The Grand Bleu de Gascogne is considered to be one of the oldest of all scenthounds we know today. There are several theories about its origin and it is generally believed, that they are descendants of the hounds of Phoenician traders, of the dogs developed by Gauls and also of native French scenthound known as Chien de Courant, a legendary French hunting dog breed with massive body, which is already extinct today. There are historical written evidences about this breed that are hundreads of years old, but the breed and its ancestors most likely lived in France and especially in the Gascogne region since the Middle ages.
2) The Big Gascogne
The Grand Bleu de Gascogne is one of the four „Gascogne“ dog breeds. Next to the Grand Bleu, there is the Petit Bleu, Basset Bleu and Griffon Bleu de Gascogne. And not only that the Grand Bleu is largest of all, it is also the ancestor of all other Gascogne dog breeds. And it is believed, that the Grand Bleu de Gascogne influenced many other scent hunting dog breeds as well, such as American Foxhound, Bluetick Coonhound, Catahoula Leopard dog or the Southern Hound.
The word Grand in the breeds name is not only describing the dogs size, but it is an indicator of what game they were used to hunt and indeed, these dogs are used for centuries to hunt large game in packs. They are hunting for example deer, boar, but also wolves. They can also hunt smaller game, but they are much more efficient in big game hunting. These dogs are best known to be absolutely determined and focused on the hunt, for their incredibly good sense of smell capable of tracking hot and cold scent, distinctive and deep howl and high endurance and stamina, all very important traits for a succesfull hunter.
Of course, just like almost all the other dogs, even the Grand Bleu de Gascogne can make wonderful companion dog. But because of their high prey drive, chasing instinct, large size and because they are just tireless, they are not suitable for everyone. But if you have a space and time to burn off this dogs energy, than it will make wonderful loving and affectionate companion. They would love to live in a pack with other dogs in the family, but of course, other household pets might be problematic. Even with amazing socialization and training, they can still follow their nose and not obey your commands on 100%, especially if they smell something interesting. But it is an intelligent breed capable of understanding all the obedience commands without a problem. And even though very big, they are absolutely gentle, which makes them good partners for kids. But of course, you should never leave any dog breed with a very young child unsupervised.
Speaking of the size, what is the actual height and weight of this dog breed? Well, the height, according to the official breed standard, is between 62-72 cm, which is 24-28 inch. And weight is usually between 80-120 lbs, which is 36-55 kg. Females are naturally slightly smaller than males.
6) Coat and color
The Grand Bleu de Gascogne is known for its beautiful short and thick blue colored coat. In reality, the coat is white mottled with black, which is giving the dog blue overall appearance. They can have occasional black patches. The coat is weatherproof and it is enabling the dog to hunt outdoors all day long without any problems.
Just like many other scent hounds, even the Grand Bleu de Gasconge has large ears. They are iconic part of this breeds appearance. The low set ears curl inward and reach the tip of the nose. Because there is limited air flow into the ears, they can be prone to ear infections and it is imporant to check them regularly clean them if needed.
The Grand Bleu de Gascogne was very popular breed in France. But both World Wars and prior to that French revolution caused a massive decline in the breeds numbers, let alone other external forces, like rising popularity of foreign dog breeds. The breed is not on the verge of extinction, but it is definitely not even close as popular as it used to be and it is remaining quite rare. You can find them in lower numbers in France and its neighboring countries, but also in North America, where these dogs are present since at least the 18th century. Acutally, George Washington owned a pack of these dogs!
The Grand Bleu de Gascogne is extremely easy to take care of dog. They shed some deal of fur all year long but it is nothing extremely terrible. You can brush the coat from time to time to remove loose and dead hair and to keep the coat in best possible condition. No other grooming is required. Just like with any other dog breed, you should regularly check their eyes, ears, nails and teeth and clip them or clean them if needed.
The Grand Bleu de Gascogne is typically very healthy dog breed. There are not many scientific studies about the breeds health but it does not seem that it suffers much from any serious genetic health issues, but of course it can still suffer from some problems typical for large dogs, such as some joint and bone problems like hip dysplasia, bloating or ear infections. The average lifespan is around 12 years.