by James Scharnberg

Meet the Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen

The PBGV's name reveals so much about him -- that is, if you understand French. The Petit (small) Basset (low to the ground) Griffon (wire-coated) Vendeen (the area of France where the breed originated) is first and foremost a hardy, exuberant hunting dog, so he's best suited for people who engage in an outdoorsy, active lifestyle.

It's true that PBGVs love nothing better than chasing game, but you can keep this strong, lively dog happy and healthy if you're somewhat of a fitness fanatic. He's also a wonderful companion animal, known for being very intelligent, happy and friendly. The one thing he is not is a couch potato!

Choose a Secure Enclosure

PBGV owners soon find out that although their puppy might look like a cute Steiff toy, he soon grows into a 25- to 40-pound scent hound that follows his nose to pursue anything he considers game. PBGVs therefore require a reasonably large and securely enclosed fenced yard. This agile hound can easily scale a 4-foot fence, so you need one that's at least 5 feet tall and also extends 18 inches below ground level. Yes, he's adept at digging too.

A Hardy and Healthy Breed

The tough Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen is blessed with excellent health, having a compact, tough and robust construction selectively bred for centuries. He has no special needs other than receiving regular veterinary care, a weekly brushing to keep his harsh coat in good condition, and an occasional nail-trimming. With regular exercise and a balanced diet, his life expectancy averages 15 to 17 years. You'll want to make the most of this long relationship by beginning his training at an early age and continuing to keep him mentally and physically challenged as an adult dog.

Fun With Your Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen

Here are some sports and activities that he enjoys and in which he excels:

- Any kind of prey-chasing (this is best left to experienced hunting-dog owners)

- Agility and obedience trails (he's a confident and extroverted athlete)

- Exercise (walks/jogs) on a lead

Remember, with his excellent eyesight and scenting ability, your PBGV will want to run after any squirrel, rabbit or strange cat that might pop up in the course of a walk or run. Keeping him on a leash -- especially around traffic -- ensures he's safe.

The PBGV is an outgoing and alert busybody with an abundance of energy. If you can give him plenty of exercise, you'll be well-rewarded with a loving and loyal friend for life.

James Scharnberg has been breeding and training PBGVs for more than 40 years. He is the master of the Skycastle French Hounds, an organized find-and-chase sporting club in Chester County, Penn.

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