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Gascon Saintongeois

Nicole Cosgrove

June 18, 2021

The Gascon Saintongeois is a French purebred bred to be a hunting dog that was specifically used in pack hunting. There are two sizes, the Petit Gascon Saintongeois, and the Grand Gascon Saintongeois and they have a life span of 12 to 15 years. It is a scent hound and as well as being good at that it can also be a great and good looking companion in the right home.

Gascon Saintongeois at a Glance
Name Gascon Saintongeois
Other names Virelade Hound, Grand Gascon Saintongeois or Petit Gascon Saintongeois
Nicknames None
Origin France
Average size Large
Average weight 52 to 71 pounds
Average height 22 to 28 inches
Life span 12 to 15 years
Coat type Short, fine, smooth
Hypoallergenic No
Color White with black patches
Popularity Not yet a fully registered member of the AKC
Intelligence High
Tolerance to heat Good to very good
Tolerance to cold Very good
Shedding Low to average – may be some hair in the home
Drooling Average to high – can be some slobber and drool
Obesity Average – measure its food and make sure it is well exercised
Grooming/brushing Low to average – brush once or twice a week
Barking Average to high – unreasonable barking may occur if not exercised enough
Exercise needs High – needs active owners
Trainability Easy with experience
Friendliness Very good – require proper socialization
Good first dog No – require experience
Good family pet Very good with socialization
Good with children Very good with socialization
Good with other dogs Very good with socialization
Good with other pets Moderate – has a high prey drive, socialization essential
Good with strangers Good to very good with socialization
Good apartment dog No – needs space and a yard
Handles alone time well No – can become destructive if left alone too long
Health issues Fairly healthy but some issues include Elbow/hip dysplasia, ear/eye problems, allergies
Medical expenses $485 a year for basic health care and pet insurance
Food expenses $270 a year for a good quality dry dog food and dog treats
Miscellaneous expenses $245 a year for toys, basic training, miscellaneous items and license
Average annual expenses $1000 a year as a starting figure
Cost to purchase $800
Rescue organizations None breed specific, check local rescues and shelters
Biting Statistics None reported “

The Gascon Saintongeois’ Beginnings

The Gascon Saintongeois was bred and developed in the mid 1800s by Baron Joseph de Carayon-LaTour who did so by breeding the Saintongeois hound (now extinct) with the Grand Bleu de Gascognes. Only three Saintongeois had survived the French Revolution and the Grand Bleu was rare too. It was developed to be a typical French hound, muscled, long legs and a lean body and then to be a great hunting dog with a great nose, gallop and voice. The first type was the Grand Gascon Saintongeois (also called the Virelade Hound) and it was used to hunt in packs larger game like roe deer, grey wolf and wild boar.

Then in the mid 1900s in the south west of France hunters took the Grand Gascon Saintongeois and bred it smaller by taking the smallest in the litters to hunt small game like hare and rabbit with. This later became known as the Petit Gascon Saintongeois. It is actually also capable of hunting larger game in packs too. The name Gascon Saintongeois comes from the two dogs used in its breeding. Both types were bred to handle various types of terrain and weather too and have hours of endurance.

New Lease on Life

In 1993 it was recognized by the UKC and the FCI has also recognized it, but it is not recognized by the AKC. However that has not really done anything to improve its numbers outside of France. In its homeland it is valued as a hunting dog and for its easy-going nature that makes it a good companion too. It is not known outside of France though and there are very few breeders and fanciers of this breed elsewhere. As a result it is facing potential difficulty with its numbers being so low.

The Dog You See Today

The Gascon Saintongeois looks very much like most French hounds, it is lean, muscular, long legged and athletic. It is a large dog weighing 52 to 71 pounds and standing 22 to 28 inches tall. It has a deep oval chest that is also broad and a long strong back. Its legs are powerful, it has strong shoulders and the tail is saber shaped with a slight curve. The coat is tight, smooth and short with fine supple skin. Common colors are white with black patches and sometimes ticking or speckling. It can also have tan on the face and a little on the upper thigh called a roe buck mark. The head is long and the muzzle is moderately so. Its lips are pendent and its long ears hang down. Its eyes are chestnut color and dark, and the nose is black.

The Inner Gascon Saintongeois


When out in the field on a hunt the Gascon Saintongeois is keen, enthusiastic, energetic, focused and brave. Off it in the right home it can be gentle, affectionate, calm and really quite endearing. It can be a good companion and family dog, mild mannered and loving towards it family with good socialization and positive training. It is wary of strangers, and if not socialized that may turn to aggression, but with it the dog will just be reserved around them. It is not in general an aggressive dog but if threatened it can react.

It is not a good guard dog as it does not have the drive to defend its territory for that but it can be good as a watchdog, it will bark to let you know of an intruder. Its bark is fairly frequent though so train that to stop on command and keep in mind its voice is deep. It does not like being left alone for long periods of time and will become destructive if you do.

Living with a Gascon Saintongeois

What will training look like?

