- Height: 22 to 24 inches
- Weight: 55 to 70 pounds
The Blue Picardy may be a quiet dog with an off switch, but don’t underestimate his need for exercise. He requires daily physical and mental activity to burn off his energy. Then he might be ready to sack out with you on the sofa.
Although his first love might be hunting, the breed’s activity level and retrieving and scenting skills can make healthy Blue Picardy Spaniels well-suited to dog sports such as agility, flyball, nose work and tracking. He may also make a great hiking companion for people who love the outdoors. This highly active dog usually does best when matched with an equally active person.
Typically gentle and playful, Blue Picardies can be a kid’s best friend, given appropriate socialization and supervision. They may also get along well with cats and other dogs. Birds may wish to keep a safe distance.
- In his homeland of France, the Blue Picardy goes by the name Epagneul Bleu de Picardie. Picardy is a region in northern France, and the breed hails from the area near the mouth of the Somme River.
- Despite the word “spaniel” in his name (epagneul in French), this dog is a pointing breed, known for his versatility. He’s a strong searcher with good scenting and retrieving ability. He’s also bred to be a water dog, as evidenced by his webbed toes.
- Unlike other gundog breeds, which have a brown tinge to their skin, the Blue lives up to his name, with blue-tinged skin.
The History of the Blue Picardy SpanielThe marshes of the Somme River in France were the original happy hunting grounds for a type of black-and-white spaniel that was popular as a gun dog. This type of dog was likely a descendant of crosses between French Spaniels and English Setters. That cross is thought to have been the origin of the black-and-white coat.
In 1938, French sportsmen drew up a breed standard for the Blue Picardy Spaniel, as the dogs became known. Only a few years later, though, World War II put a halt to the breed’s development. By 1960, the dogs had come close to disappearing. A few breeders made an effort to save them, and although the dogs survived, they were little known except among hunters in northern France. A turnaround came in the mid-1990s. More puppies were bred, and in 2003, the Blues outnumbered their previously more popular cousins, the brown, white and tan Picardy Spaniels.
Although they are still not popular, Blue Picardies are no longer in danger of extinction. They are becoming known as companion dogs as well as excellent hunters and can be found not only in France but also in Canada, The Netherlands and California.
The Canadian Kennel Club recognized the Blue Picardy in 1995, and the United Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1996. The dogs are also registered by the American Rare Breed Association.
Blue Picardy Spaniel Temperament and PersonalityThe Blue Picardy has a reputation for being calm, mannerly and patient. He’s generally a quiet dog but has good watchdog skills, barking an alert when strangers approach and willing to protect his people from harm. People who are welcomed by his family members tend to be his friends, too.
A typical Blue Picardy is well-behaved in groups of people and dogs, even if he doesn’t know them. He generally remembers his training in new or unexpected situations.
In the field, the Blue Picardy is a tenacious hunter with good scenting ability who can work on land and in water. He’s a do-it-all dog, capable of finding, pointing and retrieving birds and other game in many different types of terrain. His instinctive pointing and retrieving skills are easily developed at an early age. Depending on his training and the terrain, the Blue Picardy can either hunt close or range farther afield. Unlike his setter cousins, he remains standing on point, displaying intensity and style.
At home, he’s usually described as calm and sociable. That’s assuming he gets his daily quota of exercise — preferably an hour of vigorous activity a day for healthy Picardies.
Versatility is this dog’s middle name. The Blue Picardy can be a great choice for people who want a dog to run or hike with or who can challenge his mind and body with a fun dog sport. This natural retriever generally loves playing fetch, loves the water and is known for being a swimmer.
Blue Picardies tend to be affectionate and devoted to their family. They love attention and are happy to snuggle beneath the covers at bedtime. They also tend to be companionable with other animals, especially if raised with them. Their friendliness only goes so far, though. It’s best to keep pocket pets and birds away from them.
As a sporting breed who is expected to work closely with people, the Blue Picardy is generally adaptable and easy to train. Puppies will be puppies, though, and you can expect a Blue Picardy pup to be excitable and active for at least his first two or three years. Count on him to always have a ball or toy in his mouth. He’s also not above counter surfing if he thinks he can get away with it, so as with other breeds, keep people food and potential hazards out of reach.
Start training your Blue Picardy puppy the day you bring him home. He tends to be a smart, responsive and obedient dog, capable of soaking up everything you can teach him. Don’t wait until he is 6 months old to begin training, or you will waste a lot of good learning time.
The Blue Picardy has a soft nature. He’s generally not stubborn or hard-headed and responds best to positive reinforcement. Never correct him in a harsh tone or a rough, physical way. Be supportive, but give him time and space to explore and think things through on his own. With proper training and guidance, he should mature into a confident and talented dog.
If possible, get him into puppy kindergarten class by the time he is 10 to 12 weeks old, and socialize, socialize, socialize. It’s important for your puppy to meet a lot of different people during his first four months and to have many different experiences to help him become a well-rounded, sensible dog.
Be aware, however, that many puppy training classes require certain vaccines (such as the one for kennel cough) to be up-to-date, and many veterinarians recommend limiting 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 vaccinations are completed.
Talk to the breeder, describe exactly what you’re looking for in a dog and ask for assistance in selecting a puppy. Breeders see their puppies daily and can make uncannily accurate recommendations once they know something about your lifestyle and personality.
