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Grand Bleu De Gascogne
The Grand Bleu de Gascogne is a large to giant sized purebred from France and it has a life span of 10 to 12 years. It is an aristocratic looking hound, developed centuries ago to hunt with, one of a number of types of Bleu Gascogne dogs. It is a scenthound and was and still is typically used in packs to hunt with. It is a rare breed even in France but as well as being a good hunting hound it is can also be a good companion though it is not the best choice for families with children.
|The Grand Bleu de Gascogne at a Glance|
|Name||Grand Bleu de Gascogne|
|Other names||Bleu de Gascogne, Large Blue Gascony Hound|
|Average size||Large to giant|
|Average weight||80 to 120 pounds|
|Average height||23 to 28 inches|
|Life span||10 to 12 years|
|Coat type||Short and thick|
|Color||Mottled black and white|
|Popularity||Not recognized by the AKC|
|Tolerance to heat||Good|
|Tolerance to cold||Good to very good|
|Shedding||Average – some hair will be left around the home|
|Drooling||Fairly high – expect slobber and drool|
|Obesity||Average – measure food and track its exercise|
|Grooming/brushing||Average – brush twice a week|
|Barking||Frequent – train it to stop on command|
|Exercise needs||High – needs active owners and to be hunted with regularly|
|Trainability||Difficult – needs experienced owners|
|Friendliness||Good to very good|
|Good first dog||Low – needs experienced owners|
|Good family pet||Moderate – some can be good if properly trained and socialized|
|Good with children||Moderate – some can be good if properly trained and socialized|
|Good with other dogs||Very good with socialized – it is a pack dog|
|Good with other pets||Moderate – socialization is essential as has a high prey drive|
|Good with strangers||Average – can be wary, socialization needed|
|Good apartment dog||No – too large, needs space and a yard|
|Handles alone time well||Low – does not like to be alone for long periods of time|
|Health issues||Fairly healthy but some issues can be Hip/elbow dysplasia, ear and eye problems, allergies and bloat|
|Medical expenses||$485 a year for basic health care and pet insurance|
|Food expenses||$300 a year for a good quality dry dog food and treats|
|Miscellaneous expenses||$245 a year for miscellaneous items, toys, license and basic training|
|Average annual expenses||$1030 as a starting figure|
|Cost to purchase||$1,500|
|Rescue organizations||None breed specific, look to local shelters and rescues|
|Biting Statistics||None reported|
The Grand Bleu de Gascogne’s Beginnings
The Grand Bleu de Gascogne has been around for hundreds of years and is from the original Bleu Gascogne breed. It is believed it descends from ancestors that include the English Southern Hound and the Bloodhound. During the Middle Ages the wealthy and royal enjoyed hunting with hounds, it was not just a time of relaxation and fun, it was also a time when plots and politics occurred too. At first not much attention was given to the breeding of dogs for this but as hunts grew in organization and importance the dogs involved became more valued and some focus began to occur.
Breeding programs became a thing, one of the earliest being monks and the development of the Bloodhound. Because of this success and others, the practice of focused breeding spread and all over France different regional hounds were developed. The Bleu de Gascogne being one of them with evidence it has been around since the late Middle Ages. Gascony hounds were known for their large size and their mottled coats. They were used to hunt large game with and its main prey was the wolf. It and other hounds were so good at hunting wolves that they were hunted to extinction.
Unlike a lot of French Hounds the Bleu de Gascogne did become known outside of France, it has a following in the US, coming there sometime when the French had colonies there. At this time all types of Bleu de Gascognes were of one type. But eventually hunters started to breed for a smaller dog, and then a couple of other types. The large hunting hound known back then as Bleu de Gascogne is today called the Grand Bleu de Gascogne. In France the dog dropped in popularity when the wolves were gone and then the French Revolution and the two world wars also damaged its popularity and numbers.
