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Sally Anne Thompson, Animal Photography
This short, long-backed rabbit hunter is a merry soul who loves to dig and bark. He's terrific in performance sports like agility. The PGBV is charming, stubborn, active, and wildly enthusiastic about everything, especially you. He would rather hunt than come to you, though.
The word “Griffon” is French and is applied to dogs with shaggy or wiry coats. Taken altogether the breed’s name describes him exactly: Petit (small), Basset (low to the ground), Griffon (rough-coated) Vendeen (the area of France where he originated). For short, he is variously called the PBGV, Petit, Griff or Roughie.
With his low-slung body and longish back, bearded face and wiry coat, and a merry, ready-for-anything expression and attitude, the Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen — PBGV to his friends — looks and acts like a composite of several hound breeds: a dash of Dachshund, a bit of Beagle, and a smidgen of Basset Hound. But the PBGV is an old breed and a distinctive one, a French scenthound built to move nimbly through heavy, thorny underbrush in pursuit of rabbits. He has many good qualities, including a moderate size of 25 to 42 pounds, but he’s definitely not right for everyone.
The lively PBGV is an outgoing, active dog who is always into everything. He is curious about his surroundings and loves to dig and bark. In fact, his breed standard says that he has a good voice freely and purposefully used. Chasing squirrels, rabbits and other furry prey is a favorite occupation of this hunting hound. PBGVs are active and cheerful playmates for kids, although they are probably too rambunctious for toddlers.
If you’re dedicated, you can channel the PBGV’s enthusiasm into dog sports such as agility, obedience, rally and tracking. He’s also an excellent companion on the hiking trail. Expect to give him several 10- to 20-minute walks or active playtimes daily to help expend all of his energy. Never walk him off leash unless you’re in a safe, traffic-free area. The PBGV isn’t a come-when-called kind of dog. His desire to hunt will always take precedence. For the same reason, he needs a yard that is securely fenced, with a barrier that he can’t dig under or jump over. An underground electronic fence will not keep him contained. If he smells something he wants to chase, a shock isn’t going to stop him.
Be firm, fair and consistent when training this intelligent and independent-minded dog. He may have a short attention span, so keep training sessions brief and interesting. He responds best to positive reinforcement techniques using praise, play and food rewards, never force.
As long as he gets appropriate amounts of exercise and attention, the people-loving PBGV is suited to any size home, including an apartment or condo, but he needs to live indoors with his family. He’ll be unhappy and destructive if he is relegated to the backyard with little or no human companionship.
The PBGV is a French breed, one of many small varieties of French hounds that have existed for centuries. He descends from the larger Griffon Vendeen and dates to the 16th century. The area where he was developed — the Vendeen — was harsh country with thick underbrush, rocky ground, and thorns and brambles. To hunt it called for a bold, tough, determined dog with a lot of stamina and excellent hunting ability.
French hunters developed different size dogs to hunt different types of prey. The PBGV was used to trail rabbit and hare and sometimes game birds. He is still a good hunting dog today.
The Club du Basset Vendeen was formed in 1907. The first breed standard was written by Paul Dezamy, the club’s first president. The standard he wrote applied to both the PBGV and his big brother the Grand Basset Griffon Vendeen. At the time, both sizes could be born in the same litter, and the dogs could be interbred until as late as 1975, although the PBGV did get his own standard in the 1950s.
The Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen Club of America was founded in 1984 at the American Kennel Club Centennial Dog Show. The AKC recognized the breed in 1991. The PBGV ranks 129th among the dogs registered by the AKC.
A sense of humor is an essential possession if you are to live happily with one of these low-slung hounds. The PBGV is described as curious, independent, smart and — scariest of all — inventive. He has a devil-may-care personality that is both charming and frustrating. He’s more than happy to please you, as long as it doesn’t interrupt what he’s doing.
Low-to-the-ground dogs such as PBGVs are often mistakenly assumed to be couch potatoes. That would definitely be wrong. They have been kept as hunting dogs for centuries and have the typical hound’s desire to be on the trail in search of quarry. If you don’t take him hunting or on interesting hikes or walks that will satisfy that desire, he will take the initiative and follow his nose wherever it leads him: usually straight into trouble. It’s essential to have a securely fenced yard to prevent him from wandering off. And because he is a hunting dog, he may well view local cats and rabbits as prey. If he will be sharing a home with one of these furry beasts, it’s best that they be raised together from an early age.
Activities that will keep the PBGV active and entertained include agility, flyball, hunt tests, freestyle, rally, obedience, and tracking. He excels at all of these dog sports. PBGVs are also found working as therapy and search and rescue dogs.
The PBGV has a “good voice, freely used” and it’s possible he will use it to alert you to people approaching the home, but you really shouldn’t count on him to be much of a watchdog and definitely not a guard dog. He loves people and greets one and all with a confidently wagging tail.
The PBGV’s independence and determination are assets in the field, where he needs them to pursue a rabbit through thick brush or brambles, but they can be a hindrance when it comes to training the dog. Appeal to his self-interest by making training sessions short, fun and rewarding—in the form of praise, play and treats. He can be housetrained successfully if you are careful to take him out on a regular schedule, with plenty of opportunities to do the right thing in the right place and be praised and rewarded for it.
Start training your puppy the day you bring him home. Even at 8 weeks old, he is capable of soaking up everything you can teach him. Never wait until he is six months old to begin training, or you will have a more headstrong dog to deal with.
If possible, get him into puppy kindergarten class by the time he is 10 to 12 weeks old, and socialize, socialize, socialize. However, be aware that many puppy training classes require certain vaccines (like kennel cough) to be up to date, and many veterinarians recommend limited exposure to other dogs and public places until puppy vaccines (including rabies, distemper and parvovirus) have been completed. In lieu of formal training, you can begin training your puppy at home and socializing him among family and friends until puppy vaccines are completed. Invite people to your home as well so he becomes accustomed to visitors. These experiences as a young dog will help him grow into a sensible, calm adult dog.
Talk to the breeder, describe exactly what you’re looking for in a dog, and ask for assistance in selecting a puppy. Breeders see the puppies daily and can make uncannily accurate recommendations once they know something about your lifestyle and personality. Whatever you want from a Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen, look for one whose parents have nice personalities and who has been well socialized from early puppyhood.
All dogs have the potential to develop genetic health problems, just as all people have the potential to inherit a particular disease. Run, don’t walk, from any breeder who does not offer a health guarantee on puppies, who tells you that the breed is 100 percent healthy and has no known problems, or who tells you that her puppies are isolated from the main part of the household for health reasons. A reputable breeder will be honest and open about health problems in the breed and the incidence with which they occur in her lines.
In the PBGV, health problems that have been seen include hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, patellar luxation, hypothyroidism, seizures, and some eye problems such as corneal dystrophy, retinal dysplasia, and persistent pupillary membranes. The Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen Club of America works to protect the breed’s health by supporting the Canine Health Information Center, a health database. For a PBGV to earn CHIC certification, a breeder must submit hip scores from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, plus certification from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation that the eyes are healthy. A plus would be OFA knee and thyroid evaluations.
Having dogs "vet checked" is not a substitute for genetic health testing. Do not purchase a puppy from a breeder who cannot provide you with written documentation that the parents were cleared of health problems that affect the breed. Hips should be rated excellent, good or fair.
Remember that after you’ve taken a new puppy into your home, you have the power to protect him from one of the most common health problems: obesity. Keeping a PBGV at an appropriate weight is one of the easiest ways to extend his life. Make the most of your preventive abilities to help ensure a healthier dog for life.
The PBGV’s rough coat has a harsh texture and a thick, short undercoat. It is long, but not excessively so. The result is a dog with a natural, casual, tousled appearance.
The PBGV’s coat needs a minimum of grooming. Brush it weekly to remove any dead hair and tangles, and neaten stray hairs in front of the eyes as needed. Other than that, just keep his ears clean, his teeth brushed and his nails trimmed. He's definitely meant to be a no-fuss dog, but it doesn’t hurt to wipe his beard after he eats or drinks to help keep it clean. And because he likes to dig and run through brush and otherwise get dirty, you may find yourself bathing him on a pretty regular basis.
The rest is basic care. Trim the nails as needed, usually once a month. Brush the teeth frequently with a vet-approved pet toothpaste for good overall health and fresh breath. Check the ears weekly for dirt, redness or a bad odor that can indicate an infection. If the ears look dirty, wipe them out with a cotton ball dampened with a gentle, pH-balanced ear cleaner recommended by your veterinarian. You may also have to pluck hair from the ear canals to allow air to circulate and make it easier to remove wax and dirt. Start grooming a PBGV puppy at an early age so he becomes used to it and accepts it willingly.
Whether you want to go with a breeder or get your dog from a shelter or rescue, here are some things to keep in mind.
Finding a good breeder is a great way to find the right puppy. A good breeder will match you with the right puppy, and will without question have done all the health certifications necessary to screen out health problems as much as possible. He or she is more interested in placing pups in the right homes than making big bucks. Be wary of breeders who only tell you the good things about the breed or who promote the dogs as being “good with kids” without any context as to what that means or how it comes about.
