The Anglo-Francais de Petite Venerie is a breed of scent hound developed in France. Developed by crossing English and French hounds, the breed has served as a dedicated hunter of small game in its homeland for centuries. Like most French hounds, the Anglo-Francais de Petite Venerie is known almost exclusively in its native land, and is rare elsewhere. In recent years, however, this breed has been gaining a following in England, Italy, and the United States, where it is sometimes promoted as a rare pet. In the United States, the Anglo-Francais de Petite Venerie is also known as the Anglo-Francais de Moyen Venerie.
The History of the Anglo-Francais de Petite Venerie is mostly uncertain, as this breed was developed in an era before written records were kept of dog breeding. What is clear is that this breed was developed in France several hundred years ago and that it was developed by crossing English and French hounds. Most sources seem to believe that the breed was most likely developed in the 16th Century, although it is unclear what this estimate is based on. Regardless, the breed can trace its ancestry back considerably farther.
From the Fall of Rome until the last century, hunting with packs of scent hounds was one of the most treasured pastimes of the European nobility. Although very popular throughout Europe, nowhere was the sport more popular or important than in England and especially France. Nobility became a highly ritualized and regulated affair. It was so prized by the nobility that vast tracts of land that would otherwise have been developed for economic production were reserved for hunting. Extensive penalties were placed on poachers. For many centuries it was illegal for anyone not of noble blood to own a hunting dog. Eventually, hunting became more than just a pastime or a sport. It became a critical social and cultural institution. Countless personal, dynastic, and political relationships were forged on the hunt. Decisions were discussed and made on the chase and the celebrations that followed that would impact the lives of millions.
Because hunting was so prestigious, the ownership of quality hunting dogs was equally prestigious. Most lords kept their own kennels, which housed anywhere from a dozen to several hundred dogs, depending on the wealth of the individual owner. Hounds were considerably more carefully bred than other dogs, and eventually became Europe’s first pure bred dogs although that term had a somewhat less strong meaning until recently. Different breeds of hound were developed in many different regions of France, to suit the differing environments and game found across France as well as localized tastes. Some of the oldest of these breeds are the Grand Bleu de Gascogne and the now-extinct Chien Gris, both of which may have been present in France since before the Roman occupation. The most influential of the French hound breed was the Saint Hubert Hound, known in English as the Bloodhound. The Saint Hubert Hound was the result of the earliest known deliberate dog breeding program, conducted sometime between 750 and 900 A.D. by the monks at the Saint Hubert Monastery near Mouzon. It became a tradition for the monks to send several pairs of their hounds to the King of France every year as a tribute, who then gave them to his nobles as gifts. The Saint Hubert Hound would go on to strongly influence almost all subsequent French Hound breeds.
The Saint Hubert Hound would also go on to have a profound impact on English dog breeding. In 1066, William the Conqueror, a vassal of the King of France, invaded England. William brought many hunting dogs with him to his new kingdom where they were crossed with local British dog breeds. There has long been a major debate among dog experts as to the extent that the French hounds had on British hunting dogs. Some claim that subsequent British scenthounds are almost entirely descended from these dogs, while others claim that only the Bloodhound was and that other British breeds are far older. Whatever the case, several distinct British scent hounds developed including the Talbot, Southern Hound, North Country Beagle, Harrier, and several different types of Beagle. Initially, the British nobility greatly preferred to hunt deer, boar, and wolf, much the same quarry as their continental counterparts. However, increasing population and development meant that those species became very rare and in the case of the wolf extinct. The British upper-classes turned their attention to fox hunting, which had previously been almost exclusively the domain of farmers. A new dog breed was developed specifically for fox hunting, the English Foxhound. The exact ancestry of the English Foxhound has long been highly contentious, but it is widely thought that the breed was primarily descended from the Southern Hound, with heavy influence from the North Country Beagle, Harrier, Bloodhound, Greyhound, Scottish Deerhound, Lurcher, Fox Terrier, Old English Bulldog, and possibly the Talbot. The development of the Foxhound began in the 1600’s but continued on until the 1700’s.
Separated by the narrow English Channel (which is less than 22 miles wide at some points), France and England have a long history of close political, cultural, and economic contact, especially Northern France and Southern England. There has long been a major interchange of dog breeds between the two countries as well. This interchange is most evident in the Anglo-Francais de Petite Venerie, which was developed by crossing English and French scent hounds. The breed’s name can be loosely translated to, “Franco-English Small Game Hunting Hound.” The word Petite in the breed’s name confuses many English speakers who think it deals with the size of the dog, when it in fact deal with the dog’s designated quarry. Although this is distinctly medium-sized breed it was used primarily to hunt rabbits, foxes, and similar creatures. It is unclear exactly when the breed was developed and what breeds were used to create it. It is widely assumed that the English breeds used were the English Foxhound and/or the Harrier, and that the French dogs were various medium-sized French breeds such as the Petite Bleu de Gascogne, Petit Gascon-Saintongeois, Poitevin, and possibly the now extinct Artesian and Norman hounds as well. Older varieties of Franco-English Hounds were quite possible used as well. This breed was probably developed slowly over the course of several centuries, with new breeds being regularly added in. For example, English Foxhounds were in a very early stage of development when the Anglo-Francais de Petite Venerie was developed, and Harriers were a substantially different breed as well. Several of the French breeds, such as the Petit Gascon-Saintongeois did not even exist at all when this dog was said to have developed.
The result of crossing French and English hounds was a dog with the traditional color pattern and body of an English hound, but with a head, face, and level of refinement more similar to French dogs. This breed was used in the traditional manner of French small game hunting. Anglo-Francais de Petite Veneries were let loose to track their quarry while hunters followed on either horseback or foot. The dogs hunted in either packs, pairs, or singly, depending on the situation. The Anglo-Francais de Petite Veneries would locate a trail and then begin following it, baying as they ran so that the hunters could follow. In England, the game would be pursued to its burrow and a Terrier would be sent down to bring it back up. French hunters did not possess Terriers, and in any case greatly preferred for their dogs to bring the prey back around in a semi-circle. The creature, believing it was confusing the dog by turning around, would run straight at the hunters and their guns. The Anglo-Francais de Petite Venerie became highly skilled at its task, and was much prized by hunters. The comparatively small size of this breed and its ability to work alone when necessary meant that it was more affordable to keep than many other French hounds, and the Anglo-Francais de Petite Venerie managed to survive the French Revolution and both World Wars in considerably better shape than many similar dogs.
Throughout the 20th Century, the Anglo-Francais de Petite Venerie has remained a relatively popular hunting dog in France. However, until very recently the breed has remained virtually unknown outside of its homeland. In the last several decades, a few packs of Anglo-Francais de Petite Venerie have been found in Spain and especially Italy where they have proven themselves highly capable of working on local conditions and with local game. Additionally, a very small number of individual dogs have made their way to England and the United States. The majority of breed members living in the English-speaking world were imported as a result of the rare pet market, but a few American dogs were imported to be working hunting dogs. In 1996, the United Kennel Club (UKC) granted full recognition to the Anglo-Francais de Petite Venerie in 1996 as a member of the Scenthound Group. American (and to a lesser extent British) fanciers have been greatly confused by the breed’s name, assuming that the word petite means that the dog is small. For this reason, many animal dealers in America have changed the breed’s name to Anglo-Francais de Moyen (Medium) Venerie. The breed is not currently registered with the American Kennel Club, nor is it likely that will change in the near future. Unlike most modern breeds, the Anglo-Francais de Petite Venerie remains almost exclusively a working dog, and the vast, vast majority of breed members are either active or retired hunting dogs. An increasing number of people are keeping breed members primarily as companion dogs, apparently with some success.
The Anglo- Francais de Petite Venerie combines the body and coloration of an English breed such as the Foxhound with the head and face of a French hound, and consequently looks very similar in appearance to a number of other breeds, especially the American Foxhound. This breed is the epitome of a medium-sized dog. Most breed members stand between 19 and 22 inches tall at the shoulder, with the average females standing about an inch shorter than the average male. An Anglo-Francais de Petite Venerie in good shape will normally weigh between 35 and 45 pounds, although working hunting dogs may weight slightly less. This is a working hunter and should appear as such. This is a very muscular and fit dog that is usually appears quite lean but not thin. The Anglo-Francais de Petite Venerie is a very well-proportioned dog that does not possess any exaggerated feature which could reduce its mobility or hunting ability. The tail of the Anglo-Francais de Petite Venerie is of average length and usually held in and either straight or with a slight curve.
The head and face of the Anglo-Francais de Petite Venerie is very similar to that of other French hounds. The head of this breed is generally proportional to the size of the body, but is often somewhat narrow. The head and muzzle of this breed blend in very smoothly with each other and are not very distinct, in many ways resembling those of a sighthound. The muzzle itself is very long in proportion to the skull, giving the dog the maximum area for scent receptors. This muzzle possesses slightly pendulous lips and ends in a wide, black nose. The eyes of the Anglo-Francais de Petite Venerie are large and brown, and very often appear as though they are pleading. The ears of this breed are both very long and very wide. They droop down very low, usually parallel to the cheeks but sometimes facing forwards. The overall expression of more breed members is soft, kind, and intelligent.
The Anglo-Francais de Petite Venerie possesses the short, smooth, and dense coat common to many scenthounds. The hair is generally uniform in length over the entire body but may be slightly shorter on the fronts of the legs, feet, head, ears, and face. Unlike most British scenthounds, the hair on the tail of the Anglo-Francais de Petite Venerie is uniform in length and is completely devoid of a brush. This breed is found in three different color patterns; orange and white, white and black, and white and black with orange/tan markings. Many of these dogs exhibit the black saddle-shaped marking commonly found on the backs of many English scenthounds, often with orange or tan markings in between the black and white on the coat.
The Anglo-Francais de Petite Venerie has been developed and bred virtually exclusively as a working pack hunter and has the temperament one would expect of such a breed. Because so few of these dogs have been kept as pets, it is difficult to make accurate statements about what it would be like in a companion animal environment. Like most pack hounds, the Anglo-Francais de Petite Venerie needed to be able to work closely with any number of unfamiliar hunters. As a result, they tend to be very non-aggressive. As is the case with many pack hounds, some breed members may be extremely outgoing and affectionate while others are more quiet and reserved. There is not much available information on the breed’s suitability with children, but most similar breeds do very well with them if provided proper socialization and training. Although this breed would surely prefer to spend all of its time with its family, in France they are traditionally kept in a kennel environment and would probably be quite tolerant of one. This dog would almost certainly make a very poor guard dog as there are neither territorial nor aggressive enough.
This dog was bred to work in large packs that might contain dozens of other dogs, both strange and familiar. Even the slightest dog aggression is absolutely unacceptable in such an environment and has been carefully bred out. When properly socialized, this breed tends to have very few issues with other dogs, and most are very friendly with them. In fact, this is a dog that absolutely craves canine company and does much better with at least one, and preferably several, canine housemates. However, this dog was also bred to be a dedicated hunting dog. Anglo-Francais de Petite Veneries usually show a very high level of aggression to non-canine animals. This breed will not only chase virtually every animal it sees, but also attack and potentially kill them if given the opportunity. As is the case with all dogs, an Anglo-Francais that has been grown up with another species such as a cat will probably leave that individual alone. However, some of these are never trustworthy with any small pets, and even those that leave their own feline housemates in peace may still attack a neighbor’s cat with which they are unfamiliar.
Anglo-Francais de Petite Veneries take to hunting very quickly. However, since they are rarely trained to do anything else, it is unclear how difficult it is to train them or their maximum training capacity. Most scenthounds tend to be very stubborn, even deliberately willful, and are a major training challenge as a result. In particular, this breed can be extremely challenging to call back. Bred to follow a scent trail to its conclusion regardless of obstacles, once a breed member starts tracking something it will often completely ignore any calls for it to return. For this reason, these dogs should be kept on a leash at all times when not in a safely enclosed area. The breed’s nose also drives it to escape from confinement so that it may pursue scents, meaning that any enclosure which holds one of these dogs must be very secure.
In order to perform its necessary task, the Anglo-Francais de Petite Venerie needed to be capable of working vigorously for long hours on a daily basis. As a result, the breed has quite substantial exercise requirements. This dog needs at least 45 minutes of vigorous exercise, although it would ideally receive more. It is absolutely imperative that this dog be provided a proper outlet for its energy; otherwise, it will surely find one on its own. Unexercised Anglo-Francais de Petite Veneries are very likely to develop behavioral problems such as destructiveness, constant barking, hyper activity, over excitability, and nervousness. This breed makes an excellent jogging companion but greatly prefers an opportunity to run around off-leash in a safely enclosed area. It would be very challenging to meet the needs of this breed in an urban environment, and this dog adjusts very poorly to apartment life.
Potential Anglo-Francais de Petite Venerie owners need to be aware that this is a very vocal dog. This breed was bred to bay loudly while it was on the trail so that it could be followed if it ran out of sight. This breed makes noise at much more frequent intervals and at a significantly louder volume than most dogs. Training and exercise can greatly reduce this problem, but it cannot eliminate it. One of these dogs kept in close quarters is very likely to result in a noise complaint.
The Anglo-Francais de Petite Venerie has very low grooming requirements. This dog should never require professional grooming, only a regular brushing. Owners of these dogs do have to regularly and thoroughly clean their ears to prevent infection. This breed does shed, and some individuals shed very heavily. Although some shed less heavily, many will cover carpets, furniture, and clothing with hair.
It does not appear that there have been any health studies conducted on the Anglo-Francais de Petite Venerie. As a result, it is impossible to make any definitive statements about the breed’s health. However, most sources seem to think that this is a very healthy breed. This dog has been bred almost exclusively as a working dog. Any potential genetic defects would have impaired its ability to do its job and consequentially been eliminated from the gene pool. Additionally, this breed has never been subjected to the poor commercial and backyard breeding practices of many modern dogs. This dog is further benefitted by its medium-size, not being afflicted by those problems which are common in large or small dogs.
The Anglo-Francais de Petite Venerie is likely to suffer from ear infections. The long and drooping ears of this dog are believed to push scent particles towards the dog’s nose, increasing its sense of smell in the process. Although this has never been proven by science, the drooping ears do collect particles of anything that the dog comes into contact with such as leaves, dirt, water, grime, and food. Once in the ear, such particles easily become trapped, frequently so deeply that the dog cannot remove them on its own. Eventually, these trapped particles will cause skin and membrane irritations. Symptoms start with great discomfort but can transform into chronic ear infections which can be extremely painful and may even lead to hearing loss. Luckily, these problems are almost entirely preventable with regular cleaning.
Because skeletal and visual problems have been known to occur in closely-related breeds (hip dysplasia is quite commonly seen) it is highly advisable for owners to have their pets tested by both the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) and the Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF). The OFA and CERF perform genetic and other tests to identify potential health defects before they show up. This is especially valuable in the detection of conditions that do not show up until the dog has reached an advanced age, making it especially important for anyone considering breeding their dog to have them tested to prevent the spread of potential genetic conditions to its offspring.
Based on what is known about the Anglo-Francais de Petite Venerie and similar breeds, a list of problems which the breed may be susceptible would include: