The Grand Basset Griffon Vendéen — commonly called "Grand" or "GBGV" — is a scent hound from France. They are the tallest among the basset breeds. You can get an idea about their appearance from their name, which can be roughly translated to "large, low, shaggy dog of the Vendéen".
With their sweet and relatively docile personality, they make excellent house dogs, as well as human companions. Moreover, owing to their outgoing nature, they'll be a great choice if you have an active family and need a dog that you can take on trips and long walks.
Characteristics of the Grand Basset Griffon Vendéen
Physical characteristics. While the GBGV dog breed is medium-sized, they have some of the longest features when compared to other members of the basset family. For instance, they have the longest body, longest legs, and the longest ears among all the basset breeds.
These intelligent-looking dogs have noble heads, which they carry proudly on their long and strong necks. Their unique beard, mustache, and thick eyebrows give them a rustic appearance and hint at their French hound origins. Besides a sturdy body, they also have short and well-boned fore and hind legs, which allow them to be light-footed and quick.
The Grand Basset Griffon Vendeen weighs anywhere between 40 and 45 pounds. Their bodies are longer than they are tall. They have a lifespan of around 13 to 15 years.
The dogs of this breed have two coats. Their outer coat is rough, shaggy, and scruffy and is extra-long around the chin and the eyes. In comparison, the undercoat is thick and soft. The coat of the GBGV comes in different colors, ranging from orange, yellow, sable, tan, and black to tricolor. You can also find some dogs who have white coats with lemon, black, or grizzle markings.
Temperament. Most people find the temperament of the Grand Basset Griffon Vendeen to be sweet. Outside of training, when they can seem a bit stubborn, they stay calm most of the time and don't get irritated easily. This makes them a good choice for a domestic pet. Moreover, they're loyal, attentive, and ready to please their owners if handled well.
Since GBGVs were bred to be working dogs, they have a lot of stamina and energy. This is why they're still used today as hunting dogs by most of their owners.
Caring for a Grand Basset Griffon Vendéen
Grooming. The coat of GBGV sheds moderately and can easily collect dirt and debris. This, in turn, can lead to skin problems. To keep the coat clean and tangle-free, brush it once every week with a slicker brush. Also, make sure to bathe your dog when needed. While it's best to brush their teeth every day, brushing even once a week can help to keep oral problems at bay.
The nails of a Grand Basset Griffon Vendeen are prone to cracking and splitting, as they grow very fast. To avoid this, trim their nails regularly using a nail grinder or clipper. As you would do for other breeds, check and clean their ears at least once per week. Use a soft cotton pad or cloth to gently remove any wax or debris build-up. However, avoid using a cotton swab, as that can injure the delicate tissues in their inner ear.
Exercise. The Grand is a very active breed with high levels of energy. They don't like to be in one place for a long time and need daily exercise to stay healthy and happy. Moreover, they don't lose much of their energy with age, so you should be prepared to exercise them their whole life.
A great way to keep them fit is by playing games like tug-of-war, fetch, and hide-and-seek. You can also take them out on runs and long walks. Just remember to put a leash on them. Otherwise, they might run away while looking for prey, and you may lose sight of them.
Training. GBGV owners face the most trouble while training their pets. Dogs of this breed have an independent nature and can act stubbornly. This is why you should begin their obedience training from an early age. If you have never tried dog training before or if this is the first time you're adopting a dog, then this breed might not be right for you.
The best way to train a Grand Basset Griffon Vendeen is by using fun and positive reinforcement techniques like treats and rewards, but keep in mind that despite how much you train them, these dogs won't lose the urge to chase prey or bark whenever they find a chance.
Diet and nutrition. Make sure to give your dog a breed-specific diet that is appropriate for their activity levels and age. To decide how much and how many times you should feed your dog, either talk to your veterinarian or refer to the feeding chart displayed on the package of your chosen dog food brand.
These French hounds are prone to obesity, so only feed them healthy, nutritionally-balanced meals. Also, be sure they always have access to clean and fresh water.
