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Nicole Cosgrove

June 18, 2021
The Poitevin is a large breed from France bred to be a hunting dog, specifically a scenthound and was developed to hunt larger game like wolves and deer. Until fairly recently, 1957, it was called Chien du Haut-Poitou or Haut-Poitou. Prized in Europe but rare elsewhere it is a strong and powerful but elegant dog and is mostly kept by just hunters even today. It has a life span of 10 to 12 years.
The Poitevin at a Glance
Name Poitevin
Other names Haut-Poitou, Chien du Haut-Poitou
Nicknames None
Origin France
Average size Large
Average weight 65 to 75 pounds
Average height 24 to 28 inches
Life span 10 to 12 years
Coat type Short, glossy, straight, rough
Hypoallergenic No
Color Black, orange, white; tricolor is standard
Popularity Not a registered member of the AKC
Intelligence Above average
Tolerance to heat Good to very good
Tolerance to cold Good to very good
Shedding Low – not a lot of hair will be left around the home
Drooling Moderate – not especially prone
Obesity Average – measure its food and make sure it is well exercised
Grooming/brushing Low – brush once or twice a week
Barking Frequent – does bark a lot
Exercise needs High – needs active owners
Trainability Difficult – requires experienced trainer
Friendliness Good but requires socialization
Good first dog No – requires experienced owner
Good family pet Moderate to good with socialization – primarily a hunting dog
Good with children Moderate – socialization is essential and supervision is needed around young children
Good with other dogs Very good with socialization
Good with other pets Low to moderate – socialization is needed as it has a high prey drive
Good with strangers Moderate – socialization is essential as is supervision
Good apartment dog Low – needs space and a yard at least but best in rural setting
Handles alone time well Low – will bark often if left alone can suffer from separation anxiety
Health issues Very healthy in general but some issues can include Ear infections, hip dysplasia and hunting injuries
Medical expenses $485 a year for health insurance and basic health care
Food expenses $260 a year for a good quality dry dog food and treats
Miscellaneous expenses $255 a year for basic training, license, toys and miscellaneous items
Average annual expenses $1000 as a starting figure
Cost to purchase $800
Rescue organizations None breed specific, check local shelters and rescues
Biting Statistics None reported

The Poitevin’s Beginnings

The Poitevin Dog was first around in the late 17th century and was bred and developed in Western France in the region of Poitou. It was the Marquis Francois de Larrye who developed it using breeds like the extinct Chien Ceris and the Montemboeuf. It was used to hunt mainly wolves but can hunt other type of game such as fox, deer and wild boar. It was valued for its great nose, its endurance, speed, athleticism and its voice that was described as melodious. Its speed gave it the nickname of “Greyhound among the French hounds”. It could work alone and with packs.

It was an established breed until the Marquis died during the French Revolution. This time was not a good time for dogs owned by nobles and royals. The dogs were facing difficulty already but two brothers who were in the de la Besge de Montmorillon family were able to hold on to two or three and they started to rebuild it. However in the 1840s there was a rabies epidemic that decimated its numbers once more. In order to try and save it some breeders added the English Foxhound to the gene pool. For a while the breeders spent time reducing how much influence the Foxhound had on its appearance to bring the dog but then disaster for the breed came again, something that again impacted a lot of dog breeds, World War II.

New Lease on Life

Breeders again used the Foxhound trick to revive it as well as other hounds too. In 1957 their name changed from Chien de Haut-Poitou to the Poitevin. In 1996 the FCI gave it recognition but it is not well known outside of France and is not yet recognized by the AKC. Today it is mostly only kept by hunters and even in France it is a rare breed. Its numbers are small but a lot better than 70 years ago. Back in the day it was also used in the development of other french hunting dogs the Chien Francais Blanc et Noir, the Grand Anglo-Francais Tricolore and the Anglo-Francais de Petite Venerie.

The Dog You See Today

This dog is a large one weighing 65 to 75 pounds and standing 24 to 28 inches tall. It is an elegant, strong and athletic looking dog with a slender but muscled body, long rib cages and a deep chest and tucked up belly. It has strong straight legs, slim but powerful necks and a fairly long tail that has fine hair on it and can be held slightly curved. Its coat is close, short and shiny and commonly it is tri-colored with white, black and range being usual. It has a medium sized head that is slim moving into a slim and long muzzle with a nose that is strong and wide open. The jaws have a scissor bite and are strong too. The ears are somewhat long and are set low on the head and turn in a little. Its eyes are round and large, rimmed in black and are colored brown.

The Inner Poitevin


The Poitevin is a loyal dog but is not an especially affectionate one and while it can be a great hunting dog and perhaps a good companion for its hunter owner, it is not the best family dog. It is happy to live in kennels with other dogs as long as it gets enough interaction every day. It is not good with strangers, and socialization along with supervision and proper introductions are needed to ensure things are okay when a stranger is around. It would not be happy being left alone for long hours, if you are not there to give it company it needs a pack or at least another dog with it.

