if anyone who owns a dog that does not like water should never force them to go in because it would just end up scaring them. With this said care should always be taken when walking a dog off the lead anywhere near more dangerous watercourses just in case a dog decides to leap in and then needs rescuing because they cannot get out of the water on their own.
A Grand Bleu is not a natural watchdog although this is not to say a dog would not be quick off the mark to let an owner know when there are strangers about although they would rarely do this aggressively. They do however have very impressive barks which would be enough to put any wrongdoer off.
The Grand Bleu de Gascogne is an intelligent hound but they do tend to have a mind of their own especially if they pick up an interesting scent. This can make training them a bit of a challenge as compared to other breeds and one of the reasons why they are not the best choice for first time owners. However in the right hands and environment a Grand Bleu can be taught to be well behaved and obedient although they will always be tempted to follow their noses at any given moment in time. They are better suited to people who really understand the specific needs of this type of scenthound and who live in a more rural environment.
They need to be well socialised and trained from a young age in order to gently curb a dog’s strong hunting instincts but it's important not to push these hounds too far too soon. Their training has to start early but this means teaching a Grand Blue the "basics" and once a dog has been fully vaccinated to start their training in earnest bearing in mind they mature that much later than many other breeds. It's a good idea to enrol young dogs into tracking and scenting classes so they can indulge their passion for following their noses.
It takes a lot of time and patience to train a Grand Bleu and much like other hounds they have to be handled carefully because they are very sensitive by nature. They do not respond well to any sort of harsh correction or heavier handed training methods which could end up damaging them. It's also important to bear in mind that they mature late which is usually only when a Grand Bleu is around 2 years old and this needs to be taken into account during their training.
Like all puppies Grand Bleu are incredibly cute when young and it is all too easy to spoil them when they first arrive in new homes. As soon as a puppy is nicely settled owners must start out as they mean to go on by laying down ground rules and boundaries so that a puppy understands what is expected of them. It helps establish a pecking order and who the alpha dog is in the household. The first commands a puppy should be taught are as follows:
The Grand Bleu loves being in a home environment and although they are very large dogs they are gentle giants around children thanks to their calm and patient natures. However because of their size any interaction between such a large dog and toddlers should always be well supervised by an adult to make sure nobody gets knocked over albeit by accident. They are better suited to families where the children are slightly older and who therefore know how to behave around dogs.
The Grand Bleu is a social dog by nature having been bred for centuries to work in packs. This trait remains deeply embedded in their psyche which means they generally get on well with other dogs more especially if they have been properly socialised from a young enough age. If they have grown up with a family cat in a household they usually get on well together but a Grand Bleu would be quick off the mark to chase any other cats they come across. Care has to be taken when they are around smaller animals and pets because they might just see them as prey with disastrous results. In short any contact is best avoided.
The average life expectancy of a Grand Bleu de Gascogne is between 10 and 12 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.
The Grand Bleu de Gascogne is known to be a robust dog and one that does not seem to suffer from the hereditary and congenital health issues that are so often seen in other pedigree dogs. However because of their shape and size they have been known to suffer from the following condition which is worth knowing about:
Grand Bleu puppies would have been given their initial vaccinations before being sold but it is up to their new owners to make sure they have their follow-up shots in a timely manner with the vaccination schedule for puppies being as follows:
There has been a lot of discussion about the need for dogs to have boosters. As such it's best to talk to a vet before making a final decision on whether a dog should continue to have annual vaccinations which are known as boosters.
A lot of vets these days recommend waiting until dogs are slightly older before spaying and neutering them which means they are more mature before undergoing the procedures. As such they advise neutering males and spaying females when they are between the ages of 6 to 9 months old and sometimes even when a dog is 12 months old.
Other vets recommend spaying and neutering dogs when they are 6 months old but never any earlier unless for medical reasons. With this said many breeds are different and it is always advisable to discuss things with a vet and then follow their advice on when a dog should be spayed or neutered.
As with other breeds some Grand Bleu gain weight after they have been spayed or neutered and it's important to keep an eye on a dog's waistline just in case they do. If a dog starts to put on weight it's important to adjust their daily calorie intake and to up the amount of exercise they are given. Older dogs too are more prone to gaining weight and again it's essential they be fed and exercised accordingly because obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years. The reason being that it puts a lot of extra strain on a dog's internal organs including the heart which could prove fatal.
