Rustic French Hound – Casual and Tousled

Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen moving in a dog show ring

During the 40 years I have been Judges Education Chair for the Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen Club of America, the subject that most often confronts me is that of grooming. The controversial subject is a frequent topic of conversation among not only judges but breeders as well. So, let us start with the basics of what the PBGV is and should be.

The Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen is a rustic hound that should have a casual, tousled appearance in the show ring. However, because individual interpretations of rustic, tousled, and casual differ, one person’s perception that a dog is overgroomed is another person’s opinion that a dog is correctly groomed. We all come from different backgrounds and differently groomed breeds. So, these differences of opinion are understandable. But it is important to note that casual and tousled have nothing to do with quantity of hair but with the overall appearance of that coat.

Here are four definitions, all of which describe the correct PBGV appearance created by coat:
  • Casual – Occurring by Chance
  • Unrefined – Not Arranged
  • Tousled – Disarranged, Rumpled, Disheveled
  • Natural – A Product of Nature, Not Artificial

The Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen Breed Standard reads, “The most distinguishing characteristics of this bold hunter are; his rough, unrefined, outlines; his proudly carried head displaying definitive long eyebrows, beard and mustache; his strong, tapered tail…

This statement clearly calls for a casual overall look. Note those two especially important adjectives, rough and unrefined.

Knowing a bit about the PBGV’s ancestry should help conjure up a rustic image of this breed. The PBGV descended from the large Grand Griffon developed during the Middle Ages. Standing at about 26 inches, the Grand Griffon hunted wild boar in the Vendee, an area situated on the West Coast of France; a harsh landscape replete with rock, bramble, thorn, and thicket. In addition to great courage, these hounds required strong limbs and bodies. For protection against those harsh elements, a rough coat and protective furnishings were essential for preventing punctures, cuts, and other injuries while the hounds pursued wild boar.

Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen side photo from a dog show ring

The PBGV is a rustic hound that should have a casual, tousled appearance in the show ring.

The Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen is a descendant of that rustic boar-hunting Grand Griffon. Although hunting smaller prey, the PBGV worked in the same adverse environment as the Grand Griffon, his ancient cousin, and therefore he also needed a coat that required little maintenance; a coat that would resist matting or entanglement; a coat that could be torn and thinned by harsh terrain without harm to the body beneath.

We all understand that a dog show is not hunting. However, understanding a breed’s history is essential to preserving its heritage. To understand casual, tousled, and rustic is to understand correct PBGV type. Regardless of the manner the handler chooses to achieve this casual appearance, the end result should reflect the PBGV that is tough, rough, and ready—with a coat a bit unkempt; not primped or dandified.

While the Standard generally describes the ideal Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen, it does not give a list of grooming infractions. And while dogs should be clean and hair may be thin to enable the body proportions to be evaluated, in all cases we want to see a natural dog; this means we do not want to see PBGVs with the following infractions:

  1. A topcoat stripped like a terrier or with blunt scissor marks anywhere.
  2. Hair clipped to all the same length, or a groomed-in Sporting Dog underline; or trimming around each toe.
  3. The hair removed from the ends of the ears. The Standard says that hair on the ears is long. Too much hair removed from the top of the head giving it a flat appearance.
  4. Legs fluffed up or stiff with product.
  5. Very offensive is the removal of the little fan of hair on top of the muzzle and between the eyes; this fan is protective and a prime breed characteristic.
  6. Finally, and perhaps most offensive, the eyebrows shortened by cutting straight across forming a visor.

Of course, when judging, you must use your common sense. You are judging the whole, the overall dog and how the parts fit—not merely the grooming and coat treatment. Therefore, one shortcoming or infraction should not ruin the whole dog for you. But ask yourself this question:

Does the dog appear compact and robust like a tough little hunter, or does he remind you of another breed?

All grooming infractions should be considered to the extent of their deviation from the ideal. Remember, grooming is not genetic. Structure is.

One last item you may have missed: the words eliminate from competition have been deleted from our Standard, and that emphasis has been placed on the casual disarray of the coat. In addition, the size disqualification has been clarified: DQ dogs under 13 inches at one year of age or older; DQ any dog more than 15 inches at any age.


AKC and PBGVCA Anniversaries

(A version of the information provided below was published in the September 2009 issue of the AKC Gazette.)

Founded in 1984, the Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen Club of America held its Inaugural Meeting in Philadelphia at AKC’s Centennial Celebration. As the AKC celebrated its 125th year, PBGVCA celebrated its 25th.

PBGVs, smallest of the four Vendeen hounds, remains the popular hunting breed in France. Mrs. Elizabeth Streeter of Pennsylvania had imported many French PBGVs for developing her “basset” pack in the late ‘70s. Unwittingly, some called them hairy Bassets.

The breed evolved over 400 years to meet the rigors of the Vendee region. In early ‘80s, Danish breeder Per Knudsen popularized the breed all over Europe. Soon after, Nick Frost established PBGVs in England. Pedigrees of American dogs reflect these origins. The PBGVCA’s logo is fashioned after Per’s Raymond le Rebel. It is only in the last 35-40 years that the breed has entered Conformation events.

Interest in the US exploded in 1983 when a PBGV, “Alexander,” won Best in Show at SuperMatch in New Jersey. Charmed and captivated fanciers returned from Crufts with PBGVs, and imported them from France, Holland, and Denmark. We continue to admire him for his rustic appearance and happy demeanor. PBGVs compete in Obedience, Rally, and Field too.



Are you looking for a Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen puppy?

The best way to ensure a long and happy relationship with a purebred dog is to purchase one from a responsible breeder. Not sure where to begin finding a breeder?

Contact the National Parent Club’s Breeder Referral person, which you can find on the AKC Breeder Referral Contacts page.


Want to help rescue and re-home a Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen dog?

Did you know nearly every recognized AKC purebred has a dedicated rescue group? Find your new best friend on the AKC Rescue Network Listing.


Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen Breed Magazine

Showsight Magazine is the only publication to offer dedicated Digital Breed Magazines for ALL recognized AKC Breeds.

Read and learn more about the rustic Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen dog breed with articles and information in our Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen Breed Magazine.


Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen Breed Magazine - Showsight


If you enjoy the Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen Breed Magazine, help us educate the community by sharing it.

  • Though she owned an Irish Setter and a Belgian breed as a child, Kitty Steidel’s serious involvement with dogs dates back to 1967 when Kitty and her husband purchased their first Basset Hound from a show breeder. The breeder suggested they show her. So, to investigate showing, Kitty traipsed the countryside in Pennsylvania for two years with a Basset exhibitor, attending shows and observing the breed. After observing at shows, Kitty decided that her first Basset was not a show prospect; however, she did have one litter by her grandsire. Kitty and her husband attended their first National with a bitch from that litter when, after going third in the Bred-By Exhibitor Class, Kitty was hooked. She joined a steward’s club and attended every imaginable workshop/seminar on dogs, especially those sponsored by the German Shepherd Dog clubs, and she collected dog books and articles. Of particular interest were the various breeds that served a hunting purpose; scenthounds, in particular. One never knows what will spark the interest in our sport. Kitty and her husband have some 50-plus years of involvement in Basset Hounds, breeding under the “Sanchu” prefix. They have probably finished close to a hundred Sanchu-related champions. In the early ‘80s, a trip to Denmark to visit Basset fanciers and a side trip to the home of a Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen breeder ignited Kitty’s interest in the Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen. Realizing that this breed would take off in the US and concerned about its proper introduction here, she developed a newsletter and organized a club. The Inaugural Meeting, which founded the Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen Club of America, was held in Philadelphia at the AKC Centennial in 1984. Kitty became a Life Member a few years ago. Having served on the Board of the Basset Hound Club of America and on their Judges Education Committee for over 20 years, Kitty has also served on nearly every committee with the Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen Club of America, including the offices of President and Secretary. She has assisted more than once with the Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen Official Standard Revisions, chaired the committee to produce the CD, and developed many of the materials for seminars. In 1987, Kitty’s book, Understanding the Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen: Rustic French Hound (Orient), received a nomination for best breed book by the Dog Writers Association of America. Though there are now several Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen books, in 1987 it was the first book, written in any language, devoted exclusively to the Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen. Kitty judged her first Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen Specialty in Denmark before they were recognized in the US. She recalls quickly studying up on the Grand Basset Griffon Vendeen, the Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen, the Basset Bleu de Gascogne, and the Fauve de Bretagne, all part of the Basset Hound Club of Denmark. Over thirty some years later. Kitty is still learning and trying to get across the concept of “casual” with those Vendeen hounds. Kitty enjoys writing and has contributed columns to the AKC Gazette for the PBGVCA for years, and she serves as the PBGVCA Judges Education Coordinator to this day. Outside of parent clubs, she has represented the Channel City Kennel Club (Santa Barbara, California) as AKC Delegate for 14 years, served on the Board of the Scottsdale Dog Fanciers Association in Arizona, and coordinated the Scottsdale Dog Judges Workshop group for many years. Recently, Kitty was invited to membership in the Golden Gate Kennel Club. Her job is JEC for Rare Breed Seminars and she is a link to their Open Shows. With an interest in demonstrating the worthiness of another Vendeen Hound, the Grand Basset Griffon Vendeen, which was just admitted to the Hound Group in January 2018, Kitty serves on the BOD of the Grand Basset Griffon Club of America. In addition to having written numerous articles on Bassets and Petits and Grands Bassets Griffons Vendeens for various magazines and parent club education, she gives presentations to prospective judges of these breeds. Competitively speaking, Kitty has, for decades on her own and then in partnership in Basset Hounds with Claudia Orlandi of Topsfield Bassets in Vermont, co-owned and/or co-bred the Number One Basset Hound for several consecutive years. Kitty graduated from Wells College in Aurora, New York, with a major in English and a minor in Philosophy, and earned a Masters from Cornell University. She taught junior high for 15 years and sold real estate for several years in Pennsylvania. Kitty imagines it is obvious that sharing her time with other fanciers and judges is important in her life. She is approved for the Sporting, Hound, and Toy Groups, a couple of Herding Breeds, BIS, and Limited Juniors.

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