The large, elegant Gascon Saintongeois is a rare French dog breed that’s not well known outside its geographic area of origin, but once you see one of these handsome dogs, you’re not likely to forget it! The Gascon Saintongeois is a scent hound that works in packs to hunt large game like deer and wild boar.
24 – 28 inches
50 – 75 pounds
12 – 13 years
White with black and tan markings
Active families with older children, large homes with fenced-in yards
Vocal, independent, calm, athletic, reserved with strangers
The Gascon Saintongeois is a tall, muscular dog with a large muzzle and very long, floppy ears. It’s also very vocal and the sound of a pack of them baying as they run through the countryside is impressive. They were bred to hunt and are still used by hunters today, but they can make good pets for the right families too.
We’ll be talking about the original Grand (large) Gascon Saintongeois here. A smaller Petit Gascon Saintongeois variety also exists. While smaller than the original breed, it’s still a solid, medium-sized dog.
Gascon Saintongeois Characteristics
Gascon Saintongeois Puppies
Looking for a Gascon Saintongeois puppy? This rare breed can be very hard to find outside of France, Italy, and a handful of other European countries. Even in France, it’s not among the most common or popular dog breeds. When you combine its rarity with its primary function as a hunting dog, finding a Gascon Saintongeois puppy to be your next family pet can be difficult.
Rare dog breeds can often be more costly than more common ones, and when you buy one from another country, you’ll also have to factor in transportation costs.
Temperament & Intelligence of the Gascon Saintongeois
What’s it like to own one of these unique dogs? French dog breed experts say that the Gascon Saintongeois is affectionate towards its owners but not overly social with strangers. While they do certainly get excited while working, these dogs can be calm during their “downtime.”
The Gascon Saintongeois is very much a pack hunting dog and is often kept in a kennel-type environment with fellow pack members. Living in a household with other dogs is not a problem for the breed. As with other hunting dogs smaller pets like cats can be viewed as prey, and so care should be taken when bringing your dog outside as the scent of prey could set it off running!
The Gascon Saintongeois is primarily a country dog, not a city dog. The breed does not do well in small indoor or outdoor spaces. You’ll need a home and yard with plenty of space, and the yard should also be fenced for safety if your dog is off its leash.
Are These Dogs Good for Families? 👪
The Gascon Saintongeois is not generally recommended for families with young children. These dogs are large and powerful and can easily overwhelm a small child. Older children can do well with the breed, especially if they are experienced with large dogs and can control them when outdoors. They’re best suited for experienced dog owners, though, who are comfortable training and handling a big, independent-minded dog.
Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets?
The Gascon Saintongeois is a pack-hunting dog, so it is often raised and kept in kennels with other similar dogs. While they get along with their packmates and thrive in a group environment with their canine companions, they may not be very friendly towards unfamiliar dogs.
As we mentioned, like other hounds bred for hunting, the G.S. has a strong prey drive, which means that this breed may not do well with the family cat or other small animals, especially if they are introduced as adults. Introducing them to other pets when they are very young is a better option, as they will view them as part of the “pack.”
Things to Know When Owning a Gascon Saintongeois:
How easy is it to care for one of these dogs? The Gascon Saintongeois is not your average family dog and has special requirements that do not make it as easy to care for as more popular breeds, like the Labrador Retriever, for example. Let’s look at a few of these needs next.
Food & Diet Requirements 🦴
The Gascon Saintongeois needs to be fed a quality diet that is appropriate for its size, life stage, and activity level. Food that’s formulated for large breed dogs would be ideal for the Gascon Saintongeois. Puppy, adult, and senior formulas can be helpful throughout your dog’s lifespan. The Gascon Saintongeois is not a breed that is prone to obesity. It’s an active dog, so feeding multiple smaller meals throughout the day (preferably after active exercise) can be beneficial.
Not surprisingly, a dog bred to chase prey for long distances requires a lot of activity and plenty of space to run. The Gascon Saintongeois is known for having a lot of stamina and enjoys vigorous exercise. If your dog is not used as a hunting dog, taking your dog for long walks or jogs is a good idea. Be sure that your Gascon Saintongeois remains on its leash as that sensitive nose will quickly sniff out a nearby squirrel or another animal and your dog will probably want to go after it!
A positive but firm approach is key to training a Gascon Saintongeois. This breed is not a good match for a novice or timid dog owner. Its large size, high energy level, and independent-mindedness can make training a challenge for inexperienced owners. Previous experience with other types of scent or sighthounds can be helpful.
