Griffon Nivernais: Full Profile, History, and Care

Characteristics, History, Care Tips, and Helpful Information for Pet Owners

Griffon Nivernais Dogs in a Field


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Originally bred in France as a scenthound, the Griffon Nivernais is a friendly, active, and highly intelligent dog breed. Their playfulness and friendliness makes them an excellent family dog, especially for families with children. Their high energy makes them more suited for active families with a yard or land for them to run.

Breed Overview

Group: Scenthound

Height: 21.5 - 24.5 inches (males); 20.5 - 23.5 inches (females)

Weight: 50 - 55 lbs

Coat: Long, Shaggy, Rough coat

Coat Color: Gray Grizzle, Wolf Gray, Blue Gray

Life Expectancy: 10 - 14 years

Characteristics of the Griffon Nivernais
Affection Level High
Friendliness High
Kid-Friendly High
Pet-Friendly Med
Exercise High
Playfulness High
Energy Level High
Trainability Med
Intelligence High
Tendency to Bark High
Amount of Shedding High

History of the Griffon Nivernais

The Griffon Nivernais is an old breed belonging to a group of French hunting dogs called the Blue de Gascogne, which also included the Petit Blue de Gascogne, Grand Bleu de Gascogne, and the Bassett Blue de Gascogne. Records of this breed's origin date back to the 1200s, making it one of the oldest hunting dogs in France. There is some debate over whether the Griffon Nivernais descended from ancient Gallic hounds or whether they originated from the Bulgarian Baltic dogs. It was a very popular dog with French nobles, including King Louis IX. In fact, the breed was so popular during his reign that it was called the Chien Gris de St. Louis or the Grey Dogs of St. Louis. After the French Revolution their popularity saw a decline but interest in the breed saw a resurgence starting around the 1920s when hunters started 'reconstructing' the breed by pairing them with Grand Griffon Vendeen, Otterhounds, and Foxhounds. This crossbreeding also gave it yet another nickname, the Griffon Vendeen Nivernais. Although not formally recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC), it is recognized with the American Canine Association Inc. (ACA), the Dog Registry of America Inc. (DRA), and as a Scenthound in the United Kennel Club (UKC).

Griffon Nivernais Care

The rough coat of the Griffon Nivernais is repellent of water and dirt, so you don't have to bathe or brush them super frequently. Brushing once a week with a bristle brush or a metal comb is sufficient.Due to their rough coat they should be bathed only when they are truly dirty. Bathing your Griffon Nivernais with a mild OTC dog shampoo once every few months is usually all that is required. As with most rough coated breeds, over-bathing can strip the fur of its natural oils. At least once a year you should bring your Griffon Nivernais to the groomer to have their coat stripped. The fur of rough coated dogs gets thicker as it grows, so stripping it will keep it healthy and vibrant. The main things your Griffon Nivernais will need to have maintained on a semi-regular basis is combing out his/her eyebrows and beard and cleaning his/her ears to prevent infections.

Griffon Nivernais are active dogs that require exercise as well as training. A bored Griffon Nivernais will undoubtedly destroy things in your home and your neighbors might not be too fond of all the barking and baying. Training your Griffon Nivernais for field trials or for hunting is something they should take readily to but they can be stubborn when learning new things. So be prepared to practice patience as you are training. Puzzle toys, puzzle feeders, and activity that is mentally enriching can help stave off destructive behavior and/or obnoxious barking from boredom.

The Griffon Nivernais was meant to hunt in packs, so they are usually well behaved with other dogs. Because they were bred to hunt, though, they may not be well suited for a home with other small pets. These dogs bond closely with their family but they also are friendly around most people. As with all dogs, though, ensuring your dog is properly socialized to new people and situations is recommended to ensure they are comfortable around new people and children.

Common Health Problems

The Griffon Nivernais is generally a healthy dog breed, having no major health concerns. That being said, they aren't without their own set of minor health problems. Potential health concerns to watch out for include:

  • Hip Dysplasia: A malformation of the hip socket in which the ball of the femur isn't fully covered by the socket, leading to pain and arthritis.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): This inherited disorder manifests as a loss of vision, progressing from 'night blindness' to complete blindness.
  • Ear Infections: Most hunting breeds are susceptible to ear infections and the Griffon Nivernais, unfortunately, is no different. Routinely cleaning your dog's ears with an OTC ear cleanser can help keep infections at bay.

Diet and Nutrition

The Griffon Nivernais, being an active working dog, benefits from a high-quality dog food with lean protein and low in fat. Because of their high energy and active nature, feeding a food marketed and formulated for active breeds or working breeds may be appropriate. Take care that you don't overfeed, though, as this can lead to obesity in your dog.


  • A great family dog that is friendly around most people
  • Gets along great with most other dogs and would do well in a home with other dogs
  • A generally healthy dog with no serious congenital disorders


  • Their hunting background may make them ill-suited for homes with smaller dogs, cats, or other small pets
  • They need a lot of exercise so they may not be happy with urban or apartment life
  • Their intelligence can lend itself well to picking up new tasks, but it can also make them more stubborn in their training

Where to Buy or Adopt a Griffon Nivernais

Although the Griffon Nivernais has slowly been gaining popularity over the past century, it can still be difficult to locate a reputable breeder or rescue group. Checking with your veterinarian, local rescues and animal shelters, and local hunting and field trial groups can also help you locate Griffon Nivernais dogs in your area.

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

Before you decide on adding a Griffon Nivernais to your home, do your research. Speak to your veterinarian and local rescues to see if this breed is right for your home.

Breeds that you can research and may consider in lieu of a Griffon Nivernais include :

There are a variety of dog breeds out there. With the right research, you can select the breed that is perfect for your family.