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The Braque Francais actually covers two dogs from France, the Braque Francais (Pyrenees) and the Braque Francais (Gascogne). Both dogs are almost the same in terms of temperament, how they look, what they were bred for, the differences being really the regions they are from and the Pyrenees is smaller than the Gascogne. The former is also the more popular of the two with higher numbers particularly in countries other than France. Both are upland bird dogs especially bred to hunt woodcock, they are not just pointing dogs, they follow a scent trail, point, flush and retrieve too. Both dogs have a number of variations on their names and both can be great family dogs too being eager to please, friendly and loyal.
|The Braque Francais at A Glance|
|Other names||Braque Francais (Gascogne): Braque Francais de Grand Taille, Large French Pointer, French Pointer (Gascony), French Pointer (Gascon), Gascon French Pointer; *Braque Francais (Pyrenees): Braque Francais de Petite Taille, Small French Pointer, French Pointer (Pyrenees), French Pointer (Pyrenean), Pyrenean French Pointer|
|Nicknames||Braque Francaises is the plurual term|
|Average size||Medium to large|
|Average weight||35 to 80 pounds|
|Average height||18 to 27 inches|
|Life span||12 to 15 years|
|Coat type||Short, smooth, Gascogne has thicker hair than the Pyrenean|
|Color||Chestnut brown, either solid or mixed with white. With or without ticking or roaning or tan markings.|
|Popularity||Not yet a fully registered member of the AKC|
|Intelligence||Excellent – this is a very intelligent breed|
|Tolerance to heat||Very good|
|Tolerance to cold||Very good|
|Shedding||Low to moderate – some hair around the home may occur|
|Drooling||Moderate to average – especially likely when eating and drinking|
|Obesity||Above average – make sure its food is measured and it gets enough exercise|
|Grooming/brushing||Low – brush once a week|
|Barking||Rare – does not bark a great deal|
|Exercise needs||High – very active breed|
|Trainability||Easy to train – especially with the right approach|
|Good first dog||Good to very good|
|Good family pet||Very good with socialization|
|Good with children||Very good with socialization|
|Good with other dogs||Good to very good with socialization|
|Good with other pets||Good – needs socialization but has high prey drive|
|Good with strangers||Yes|
|Good apartment dog||No – needs space and a yard|
|Handles alone time well||No – can suffer from separation anxiety|
|Health issues||Healthy breed in general, some issues include hip dysplasia, eye problems, overeating and bloat|
|Medical expenses||$485 a year for basic health care needs and pet insurance|
|Food expenses||$270 a year for a good quality dry dog food and dog treats|
|Miscellaneous expenses||$245 a year for license, basic training, miscellaneous items and toys|
|Average annual expenses||$1000 as a starting figure|
|Cost to purchase||$1,600|
|Rescue organizations||None breed specific, look to local shelters and rescues|
|Biting Statistics||None reported|
The Braque Francais’ Beginnings
The Braque Francais dates back to the 1600s and is one of the oldest French pointing dogs. It comes from the Central Pyrenees and the Southwest of France. As mentioned there are two types, the smaller, more popular and faster Pyrenean and the larger more methodical Gascogne. In the 1400s there was just one breed but then different regions bred hunting dogs to suit different terrain and climates so more variations occurred and different types and even eventually breeds were developed. These two types in particular may have developed from the Old Spanish Pointer though this is not certain.
The first club for this breed was started in 1850 and by 1880 the two types both had standards written for them. They were also registered by the SCC (Société Centrale Canine), the French Kennel Club. A search around this time found two varieties, the Pyrenean and the Gascogne, both valued for being born half trained and being responsive. There were several names used for each of them. The Pyrenean is also known as the Pyrenean French Pointer, Braque Francais de Petite Taille, French Pointer (Pyrenees), Small French Pointer and the French Pointer (Pyrenean). The Gascogne is also known as the Braque Francais de Grand Taille, Gascon French Pointer, Large French Pointer, French Pointer (Gascon) and the French Pointer (Gascony). However with two world wars in the 20th century dog numbers plummeted and breeders had to focus attention on survival. The Braque Francais was in trouble.