The perfect Blue Picardy doesn’t spring fully formed from the whelping box. He’s a product of his background and breeding. Look for a puppy whose parents have nice personalities and one who has been well socialized from an early age. Neither parents nor pups should be timid, shifty-eyed or sluggish. If given a choice, pick a puppy who is happy, friendly and outgoing.
What You Need to Know About Blue Picardy Spaniel HealthThe Blue Picardy is a generally healthy breed, with an expected lifespan of 9 to 13 years.
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 her 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.
Potential health problems in the breed include hip dysplasia and eye diseases such as ectropion (where the eyelid turns away from the eyeball). A reputable breeder will obtain health clearances for hips and eyes on breeding dogs.
Ask the breeder if she has experienced other problems in her lines. Problems such as epilepsy or autoimmune thyroiditis may not appear until a dog is older.
Health certifications your pup’s parents should have:
- Hip dysplasia: Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) or PennHIP evaluation, with the results registered with the OFA or Canine Health Information Center
- Eyes: OFA evaluation by a board-certified veterinary ophthalmologist
If a breeder tells you she doesn’t need to do those tests or her dogs don’t need health certifications because she’s never had problems in her lines, that her dogs have been vet-checked or gives other excuses for skimping on the genetic testing of dogs, walk away immediately.
Potential non-genetic problems to be aware of include ear infections, so keep the Blue Picardy’s ears clean and dry.
Remember that after you’ve taken a new puppy into your home, you have the power to protect him from a common canine health problem: obesity. Keeping a Blue Picardy at an appropriate weight is one of the easier ways to help ensure a healthier dog for life.
The Basics of Blue Picardy Spaniel GroomingThe Blue Picardy has thick, medium-length hair that is flat and straight or slightly wavy, with heavy feathering on the ears, legs, chest and belly and tail. The hair on the head is short and fine. He sheds seasonally and may also shed lightly throughout the year.
Brush the coat once or twice a week to help keep it shiny, clean and tangle-free. Brushing can remove mud and debris after a day in the field. You may need to brush more often during spring and fall shedding seasons to help keep dead hair off your furniture and clothing. For a neat appearance, you may also want to carefully trim the feathering around the toes and paw pads. Bathe your dog as needed. Depending on whether a Blue Picardy spends a lot of time outdoors, as well as on your furniture, that can mean weekly, monthly or quarterly.
The rest is basic care. Trim the nails every week or two, or as needed. Brush the teeth often (daily is best) — with a vet-approved pet toothpaste — for good overall health and fresh breath.
Finding a Blue Picardy SpanielSelecting a respected 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. She is more interested in placing pups in the right homes than making big bucks.
Good breeders will welcome your questions about temperament, health clearances and what the dogs are like to live with and will 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 to avoid those problems.
There are few breeders of this rare dog, and most are concentrated in Canada and Europe, although there is at least one in the United States, in California. Start your search for a breeder at the Blue Picardy Spaniel Club of Canada. Online groups such as Gun Dog Forum are also good places to search. There will likely be someone who has a Blue Picardy or knows of someone who does. Wherever you find a breeder, you will likely have to reserve a puppy and spend some time on a waiting list.
Look for a breeder who regularly participates with the dogs in some form of organized canine activity, such as field trials, conformation showing, obedience or other dog sports, or therapy dog programs. The breeder should sell puppies with a written contract guaranteeing she take the dog back if at any time during his life you cannot keep him.
Ask the breeder to provide you with documentation that your prospective puppy’s parents were cleared for health problems in the breed and have results registered with the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals or the Canine Health Information Center. Hip clearance by PennHIP is also acceptable.
Avoid breeders who seem interested only in how quickly they can unload a puppy on you and whether your credit card will go through. Also bear in mind that buying a puppy from a website that offers 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 could save you money and frustration 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. Quickie online purchases 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 the 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-percent 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.
And before you decide to buy a puppy, consider whether an adult Blue Picardy 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 Blue Picardy, if one is available, 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 may be able to find adult dogs to adopt through breeders or shelters. If you are interested in acquiring an older dog through breeders, ask 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.
Adopting a Dog From a Blue Picardy Spaniel Rescue Group or ShelterBear in mind that the Blue Picardy is a rare breed and few are available in this country. It is unlikely that you will find one in a shelter or through a rescue group. If you want to search, however, here’s how to get started.
1. Use the Web
Sites like Petfinder and Adopt-a-Pet.com can have you searching for a Blue Picardy in your area in no time flat. AnimalShelter.org can help you find animal rescue groups in your area.
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 Blue Picardy. 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 Rescues
Most people who love Blue Picardies love all Blue Picardies. Many breed clubs have rescue organizations devoted to caring for and placing homeless dogs.
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 may also offer opportunities to foster a dog if you are an experienced dog owner.
4. Ask Key Questions
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 pup. These include:
- What is his energy level?
- How is he around other animals?
- How does he respond to shelter workers, visitors and children?
- What is his personality like?
- What is his age?
- Is he housetrained?
- Has he ever bitten or hurt anyone?
- Are there any known health issues?
Puppy or adult, breeder purchase or rescue, take your Blue Picardy 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 can help you avoid many health issues.