Hunting with scenthounds have a long tradition in France. There are many different hunting breeds that were developed in this European country. One of them is the Grand Bleu de Gascogne, which is the main ancestor of the Petit. The Petit Bleu de Gascogne was developed several hundreads years ago, possibly around 1500s, by voluntary reduction in size of the Grand Bleu de Gascogne. Hunters wanted slightly smaller scenthound than the Grand, which would be able to efficiently hunt smaller game, such as hare, so they decided to select the smallest individuals of the breed in the attempt to develop a new breed, the Petit Bleu de Gascogne. And after few generations, they were succesfull.
2) Not a small dog
Even though they are named Petit and they were developed by reducing size of another breed, the Petit Bleu de Gascogne is definitely not a small dog. And even the word „petit“ in their name is not only reffering to the fact, that they are smaller version of the Grand Bleu de Gascogne, as it may also reffer to the French expression for hounds used for smaller game. And what is the average size of these dogs? Well, the height is typically between 20-23 inch, which is 50-58 cm, and weight between 40-50 lbs, which is 18-23 kg.
Overall, the breeds name is very descriptive. You already know, why they are named Petit, but what about the rest of their name. Bleu is reffering to the blue like coat color and de Gascogne is reffering to the geographical region of the breeds origin, which is Gascogny in France. So the breeds name can be literally translated as Blue colored small game hunter from Gascogny region. BTW, there are three other hunting breeds from this region, the Grand Bleu de Gascogne, Griffon Bleu de Gascogne and Basset Blue de Gascogne.
The one main utilization of the Petit Bleu de Gascogne is hunting. And they are excellent hunters. It is a skilled gun dog, but they can also be used for coursing. They truly love the hunt, they are absolutely passionate about it and they are happiest if they can do it. Their main weapons on the hunt are their excellent sense of smell, high chasing instinct, great endurance, speed and agility, loud voice and intelligence. They are mainly used to hunt hare in packs, but they can adapt to hunt other, even larger game, as well.
Of course, the Petit Bleu de Gascogne is not only a hunter, but also loving and loyal family companion. It is a lively breed that will be happiest with an active owner. They are very affectionate, always ready for any adventure, friendly with strangers or other dogs. It is a pack animal so they typically have no problem with other dogs in the family, but of course, other household pets like hamsters or rabbits might be a problem due to the high prey drive of this breed. The Petit Bleu de Gascogne can also live with kids in the family, but of course, you should never leave any dog breed with a very young child unsupervised. This is highly intelligent, but also strong willed dog breed, which means they are not total pushovers to train, but they are capable of easily learn all the basic obedience commands.
As you can probably expect, the Petit Bleu de Gascogne is pretty energetic dog breed, especially if they are not used for hunting. They will need daily longer walks, jogs, hikes, vigorous playtime or fun training sessions to stay healthy and happy. If they are provided with enough exercise, than they are typically quite relaxed and calm indoors. On the other hand, without proper exercise, they might develop some unwanted behaviour, such as excessive barking.
7) Coat and color
The Petit Bleu de Gascogne has a short, semi-thick and dense and profuse coat in blue color. Well, it is not actually blue, the colour is white mottled with black, giving a slate blue overall appearance. There are typically black patches on the head and they can have black patches on the body as well. It is also very typical for this breed to have tan markings above the eyes, which is creating the eyebrows look.
Speaking of the coat, lets mention the grooming and maintenance as well. And luckily, this is low maintenance breed. They do shed, slightly more during the shedding seasons and you should brush these dogs regularly in order to remove the dead and loose hair and to redistribute natural oils all over the coat. No other grooming is required. Just like with all dog breeds, you should regularly check their eyes, ears, nails and teeth and clip them or clean them if needed.
If you are not living in France, there is a big possibility, that you never heard about this breed before. It is because they are pretty rare. Just like with all French dogs, the numbers of the breed rapidly declined during the two world wars and these dogs were never exported to other countries in large numbers. They are recognized by the FCI and UKC since the 1990s, but they are not recognized by the AKC to this day. And as you could expect, most of these dogs live in their home country, in France and its neighboring countries, like Spain. Overall, this is very very rare dog breed.
There are no unusual health problems related to the Petit Bleu de Gascogne. The life expectancy is somewhere around 13 years. Of course, just like all medium or large sized dog breeds, they might have some problems with joints, like hip dysplasia, they can have some eye problems like entropion and they can suffer from various infections and allergies, but none of these health problems should not be very common in this breed and the Petit Bleu de Gascogne is generally healthy and hardy breed.