Sat, 01/27/2024 - 9:52pm

Grand or Petit?

Size isn’t the only factor that distinguishes these two French hounds

So often breeds have been introduced to AKC as varieties — Beagles and Dachshunds, for example. We introduced the Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen separate from the Grand Basset Griffon Vendéen so as not to confuse. The GBGV and the PBGV originated similarly, but evolved differently.

A bit of history to guide you: The GBGV is one of four Scenthounds developed on the western coast of France, the Vendée, an area replete with rock, thorn and bramble. The difficult terrain demanded an animal possessing physical and mental strength and determination, as well as protective features.

Though there are four Vendéen hounds, this discussion will be limited to the PBGV and GBGV. It should be of interest that the “grand” of the GBGV is only relative to the “petit” in the PBGV. They resulted in the same litters for many years, only distinguished by length of leg and amount of crook. It was about 1975 when interbreeding was discontinued and when the smaller dogs took on smaller, different features and a unique character we see today. Their barks are different, the GB having a deep one and the PB having one that is high pitched. The GB is laid back in comparison to the PB, which is ever busy.


Overall body of the Petit — note the compactness.


Today, at a glance, the Grand is larger and longer everywhere compared to the Petit. Also readily apparent, those Grand lengths extend from front to back, from muzzle to overall body to length of leg and tail — everywhere.


Overall body of the Grand — note the balance and overall lengths.


However, while those lengths are one very important, defining feature, a student of these breeds must pay special attention to the head sections of the standards. The similarities are few!  

The GBGV head is naturally larger, in balance with a larger body. The GBGV muzzle is slightly longer than his skull (nose to occiput), where the PBGV muzzle is slightly shorter than the skull. Both breeds should have large, dark eyes and darkly pigmented eyelids and lips. Both breeds’ ears are supple, narrow, fine and end oval. GBGV ears, however, are way longer and end in a corkscrew when he is relaxed and one views his head in profile.


The photo on the PBGV club’s CD cover shows the length of skull and the slightly Romanesque bridge.


In the Grand’s beautiful domed head, expression is created by proper ear, eye, beard and mustache. Note the little fan into the eyebrows.

PBGV ears are oval, but do not reach beyond or even to the nose. The ear leathers of both breeds are covered with hair, and both have moustaches. (Make sure you are measuring the leathers, not the hair on the ends of the ears.) Very important: The GBGV’s bridge of nose is slightly roman and in profile ends square. Both heads are domed, but the GBGV is very domed compared to Petit. Both should have dark eyes and large, dark noses. Note: Both breeds have little fans up the nose meeting the eyebrows, a protective feature when hunting in that rough terrain.




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