Griffon nivernais

FCI standard Nº 17

John Miller and Raymond Triquet
Group 6 Scent hounds and related breeds
Section 1.2 Medium-sized hounds
With working trial
Acceptance on a definitive basis by the FCI
Tuesday 15 December 1959
Publication of the official valid standard
Wednesday 24 March 2004
Last update
Friday 02 April 2004
En français, cette race se dit
Griffon nivernais
Diese Norm ist in deutscher Sprache sichtbar
Griffon nivernais
En español, esta raza se dice
Grifón del Nivernais
In het Nederlands, wordt dit ras gezegd
Griffon nivernais


Scent hound used mainly for shooting of wild boar, generally in a pack but also individually.

Brief historical summary

The Griffon Nivernais may have descended from Gallic hounds (Canis Segusius) used by the Gauls, and from the grey Saint Louis dogs. This breed was much appreciated for 200 years, up to Louis XI’s reign, then was abandoned in the royal packs by Francis I who preferred white hounds. Nevertheless, certain Nivernais region noblemen conserved it up to the time of the French Revolution (1789) when the breed seemed to have disappeared.
A century later, the Griffon Nivernais, often called “dog of the region”, was recreated from subjects nevertheless conserved in that cradle of origin of the breed. At the end of the XIXe century and the beginning of the XXe, these dogs received new blood from the Griffon Vendeen, the Fox Hound and then from the Otterhound, establishing the hound breed unchanged ever since then. The club was founded in 1925.

General appearance

With a hard and tousled coat (Barbouillaud in French), very well typed, robust, very hardy and shaggy. Dry in limbs and muscles, destined to provide length of work rather than speed; slightly sad in aspect but in no way nervous.

Important proportions

Body length (point of shoulder to point of buttocks) is slightly greater than height at shoulder. Skull and muzzle are of the same length.

Behaviour / temperament

Behaviour : Very good nose, piercing, and particularly enjoying difficult terrains and thickets.
Temperament : Excellent at approaching and very good hunter, it’s courageous when holding firm without being reckless. Its courage and initiative allow it to be used successfully in small packs for hunting wild boar. Although it can easily be taught hunting that game, it shows itself occasionally to be obstinate and independent, and its master should know how to make it obey starting at its youngest age.


Cranial region

Very dry, light without being small, somewhat long without excess. The lines of the skull and muzzle are parallel.
Nearly flat, of medium width, sides defined by the only slightly pronounced zygomatic arches. Occipital peak only perceptible when touched. 
Only slightly marked, appearing however increasingly accentuated when the coat springs up more, but without exaggeration.

Facial region

Black, quite visible.
Same length as the skull, it’s not overly broad at the end with the sides converging slightly, but not so much as to become pointed. A slight beard on the chin.
Only slightly developed, just covering the lower jaw, hidden by good moustaches, with good pigmentation.
Jaws and teeth
The jaws of robust aspect, normally developed. A scissors bite, sometimes a level bite, with the incisors set square to the jaws. Complete set of teeth (absence of first premolars (PM1) is not penalized).
Dark colour preferred. Gaze lively and penetrating. Important eyebrow but which doesn’t cover the eye. The conjunctiva is not visible. The eyelids are well pigmented.
Averagely attached (at little over an inch wide – ca.3 cm) in line with the upper level of the eye, hanging, supple, rather fine, of medium width, turned slightly inward at the end, half-long, reaching the root of the nose.


Rather light, dry and without dewlap.


Level, from the withers to the loin.
Very slightly prominent above the back line and narrowed due to close shoulder blade summits.
Solid and long enough, rather narrow and sustained, with good muscles, even if they are only slightly apparent.
Solid and very slightly arched.
Bony, a little slanting, with dry muscles.
Descending as much as possible to the elbow. Breast only slightly developed in width. Long thorax, becoming wider towards the last ribs.
The first are somewhat flat, the last more rounded.
Full, without excess.
Underline and belly
The underline rises slightly towards the rear without being whippety.


Attached somewhat high, not very long. It has more coat in the middle. When still, it is carried slightly under the horizontal. When in movement, it is carried upwards sickle-fashion and can even have the end bent over the back.