Grand Bleu are prone to suffering from allergies and it's important for a dog to see a vet sooner rather than later if one flares up. Allergies can be notoriously hard to clear up and finding the triggers can be challenging. With this said a vet would be able to make a dog with an allergy more comfortable while they try to find out the triggers which could include the following:
All responsible Grand Bleu breeders would ensure that their stud dogs are tested for known hereditary and congenital health issues known to affect the breed by using the following schemes:
Apart from the standard breeding restrictions that are in place for all Kennel Club registered breeds there are no other breed specific breeding restrictions in place for the Grand Bleu de Gascogne.
Apart from the standard breeding restriction set in place for all Kennel Club recognised breeds there are no other breed specific Assured Breeder requirements in place for the Grand Bleu de Gascogne.
As with any other breed Grand Bleu dogs need to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in top condition. They also need to be given regular daily exercise to ensure they remain fit and healthy. On top of this dogs need to be fed good quality food that meets all their nutritional needs throughout their lives.
Grand Bleu puppies are boisterous and full of life which means it's essential for homes and gardens to be puppy-proofed well in advance of their arrival. A responsible breeder would have well socialised their puppies which always leads to more outgoing confident and friendly dogs right from the word go. With this said any puppy is going to feel vulnerable when they leave their mother and littermates which must be taken into account. The longer a puppy can remain with their mother the better although it should never be for too long either.
It's best to pick a puppy up when people are going to be around for the first week or so which is the time needed for a puppy to settle in. Puppy-proofing the home and garden means putting away any tools and other implements that a boisterous puppy might injure themselves on. Electric wires and cables must be put out of their reach because puppies love chewing on things. Toxic plants should be removed from flowerbeds and the home too.
Puppies need to sleep a lot to grow and develop as they should which means setting up a quiet area that's not too out of the way means they can retreat to it when they want to nap and it's important not to disturb them when they are sleeping. It's also a good idea to keep "playtime" nice and calm inside the house and to have a more active "playtime" outside in the garden which means puppies quickly learn to be less boisterous when they are inside.
The documentation a breeder provides for a puppy must have all the details of their worming date and the product used as well as the information relating to their microchip. It is essential for puppies to be wormed again keeping to a schedule which is as follows:
There are certain items that new owners need to already have in the home prior to bringing a new puppy home. It's often a good idea to restrict how much space a puppy plays in more especially when you can't keep an eye on what they get up to bearing in mind that puppies are often quite boisterous which means investing in puppy gates or a large enough playpen that allows a puppy the room to express themselves while keeping them safe too. The items needed are therefore as follows:
All puppies are sensitive to noise including Grand Bleu puppies. It's important to keep the noise levels down when a new puppy arrives in the home. TVs and music should not be played too loud which could end up stressing a small puppy out making them withdrawn timid and shy.
As previously mentioned Grand Bleu puppies would have been given their first vaccinations by the breeders but they must have their follow up shots which is up to their new owners to organise. The vaccination schedule for puppies is as follows:
When it comes to boosters it's best to discuss these with a vet because there is a lot of debate about whether a dog really needs them after a certain time. However if a dog ever needed to go into kennels their vaccinations would need to be fully up to date.
Older Grand Bleu need lots of special care because as they reach their golden years they are more at risk of developing certain health concerns. Physically a dog's muzzle may start to go grey but there will be other noticeable changes too which includes the following:
Living with a Gran Bleu de Gascogne in their golden years means taking on a few more responsibilities but these are easily managed and should include looking at their diet the amount of exercise they are given how often their dog beds need changing and keeping an eye on the condition of their teeth.
Older dogs need to be fed a good quality diet that meets their needs at this stage of their lives all the while keeping a close eye on a dog's weight. A rough feeding guide for older dogs is as follows bearing in mind they should be fed highly digestible food that does not contain any additives:
Older Grand Bleu don't need the same amount of daily exercise as a younger dog but they still need the right amount of physical activity to maintain muscle tone and to prevent a dog from putting on too much weight. All dogs need access to fresh clean water and this is especially true of older dogs when they reach their golden years because they are more at risk of developing kidney disorders.
The Grand Bleu has a short coat and as such they are low maintenance on the grooming front. A weekly brush is all it takes to remove any dead and loose hair along with a weekly wipe over with a chamois leather which helps keep a nice sheen on a dog's coat. Because they have such long ears it's important to keep an eye on the tips and to remove any debris or dirt that might get caught in them.
They shed throughout the year only more so during the Spring and then again in the Autumn when more frequent grooming is usually necessary to keep on top of things. It's also important to check a dog's ears on a regular basis and to clean them when necessary. If too much wax is allowed to build up in a dog's ears it can lead to a painful infection which can be hard to clear up. In short prevention is often easier than cure when it comes to ear infections.
