It often feels like dog owners around the world are downsizing the breeds they own, either because they live in an urban setting, they’re getting along in years, or the most popular breeds at the moment are smaller ones. There is someplace, however, where this may not be true, and it bodes well for an uncommon – but large and powerful breed: the French White and Black Hound.
Known in France as the Chien Français Blanc et Noir, the population of these swift and handsome hunting dogs is growing in that country. Its history isn’t especially well documented, but one commonly held belief is that a dedicated huntsman, Henri de Falandre, developed the breed in the early 19th century, and that he blended the English Foxhound with the Gascon Saintongeios, Bleu de Gascogne, Poitevin, and possibly the Billy to come up with what might France’s youngest and rarest French Hound.
Like so many European breeds, the Blanc et Noir (or Black and White) was devastated by WW I, and what population did survive was extremely small in numbers. Though it’s still considered rare today, between 300 – 400 puppies are born every year in France, and around 2,000 dogs get registered in the FCI; these are much better numbers than are enjoyed by some better known British breeds in the UK!
On the one hand, it’s surprising to some that a large and robust breed would be growing in popularity because the Black and White was created to run, and run, and run some more. And when their owners are done hunting or recreating, they want to run some more. Their specialty is deer hunting in packs, and their fine voice and keen sense of smell makes them popular with hunters who love a breed that can maintain a swift pace for hours. We mentioned that they love to run?
On the other hand, it’s not surprising at all that the breed’s popularity is growing. The heritage of venery is alive and robust in France where hunting is the third most popular leisure activity for the French. The country has over 8 million dogs, and according to the Federation Nationale Des Chasseurs (France’s National Federation of Hunters), half of them are hunting dogs.
The Black and White, Chien Francais Blanc et Orange and Chien Francais Tricolore are the three breeds typically classified as French Hounds, but only the Black and White and Chien Francais Tricolore are recognized by the United Kennel Club (the Black and White having been accepted in 1996). The Black and White is also recognized by the FCI and the Kennel Club.
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