Good poise. Generally, and at rest, the forelegs seen in profile appear a little to the rear of the vertical (under him in front).
Slightly inclined, dry, well set on the chest.
Set well to the body.
Appears rather plentiful because of the coat but in reality it is drier than thick and quite straight.
Somewhat short and slightly sloping.


In profile, slightly under him. Seen from behind, the vertical line starting from the point of the buttock should pass through the point of the hock and equally divide the metatarsus.
Upper thigh
Rather flat.
Set a little forward (slightly under him behind).
Let down. Seen in profile, the hock angle is slightly closed.


Of oval shape, slightly lengthened, with toes solid and tight together, reminding one of a hare foot, and with nails and pads of good pigmentation.

Gait and movement

Supple and easy (neither uneven nor bouncy).


Supple and rather tight, close fitting on all the body, rather thick, pigmented. Black spots on the body, lips well pigmented. Absence of dewlap.


Long, shaggy and bushy, strong enough and rough (in any case neither woolly nor curly). The belly and the inside of the thighs shouldn’t be hairless. The well pronounced eyebrows shouldn’t cover the eye. A slight beard on the chin and the ear covered enough in hair.
Always darkened, i.e., the hair always has the ends darker than the base (black overlay). Fawn colouring can be more or less darkened but never orange. The darkened end can take on a blue aspect. According to the amount of darkening of the extremity of the hair, the coat is darker or lighter.
The presence of white hair scattered in more or less great proportion in the coat is tolerated and gives rise to shades going from light grey, including wild boar grey.
The coat is most often marked with tan in the eyebrows, the cheeks, breast, the ends of the limbs, and under the tail. That characteristic, very visible on the pup, often diminishes with age.
The coat is characterised by the basic colour, the spreading of black-overlaid hair, and possible association with sparse white hair. One hence describes for example the “fawn very slightly overlaid with black” (hare coat), the “sand overlaid with black” (wolf grey), and the “fawn overlaid with blue” (blue grey). A white spot is tolerated on the chest.

Size and weight

Height at withers
Male from 55 to 62 cm, female from 53 to 60 cm.
With a tolerance of 1 cm more or less.


• Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog and its ability to perform its traditional work.
• Faults listed should be in degree of seriousness.

General faults

 Behaviour : Timid subject.

Disqualifying faults

 Temperament : Aggressive or overly shy.
 Lack of type : Insufficient breed characteristics, which means the animal on the whole doesn’t resemble other samples of the breed.
 Jaws/teeth : Overshot or undershot.
 Eyes : Wall-eyed or variegated.
 Feet : Dewclaws, except in countries where their removal is outlawed.
 Tail : Kinked.
 Pigmentation : Coat solid black (absence of black-overlaid fawn hair), golden wheat coloured or orange, or tricoloured with clearly outlined lively colours.
 White feet.
 Important depigmentation (nose, eyelids, lips, round the anus or vulva, scrotum).
 Height : Outside the limits defined by the standard.
 Defects : Noticeable invalidating defect.
 Anatomical malformation.

NB :

• Any dog clearly showing physical or behavioural abnormalities shall be disqualified.
• The above mentioned faults when occurring to a highly marked degree or frequently are disqualifying.
• Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.
• Only functionally and clinically healthy dogs, with breed typical conformation should be used for breeding.



Additional information from visitors

Descended from ancient bearded hounds and sheepdogs of eastern Europe and Asia, the Griffon Nivernais is believed to had been developed in the 1200's from common French hunting dogs, most notably the Chien de Bresse and the Gris de St.Louis. This powerful breed was used throughout the centuries to hunt large game, such as wild boars and wolves in the forested highlands of Vendeen and Nivernais regions, but it almost became extinct during the French Revolution. The Griffon Nivernais was eventually revived and is today a moderately popular breed in its native land.
Strong and agile, this deep-chested and long-legged Moloss is a very resilient and hardy hound, valued for its stamina, tenacity and speed. The Chien de Pays can be aloof with strangers and has a tendency to chase just about everything, from small animals to speeding cars, needing early socialization and obedience training. Some specimens are known to be stubborn and difficult to handle, but this is a smart and intuitive breed, often relying on its own instincts rather than commands. Although the Griffon Nivernais is playful with children and devoted to its owner, it's better suited for rural areas than city life. Straight-backed, well-muscled and rugged, this is a healthy and athletic hound. The rough coat is shaggy and dense, found in black, fawn, grey and merle shades with or without tan markings. Average height is around 23 inches.