New Lease on Life
Thankfully due to the hard work of breeders both types survived and numbers have recovered, though the Pyrenees more so thanks to its increased popularity. For years the breed was found almost only in France but then in the 1970s Gelinas of Quebec, Canada imported some and began a breeding program. He also in 1992 wrote an article to increase interest in the breed and since then numbers have grown further. While the Canadian Kennel Club has given it full recognition as has the UKC, FCI and NAVDHA, the AKC has yet to. Both types are used today for casual hunting and are still popular in France but more uncommon elsewhere.
The Dog You See Today
These are medium to large dogs weighing 35 to 80 pounds and standing 18 to 27 inches tall. The Pyrenean is at the smaller to mid range, and the Gascogne is at the mid to upper range. The Pyrenean has skin that is tighter with a short, fine, smooth coat. The Gascogne has loose skin and a short smooth coat that is thicker. Both are colored brown and white, or solid chestnut. The legs are long and the tail used to be docked but now in some places that is banned so is left natural which can be short or long. Both dogs are lean, athletic looking and muscular.
The head is narrow and refined, especially in the Gascogne and it has longer ears. The muzzle in this dog is more squared looking because of its pendulous lips, the Pyrenees muzzle is narrower. In both the muzzle is a little shorter than the skull and some have a concave so the nose points upwards. The nose is brown and wide and the eyes are either dark yellow or chestnut brown.
The Inner Braque Francais
The Braque Francais is an affectionate and loving dog and makes a great family dog or companion as well as being an excellent bird hunter. It is very much a people dog, it likes to be around people, it is devoted to its family and can even be overly needy in terms of staying close to you and the level of attention it needs from you. In fact it does not like being left alone at all, needs owners who are in more than out, and can develop separation anxiety otherwise. It is eager to please and most are very friendly as well as being social. How it reacts to strangers can vary from one to another, some are very welcoming and enjoy meeting them, some are more shy.
Unfortunately shyness and being nervous is something some lines have an issue with in their dogs, so these will need special attention in terms of socialization and training. This is not a dominant breed and they are not good guard dogs. They are somewhat sensitive so should not be treated harshly or have physical punishments imposed on them. They tend to be gentle and sweet unless they are out hunting. Then they are more focused and committed. They do well kept as casual hunting dogs and should be homed with active people.
Living with a Braque Francais
What will training look like?
As these dogs are very intelligent, like to be with you, are eager to please and inclined to listen and obey, training them should be easy, especially with the right approach. Because they are not especially dominant even inexperienced owners can have great success with them. In terms of its hunting, some suggest these are born half trained already they take to it so well. Being sensitive and sometimes nervous they respond best to gentle and positive training techniques, offer them treats as motivation, praise and reward them, avoid punishing them physically or scolding them. You can still be firm with them and make it clear you are the boss, just be consistent. Early socialization is also important, introduce it to different places, sounds, animals and people so it learns how to react, what is appropriate and is a dog you can trust.
How active is the Braque Francais?
It is an active breed, it was after all developed to be a hunting dog so it has stamina and energy and needs lots of physical activity and mental stimulation. Make sure it gets a couple of long walks, about 30 minutes each twice a day and then give it some physical play with you too. Training and certain toys will give its brain a good work out and it should have access to a yard to play in. It should get time off leash somewhere safe for it to run, and would enjoy weekend hikes and adventures, going for a jog with you or a bicycle ride. If it does not get enough exercise it can be hyper, loud, destructive and hard to live with. When it gets enough activity it is happy to be laid back and calm indoors.
