Key Breed Facts
Intelligence / Trainability
Children and Other Pets
Caring for a Grand Bleu De Gascogne
Average Cost to keep/care for a Grand Bleu De Gascogne
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 an ancient breed with records of these handsome hounds dating back to the 14th century when they were used in packs to hunt wolves, boars and bears. Over the centuries, they have been used to create many other French scenthound breeds with all of the dogs developed in the "Midi" having the Grand Bleu in their ancestry. They are the descendants of a now extinct breed, namely the St Hubert Hound which was a Bloodhound-type dog that existed many centuries ago in Medieval times.
They have always been highly prized for their hunting abilities in their native France and elsewhere in Europe and even today, these noble dogs are often seen on the hunting fields of France tracking down larger game such as wild boar and deer. Although much lesser known here in the UK, the Grand Bleu is a hound that is steadily making their mark not only in the field, but with other people too although they still remain a very "specialist" dog and not so much a companion or family pet.
Height at the withers: Males 64 - 70 cm, Females 60 - 65 cm
Average weight: Males 32 - 35 kg, Females 32 - 35 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 is as follows:
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 as long as it has a large enough run attached to it for them to be outside whenever they want.
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.
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.
For further advice please read our article on Keeping Children Safe around Dogs.
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:
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.
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 scent hound 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.
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 £74.50 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £138.40 a month (quote as of July 2016). 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 or not 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 all 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 pedigree or other puppy.
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