Other names: Virelade Hound
Big and dopey looking, hardworking and peaceful, the Gascon Saintongeois may not be the most famous breed in the world but he’s one of those dogs who quietly keeps the world turning. This French gentleman asks not glory nor publicity, but only to be near his people, something to work on, and a place to run. And what a run! His lolloping canter carries a substantial trunk, so that he appears in motion like an extra from Belleville Rendez-Vous. He comes in two sizes. The ‘grand’ is a giant who makes up for his inelegant posture with his unshakable dignity. The so-called ‘petit’ would not do well shopping in the ‘petit’ sections since he is still every bit the Gallic whopper.
Key facts about the Gascon Saintongeois
Origins and history
In the 19th century, one Baron Joseph de Carayon-LaTour bred the Saintongeois Hound with the Grand Bleu de Gascogne, creating a new breed for the hunting of large game. This aristocratic strain barely survived the French revolution, but although numbers have since climbed he is very rare today even his native land. Beyond those borders, he’s hardly known at all. Yet.
FCI breed nomenclature
Group 6 - Scent hounds and related breeds
Section 1 : Scent hounds
Physical characteristics of the Gascon Saintongeois
Female : Between 24 and 27 in
Male : Between 26 and 28 in
Female : Between 66 and 88 lb
Male : Between 66 and 88 lb
The Gascon Saintongeois is white with black patches and speckles, black ears, and tan cheeks and eyebrow markings. Traces of tan may also be found elsewhere, including, on occasion, a dead leaf marking called “roe buck mark” on the thigh.
Type of coat
Tight and short.
Brown with black eyelids.
Looking somewhat like a young Andreas Katsulas, and just as loveable, the Gascon Saintongeois appears supremely houndlike – as though each of his houndlike features has been dialled up to ‘11.’ Starting from the front, he has a serious muzzle behind a driven nose; eyes full of pathos, ears you could wrap an infant in; and a long, athletic body supporting a barrel-chest. His coat is short and tight, forming a kind of armour against the insults of the hedges and brambles through which he dashes in pursuit of a furry tidbit. The larger of the Saintongeois varieties looks almost mythological, so clumsily arranged but terrifyingly effective is the construction of his form.
Good to know
This dog is increasingly rare and you may need to journey to France to acquire a pup.
This dog enjoys games and physical and mental challenges.
So long as he is given adequate opportunity to expend excess energy, this dog tends to be quite a calm one at home.
This is one brainy and sensitive dog, and therefore easy to train.
This dog is first and foremost a hunter. He was originally selected for hunting hare, but later became more versatile and can even hunt boar or deer.
Fearful / wary of strangers
The Gascon Saintongeois will remain peaceful if well-socialised from his youth.
While he can work independently, this creature is very close to his owner, and will not be so wilful or flighty as some of his cousins among the scent hounds.
Behaviour of the Gascon Saintongeois
He does not take kindly to being left alone and may become destructive. Positive acclimatization to short periods of solitude from a young age may help.
Easy to train / obedience
He is quick to pick up lessons and eager to impress his teacher. A solid dog-human relationship is key to getting good results.
He has a beautiful deep hunting voice, and may become barky if left alone or under-stimulated.