Caring for the Braque Francais
Both types of the Braque Francais are easy to groom and do not require a lot of attention. There will not be any need for professional grooming, just brushing once or twice a week and bathing as needed. Both do shed, so expect hair in the home though the Gascogne is thought to shed more heavily in general. Too frequent bathing and using any thing other than a dog shampoo can dry out its skin and lead to skin problems.
The ears should be checked weekly for infection signs like redness, swelling or irritation, and cleaned by wiping the areas that can be reached. Do not insert anything into the ear to clean it as that could hurt the dog and cause permanent damage. The nails need to be cut when they get too long if it does not wear then down naturally. Just take care not to cut into the quick of the nail as that hurts and leads to bleeding. Brush its teeth two to three times a week using only a dog toothpaste and toothbrush.
The amount the dog will eat depends on its size, health, age, level of activity and metabolism rate. It can range between 2 to 5 cups of a good quality dry dog food each day, split into two meals. Make sure it has plenty of fresh water too.
How is the Braque Francais with children and other animals?
With good socialization and training the Braque Francais is good with children, playful, lively, affectionate and attached. However young children should be supervised as they can be rough in their play and toddlers easily get knocked over. They also need to be taught how to touch and play with care. It should also get on well with other dogs but you should still supervise the introduction of your dog with a strange one. Because of its hunting instincts it is not as good with other pets in the home especially birds. Make sure they are well socialized and supervised as needed and consider not bringing home a pet parrot!
What Might Go Wrong?
They have a life span of about 12 to 15 years and are in generally very good health though there are some issues to be aware of. They include patellar luxation, eye problems, joint dysplasia, demodectic mange, cleft lip, Pannus and aortic stenosis.
In reports of people being attacked by dogs and having bodily harm done in the US and Canada over the last 35 years there is no mention of the Braque Francais. It is not an aggressive or dominant breed and unless it is being threatened, taunted or such is very unlikely to be involved in such incidents. No dog is 100% guaranteed to never be drawn into something, even those top popular family friendly breeds, and size is not a factor either, all that really affects is how much damage the dog can do. As long as you supervise your dog, make sure it is well socialized and trained, and you give it the attention and exercise it needs you are doing the best you can to limit any risk of an incident.
Your Pup’s Price Tag
A Braque Francais puppy will cost about $1600 for a pet quality dog from a decent breeder. If you want something from a top breeder and are perhaps intending to raise a show dog then you can expect to pay a lot more than that even. It is likely you will get put on a waiting list, and you need to do some homework to find a decent breeder. Spend the time doing it, this is far preferable to using a puppy mill type breeder or an ignorant back yard breeder. There is the option of looking at shelters and rescues if you do not have to have a purebred. They have a lot to offer and there are a lot of dogs hoping for a new life. Adoption fees range from $50 to $400 and most cover some initial medical needs too.
Those initial medical costs include things like shots, deworming, blood tests, check ups, micro chipping and spaying or neutering. They come to about $290. Items your dog needs includes a carrier, crate, bowls, collar and leash and such for another $240.
Annual costs come to a starting figure of $1000 and that covers about $485 for medical needs like pet insurance, check ups, basic health care like shots and flea and tick prevention. A good quality dry dog food and treats will cost another $270 a year. Miscellaneous costs like toys, miscellaneous items, license and basic training are the final $245 a year.
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The Braque Francais is an intelligent and adept bird hunter but is also a great companion and can be a good family dog. It needs active owners and homes that do not have a lot of other pets, especially birds. As it does need to stay close to you it also needs you home more often then not, and the fact that it will follow you around needs to not bother you. This is especially a good dog for people looking for a dog to do some casual hunting with, and then keep as a loyal companion too.
Featured Image Credit: Zuzule, Shutterstock
Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts’ knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.
- The Braque Francais’ Beginnings
- New Lease on Life
- The Dog You See Today
- The Inner Braque Francais
- Living with a Braque Francais
- Caring for the Braque Francais
- How is the Braque Francais with children and other animals?
- What Might Go Wrong?
- Your Pup’s Price Tag