Griffon Nivernais – the hunting pride of France

Narrated from: Dog Breeds

Do they really hunt with griffins in France? Well, of course not – though it would be really, really cool. However, the French do have trustworthy hunting companions – the famous Griffon hunting dogs!

What dogs are they? 

Griffon Nivernais dogs belong to the scenthound group – this means they are hunting dogs that rely on their sense of smell rather than their sight for tracking their prey. Scenthounds are a must for hunters tracking game over rough terrain – forests, mountains, etc.


All dogs are beautiful – you just need to find the right one for you! 

Griffon dogs weren’t bred for looks, but they will appeal to many people as rather cute. They have long, shaggy coats, colored in different shades of grey. The long hair on the head forms a “beard” and “whiskers”, which, in addition to the long muzzle, give these dogs a rather morose and melancholic appearance.

Griffon dogs are medium-sized, reaching a height of 55-60 cm at the withers. Their bodies are long and elegant (or would be if you could see them through all the hair), and their long fluffy tails are usually carried in a saber fashion, as if after all these years Griffon dogs are still ready to greet the King of France.

The appearance of Griffon dogs is subject to a lot of breed standards, as this is one of the elite breeds of France.


If one thinks dogs are dumb animals, then one has never tried to negotiate with a dog.

The Griffon Nivernais is one of the friendlier hunting breeds – this means that Griffon dogs can make excellent pets. They can form a strong attachment with an entire family, and greatly enjoy attention and being petted – this, in addition to Eeyore looks, make Griffon dogs very popular among children.

Even though affectionate, they have the strong and independent character of true hunting dogs, making them intelligent and willful at the same time.

The main problem with Griffon dogs is that they are barkers – a necessary requisite for any scenthound. However, unlike some hunting dogs, they have a strongly developed pack instinct, which means that they can get along with other dogs.


Your dog you train well, young Padawan, or otherwise the dog it will be who does the training.

Training a Griffon Nivernais is no easy task – you need to firmly establish your alpha-status in the pack.

If you are lucky enough to obtain a Griffon Nivernais pup, much will depend on what you intend to use the dog for – a hunting Griffon needs to pass professional training, while a pet Griffon has to be socialized properly.

In both cases, obedience training is crucial, otherwise the Griffon can bite or scratch people without knowing this is not proper canine-human interaction.


Griffon dogs are healthy, robust dogs, and don’t suffer from any unusual health problems. If the dog is used for hunting, then special attention should be paid to the ears. With the right care, these dogs can live up to 12-14 years.


Hair… there was hair everywhere…

Griffon Nivernais dogs have a constant unkempt look – however, don’t let that deceive you: their untidy-looking coats still require proper grooming. The coat needs to be brushed, but baths should be given only when necessary – too much bathing will wash away the natural oils of the coat.


One needs to know where one is coming from in order to know where one is going… or where one should find the bouncy ball!

The Griffon Nivernais is one of the oldest hound breeds in France, so it is rather hard to determine these dogs’ exact origin. They are named after the Nivernais district in central France, and it is believed that the breed originated there, as well as in Morvan.

Griffon dogs existed as far back as the 1200s, and were extremely popular among the nobility.

A rather popular theory states that the Griffon breed was developed from Balkan dogs, brought back by Crusaders. This would make them directly related to the Bulgarian Barak breed, which truly resembles them in looks and character.

Other theories claim that Griffon dogs can trace their ancestry as far back as the Gallic hound, which existed in the times of Ancient Rome.

Nation of the dog

For are dogs not a nation of their own? Are they fewer than humans? Is there a place where humans live without dogs?

The Griffon breed was once widely spread across France, being one of the most popular hunting breeds. At one point in time they were the personal favorites of King Louis IX, and for a time were called Chien Gris de St. Louis (The Grey Dogs of St. Louis) – which made them extremely desirable for all nobles craving the King’s favor!

However, after the French Revolution Griffon dogs were scattered, and the breed was not cultivated for almost a century, resulting in the loss of many wonderful dogs. In 1900 a Griffon Nivernais club was established, and thus began the restoration of this great hunting breed. Nowadays Griffon dogs are again gaining popularity.

And they are the perfect match for…

A dog! A dog! My apartment for a dog!

Well, anyone. With the proper training Griffon dogs make excellent pets, though their primary occupation is the hunting business.

However, they don’t make good apartment dogs, since they are very active (as are most hound-type dogs), and their barking will soon be a nuisance for the whole block. Also, Griffon dogs hate heat, and are not well suited for warmer regions.

If you want to have such a dog as a pet, then you must be sure that you can handle it; proper training is required to socialize a Griffon dog. However, if you want the Griffon as a hunting companion, then this would be one fine choice.

Professional CV

Soldiers, firefighters, guards, hunters… and you think all they are good for is lazing on the couch?

Griffon dogs are born and bred to be hunters. It’s in their blood. 
These dogs are proficient in hunting wild boar, and even wolves. They prefer to operate in small packs, and are very brave. However, their intelligence means they are not reckless. The main problem is that these dogs require strict obedience training, otherwise they might prove to be rather willful.

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