New Lease on Life
However it did not become extinct like a number of other French breeds. It is though rare even in its native France and actually has more numbers in the US. There is also a pack of them in Africa kept to hunt Leopards! It is recognized by the UKC and was done so in 1991 but is not recognized by the AKC. It also has recognition from the FCI. It is rarely kept as just a companion, being a working dog and very much a pack dog at that.
The Dog You See Today
The Grand Bleu de Gascogne is a large to giant dog weighing 80 to 120 pounds and standing 23 to 28 inches tall. It is actually one of the largest scent hounds there are. It is aristocratic looking, being lean but muscular, having strong and long legs and a thick long tail often held in a saber position, upright. It is known for its very attractive coloring which is white with mottled black which creates the blue look. On each side of its head are black patches and around its ears. Most think it is bi-colored but in fact it is tri-colored as it does have a small amount of tan on the face, legs and tail. The coat is smooth and short.
It has a domed head and a long snout. There is loose skin around the face and lips that give it a wrinkly appearance. Its ears are low set and hang down and its lips droop too. All of this gives it a sad expression even when it is not. Its eyes are a chestnut color and the lower eyelid is also loose so it droops slightly meaning you can see some red.
The Inner Grand Bleu de Gascogne
The GBDG is friendly to most people though with strangers it can be a little more distant or wary until it gets to know them. It is important to say that since this dog is kept as a working dog primarily observations about its personality and temperament are about it being that as well as a companion, not about it being just a companion. Some are able to adjust to living with a family after a hunt and some not as much. Socialization here plays a key role. It is a dedicated and hard working dog, and in the right home with proper care can be well behaved, affectionate and loyal. It is not though a natural family dog and it would need a considerable amount of exercise and training to be able to be happy in such a role.
It should never be aggressive though or shy and it is certainly not for first time owners. It is a pack dog and needs that kind of companionship, and in some cases it can get that from its owners. That would mean though that it would not like to be left alone for long periods. It is also a vocal dog, it is meant to bay when hunting so hunters can stay on its trail. It is loud and it can sustain that for a long time so not best with close neighbors and better in a rural setting! Recently a very few select breeders are trying to breed the dog as just a companion but the numbers are limited because of the high needs they have.
Living with a Grand Bleu de Gascogne
What will training look like?
The Grand Bleu de Gascogne is a hard dog to train so experience is needed. It can be strong willed and stubborn and it needs owners who are very firm and consistent, always in control, confident and calm, patient and clear pack leaders. It has been bred to be this way as it suits it when hunting so there will be times when it has selective hearing or when it challenges your authority. Stay in charge but be positive in your training methods. Be prepared to spend more time on this than with other dogs, praise and motivate it and keep sessions short and interesting. Early socialization is vital especially if you want it to be part of the family when you are not hunting with it. Show it different places, people, sounds, situations and animals and what the acceptable response it to them all.
How active is the Grand Bleu de Gascogne?
The GBDG has a great amount of endurance and stamina, when it is on a scent it can track for hours and will stay on it. It is best kept to hunt with alongside being a companion as that is what it loves to do. If you are only hunting occasionally though, or not at all you need to give it an absolute minimum of 2 hours a day, more ideally. An hours brisk walk morning and night, and then as well as that play time with you daily too. It also needs a large yard or even land to play and explore in, and safe off leash time regularly so it can roam and run. Never take it off leash though when out walking in a non-contained area, that scent it want to follow means it will not return to you even if you call it. It also needs mental stimulation so that it does not become bored. If it is under worked it will be destructive, restless, unhappy, hyper and hard to live with. If you cannot give it over 2 hours a day to satisfy it this is not the dog for you.
Caring for the Grand Bleu de Gascogne
As the coat on this breed is short and smooth it is easy to brush when it is needed and thankfully that is not too often. About once a week should be enough, maybe twice, to keep on top of the loose hair as it does shed an average to above average amount. It is not a breed that needs professional grooming and it should be bathed just as needed to avoid drying it the natural oils it needs in its skin. When it is time to bathe only use a dog shampoo.
