Although highly popular in its home country of France, the Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen, also known as the PBGV, is relative uncommon in the United States. In addition, even if you saw a Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen you may not realize you were looking at a purebred, you may assume you are looking at a Basset Hound crossed with a Cocker Spaniel or some type of wire coated terrier breed.
The Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen is, however, its own unique breed of dog. They were selectively bred from the larger Grand Basset Griffon Vendeen. It is interesting to note that there are actually four different sizes of the dogs in France, with the Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen being the smallest. The next larger, the Grand Basset Griffon Vendeen is part of the American Kennel Club Foundation Stock Services but the Petit is a fully recognized breed in the hound group.
It is believed that the white found in the Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen and other Basset Griffon Vendeen breed sizes came from the now extinct white bloodhound known as the Talbot Hound. There were also infusions of other local hounds including the Italian Segugio Italiano, the larger sized rabbit hunting hound still popular in the rural areas of the country. The form of reducing the Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen size was not through infusions of smaller breeds, but rather through selective breeding of the smallest of the Grand Basset Griffon Vendeen over several generations. Crossing back to create a stronger likelihood of smaller dogs was also used, especially in the earliest development of the breed in the 1600s.
The name Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen is perhaps more descriptive than many of the other types of dog breed names. Petit in French means small, basset means low, griffon refers to a wire haired dog and Vendeen is the area in France where the breed was first developed. They are great companion dog that is also a wonderful hunter, used in pack type hunting in France similar to the Beagle in English hunts.
Generally the Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen is a small to medium sized dog with short, strong legs like a Basset. They have a long body and a very long tail, with the ideal proportions being the body is the length of the tail plus half. The dog is strong and powerful as well as being a determined tracker. Since the land and terrain around the Vendeen region of France is so wooded and rough, the smaller, rugged dogs were ideal for hunting rabbits and other small prey animals. They are dedicated to tracking, have an outstanding nose and also their protective coat allows them to travel through brambles and brush without any risk of damaging the skin.
The head of the Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen is a typical hound head with a long, moderately heavy muzzle, pronounced stop and domed skull. The eyes are somewhat obscured by the long, thick eyebrows which also provide protection in the dense undergrowth. The breed has a noticeable beard like most griffon types of dogs, plus the long, pendant ears should reach forward to the end of the muzzle when extended.
The neck and body is short and powerful but not stocky, bulky or cobby in appearance. The longer, shaggy and course wiry hair uniformly covers the body and the deep, wide chest is very pronounced. The tail is carried up and backwards, like a saber, always extended up into the air. This allows the hunters to easily see where the dogs are moving even in the deeper brush. In addition the coat colors of white with any color patches also makes spotting the dogs possible in dense terrain.
The coat of the Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen requires little upkeep other than a once or twice a week grooming with a stiff bristle brush and a pin brush. With regular weekly grooming they are relatively low shedding dogs but their coat will tangle and mat if they are not routinely groomed. The long, pendant ears need routine cleaning to avoid problems with ear infections and bacterial infections.
The Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen is a very active dog that loves to be around the family but also needs to have a lot of time to run and play. Naturally a pack dog they accept the family as the pack but prefer company to being left alone. If the family is away a considerable amount of time or the dog is left alone, a companion dog can help prevent destructive behaviors from occurring. A Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen that feels bored can easily become prone to chewing, excessive barking and digging. With very powerful digging ability these dogs can and will tunnel under yards to get out and explore. Trained and developed to hunt by scent they cannot be taken out of the yard off a leash or they will run on a trail and simply refuse to listen to their owners. Some owners that work consistently with the Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen can work around this instinct but it takes a lot of work and patience.
As a true hunting dog they are not recommended for homes with cats or other types of smaller indoor pets. Although they may learn to accept a family cat they are not as likely to be trustworthy around what they see as prey animals as some of the other hound breeds. They are very friendly with other dogs, especially when socialized early and frequently as both puppies and adults.
A slightly dominant temperament means that the Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen is a true character but also responds well to firm and consistent leadership. They are highly intelligent but dislike repetitive or boring types of training routines. Most Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen do very well with children and their happy go lucky attitude means that they accept most children as their friends. A good watchdog the breed is not a guard dog and typically will accept strangers very quickly into the family. Without socialization some of these dogs can be possessive and territorial so early and consistent work is highly recommended.