Its barking can be frequent so training should be done to help control it. It may not be especially loving but it is gentle and kind and it is not an aggressive dog when it is not out hunting. On the trail of its prey it is focused, spirited, has a lot of stamina and determination. It needs to be working or active or it will be bored, act out, destructive and even more vocal. It is not a dog for the inexperienced and needs to be handled confidently and firmly.

Living with a Poitevin

What will training look like?

Training the Poitevin Hound takes experience, patience, and time as it is not easy. In some cases you may want to look to professional help even. Be consistent and expect things to be slow and gradual. Use positive techniques by offering rewards, treats and give it encouragement and praise to motivate it. Make sure you socialize it very well too. This dog needs it and from a young age too. Introduce it to different people, sounds, places, situations, animals and so on and teach it how to deal with these things and what reactions are acceptable and what are not.

How active is the Poitevin?

The Poitevin is a very active dog and needs active owners who use them to hunt regularly or take them out for walks and runs and play daily. It is not an apartment dog, it can though live in kennels with other dogs. It need a large yard at the least, better would be some actual land. You should plan on giving it over an hour a day of good intense physical activity, and then also mental challenge with puzzles and interactive toys and such. It has a lot of stamina so could go for hours if it needs to on difficult terrain too. Make sure if taking it for a regular walk it is on a leash as it will chase after small animals and such that it sees as prey.

Caring for the Poitevin

Grooming needs

This dog breed’s coat is very easy to brush as it is short and it only needs to be done once or twice a week. It sheds a low to moderate amount so a little hair may be in the home but not a huge amount. That may go up a little during seasonal shedding times. It should be given a good rub down after a lot of physical exertion but only give full baths when it needs one. This protects it from having its natural oils dried out and for the same reason when cleaning it use a shampoo that is only for dogs.

Then it needs a weekly check on its ears for infection – look for things like a it rubbing at them, bad odor, discharge, redness and such. If its ears are fine you should give them a clean using a dog ear cleanser on areas easy to reach. Do not insert anything into the ears. Other maintenance needs include looking after its oral health. Its teeth should be brushed at least two to three times a week and this will help with both tooth and gum health. Then its nails when too long, should be clipped being careful though to not cut too far down the nail. In that section of the nails are blood vessels and nerves and when they are nicked the dog feels a lot of pain and will bleed.

Feeding Time

Make sure your dog has access to fresh water and that it is kept as fresh as possible. In terms of a good quality dry dog food it will eat about 3 to 4 cups a day, split into at least two meals.

How is the Poitevin with children and other animals?

As previously discussed the Poitevin is not a family dog. With older children it can be socialized to be accepting of them, though there may not be a lot of affection. It is not a great playmate dog to have with small children though. It is a pack dog so it gets along well with other dogs and would prefer to have other dogs for company. It does not get on well with non-canine pets either, socialization is needed but even then it is best to either always supervise around such animals or just do not have any.

What Might Go Wrong?

Health Concerns

The Poitevin has a life span of 10 to 12 years and is quite a healthy dog really. A few known issues could include hip dysplasia, eye problems and ear infections. Hunting injuries are also a possibility.

Biting Statistics

When looking at reports of victims being attacked and having bodily harm done to them by dogs in North America in the last 35 years there is no mention of the Poitevin. However it is a very rare dog there, and is more kept by hunters than as a companion so is less likely to be out walking in a dog park where something can happen. However always limit the risks by making sure its well socialized and trained, supervised and that it gets the attention, activity and mental stimulation that it needs.

Your Pup’s Price Tag

Finding a breeder of Poitevin dogs anywhere other than in France is going to be harder. From a good breeder expect the puppy to be about $800 but then if you are having to import there are then additional costs there. Avoid bad breeders, there are a lot of them out there. Places like puppy mills, backyard breeders and pet stores could be out of business if buyers stopped using them. Shelters and rescues all have unwanted dogs deserving of your love so if a purebred Poitevin is not the only option for you consider adoption for around $50 to $400.

Then there are initial costs to pay out for items your dog needs even one like this that is more likely to be a hunting dog than a companion will need a carrier to bring it home in, collar and leash, food bowls, bedding and such and these will cost about $200. There are initial health needs once it is home including shots, deworming, spaying or neutering, micro chipping, blood tests, a physical exam and such for $290.

Poitevins like all dogs will have ongoing costs as well. When considered from an annual perspective, food will cost you $260 a year or so for a good quality dry dog food and dog treats. Then basic health care like flea and tick prevention, shots, check ups and pet insurance will cost about $485 a year. Finally miscellaneous costs like basic training, license, toys and miscellaneous items is another $255 a year. This gives a total starting figure of $1000 a year.


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The Poitevin is a great hunting dog, if you are a hunter and want a scenthound that has great stamina and energy this could be a great choice. It is best for that role though, hunter then hunter’s companion, it is not a family dog. It will need company so strongly consider having it with at least one other dog. It can be a frequent barker so training to stop on a command is a good idea.

Featured Image Credit: slowmotiongli, Shutterstock

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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