Meet the Poitevin! This unique French scent hound is also known as the Chien de Haut-Poitou. The Poitevin is a rare dog breed that was developed in the French province of Poitou in the 1600s.
Tricolor (black, tan, and white) or bicolor (tan and white)
Experienced dog owners seeking an active, independent dog
Independent, strong-willed, loyal to family but aloof with strangers
The Poitevin is descended from a group of English Staghounds brought to France and subsequently bred with local French hounds. In more recent years, the small population of Poitevin dogs was supplemented with English Foxhound breeding stock.
The Poitevin is known for its elegant, refined appearance and impressive stamina, speed, and hunting abilities.
The Poitevin is a scent hound bred to hunt large game in packs. Years ago, the breed hunted wolves; today the Poitevin is still used to hunt deer and boar.
With their distinctive long noses and floppy ears, Poitevin puppies are undeniably cute. But before you get your heart set on acquiring a Poitevin, you should know that this is an uncommon dog breed, seldom found in the US. While it may be possible to import a Poitevin puppy from France, this can be a complicated and expensive undertaking.
It is also worth keeping in mind that the Poitevin is a breed that is happiest working and running in a pack, and it is not a traditional family pet. They will need an experienced dog owner that can offer this dog plenty of outdoor space to run in.
Temperament & Intelligence of the Poitevin
What is the Poitevin’s personality like? The key to understanding the Poitevin is to remember that this breed was created to hunt large game animals in packs. This type of dog is not always the best choice if you’re looking for an affectionate family pet.
Are These Dogs Good for Families? 👪
The Poitevin breed is not generally recommended as a pet for families with small children. Its large size and high energy could be too overwhelming for a child.
Additionally, while the Poitevin is loyal to its immediate human family, it is not an especially loving dog, and it is not very well-suited to cuddling or sitting on the couch with you.
The best match for a Poitevin is an experienced and assertive dog owner, willing to put in the effort to train and socialize this strong-minded breed.
Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets?
As a pack hound, the Poitevin just may be happier with other dogs than with people. Hunting Poitevins are often housed together in kennels.
They get along with other dogs, especially dogs of similar size and temperament. They may not be the best match for a household with very small dogs or cats.
Remember that many dogs bred to hunt have a strong prey drive, which can make them unpredictable, or even dangerous, around small pets.
Things to Know When Owning a Poitevin:
What’s it like to care for a Poitevin? Let’s look at the care needs for this breed.
Food & Diet Requirements 🦴
The Poitevin is a large, high-energy dog. A diet designed for active dogs or larger breeds is a good fit for the Poitevin.
All dogs, regardless of breed, should be fed a diet appropriate for their life stage: puppy, adult, senior.
The Poitevin has a tall, deep-chested body type. Many owners of tall dogs like to use elevated food and water bowls. This makes eating and drinking more comfortable, and reduces the risk of bloat, which we’ll talk about in a bit.
The Poitevin thrives on plenty of activity and exercise. Fans of the breed note that it has incredible stamina and can hunt for many hours without a break.
Any Poitevin kept as a pet must get a minimum of 1 hour of exercise each day. Going for a walk around the neighborhood is not enough to keep a Poitevin happy.
Some activities are designed to keep scent hounds like the Poitevin content if they are not used as working hunting dogs. Owners can engage their dogs in scent and tracking games, like hiding a favorite toy for your dog to sniff out.
The Poitevin is a skilled hunting dog by nature. But natural abilities are not the same thing as learned ones. Breed experts describe the Poitevin as stubborn and challenging to train.
Owners should be experienced and dedicated trainers themselves or work with a professional dog trainer. This breed is not for the faint of heart!
Because Poitevins tend to be wary of strangers outside of the family unit, socialization is a very important part of training. Like other hound breeds, the Poitevin is a vocal dog, so barking can be another training challenge.
The Poitevin has a short and glossy coat that is low shedding and low maintenance. A weekly brushing should be all the coat grooming care a Poitevin needs.
Besides brushing, you should also trim your dog’s nails and brush its teeth regularly. Those long floppy ears will also require regular cleaning.
Health and Conditions 🏥
Because the Poitevin is so rare, information on any breed-specific health issues is hard to come by. We do know that the modern Poitevin dog has a good amount of English Foxhound genetics since that breed was used to supplement the small Poitevin population.
We’ll look at some health conditions common to the English Foxhound, as well as general health issues seen in dogs with similar body types, especially those with long legs, deep chests, and drop ears.
Male vs Female
Are there significant differences between male and female Poitevins? In larger breed dogs like the Poitevin, males are often taller and heavier than females. This is known as sexual dimorphism.
A male Poitevin can be 28 inches tall (measured at the shoulder) and weigh over 65 pounds. In contrast, a female can stand under 24 inches tall and weigh around 45 pounds.
Besides size, temperament can be different between male and female dogs of any breed, but this difference becomes less significant after spay/neuter.
A large, energetic dog like the Poitevin can be a handful if left intact, so spay/neuter is always a good idea to improve temperament and to prevent unwanted puppies and health problems (like certain cancers).
3 Little-Known Facts About the Poitevin
1. There is also a Poitevin horse breed.
The Poitevin is a draft horse from the French region of Poitou, which is also the original home of the Poitevin hound.
2. The Poitevin can run at a speed of up to 35 miles per hour.
This impressive speed is why the Poitevin is often called the Greyhound of French hounds.
3. The Poitevin’s founding breed, the English Staghound, is now extinct.
The Staghound’s end came when most of the last pack had to be destroyed because of a rabies outbreak in the early 1800s.
Will a Poitevin be your next family dog? Unless you’re a deer hunter in France, the answer is probably not. The Poitevin is an uncommon dog breed and one that’s not very well-suited to a calm life in a family home.
As a scent hound that was bred to hunt in packs, the Poitevin is much happier running through the countryside with the gang than sitting on your lap or going for a walk around the block.
But that’s OK…you can still admire this elegant and athletic dog’s good looks from afar. You can also consider acquiring the Poitevin’s “cousin”—the English Foxhound—as a good alternative!
Featured Image Credit: Heldga Madajova, Shutterstock