Although many of the Spanish griffons are originally breeds that originally have come from French griffons they have often been crossed with similar breeds and hounds, therefore sometimes they do not quite fit any of the original breed standard. And of course, many accidentally have mated with other dogs of all sorts of breeds while walking about in the north Spanish hills… We often have discussions about “what breeds you think are in this griffon mix?”
Sometimes it is hard to decide what breed a griffon is, because they are bred and selected by hunters on character and abilities rather than looks. So they may have the wrong size or the wrong colour, but still, most of them have clear distinguishable characteristics of the officially recognized breed standards.
We will give you an overview of the most common griffon and some related breeds you can find in the Atlantic region of Spain. Not because the game of ‘guess what’s in the breed’ is fun, but also because it can be quite useful to know what a particular breed was created and used for, whether they have typical breed-related traits or needs and of course, their particular temperament. Knowing these things, can help you plan your daily exercise with your griffon and a bit of background knowledge can be useful where it comes to training your dog.
The Griffon Astur-Cantabro is not included in this overview. Because this unofficial breed is so typical for Spain and especially the Atlantic region, and so little had been written about it, we have created a special page for the Griffon Astur-Cántabro.
Not a griffon, but we have included this originally French Basset because they are used as hunting dogs in the north of Spain. Occasionally they end up in a shelter, and this huge ‘teckel type dogs’ need a loving home too. Mixes of the Basset ‘Azul’ with other griffon types, can be found as well in Spain.
The Basset Fauve de Bretagne is called Basset Leonado de Bretaña in Spanish. They are widely used as hunting dogs in Galicia and León, but you find them too in Asturias and some other regions of Spain. As a family pet, the Basset Fauve lacks the popularity in Spain that this breed has reached in countries like Germany, The Netherlands and Great Britain. We have helped to rehome several Basset Fauves through our Facebook groups, and each time we are amazed how easy and well this brave little hunters adapt to their new lives as family pets – after a previous life that started as hunting dog and continued, often for many years, as a shelter dog!
The Briquet is the medium sized griffon from the Vendéen family. Although it will be very hard to find a ‘Briquet’ in Spain, many of the griffons we come across in shelters match their size. Just a bit higher on the legs than the GBGV, but certainly not as large as the ‘Grand’, makes them the ideal size for a family pet.
The ‘GBGV’ is the larger version of the Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen. They are just as popular as family pets in the north of Europe as their little sibling, the PBGV, but in Spain they are seen as mere hunting dogs and as such often treated quite badly. While in reality, the Grand Basset Griffon is a friendly and very empathic dog that loves fun and company
As the name already indicates, this is the XL version of the Griffon Vendéen. Originally they were bred to hunt wolves and wild boar. Nowadays they are a rare breed, even in France. Of all the Vendée breeds they hunt best in packs. As they are huge and strong, they need space and plenty of long walks and exercise.
Of all the griffon breeds, the ‘Grifón Azul‘, as the Spanish call him, is the most recognizable one because of its characteristic coat: white and grey hairs and dark markings on the body, with dark ears and red markings on the head and legs. Outside of France and Spain, the Griffon Blue de Gascogne is considered a rare breed, but in the northwest of Spain they are quite numerous.
Although the Griffon de Bretagne was used in the creation of many other griffon breeds, it nowadays is considered a rare breed. Yet you can find quite a few –or mixes– of the ‘Grifón Leonado’ in Spanish shelters, especially in Galicia. Not to be confused the Basset Griffon de Bretagne, his short-legged sibling…
The ‘Grifón Nivernés‘, as this breed is called in Spain, is one of the most popular hunting dogs you will find in the Iberian northwest. Of course, many of them end up in shelters after being discarded after the hunting season or because they got lost or did not breed enough puppies. In Spain they are mainly used to hunt wild boar, but they can also be trained for many other types of game. The Nivernais is related to the Otterhounds and are often described as tenacious and fearless hunters once they have their trail. But when they are inside at home, as pets, they are mellow sweeties that love nothing more than to cuddle up with you on the couch to have some quality time.
The Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen is probably the most popular of all the griffon breeds, because of its small size and great adaption to living inside a home as a family pet – and probably your best choice if your household includes any cats. Cheerful, saucy and sweet is what describes the PBGV best. Peebs love hunting rabbits as much as chilling with their humans on the couch…
This is one of the hunting breeds that is most used for hunting all over Europe, but also very appreciated as a family dog in most countries because of its fantastic character. An active dog with a balanced character, great with children, and very loyal that however needs daily exercise and long walks. Not a hound, but a gun dog with a very good nose. The Wirehaired Pointing Griffon is a mix of various breeds and closely related to a number of similar looking dogs. The Wirehaired has a bit of an enigmatic history, though.
The Spanish Bloodhound is one of the oldest breeds of the scent hound group, and presumably closely related to its Celtic primogenitor, the Segusii hound, of which all French griffon breeds are said to be descendents of. Often found together with griffons in the hunt for wild boar, but also used in the creation of the Griffon Astur-Cantabro, the griffon type that you will most often come across in Spain.
There are many Sabuesos in Spanish shelters, usually with little chance to be ever adopted in Spain – while they have the sweetest character one can wish a dog to have.
The Spinone Italiano is not a trailing dog, like the griffons found in Spain, but a pointing/gun dog – albeit with a good nose on it. Even though they have been bred on a small scale in Spain many years ago, you will probably never find one in a Spanish shelter. This ancient Italian ‘long ear’ looks very similar to the griffons found in the northwest of Spain, especially the lighter coloured ones – and people who have adopted one with similar looks, will often be asked: “Is that an Italian Spinone?” A good reason to include the Spinone in our breed descriptions.
The Perro Montero Valdueza is only part griffon; also the slender southern Spanish Mastín and the Podenco Campanero were used to create this fascinating but little known dog. The Valdueza is a hunting breed that was created in Spain and still relatively young, and rare to come across outside the world of hunters. Fierce, independent and yet loyal, they are considered to be the hunting dog par excellence.