Good breeders will welcome your questions about temperament, health clearances and what the dogs are like to live with and come right back at you with questions of their own about what you’re looking for in a dog and what kind of life you can provide for him. A good breeder can tell you about the history of the breed, explain why one puppy is considered pet quality while another is not, and discuss what health problems affect the breed and the steps she takes take to avoid those problems. A breeder should want to be a resource for you throughout your dog’s life. Look for more information about the Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen and start your search for a good breeder at the website of the Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen Club of America.
Avoid breeders who only seem interested in how quickly they can unload a puppy on you and whether your credit card will go through. Breeders who offer puppies at one price “with papers” and at a lower price “without papers” are unethical. You should also bear in mind that buying a puppy from websites that offer to ship your dog to you immediately can be a risky venture, as it leaves you no recourse if what you get isn’t exactly what you expected. Put at least as much effort into researching your puppy as you would into choosing a new car or expensive appliance. It will save you money in the long run.
Lots of reputable breeders have websites, so how can you tell who’s good and who’s not? Red flags include puppies always being available, multiple litters on the premises, having your choice of any puppy, and the ability to pay online with a credit card. Those things are convenient, but they are almost never associated with reputable breeders.
Whether you’re planning to get your new best friend from a breeder, a pet store, or another source, don’t forget that old adage “let the buyer beware”. Disreputable breeders and facilities that deal with puppy mills can be hard to distinguish from reliable operations. There’s no 100% guaranteed way to make sure you’ll never purchase a sick puppy, but researching the breed (so you know what to expect), checking out the facility (to identify unhealthy conditions or sick animals), and asking the right questions can reduce the chances of heading into a disastrous situation. And don’t forget to ask your veterinarian, who can often refer you to a reputable breeder, breed rescue organization, or other reliable source for healthy puppies.
The cost of a Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen puppy varies depending on the breeder’s locale, whether the pup is male or female, what titles his parents have, and whether he is best suited for the show ring or a pet home. The puppy you buy should have been raised in a clean home environment, from parents with health clearances and conformation (show) and, ideally, working titles to prove that they are good specimens of the breed. Puppies should be temperament tested, vetted, dewormed, and socialized to give them a healthy, confident start in life.
Before you decide to buy a puppy, consider whether an adult Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen might better suit your needs and lifestyle. Puppies are loads of fun, but they require a lot of time and effort before they grow up to become the dog of your dreams. An adult may already have some training and will probably be less active, destructive and demanding than a puppy. With an adult, you know more about what you’re getting in terms of personality and health and you can find adults through breeders or shelters. If you are interested in acquiring an older dog through breeders, ask them about purchasing a retired show dog or if they know of an adult dog who needs a new home. If you want to adopt a dog, read the advice below on how to do that.
There are many great options available if you want to adopt a dog from an animal shelter or breed rescue organization. Here is how to get started.
1. Use the Web
Sites like Petfinder.com and Adopt-a-Pet.com can have you searching for a Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen in your area in no time flat. The site allows you to be very specific in your requests (housetraining status, for example) or very general (all the Petit Basset Griffon Vendeens available on Petfinder across the country). AnimalShelter can help you find animal rescue groups in your area. Also some local newspapers have “pets looking for homes” sections you can review.
Social media is another great way to find a dog. Post on your Facebook page that you are looking for a specific breed so that your entire community can be your eyes and ears.
2. Reach Out to Local Experts
Start talking with all the pet pros in your area about your desire for a Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen. That includes vets, dog walkers, and groomers. When someone has to make the tough decision to give up a dog, that person will often ask her own trusted network for recommendations.
3. Talk to Breed Rescue
Networking can help you find a dog that may be the perfect companion for your family. Most people who love Petit Basset Griffon Vendeens love all Petit Basset Griffon Vendeens. That’s why breed clubs have rescue organizations devoted to taking care of homeless dogs. The Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen Club of America’s rescue network can help you find a dog that may be the perfect companion for your family. You can also search online for other Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen rescues in your area.
The great thing about breed rescue groups is that they tend to be very upfront about any health conditions the dogs may have and are a valuable resource for advice. They also often offer fostering opportunities so, with training, you could bring a PBGV home with you to see what the experience is like.
4. Key Questions to Ask
You now know the things to discuss with a breeder, but there are also questions you should discuss with shelter or rescue group staff or volunteers before you bring home a dog. These include:
Wherever you acquire your Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen, make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. Petfinder offers an Adopters Bill of Rights that helps you understand what you can consider normal and appropriate when you get a dog from a shelter. In states with “puppy lemon laws,” be sure you and the person you get the dog from both understand your rights and recourses.
Puppy or adult, take your Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot problems, and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues.
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