The French Hound temperament is unique because the French Hound (or Chien Francais) isn’t just one dog. There are actually three French Hounds who have slightly different ancestries.
Even so, the only real difference that separates them is their color. The three hounds have very similar temperaments.
We will get into the three French Hound types later but first, let's get to know their temperament.
French Hound Temperament and Personality
The French Hound breeds are smart and learn easily. But they are moderately difficult to train.
As with most hunting breeds, they can be independent at times. They are not necessarily stubborn. They just seem single-mindedly focused on hunting.
These dogs do have obedient natures. They just have a hard time focusing on tasks that aren’t related to their noses.
They form strong attachments to their families and want to be near them.
With enough exercise, the French Hound temperament is laidback and relaxed at home.
The French Hound temperament is cheerful and lively. They get along well with both adults and children.
These dogs are friendly as a rule, but some individuals can be shy, especially with strangers.
They adapt to living indoors better than most hunting dogs. But they do prefer living with at least one other dog.
This is one of the defining traits of the French Hound temperament. They are very high-spirited, which can make training difficult.
These breeds are known for speed and great endurance on the hunt.
The French Hound temperament is determined and hard-working. Their noses are always in “on” mode.
Pack hunters are used to the company of other dogs. They can suffer from loneliness, depression, and separation anxiety if they are left alone for long.
These breeds are happiest living with at least one other dog, and the more, the better.
Not surprisingly for a scenthound, these dogs howl, and bay, loudly and sometimes excessively. It may be impossible to train this out of them. These are definitely not apartment or city dogs.
They do, however, make good watchdogs. Don’t expect a guard dog, though. The French Hound temperament is not aggressive enough for that.
French Hound History
The French Hounds were once a single breed called the Chien Français.
Records weren’t kept of the original breed, so its exact origins are unknown. But it is widely accepted that the Chien Français was developed in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Seven scenthounds were created at that time. They resulted from crossing various French hounds with other French scenthound breeds and some with the English Foxhound.
The hounds with English ancestry were named Anglo-Français. The three with all-French blood were called Chien Français.
In 1957, the breed standards Chiens Français were separated. The Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI) recognized them as individual breeds.
The United Kennel Club (UKC) recognized The Black and White and the Tricolore in 1996. The White and Orange may have been excluded because of its rarity.
Tricolored French Hound (Chien Français Tricolore)
The Tricolore is descended from the Poitevin. The other French scenthounds in her lineage are the Chien Ceris and the Montemboeuf. (Both are now extinct.)
White and Black French Hound (Chien Français Blanc et Noir)
Chien Français Blanc et Orange (French Hound Blanc et Orange)
All three breeds are rare. The Blanc et Orange is the rarest, and nearly all of them are in France.
French Hound Training
The French Hound breeds are moderately difficult to train. They are generally eager to please, but they are easily distracted.
These dogs find it very hard to ignore their natural instincts. They’re ready to chase any interesting smell.
If you can get their full attention for a training session, you may not keep it for long. It’s best to keep training sessions short.
Positive reinforcement and praise work well with these breeds. Luckily, they are receptive to learning. You just need to work with their instincts.
Try combining obedience training with hunting and tracking exercises. A little creativity could go a long way here.
These breeds also need a good deal of socialization. They tend to be reserved with strangers. Some may even be shy and some are prone to separation anxiety.
They should be exposed to many different people and environments to keep them from becoming shy and anxious.
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French Hound Appearance
The three French Hounds have individual breed standards. However, there are only minor differences between them.
They are large, elegant-looking dogs with a rectangular body (slightly longer than they are tall).
Their heads and facial features are the same except for the eyes. The head is long with a slightly domed skull.
The ears are long and pendulous, somewhat twisted, and reach to the nose. Their eyes are big and dark brown. They have a gentle, intelligent expression.
Their muzzles are almost as long as the skull and square in appearance. They have somewhat loose skin around the face but no jowls.
The neck is long graceful, with or without a dewlap. They have a straight back and a deep chest.
They have long, lean, athletic legs. Their tails are long, slim, and tapering.
French Hound Color and Coat
The coat is the primary feature that separates these three breeds.
The White and Orange French Hound
According to the breed standard, her color can be white and lemon or white and orange but never white and red.
Her coat is short and fine.
The White and Black French Hound
She must be white and black with speckling that’s blue or black. She can have tan speckling on the head, the legs, and under the tail. Also, she may have a tan “roebuck” mark on the thigh.
Her coat differs from the other two. It’s also short, but it’s coarse rather than fine.
The Tricolor French Hound
She will have three colors with bright tan and a black mantle. She can have tan on the face with black shading. Her legs may have a tan or blue speckling. She can also have a grizzled color pattern (two or more colors blended together).
Her coat is short and fine.
