This is one of the oldest of all French dogs, with its history dating back to 13th century. In the past, these dogs were used by both, French nobility and peasants for various purposes, mainly for hunting wild boar. The ancestry of this breed is disputed. One theory claims, that they are descendants of Balkan Hounds, most notably of the Barak Hound, which is extremely similar. The Balkan Hounds were brought back to France by the Crusaders. The other theory claims that they might be descendants of the Gallic Hound, which existed during the ancient roman empire and that was brought to France by the Romans. The Griffon Nivernais was the favourite dog of the King Louis IX and it was very popular back in the days, especially in the Nivernais region.
Sadly, after the French Revolution at the end of 18th century, the Griffon Nivernais disappearaed. But only a century later, the Griffon Nivernais was re-created. The breed reconstruction was done based on the Grand Griffon Vendéen and later these dogs received blood of a Fox Hound and Otterhound. The breed club was formed in 1925 and the breed is slowly gaining its popularity back. The Griffon Nivernais we have today is very similar to the original Griffon Nivernais, but it is important to notice, that the original dog was bigger.
The Griffon Nivernais is a bold hunting breed, who is best known for its courage, excellent sense of smell and adaptability, which enables them to hunt in difficult terrains and in bad weather all day long. Its courage and initiative allow it to be used successfully in small packs for hunting wild boar. It is also intelligent and independent dog, another two extremely important traits for a hunting dog. So it is no wonder that even today, these dogs are very often used for this purpose. And most importatntly, they truly enjoy it and they love the hunt.
But of course, the Griffon Nivernais is not only a hunter, but also excellent active companion dog. It is a happy and friendly dog, that is okay around other dogs, kids and it typically does not have big problems with strangers. Of course, all of this vastly depends on early socialization. As i already mentioned, this is independent thinker and willful dog, which is a reason why they are not for everyone. They will not always obey all the commands, but they are intelligent and they will learn all the basic commands very fast.
It is important to say, that this is rather active dog breed and they need plenty and plenty of exercise to stay healthy and happy. Daily long walks, jogs, hikes, vigorous playtime and fun training sessions are absolutely essential for Griffon Nivernais. You can also try some dog sport with Griffon Nivernais, which will not only exhaust them physically but also mentally. For example tracking should be a perfect sport for this breed. Without enough exercise, they might become very noisy or destructive.
This is a medium sized dog breed with average height between 55-60 cm, which is 21-23 inch and weight between 46-52 lbs, which is 19-24 kg. Females are naturally slightly smaller than males.
7) Coat and color
The Griffon Nivernais has a long, shaggy coat that is rough in texture and the coat should never be wooly or curly. These dogs are known to have expressive eyebrows and slight moustache, which gives them, lets say, wise expression. They always look kind of unkept, it is they natural appearance. Their coat color is always grey, from light grey to boar grey and each hair is darker at the base than the tip.
8) Other Griffons
The Griffon Nivernais is not the only Griffon breed. The word griffon is describing all the wiry coated hunting dogs of France, but it is also used in some other countries, such as Spain. There are many other Griffons, such as Griffon Vendéen, Wirehaired Pointing Griffon, Griffon Fauve de Bretagne, Griffon Bleu de Gascogne, Brussels Griffon or Griffon Astur Cantabro.
The Griffon Nivernais always has the unique unkept like appearance. Even if you brush the coat, they will keep this kind of appearance, but you should still brush their coat regularly, lets say weekly, in order to keep it in good condition. Regular brushing will remove dead and loose hair. The coat itself is dirt repelling and it is not prone to tangling or matting, so the maintenance is not extremely hard.
And what about the health? Well, this is usually very healthy dog breed with average lifespan around 13 years. Of course, just like any other dog breed, they can suffer from some health issues, such as hip dysplasia, some eye problems, different allergies and infections or bloating. But none of these ilnesses should be very common in this breed and it should be pretty healthy and hardy dog breed.