The ears will need to be checked once a week for infection signs such as bad odor, redness and being sensitive. Then they can be cleaned weekly too using a damp cloth or dog ear solution and cotton balls. When you clean your dog’s ears never put anything into its ears as that can damage them and cause pain. Just wipe the sections that are easy to reach. The nails should be checked and clipped if they get too long, taking care not to go too far down the nail where the blood vessels and nerves are. Cutting there can cause bleeding and pain. Brush its teeth at least two to three times a week for good dental and gum health.
A dog of this size will eat about 4 to 7 cups of a good quality or better dry dog food a day, split into at least two meals to avoid causing bloat. How much it will eat exactly can vary based on its size, but also on it level of activity, metabolism, health and age. Make sure it has access to fresh water also.
How is the Grand Bleu de Gascogne with children and other animals?
The Grand Bleu de Gascogne can be okay with children with socialization but it does vary from one dog to another, some being more affectionate and some being less. As it is not kept solely as a family dog though it is hard to say what it is like with any consistency. It has been bred to work in a pack so with dogs it knows it gets along well apart from the usual pack issues of dominance. With strange dogs it is less easy going and if you have one and want to bring home a new dog take some care with the introduction. Its high prey drive means it is not best with non-canine pets including rabbits or cats. It will want to chase them. Some can accept them if well socialized and raised with them but there are no certainties.
What Might Go Wrong?
The GBDG will live for about 10 to 12 years and is fairly healthy but some issues to look out for are joint dysplasia, ear infections, allergies, bloat and eye problems. It can also be prone to tooth decay so make sure you do spend time brushing them.
The Grand Bleu de Gascogne is not a people aggressive dog. It may be large and imposing to look at but it is very unlikely to attack someone. In reports of bodily harm done by dog attacks in the US and Canada over the last 35 years there is no mention of this dog. Make sure it is well socialized and trained, exercised and cared for and that it gets the stimulation and attention it needs and these things can limit the chances of it having an off day.
Your Pup’s Price Tag
A Grand Bleu de Gascogne puppy will cost about $1500, it is a rare dog and that is just from a decent and experienced breeder. If you want to get on a waiting list of a top breeder, looking for show dog qualities for example, the price is even more. Avoid trying to find quicker and sometimes cheaper options like backyard breeders, puppy mills or some pet stores. These places are generally not good to their animals and are sometimes even cruel. There is also the $50 to $400 adoption option from a local shelter or rescue.
Once you have your dog chosen and it is coming home there are some things to get for it. It needs a carrier to come home in, a crate, bedding, bowls, leash and collar for example and these will cost about $220. There are also tests and procedures a vet needs to do with it once it is home. Deworming, blood tests, micro chipping, spaying or neutering, vaccinations and a physical exam plus others will come to about $290.
For as long as your dog is alive there will be costs in caring and providing for its needs. Yearly costs covers things like a good quality dry dog food and treats for about $300 a year. Basic health care like shots, flea and tick prevention, check ups and pet insurance will be about $485 a year. Then miscellaneous costs like license, basic training, miscellaneous items and toys will be another $245 a year. This gives an estimated starting figure of $1030 a year.
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The Grand Bleu de Gascogne is a fantastic hunting hound and can be devoted to its owner if it is not part of large pack. It is loyal, some can be affectionate and it is hard working and committed. It is not kept as a companion only so not much can be said reliably about it in such a situation, though the other Bleu Gascognes seem to do fine at it, they just need strong leadership, excellent socialization and training and plenty of mental and physical activity.
Featured Image Credit: PxHere
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 Grand Bleu de Gascogne’s Beginnings
- New Lease on Life
- The Dog You See Today
- The Inner Grand Bleu de Gascogne
- Living with a Grand Bleu de Gascogne
- Caring for the Grand Bleu de Gascogne
- How is the Grand Bleu de Gascogne with children and other animals?
- What Might Go Wrong?
- Your Pup’s Price Tag