Detailed history

A very old branch of the majestic tree of French running dogs seems over the years more and more vigorous: it is that of the Griffons. However, one of its members, the Nivernais Griffon, had a destiny full of vicissitudes.

In the first place, the origins of this dog are full of mystery, and nothing allows to opt for one hypothesis rather than another. One of them would like it to be the "briquette" form of a dog of high stature (70 cm and over at the withers), long gone, the Nivernais. The latter would be a direct descendant of the former Gray Dogs of St. Louis. Indeed, it is known that Louis IX, during the seventh crusade, was taken prisoner by the Egyptian army of Palestine, and that, having redeemed his freedom, he remained four years in this country, between 1250 and 1254. C ' It was during this period that he had the opportunity to meet his current dogs with native Greyhounds, thus creating a new race that would reign for three centuries on the royal packs. In truth, it can not be explained how the former Grand Nivernais is related to the Gray Dogs of St. Louis, the main clue in favor of this filiation being made only by certain dresses of the current Nivernais Griffon.

According to other sources, the origin of the Griffon Nivernais would be rather to look for the Griffon de Bresse, an ascendance actually no less prestigious: the Griffon de Bresse, which left the memory of a stream of big nose and beautiful gorge, is an authentic heir Gallic current dogs that the Romans, who admired them strongly, had called Ségusiens. It is also remarkable that the poet Gratius mentions among the Ségusiens, Griffons especially renowned for their passion and their speed.

The Griffon Nivernais is a pretty fast dog, but it is especially cut for endurance. However, whether his ancestors were Gray Dogs of Saint-Louis or Griffons de Bresse, they all showed great velocity. But is it necessary to deny the Nivernais to own one or the other of these illustrious roots? Yes, no! For since these very remote times, game, hunts and dogs have not failed to evolve significantly. In this regard, let us recall the famous statement of Anthony Hublot de Rivault quoted by Emile Guillet: "Every race that does not evolve is a race that is dying."

Thus the Griffon Nivernais gained from the bottom, a quality quite necessary to the specialization which made his glory: the hunting of the wolf. It is indeed a run that can last for days, and there are some famous examples of hunts for 100 kilometers and sometimes more.

Then, over time, the vast and deep oaks of the Nivernais, which were the refuge of many wolves, were subjected to clear cuts (the "dark" cuts, despite the common use of this expression, leave a cover) . Many forges then settled in the area, finding their fuel nearby, and, moreover, lumber was shipped in large quantities to the Paris region, by floating on the Seine. Thus, the destruction of the large forest massif resulted, as we imagine, the almost total disappearance of wolves and also the rarefaction of the Griffon Nivernais.

Fortunately, this dog did not disappear completely, because it was also used for wild boar hunting. However, in 1912, the Central Canine Society did not mention it even more, and therefore the race was considered virtually extinct. There is no doubt, however, that Griffons were always known to the "pig", while probably not following the rules of venery, since this animal was hunted most often on foot and at night.

It was also believed that the breed had been absorbed by the Vendéen Griffon, the latter having largely overflowed its region of origin, since it was appreciated from this time to the center and east of France. However, there existed at the beginning of the century a "sub-race": the Griffon Nivernais-Vendéen, resulting from crossings between Vendeans and Nivernais still existing, which enjoyed great glory with its creator, Mr. Etienne Coste. The best representatives of this pack won the highest awards at the Paris exhibition. Etienne Coste also performed a rehearsal with the Fox Hounds, to improve the construction and sports skills of his dogs. This race, however, gradually returned to the Vendean type.