Medical care. Like any other breed, the Grand Basset Griffon Vendeen can also catch infections and be infested with pests. Some conditions that have been seen in this breed include ear infections (otitis externa) and kennel cough (infectious tracheobronchitis). They are also very likely to get ear mites.
You can prevent most of these ear problems by regularly cleaning your dog's ears, but if you notice any signs of ear infection like smelly, excessively dirty, inflamed or red ears, take your Grand to a vet immediately.
Health Problems to Watch for With a Grand Basset Griffon Vendéen
The GBGV dog breed is generally healthy, but like other breeds, they can have certain inherited medical conditions. This is why responsible breeders genetically test their stock so that there is less chance of these disorders passing to the next generation. Still, there is no surety that your pup won't get or develop such a health problem. If that happens, talk to your vet, who will suggest the right treatment as per the condition of your pet.
These are some of the medical disorders that can affect your pet's health:
Hip Dysplasia. This hereditary condition can cause the ball and socket joint in your dog's hip to weaken, making it painful for them to walk. A vet may suggest surgery in severe cases.
Dermatitis. This condition affects a dog's skin, making it itchy, irritated, and inflamed. If left untreated, it can affect your pet's appetite, sleep, and overall quality of life.
To lower the possibility of such problems, you can also have your Grand take these health tests, which have been recommended by the National Breed Club:
- Hip evaluation
- Thyroid evaluation
- Patella evaluation
- Ophthalmologist evaluation
- Cardiac exam
Special Considerations for a Grand Basset Griffon Vendéen
Though the Grand Basset Griffon Vendéen is a medium-sized dog, it's not suitable for urban apartments or small houses. This is because it's an active and energetic breed that likes open spaces for running and exercising. They get bored and become destructive when not allowed to do so. It's better to adopt this dog only if your house has a large, fenced-in yard. These French hounds love to give chase to anything they consider prey and may run away if not kept in an enclosed space.
Another reason GBGVs don't make good apartment dogs is that they're very noisy and may frequently bark at neighbors as they come and go.
Being a pack dog, they easily live and thrive with other dogs. While they're also kid-friendly dogs, though, small children might find it hard to handle them, so they're better suited for families that have older children who can train, play with, and care for them.
You should also consider that the Grand Basset Griffon Vendeen is not hypoallergenic. If you have any allergies, talk to your doctor to know if having them as a pet can worsen your condition.
History of the Grand Basset Griffon Vendéen
The Grand Basset Griffon Vendeen is one among the four varieties of griffon-coated French hounds, which also include the Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen, the Briquet Griffon Vendéen, and the Grand Griffon Vendéen. It took over 400 years of careful breeding to create the GBGV dog breed of today.
The Grand was developed to meet the geographic needs of the Vendeén region in France. The people within this thorny and rocky region needed a strong dog breed with lots of physical strength and mental stamina. They also needed this new breed's coat to not entangle with brambles — a rough and prickly shrub that grew in this area. Also, hunters who didn't have horses desired a slower French hound with whom they could match pace.
To meet these requirements, breeders decided to create the Grand Basset Griffon Vendéen — a hardy dog with short legs and good hunting instincts.
The GBGV breed as we know it today was developed from large-sized hounds like the Grand Griffon. Comte d'Elva started their breeding programme in the late 1800s while using dogs with 'straight legs' as parent breeds for the Grand, but it was Paul Dézamy, the first president of the Club du Griffon Vendéen, who realized that dogs of a particular height were best-suited for catching hares and fixed the size of the current GBGV dog breed.
Later, two varieties of the Basset Griffon Vendéen were recognized by the Club du Griffon Vendéen. One among them was the Grand Basset Griffon Vendéen, and the other was the Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen. By the 1950s, the GBGV was recognized as a separate breed and given its own standard.
Today, the Grand Basset Griffon Vendeen is considered an excellent breed for hunting game animals like rabbit, deer, and wild boar. In the 5th edition of the European Cup for hare, a group of Grand Bassets proved this hunting ability and emerged as winners.