The Gascon Saintongeois is a smart dog and with a firm owner who stays in control and uses positive training techniques training should be easy. It can have an independent side to it though so if you are too timid or meek it is less likely to listen and will even outright disobey. It likes to please its owner and with things like treats, encouragement and praise it will respond really well. Be ready that interesting smells will distract it! Make sure as well as giving it at least basic obedience training it also gets early socialization. Introduce it to different places, people, sounds, situations and animals so it learns how to react to them.

How active is the Gascon Saintongeois?

This is an active dog though the larger type tends to be a bit less lively and more calm. With enough physical and mental activity it will be calm and happy and healthy, but not enough and it can become bored, hyper active and destructive. It is best in homes with space and a yard and should be taken on a couple of long walks a day. It will also need some play time with you daily, mental stimulation in the form of puzzle toys or agility training, and time off leash somewhere safe where it can run. It has a surprising amount of stamina so short walks around the block are not going to be enough.

Caring for the Gascon Saintongeois

Grooming needs

The coat of this dog is self cleaning so it is easier to look after and needs less bathing. Being short haired it is also easy to brush and it will only need it once or twice a week. This will also help remove some of the loose hair though it is a light to average shedding dog only. This means there will be a little hair around the home but not huge amounts. Only give it a bath using a dog shampoo and do it only when it is really dirty and needs one.

Other needs on regular basis are its ears, its nails and its teeth. Brush its teeth daily if possible or two to three times a week at least using a dog toothpaste and toothbrush. Check its ears once a week for infection signs as it has ears that hang down this is something it is especially prone to. Signs would include things like redness, discharge and bad odor and irritation. If they are fine give them a wipe clean with a cotton ball and a dog ear cleanser or with a damp cloth. Wipe the parts of the ear that can be easily reached do not insert anything into them. That could hurt your dog and cause injury or even permanent damage. Then there are its nails. Some dogs wear their nails down with a lot of physical activity but if this not the case you should clip them when they get too long using dog nail scissors or clippers. Do not cut into the quick of the nail where the blood vessels and nerves are as that would lead to bleeding and pain.

Feeding Time

The Gascon Saintongeois will eat between 2 ½ to 4 ½ cups of a good quality dry dog food a day, split into at least two meals a day. The amount varies between the petit and grand of course due to size, but other factors include age, health, level of activity and metabolism. It also needs water which should be kept as fresh as possible.

How is the Gascon Saintongeois with children and other animals?

With good socialization and when raised with them especially, the Gascon Saintongeois is very good with children. It will play with them, is gentle with them though supervision should still be given to small children as they can get knocked over by mistake. Make sure the kids are taught how to play and touch the dog in a kind and appropriate way. It was bred to hunt in packs with other dogs so can get along with them very well. It likes to have other dogs around but there could be dominance issues if a strange dog were to try it on with it. Being a natural hunter it tends to see small non-canine animals as prey to chase. Socialization can help with that but some dogs are more accepting than others. When it comes to cats if it is raised with them it may get along with them.

What Might Go Wrong?

Health Concerns

It is quite a healthy breed in general, the life span of this dog is 12 to 15 years and possible health issues to be aware of can include joint dysplasia, allergies, eye problems, skin infections, bloat and ear infections.

Biting Statistics

The Gascon Saintongeois is not an aggressive dog so is unlikely to be involved in any incident reported of a dog attacking a person and doing bodily harm. It is not named in reports over the last 35 years in North America, but it is not a common dog in these places. Dogs all have the potential to have an off day or be drawn into something, no breed or size is 100% safe, but proper care can make those risks less. Socialization, training, exercise, stimulation, attention and care and proper feeding are all key.

Your Pup’s Price Tag

The Gascon Saintongeois puppy will be around $800 from a good breeder with experience that can be trusted. If you are looking for something from a top breeder though that price will be a lot higher. Most breeders of this dog can be found in France so there can also be transportation costs. You are likely to be placed on a waiting list so be patient. Do not be tempted to speed it up by using unsavory people like puppy mills, pet stores (some) or backyard breeders. There is also the option of rescue and adoption which is a great way to give a dog a new forever home, but it is fair to say finding purebreds and puppies in shelters is less likely. Adoption fees are around $50 to $400.

Initial costs include items it will need when it comes home and health tests and procedures on its first vet visit. The items will include things like a crate, carrier, leash and collar, bowls and such for about $230. A physical exam, micro chipping, neutering or spaying, deworming, shots and blood tests will be another $290.

The yearly costs will cover areas for its health, food and other miscellaneous needs. Feeding the dog will cost about $270 a year for a good quality dry dog food and treats. The health basics like shots, flea and tick prevention, check ups and pet insurance will be another $485 a year. Miscellaneous costs like toys, basic training, miscellaneous items and license is another $245 a year. This gives an estimated yearly starting figure of $1000.


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The Gascon Saintongeois is a great hunting dog and companion with good socialization and training. The larger size tends to be a bit calmer but both are active and need active owners. It can be homed with other dogs but other pets need more consideration. It gets on well with children with socialization and could be a great addition to the right family’s home.

Nicole Cosgrove

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.

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