Finally, hunters gathered in 1925 around the Viscount d'Anchald and began to save this population of Griffons Nivernais obviously very old, which was left abandoned despite the esteem that the beards and hunters of wild boars. For this purpose, they created the Griffon Nivernais Club, an institution that unfortunately fell into near-obsolescence after the Second World War.

Thus, the breed was again in great danger of extinction, and so much so that in 1974 the leaders of the Club (which had been reinstated in 1969) could declare in the Golden Book of the dog: "The Nivernais Griffon belongs to one of these endangered breeds. Those of pure race are today the exception. Those who still meet nowadays may have a great difference between them, due as much to the impact of the environment as to the inflow of foreign blood. These contributions of foreign blood are essentially those of the Griffon Vendéen and Otterhound, to which must be added the Grand Bleu de Gascogne.

Since then, the situation of the breed has evolved very favorably: in 1979, the approval of the Ministry of Agriculture dedicated the renewal and the efforts of the association, and, in 1980, the Saint-Sauge competition could present for the first time two hundred subjects with many specimens near the type.

In addition to particular colors, the Nivernais Griffon has its own construction and morphology, which explain the characteristics of its behavior.

Compared to the Vendéen, for example, his head is long, light, emaciated, his body is dry and bony. He often presents himself "under him" in his equilibrium, that is to say that his forelegs are a little behind the vertical, while the hindquarters engage a little forward. He still has a slightly nostalgic expression, even sad, which corresponds to his kind "barbouillaud" (or "barbouillard").

On the hunt, this dog is "exceptionally good", according to Dr. Guillet, who also adds that he is "end of the nose, excellent close, biting, very brave in the thicket." It combines at once The wisdom and passion of the old French breeds is a specialist in hunting foxes and wild boars, especially in rough terrain and covered, and it is certainly not him who would fear the contact of the gorse or the no more than the bad weather would be able to restrain his ardor.

The Griffon Nivernais is essentially a hunting dog, although he is not considered a dog of order. He is usually the auxiliary of the rifle bearer and takes full advantage of the revival of the shooting hunt with common dogs, which is both sporty and passionate.and also has the merit of sounding, more and more often, the "music" of dogs. In this respect, the Nivernais Griffon very often has a "serious slugger's voice" (rather than a "hurler" voice) much appreciated.

During the revision of the current dog trials, in 1980, the Nivernais (and other breeds with the same "niche") were sanctioned by the deer and boar hunting certificate, which suited him better. than those on hare.

The Nivernais Griffon is obviously related to the other French Griffons.
The Grand Griffon Vendéen (large, because it toises from 60 to 65 cm) comes from the old Vendéen hair, by which he descends from the ancient "clerks" or "White Dogs of the King".
In his ancestry, we probably also find the Gray Dog of St. Louis and the Griffon de Bresse, without forgetting the Fauve de Bretagne.
The Vendéen Griffon Lighter can be considered a reduction (it measures 50 to 55 cm at the withers) improved from the previous one. It was created by the Earl of Elva, before the First World War. The subjects of these two breeds are able to hunt boar and deer, as well as the fox. They are fine nose and well gorged, equipped with speed, useful to get out the animal hunted "of his train", and evolve in the massifs of great extent. They are often reproached for having a rather independent temperament.

The Fauve de Bretagne is back in force: the title of "best in show" at the French Championship 1985, in Nantes, has dedicated this renewal. Dr. Guillet considers it "one of our oldest races, since, in the fourteenth century, a certain salesman Huet already had a pack of this type."
The breed (size 48 to 56 cm) has tremendous endurance, bite, nose and throat qualities. She has a reputation for being less undisciplined today than ever before.
Let's mention finally the Blue Griffon de Gascogne, almost non-existent a decade ago and now reappearing. It comes from various breeds of Griffons and short-haired Gascony Blue, and measures from 43 to 52 cm.
All these dogs belong to families having produced all the sizes of the current dogs, from the large dog to the Basset, and sometimes presenting two types of dresses.
As for the Griffon Nivernais, he has never known a variety of tall, disregarding the Grand Nivernais, his hypothetical ancestor.

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