French Dog Breeds You Should Know About

BY OuiPlease TIMEMay 27, 2022 PRINT

What’s comes to mind when you think of France? Perhaps the fashion, the Cuisine, the Eiffel Tower, The wine (and OuiPlease!). But as a dog lover, and as we celebrate National Dog Mom’s Day because May is all about Moms we couldn’t pass on the opportunity to share with you some of our favorite French Dog Breeds!

France is tied with Great Britain for developing the highest amount of Dog Breeds: 57 Breeds total! Though, Germany follows closely with 47 dog breeds of their own.

French dogs come in all shapes, sizes, coat types, and specialized skills. The French used dogs to hunt, protect their livestock and homes, herd, and as companions. Though no common thread really ties these different breeds together, one thing is clear, French people love dogs. Nearly 50 percent of all households in France include a pet. Dogs continuously rank as the preferred pet.

French dog breeds are some of the oldest breeds in the world.

They’ve been owned by everyone from French royalty to US presidents, and while we’d love to take them all home, we thought we’d take a look at the 10 most popular French dog breeds, so here’s a little more about them.

1. Le Basset Hound

A Basset Hound in the springtime
A Basset Hound in the springtime. (Will Thomas/Unsplash)

These popular hound dogs were developed in France and Belgium to create a close-to-the-ground scent hound. The word “basset” in French means low. Because of their excellent and persistent scenting talents, basset hounds became popular with the French hunting aristocracy. They are amiable, loyal, and low-energy dogs that are a popular choice as a family pet.

They were popular during Napoléon Bonaparte’s time, and Queen Alexandria kept this breed in the royal kennels. Peterson explains that the Basset Hound first entered the United States as a gift to George Washington for use during his hunting excursions.

2. Great Pyrenees

Great Pyrenees Dog Standing On Rocks
Originally bred to guard livestock, Great Pyrenees are typically gentle and loyal. (Mikhail Farina/Shutterstock)

As their name suggests, Great Pyrenees were bred hundreds of years ago to guard livestock against wolves in the snowy Pyrenees Mountain region between France and Spain. It’s fair to say that their patience and courage are legendary. Their majestic appearance and calm nature became popular with French nobility by the 17th century.

The breed still works with the shepherds in these mountainous areas, and, despite their size and power, the Pyr is a popular companion dog. Pyrs are known for being incredibly calm, loyal, and affectionate. They’re usually gentle with children and other dogs. Their thick coat sheds a lot, and they’re big, strong, energetic, and are prolific alert barkers.

3. Papillon

Papillon dog stands among garden flowers
Papillon’s, named for their butterfy-like ear fringe, are true lap dogs. (TATYANA ZAGORNYAK/Shutterstock)

Known in the 16th and 17th centuries as Dwarf Spaniels, Papillons were often depicted on the laps of French and Spanish noblewomen and are known for their light and dainty build. Lively, friendly and affectionate, the breed began with large, drooping ears but over time an erect-eared type was developed. The fringe on the dog’s ears is said to resemble the wings of a butterfly, with the name Papillon meaning “butterfly” in French. A true lap dog, the Papillon is elegant, fine-boned and loves to stay close to its people. Because its hair is full around the ears, they require regular cleaning to prevent infection.

4. Braque du Bourbonnais

Bourbonnais Pointing Dog
The Braque du Bourbonnais may be one of the most ancient pointer dogs in existence. (PRESSLAB/Shutterstock)

This intelligent gundog is rare in the United States, but according to the AKC, it’s one of the most ancient pointer dogs in existence. It’s also not the only French dog to have nearly vanished, only to be brought back by dedicated breeders.

Like all French pointers, the Braque du Bourbonnais originated from the original French Pointer way back in the 1500s. After becoming nearly-extinct in the 1960s, the Braque de Bourbonnais was “recreated” in the 1970s.

All French pointers are named for the region in which they were developed.

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