The Grand Bleu is not a high energy but they boast a lot of stamina. They are also intelligent and as such they need to be given the right amount of daily exercise and mental stimulation for them to be truly happy well-rounded dogs. As such they need at least 2 hour's exercise a day with as much off the lead time as possible. The more exercise these dogs are given the happier they are. If they are not given the right amount on a daily basis a Grand Bleu would quickly get bored and could even begin to show some destructive behaviours around the home.
A shorter walk in the morning would be fine but a longer more interesting one in the afternoon is a must. These dogs also like to be able to roam around a back garden as often as possible so they can really let off steam. However the fencing has to be extremely secure to keep these large active dogs in because if they find a weakness in the fence they will soon escape out and get into all sorts of trouble bearing in mind that this dog is a very capable scenthound and a dog that will follow their noses for miles and miles.
With this said Grand Bleu puppies should not be over exercised because their joints and bones are still growing. This includes not letting a dog jump up and down from furniture or going up or down the stairs. Too much pressure placed on their joints and spines at an early age could result in a dog developing serious problems later in their lives.
If you get a Grand Bleu de Gascogne puppy from a breeder they would give you a feeding schedule and it's important to stick to the same routine feeding the same puppy food to avoid any tummy upsets. You can change a puppy's diet but this needs to be done very gradually always making sure they don't develop any digestive upsets and if they do it's best to put them back on their original diet and to discuss things with the vet before attempting to change it again.
Older dogs are not known to be fussy eaters but this does not mean they can be fed a lower quality diet. It's best to feed a mature dog twice a day once in the morning and then again in the evening making sure it's good quality food that meets all their nutritional requirements. It's also important that dogs be given the right amount of exercise so they burn off any excess calories or they might gain too much weight which can lead to all sorts of health issues. Obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years so it's important to keep an eye on their waistline from the word go.
Because they are known to suffer from bloat it is really important for Grand Bleus to be fed twice a day instead of giving a dog just one larger meal a day. It's also a good idea to invest in a stand for their feed bowls which makes it easier for these large dogs to eat comfortably without having to stretch their necks down to reach their food. Dogs should never be exercised just before or just after they have eaten either because this puts them more at risk of developing from gastric torsion otherwise known as bloat which is a life-threatening condition that requires immediate veterinary attention.
Puppies need to be fed a highly nutritious good quality diet for them to develop and grow as they should. As a rough guide a Grand Bleu puppy can be fed the following amounts every day making sure their meals are evenly spread out throughout the day and it's best to feed them 3 or 4 times a day:
Once a puppy is 15 months old they can be fed adult dog food.
Once fully mature an adult Grand Bleu should be fed a good quality diet to ensure their continued good health. As a rough guide an adult dog can be fed the following amounts every day:
If you are looking to buy a Grand Bleu de Gascogne you would need to register your interest with breeders and agree to being put on a waiting list because very few puppies are bred and registered with The Kennel Club every year. You would need to pay anything upwards of £500 for a well-bred pedigree puppy. The cost of insuring a male 3-year-old Grand Bleu de Gascogne in northern England would be £77.13 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy this would set you back £141.18 a month (quote as of October 2018). When insurance companies calculate a pet's premium they factor in several things which includes where you live in the UK a dog's age and whether they have been neutered or spayed among other things.
When it comes to food costs you need to buy the best quality food whether wet or dry making sure it suits the different stages of a dog’s life. This would set you back between £40 - £50 a month. On top of this you need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with a Grand Bleu de Gascogne and this includes their initial vaccinations their annual boosters the cost of neutering or spaying a dog when the time is right and their yearly health checks all of which quickly adds up to over £1200 a year.
As a rough guide the average cost to keep and care for a Grand Blue de Gascogne would be between £120 to £200 a month depending on the level of insurance cover you opt to buy for your dog but this does not include the initial cost of buying a healthy well-bred Kennel Club registered pedigree Grand Bleu de Gascogne puppy.
When visiting and buying any puppy or dog there are many important things to consider and questions to ask of the breeder/seller. You can read our generic puppy/dog advice here which includes making sure you see the puppy with its mother and to verify that the dog has been wormed and microchipped.
Grand Bleu are rarely seen in the UK which means that well-bred puppies can often command a lot of money. As such with Grand Bleu de Gascogne there is specific advice questions and protocols to follow when buying a puppy which are as follows: