Basset Griffon Vendeen


Although they do share some early history (listed here) the term “Basset Griffon Vendeen” as used when referring to a breed of dog is a generic term that may apply to one of two types: the Grand Basset Griffon Vendeen or the Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen. Please select the specific type you are interested learning more about from above.


Breed Information

Breed Basics

Medium 15-35 lb
Large 35-55 lb
10 to 12 Years
Moderate Effort Required
Energy Level: 
Medium Energy
A Couple Times a Week
Protective Ability: 
Fairly Laid Back
Hypoallergenic Breed: 
Space Requirements: 
House with Yard
Compatibility With Other Pets: 
Generally Good With Other Dogs
Not Recommended For Homes With Small Animals


Hunting with hounds became a popular pastime among the European nobility during the Middle Ages.  The sport was important not only for entertainment, but also for the political and social bonds formed among its participants.  France became the epicenter of hound hunting culture and breeding.  Eventually, different varieties of hound could be found in almost every region of France.


In the Vendee region of France, a breed was developed which became known as the Grand Griffon Vendeen.  Griffons as a group are wiry-coated French hunting dogs.  The exact origins of the Grand Griffon Vendeen are disputed, and will likely never be fully known.  It is known that originally, there was a breed known as the Grand Vendeen.  Popular lore suggests that Grand Vendeen breed is either descended from a royal pack of solid white hunting hounds or the extinct Canis Segusius, a hunting dog used by the Pre-Roman Gauls.  However, neither tale can be substantiated.  Sometime before the end of the 1400’s hunters in Vendee used the Grand Vendeen and mixed it with other breeds, likely the Griffon Nivernais, the Saint Hubert Hound/Bloodhound, the Spinone Italiano, and the Bracco Italiano.  The resulting hound became the Grand Griffon Vendeen.


The history of the Basset breeds is something of a mystery.  Basset is a French term used to describe low-legged hunting hounds, roughly translated as “Quite low.”  There are six basset breeds, all of which have their origins in France.  The first reference to a dog as a Basset comes from La Venerie, an illustrated hunting text written by Jacques du Fouilloux in 1585.  Fouilloux described and illustrated dogs which were used to hunt foxes and badgers.  The dogs would pursue their quarry down a burrow, where it would be dug out by human handlers.  Fouilloux shows dogs with wiry coats, much like the modern Basset Griffon Vendeens and the Basset Fauve de Bretagne.  The Bassets depicted in La Venerie were obviously well-developed as a breed, both in appearance and use.  This means that Basset dogs were likely developed decades, if not centuries earlier.  Basset-type dogs were first recorded in America in the late 1700’s when a few of unknown type were given as a gift to George Washington by General Lafayette.


All breeds of French Basset closely resemble larger hunting breeds which they are sometimes considered a variety of.  For example, the Basset Fauve de Bretagne is closely related to the larger Grand Fauve de Bretagne.  Similarly, the Basset Griffon Vendeens are closely related to the Grand Griffon Vendeen and the Briquet Griffon Vendeen.  There are two large unknowns with regard to Bassets.  It is unclear whether each breed of Basset was created directly from a larger breed or if one variety of Basset was created and then mixed with other large breeds to create new Basset varieties.  The latter explanation is favored in the literature and is probably most likely.  It is also unknown whether Bassets were developed by exclusively using examples of French breeds with short legs or if large hounds were mixed with smaller dogs such as Terriers, Beagles, or Dachshunds.  Neither mystery is likely to ever be fully resolved.  It is known that the Griffon Vendeen was found in a Basset variety at least as early as the 1700’s.


The popularity of Basset breeds grew substantially in the years after the French Revolution.  Greater social mobility and freedom meant that more and more Frenchmen could afford to keep a hunting dog or two than ever before.  However, many of these new hunters could not afford horses.  As it is widely believed that Basset breeds were developed to allow hunters to follow the dogs on foot rather than horseback, these dogs were seen as a desirable solution to this problem.  As more and more of the French populace began living in cities and suburbs, the small size of Basset Breeds began to increase their popularity as pets.  During the late 1800’s, the Basset Artesian Normand became a popular breed among English dog fanciers, who altered the breed to the extent that it developed into the Basset Hound.  However, the other French Basset breeds were almost completely unknown outside of France until the late 1900’s.


For many years, the Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen and the Grand Basset Griffon Vendeen were considered one breed.  The two dogs were regularly interbred with each other.  Paul Dezamy developed the first official standard for the Basset Griffon Vendeen.  It was not until 1950 that separate standards were developed for the two dogs, and it was not until 1975 that interbreeding was disallowed in French kennel clubs.  To this day, a Grand Basset Griffon Vendeen will occasionally be born to a litter of Petit Basset Griffon Vendeens and vice versa.  Some kennel clubs do not recognize the breeds as separate and merely consider them varieties of the Basset Griffon Vendeen, although those that do are in the minority.


Unlike many other French hound breeds, including other types of Basset and Griffon Vendeen, the Basset Griffon Vendeen has begun to attract followers outside of France.  The breeds are becoming increasingly popular in Britain and the United States.  This popularity began in the show ring, where the Basset Griffon Vendeen, especially the Petit, has become a regular competitor.  This increased exposure is leading more and more families to find room in their homes for the Basset Griffon Vendeen.  Although some Basset Griffon Vendeens are still used as hunting dogs, the majority are now kept as either companion animals or show dogs.  As the popularity of the breeds grows, this trend is likely to continue.




The Basset Griffon Vendeen has a lively personality which is often described as being more terrier-like than hound-like.  This dog is active and curious and will often make its own entertainment.


Basset Griffon Vendeens are generally friendly with humans.  They will usually greet strangers in a friendly manner after alerting their owner to their presence.  The breed has a reputation of being good with children, provided that their ears and fur are not excessively pulled.  Basset Griffon Vendeens can make a lively and friendly pet, which may be a good addition to the right family.


Basset Griffon Vendeens were bred as pack hounds, which required them to work with many other dogs.  As a result, the breed is typically engaging with other dogs.  If you are looking to introduce a new dog into a home with existing dogs, a Basset Griffon Vendeen may be a good choice for you.  Some dogs may exhibit some dominance and bullying behaviors, particularly upon first meeting a new dog.  Despite the breed’s general tolerance of other canines, it is always important to exercise caution and care when introducing new dogs.


The Basset Griffon Vendeen was bred to be a hunting animal, a task at which it excels.  As a result, the breed often shows aggression towards non-canine animals.  This is not to say that the breed cannot get along with the family cat.  Many of these dogs are quite friendly and engaging with felines when properly socialized.  However, it is not advisable to keep these dogs alongside small animals such as gerbils or rabbits.  The Basset Griffon Vendeens hunting instincts are too likely to take over, with the end result being a dead creature.  If you have existing non-canine pets or would like to, and you intend on bringing a Basset Griffon Vendeen into your home, it is important to use caution and properly train and socialize your dog.


Due to the familiarity with the Basset Hound, an infamous couch potato, many Americans assume that the Basset Griffon Vendeen is a low-activity breed.  However, this is not the case.  These short-statured dogs are quite active and energetic.  They require a substantial amount of exercise and mental stimulation.  These fun-loving and curious dogs can become bored quickly.  A bored Basset Griffon Vendeen can become vocal and destructive.  These dogs are more than clever enough to be very destructive.  Perhaps more importantly, weight gain can put a sever strain on the Basset Griffon Vendeen’s back and organs.  An under-exercised and overweight dog may develop severe or painful health problems.  If you don’t have the time or the willingness to provide a dog with a substantial amount of exercise, a Basset Griffon Vendeen may not be the best choice for you. 


Many breeds of scent hound are infamous for being difficult to train, and the Basset Griffon Vendeen is no exception.  While this breed tends to respond better to training than most other scent hounds, they can still be quite stubborn and slow to learn.  These dogs tend to have selective hearing, and have a tendency to do what they want rather than what you would like them to do.  This does not mean that these dogs are not trainable.  It just means that you will probably have to spend more time and energy working with them than you would many other breeds.  You will probably end up with better results than you would from many other hounds, but don’t expect the same level of discipline and obedience that you might get from breeds such as Labrador Retrievers or Border Collies.  Unfortunately, one area of training where Basset Griffon Vendeens may be particularly difficult to train is housebreaking.  These dogs tend to be difficult to housebreak and may take longer than most other breeds.  Crate training is especially useful and important with this breed.


Basset Griffon Vendeens are naturally curious dogs, and are also devoted trackers.  As a result, these dogs have a tendency to wander off, and may be unresponsive to their owners’ calls to return.  It is advisable that a Basset Griffon Vendeen be kept on a leash at all times unless it has been very well trained.  These dogs are also notorious diggers.  They are very likely to tear up a yard or escape under a fence.  For this reason it is best to supervise Basset Griffon Vendeens when in a yard.  It is also important to know that these dogs have surprising amounts of strength and ability.  They are able to scale fences that other breeds of comparable height are not able to.


One aspect of the Basset Griffon Vendeen’s personality that may cause difficulties for some owners is the breed’s penchant for being vocal.  Traditionally, hounds made cries such as bays and barks to let their handlers know that they were on the trail.  The Basset Griffon Vendeen continues this tradition.  The breed is so vocal that the AKC breed standard mentions it.  While not as loud as a Bloodhound or a Black and Tan Coonhound, you may very well be startled by just how deep and loud the Basset Griffon Vendeen’s voice can get.  Ensuring that your dog gets enough exercise and stimulation may reduce how vocal your Basset Griffon Vendeen is.  However, these dogs will still make more noise than most breeds.  You may get noise complaints about your dog if you live in an apartment or a suburb.


Grooming Requirements: 


The wiry coat of the Basset Griffon Vendeen requires a substantial amount of maintenance.  The dog needs regular brushing, as well as clipping and trimming every few months.  You may need to get your Basset Griffon Vendeen professionally groomed several times a year, although not as frequently as some other breeds such as the Poodle.


Another area of hygiene concern with the Basset Griffon Vendeen is with the breed’s ears.  As is the case with many droopy-eared dogs, the Basset Griffon Vendeen ears are susceptible to becoming dirty and infected.  It is important that this breeds ears be cleaned regularly.


Health Issues: 


As is the case with many purebred dogs, the Basset Griffon Vendeen is the frequent victim of several major health problems.  According to studies conducted by the Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen Club of American and the UK Kennel Club, the Basset Griffon Vendeens live to be an average of 12 years old.  This is on the longer end of average for similarly sized breeds.  The leading causes of death were cancer which was responsible for 33% of all Basset Griffon Vendeen deaths, old age which was responsible for another 54%, and cardiac problems which were responsible for an additional 7%.


Cancer is the most serious common health problem which afflicts the Basset Griffon Vendeen.  Cancers in dogs are similar to cancers in humans.  They can occur in almost any part of the body and are the result of abnormal cellular growth.  Some cancers are the result of environmental exposure and others have strong genetic links.  Many purebred dogs are especially susceptible to cancer.  When humans breed dogs we favor certain traits and ensure that they are passed on to future generations of dogs.  Unwittingly, we also may pass on genes that lead to greater cancer risks or other health problems.  Luckily, there are now testing programs available for many inherited health problems.  These programs are helping breeders to eliminate or reduce inherited genetic disorders such as cancer.


Basset Griffon Vendeens are also the frequent victims of other ailments including:



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