Petit Basset Griffon Vendeens

With his low-slung body and longish back, bearded face and wiry coat, and a merry, ready-for-anything expression and attitude, the Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen—PBGV to his friends—looks and acts like a composite of several hound breeds: a dash of Dachshund, a bit of Beagle, a smidgen of Basset Hound. But the PBGV is an old breed and a distinctive one, a French scenthound built to move nimbly through heavy, thorny underbrush in pursuit of rabbits. He has many good qualities, including a moderate size of 25 to 35 pounds, but he’s definitely not right for everyone. Here’s what you should know if you’re considering acquiring a PBGV.

Traits, Personality and Behavior

The lively PBGV is an outgoing, active dog who is always into everything. He is curious about his surroundings and loves to dig and bark. In fact, his breed standard says that he has a good voice freely and purposefully used. Chasing squirrels, rabbits and other furry prey is a favorite occupation of this hunting hound. PBGVs are active and cheerful playmates for kids, although they are probably too rambunctious for toddlers.

If you're dedicated, you can channel the PBGV's enthusiasm into dog sports such as agility, obedience, rally and tracking. He's also an excellent companion on the hiking trail. Expect to give him several 10-minute walks or active playtimes daily to help expend all of his energy. Never walk him off leash unless you're in a safe, traffic-free area. The PBGV isn't a come-when-called kind of dog. His desire to hunt will always take precedence. For the same reason, he needs a yard that is securely fenced, with a barrier that he can't dig under or jump over. An underground electronic fence will not keep him contained. If he sees something he wants to chase, a shock isn't going to stop him.

Be firm, fair and consistent when training this intelligent and independent-minded dog. He may have a short attention span, so keep training sessions brief and interesting. He responds best to positive reinforcement techniques using praise, play and food rewards, never force.

The PBGV's wire coat needs a minimum of grooming. Brush it weekly, and neaten stray hairs as needed. Other than that, just keep his ears clean, his teeth brushed and his nails trimmed. He's definitely meant to be a no-fuss dog, but it doesn't hurt to wipe his beard after he eats or drinks to help keep it clean. And because he likes to dig and run through brush and otherwise get dirty, you may find yourself bathing him on a pretty regular basis.

As long as he gets appropriate amounts of exercise and attention, the people-loving PBGV is suited to any size home, including an apartment or condo, but he needs to live indoors with his family. He'll be unhappy and destructive if he is relegated to the backyard with little or no human companionship.

Health Issues Common to Petit Basset Griffon Vendeens

All purebred dogs have the potential to develop genetic health problems, just as all people have the potential to inherit a particular disease. Run, don't walk, from any breeder who does not offer a health guarantee on puppies, who tells you that the breed is 100 percent healthy and has no known problems, or who tells you that her puppies are isolated from the main part of the household for health reasons. A reputable breeder will be honest and open about health problems in the breed and the incidence with which they occur in her lines.

The PBGV has some health problems that can be a concern, especially if you aren't careful who you buy from. They include hip dysplasia, patellar luxation, autoimmune hypothyroidism, seizures, heart murmurs, and some eye problems such as lens luxation and glaucoma.

At a minimum, ask breeders to show proof that a puppy's parents have OFA scores of excellent, good or fair, plus certification from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation that the eyes are healthy. A plus would be OFA knee and thyroid evaluations. Do not purchase a puppy from a breeder who cannot provide you with written documentation that the parents were cleared of health problems that affect the breed. Having the dogs "vet checked" is not a substitute for genetic health testing.

Condition Risk Profile Cost to Diagnose and Treat
Patellar Luxation Medium $1,500-$3,000
Hip Dysplasia Medium $1,500-$3,000

6 Tips to Bring Home a Healthy Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen Puppy

A list of breeders is available on the website of the PBGV Club of America. The PBGV is an uncommon breed. You may have to wait six months or more before a puppy is available.

Consider an adult dog from a shelter or a rescue group. Many of the health and behavior problems in PBGVs aren't apparent in puppyhood, but by adopting an older dog, most of them can be ruled out. Since a PBGV can live to be 12 years old or more, even an adult dog will be with your family for a long time.

Puppy or adult, take your PBGV to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot visible problems, and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues.

Don't ever, ever, ever buy a puppy from a pet store. You're more likely to get an unhealthy, unsocialized and difficult to house-train puppy and will be supporting the cruelty of high-volume puppy mills.

Make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. In states with "puppy lemon laws," be sure you and the person you get the dog from both understand your rights and recourses.

Pet Insurance for Petit Basset Griffon Vendeens

Pet insurance for PBGVs costs more than for mixed breed dogs. This is because PBGVs are more likely than mixed breed dogs to make claims for hereditary conditions that are expensive to treat.

Embrace dog insurance plans offer full coverage for all breed-specific conditions (excluding those that are pre-existing) to which PBGVs are susceptible. The best time to get pet insurance for your PBGV is when he's a healthy puppy. You can't predict what will happen in the future, and pet insurance is the one thing you can't get when you need it the most.