The Grand Griffon Vendéen is the largest griffon in the Vendéen family, and also the oldest member of the Vendées. The earliest written mention of the breed goes back to the 16th Century, but probably it is even older. Like all French griffon breeds, the Grand Griffon Vendéen is a descendant of the Segusii hounds of the Gauls.
The Grand Vendéen existed a long time before the first griffonised versions of the breed were introduced. Originally, the Grand Griffon Vendéen probably did not yet have the plush coat it has nowadays. One of the most important breeds that contributed to the Grand, is the white Greffier hound, le Chien Blanc du Roi (the white dogs of the king), which was mostly a shorthaired breed but there were long and rough haired individuals as well. They were then crossed with the Fauve de Bretagne and the ‘Griffon de Bresse’ (also a direct descendant of the Segusio hounds) and the ‘Chien Gris de Saint Louis’. The Italian Bracque is also often considered as a possible ancestor. The earliest mention of the Grand Griffon Vendéen dates from the early 16th Century. All the smaller Vendéen breeds were derived from the Grand.
In light of these origins, the coat colour of the Grand is usually white with orange spots. Of all the Vendées the Grand has the shortest coat relatively. Originally, they were developed to hunt large game, like roe deer, wolves, bears and wild boar. So, we have a sturdy and very brave dog here, with a coat that allows him to go through bushes and rough terrain, a hound that has little fear and does not give up the chase when he’s on the scent his prey, even if it takes all day. Like all the griffons, he has a strong nose. Nowadays, in Spain, they are mainly used to hunt wild boar.
The Grand Vendéen is a dog that loves being outside and needs a whole lot more exercise and long walks than his smaller brothers and sisters. Of all the Vendées the Grand is least suited for city life. A garden to laze around and long walks through the fields and woods is the most ideal situation to offer them if you think about adopting one. Grands are alert, much more than the smaller ones. And their bark is impressive. Grands are naturally more wary of strangers than smaller griffons, so they make great guard dogs when it comes to keeping strangers out of your property. As they have a strong prey drive and an inexhaustible character and a great love to roam, it is very important to secure your garden to prevent them from escaping.
Grands are affectionate dogs that are great with kids and other dogs, cats and whomever makes up the extended family at home, but they do have a strong temperament and are also more independent than their smaller Vendée brothers. Like all griffons they can be highly strung and they are a little less easy to train. Also you need to keep in mind that these dogs are very strong and can pull you off your feet while on the leash: with a height of some 65 cm and a weight well over 30 kilos, and their huge braque-like feet which gives them an incredible amount of traction in rough terrain, they can give you a rough afternoon once they set their griffy nose onto something smelling interesting.