Grand Bleu de Gascogne
The origins of this ancient breed of French hound extend back to the Roman era, and it shares a common ancestry with the better-known Bloodhound. Both are descended from the now-extinct St. Hubert Hound, and have similar deep baying calls.

The grand bleu de Gascogne was developed in the province of Gascony, in the south-west of France. It was thought to have been created in the 14th century by the Count of Fox, and in due course, the breed became a favourite of King Henry IV of France, who ruled until 1610.

Subsequently, the grand bleu de Gascogne was taken to North America, and a pack was kept there by George Washington (1732-1799), the first President of the United States. Perhaps surprisingly, thanks to his interest in the breed, there are now more of these hounds kept in the USA than anywhere else in the world, including France itself, although they can be seen in small numbers at most major European shows. They have also been used to develop native American hound breeds, particularly the bluetick coonhound which has similar patterning, and a basset form also exists.

© Ranchorosco

The distinctive coloration of the grand bleu de Gascogne stems from the combination of black and white hairs in the coat, which merge together to create a bluish appearance, but no pure white areas are permitted. They also have tan markings, particularly on the head, chest and legs. The coat itself is short, and has a slightly coarse texture, giving good protection against the elements and when running through undergrowth.

The grand bleu de Gascogne is a tall breed, with dogs measuring up to 71cm (28in) at the shoulder, and should weigh no more than 36kg (77lb). These hounds possess great stamina and have a friendly natures, although they are not especially responsive to training. Once they pick up a scent, it can be exceedingly difficult to persuade them to return to you.