The Basset Bleu de Gascogne, Grand Bleu de Gascogne, Petit Bleu de Gascogne, and Griffon Bleu de Gascogne are the four Gascogne breeds, dogs who descended from the original scenting dogs of Gaul and the Phoenician hound trade. They are considered one of the two types from which most modern hound breeds developed. If the “daddy” of them all is the Grand Bleu de Gascogne, the Petit Bleu de Gascogne is (or more more accurately – was) considered the rarest hound breed in France in 1980.
A descendant of an old breed dating back to the Middle Ages, the Petit (aka the PBGD) was created around the 1500s by selectively breeding smaller Grand Bleu de Gascogne (a large game expert) with the Grand Gascon Saintongeois in order to reduce size and increase speed (hunters of the time complained about the Blue Gascon Hound’s slowness); the goal was to create a dog better suited to hunt small, fast game like rabbits and hares. This isn’t to suggest that the Petite Bleu de Gascogne is a small-breed, it isn’t. The medium-sized dog is so named as a reference to the size of the game it hunts. The only real difference between the Petit Bleu de Gascogne and the original Bleu de Gascogne is size.
Petits are talented pack hunters who work with concentration, a fine nose, and a distinctive howling track sound, the latter especially valued by the French who have always rated the voice in their hounds higher than perhaps other cultures. They possess the endurance to track for miles, are calm and easy to handle, but are also proud and self-confident dogs.
Most Gascogne breeds suffered during the Revolution, but in 1985, connoisseurs of the breed renewed the Petit Bleu de Gascogne and some one hundred dogs were registered at the time. The Petite Bleu de Gascogne is still fairly rare outside of France (and in France, it’s mostly found in south-west France), and while not yet recognized by the AKC, but the United Kennel Club accepted it in 1991.
Image: Petit Bleu de Gascogne by © Slowmotiongli from Dreamstime stock photo