Many experienced trainers will use positive reinforcement training techniques that are tailored to the dog’s innate tendencies. For a scent hound like the Gascon Saintongeois, you can use this eagerness to follow scents to your advantage by letting your dog follow a scent after it has shown that it can heel and come when called. Don’t be shy about working with a professional trainer when you have a strong-willed dog.
While training a Gascon Saintongeois can be a challenge, grooming is easy! The Gascon has a short, glossy coat that is easy to maintain, and a simple brushing once a week should be enough to keep your dog’s coat clean and healthy. You can also use a grooming glove on a short-coated dog like the Gascon Saintongeois. Of course, occasional baths may be necessary for any dog that spends a lot of time outdoors in different weather conditions.
Health and Conditions 🏥
Because the Gascon Saintongeois is such an uncommon dog breed, it can be difficult to know if there are inherited health conditions the breed may suffer from, and one of the founding breeds has gone extinct. However, there is some genetic health information on the other founding breed, the Grand Bleu de Gascogne. Besides genetic health issues, some other health conditions are common to large dogs and dogs with floppy ears, two characteristics of the Gascon Saintongeois.
Although it’s a generally healthy breed, there are a couple of serious inherited health issues that can be seen in the Bleu de Gascogne, one of the two founding breeds of the Gascon Saintongeois. These conditions can be inherited by the Gascon Saintongeois too:
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): This is a degenerative eye disease that can be found in several dog breeds. Affected dogs will experience gradual vision loss, starting with night vision and then progressing to daytime vision.
Degenerative myelopathy (DM): This is an inherited, fatal neurological disorder that begins with paralysis of the hind limbs, then progresses to the entire body, leading to full paralysis, incontinence, and difficulty swallowing.
These are some conditions that are often seen in dogs with similar body types to the Gascon Saintongeois:
Otitis externa (ear infection): Dogs with long floppy ears like the Gascon Saintongeois can be prone to infections of the ear canal. The floppy ears create a warm, moist environment where yeast and bacteria can develop and cause infection and inflammation. Keeping your dog’s ears clean and dry can help prevent this.
Hip and elbow dysplasia: As a tall, large breed dog, the Gascon Saintongeois can be prone to joint problems seen in many large dogs. Hip and elbow dysplasia are joint malformations that can cause pain, mobility issues, and arthritis. Feeding your puppy food formulated for large breed puppies can help prevent joint problems later in life.
Male vs Female
Are there differences between male and female Gascon Saintongeois dogs? As a large breed dog, the males tend to be bigger than the females. This is a phenomenon known as sexual dimorphism. A full-grown male Grand Gascon Saintongeois can be very tall, standing up to 28 inches high at the shoulder. Females are still tall, at around 24–26 inches. Males can weigh between 75–80 pounds, while females are a bit lighter but still large. As we mentioned, the Petit Gascon Saintongeois is smaller, but still a medium-sized dog.
Any temperament differences that you see between male and female dogs of the Gascon Saintongeois (or any) breed tend to get less significant after spaying and neutering. Spaying and neutering can help with behavioral issues like aggression or restlessness, and can also help prevent unwanted litters and certain kinds of health problems as your dog grows older.
3 Little-Known Facts About the Gascon Saintongeois
1. The Gascon Saintongeois is a mix of two older French hound breeds.
In the 19th century, Count Joseph de Carayon-Latour bred the few remaining Saintonge Hounds with Bleu de Gascogne Hounds to create the Gascon Saintongeois.
2. One of the founding breeds is now extinct.
Only a few Saintonge Hounds existed when the Gascon Saintongeois was created and the breed did not survive, although many of its characteristics were passed on to the Gascon Saintongeois.
3. The Petit Gascon Saintongeois was created in the 20th century.
A smaller-sized version of the breed was created in the 20th century to hunt small game, like rabbits.
Will the Gascon Saintongeois be your next pet? Most likely not—unless you’re a hunter living in the French countryside! While this handsome dog breed is appealing, its rarity and specialized requirements mean it won’t be making any “most popular dog breed” lists any time soon.
Want a similar type of scent hound? The Bleu de Gascogne, one of the two founding breeds of the Gascon Saintongeois might be a little easier to come by. And did you know that the Bleu de Gascogne went into other breeds besides the Gascon Saintongeois.? It’s also an ancestor of an English hound known as the Dumfriesshire Black and Tan Foxhound as well as the Bluetick Coonhound, a popular American breed.
While you may not easily be able to get a Gascon Saintongeois in the United States, you can be the proud owner of one of its distant cousins!
Featured Image Credit: The Len, Shutterstock