Griffon Nivernais

Griffon Nivernais

This rather mythological-looking dog is, in a sense, just that: Having become extinct around the time of the French Revolution, the creature was rebuilt from a number of other hounds regional to the Nivernais area one hundred years later. Thankfully they made him a little smaller than his conceptual ancestors, since they were reputed to be enormous. He’s a country fellow through and through, from his attitudes and preferred living arrangements, and will not take to city life. But he’s strong, brave, and (for the most part) stoic, making for a sturdy companion for the rural lady, gent, or rascal.

Key facts about the Griffon Nivernais

Life expectancy :





Temperament :


Size :

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Origins and history

His ‘ancestors’ ran with the Gauls, or came over with the Crusades, or both, depending on who you believe, mixing with grey Saint Louis dogs to create monstrous and hard-working dogs of almost mythological stature. But their numbers dwindled during the reign of Francis I, who preferred a white dog, and the Nivernais’ lineage was preserved only by the efforts of certain noblemen. When they lost their heads in the 18th century, the Nivernais’ breath was also cut. Later enthusiasts rebuilt the breed from scratch, using genetic elements of the Grand Griffon Vendéen, the Otterhound, and the Foxhound, although it is whispered that a soupcon of the original Nivernais made its way in, too, through the seed of a rare survivor of that ancient breed.

FCI breed nomenclature

FCI Group

Group 6 - Scent hounds and related breeds


Section 2 : Leash (scent) Hounds

Physical characteristics of the Griffon Nivernais

Adult size

Female : Between 21 and 24 in

Male : Between 22 and 24 in


Female : Between 51 and 60 lb

Male : Between 51 and 60 lb

Coat colour

Type of coat

Eye colour



With his monsterish stature, variable bi-colour appearance, and unruly hair, you will never see two Griffon Nivernais that look quite the same. Brooding, indeed often occupying the same spectrum as a storm, this ersatz ancient creature is all the same adorable for his soulful eyes, perky eyebrows, swinging ears, and tousle-ability. His beard adds a certain affability to his otherwise moody countenance, while fringes to his tail add levity. His body is compact and powerful, arching appealingly about the spine.

Good to know

This dog’s most notable presence is in his native land of France; elsewhere, he may be considered rarer and more valuable.


  • 66%


    Although he is independent and quite stubborn, he is still a very good family dog. He is pleasant to live with, and can adapt to various lifestyles.

  • 66%


    He likes to be occupied but is more inclined to work and adventure than to parlour tricks.

  • 66%


    This generally level-headed dog may err towards agitation if left alone in a constrained space.

  • 66%


    This is a fairly intelligent dog who knows how to take initiative.

  • 100%


    Bred for hunting, he has a keen nose and favours stamina over speed. 

  • 33%

    Fearful / wary of strangers

    He is usually good with all sorts of people if socialised during his youth. 

  • 100%


    The Griffon Nivernais can be independent bordering on obstinate.

    Behaviour of the Griffon Nivernais

    • 33%

      Tolerates solitude

      Despite his apparent stand-offish sensibility, the Griffon Nivernais may tend towards acts of mischievousness and destruction if left under-stimulated for too long. 

    • 66%

      Easy to train / obedience

      The Griffon Nivernais is not difficult, but requires firm, consistent training to flourish.

    • 100%


      He has a soulful and melodic voice, however he may over-use it if under-exercised.

    • 100%

      Tendency to run away

      He certainly has the capacity to hatch an escape plan and dig to freedom if left alone for long periods. 

    • 66%


      Will cause trouble if neglected.

    • 66%

      Greedy / Gluttony

      Treats can be useful with this stubborn dog.

    • 33%

      Guard dog

      He is a hunting dog, not a guard. Moreover, he is so sociable towards man that he is not suspicious, even of strangers.

    • 100%

      First dog

      As long as his needs are met, he can adapt to life with even novice masters.

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      • 33%

        Griffon Nivernais in a flat

        A flat will cramp this dog’s style; even a city house with garden may prove too urban for his needs.

      • 100%

        Need for exercise / Sporty

        While not hyperactive, the Griffon Nivernais requires a lot of moderate daily exercise, and will appreciate consistent access to the outdoors.

      • 66%

        Travelling / easy to transport

        His average size allows him to follow his masters in their movements but it still requires some organization, as well as early and adapted socialization and education, especially for travel by public transport.


        • 100%

          Griffon Nivernais and cats

          Although his hunting instinct is very strong, this Griffon does not have any particular problems with cohabiting with another pet, especially if he grew up with him.

        • 100%

          Griffon Nivernais and dogs

          As a pack worker, the Griffon Nivernais usually tolerates and even enjoys the company of his fellow dog.

        • 66%

          Griffon Nivernais and children

          He can be friendly towards children especially if well-socialized, but is not the ideal dog if you’re primarily looking for a family companion. 

        • 66%

          Griffon Nivernais and the elderly

          While the Griffon Nivernais can make a stately companion, his exercise needs and training needs are high and he could become a bit of a handful.



          We do not have enough data to set an average price. Looking after a dog of this size typically costs between £70 to £110 a month, including food, medical/insurance, and incidental expenses.


          The Griffon Nivernais is not a grooming-intensive dog, and requires brushing less than once a week. Just make sure his ears are clean after excursions.


          Seasonally and not excessively.

          Nutrition of the Griffon Nivernais

          High quality dry food rich in protein should do the trick. He should fast before a hunt, so it’s best for him to eat in the evening.

          Health of the Griffon Nivernais

          Life expectancy

          He is not noted for particularly bad health, and has an average life expectancy of 12 years.

          Strong / robust

          This dog tends to remain sturdy and fit – he is built to resist the trials of outdoor life.

          Withstand heat

          He prefers it cooler.

          Withstand cold

          He is very tolerant of the cold and harsh weather conditions.

          Tendency to put on weight

          He is active and generally not prone to weight gain.

          Common illnesses

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