All three dogs can be born with unusual color combinations, but the standard states that these dogs should not be bred.
French Hound Size
The average of all French Hounds’ weight is 50 to 80 pounds. The Tricolor is slightly larger and heavier than the other two breeds. They can weigh up to 90 pounds.
French Hound height averages 26 to 28 inches. Females are a little smaller than males.
French Hound Lifespan
The life expectancy of this breed is 10 to 12 years.
- Chien Français.
- Chien Français Blanc et Noir.
- Chien Français Blanc et Orange.
- Chien Français Tricolore.
French Hound Hunting
These dogs have a remarkable hunting history. The original breed survived the French Revolution and the two World Wars when many other French hounds did not.
They were originally kept by French noblemen in packs of 50 or more. The Chien Français were, and still are, masters of pack hunting.
They need little to no training to understand how to work as a team. They are amazingly skilled at communicating with each other with their baying.
Overall, these breeds are hardy and enthusiastic hunters. They can run for miles without tiring, at great speed.
The French Hounds can make good house pets, but they are hunters first. They need to be with a hunting or otherwise very active family.
French Hound Health Issues
There are so few French Hounds that there are no reliable health records for the breed. Based on similar breeds, some conditions to watch out for are:
- Hip dysplasia. A degenerative musculoskeletal disorder of the ball-and-socket joint of a dog’s hips. It leads to osteoarthritis and eventual loss of function.
- Ear infections. This is common to dogs with long, pendulous ears. The warm, moist environment is a perfect environment for bacteria and fungi. Regular ear cleaning is important for all dogs, but for a hound’s ears, it’s a must.
- Eye diseases. These can include entropion, ectropion, progressive retinal atrophy, and others.
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Caring for the French Hound
French Hound Grooming
The French Hounds are fairly easy to care for as house pets. Their short coats need only weekly brushing, and they don’t need frequent baths.
If they hunt, however, they need a little more attention. They should be brushed after every outing, as they’re likely to have debris in their fur.
Their ears need to be checked for moisture or foreign bodies. They should be cleaned at least weekly. Their feet need to be checked for debris and injuries, and their nails need trimming regularly.
French Hound Diet
The French Hounds are hard-working breeds. If your French Hound is getting the exercise she needs, you may want to consider feeding her a high-performance food.
If she’s not very active, she should do well on any high-quality dry food. You might consider one that’s formulated specifically for large breeds.
French Hound Exercise
The French Hounds are breeds that are used to working hard. They are extremely energetic and need a very high level of exercise every day.
They need to have a job to do. Ideally, of course, this would be hunting. If they can’t do that, the next best thing would be a very active outdoor life.
These dogs would never be happy with a sedentary family.
They would enjoy joining you for long hikes or bike treks. They are great candidates for dog sports such as agility or rally. The best choices would be hunting trials and nose work.
These very intelligent dogs also need mental stimulation. Activities like these would also be great for that.
Finding a French Hound
Buying a French Hound from a Breeder
Unfortunately, these three breeds are very rare, even in France. If you have your heart set on a French Hound puppy, you may be in for a long wait.
At the time of this writing, we found no French Hound breeders in North America. However, these breeds are recognized by the UKC. You might try contacting them for help with locating a breeder of French Hound puppies.
You could also try searching for owners of French Hounds in Facebook groups or YouTube. There are groups available for every breed you can think of. This could be a good way to get breeder recommendations.
It may be much easier to find a breeder if you consider importing a French Hound. The FCI maintains a breeder directory for all of their breeds. You could also try eurobreeder.com.
Because of their rarity, we were not able to find a reliable estimate of French Hound cost.
French Hound Rescue/Adoption
If you would rather look for a French Hound for adoption, you will still need patience. You’re not likely to find one of these rare dogs at your local shelter.
Try connecting with the groups mentioned above. Rescue organizations often have Facebook pages. You might also try broadening your search to rescues that work with several hound breeds.
The fact that the UKC recognizes two of these breeds is a good sign. These dogs are beginning to become known in North America. The search for a French Hound should only get easier with time.
Is the French Hound the Right Breed for You?
The French Hound breeds can make wonderful pets, but they require more commitment than many other breeds.
They need an active (preferably hunting) life. They need training and socialization at levels that would be hard for first-time dog owners.
And these dogs have a pack mentality. They do best in homes that have at least one other dog.
If this doesn’t sound like your situation, then another breed would be a better choice for your family.
But if it does, the energetic and spirited French Hound temperament is sure to keep you on your toes!
Paula is an experienced writer who loves dogs and had many of them through the years. Her family always had large dogs—Border Collies, Labs, and Golden Retrievers. When her beloved Golden died of cancer, she decided to practice what she preached and do some research before choosing her next breed. She now shares this knowledge with thousands of dogtemperament.com readers worldwide.