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14 Grand Griffon Vendéen Temperament Traits That Challenge and Delight

If you appreciate both the joys and the challenges of an intelligent breed, the Grand Griffon Vendéen temperament is worth learning about.

This is a very smart dog that has a strong mind of her own. She can be willful and disobedient without a firm leader.

But she is also friendly, affectionate, and good with kids. She also makes a great family companion if her exercise and training needs are met.

Grand Griffon Vendéen Temperament and Personality

1. Intelligent

The Grand Griffon Vendéen is a very smart dog. She’s an exceptional hunter who is also a great problem solver.

2. Independent

The Grand Griffon Vendéen temperament can be challenging because of her independence. This trait is necessary for the work she does as a hunter.

However, her independent nature can make her very difficult to train at home. She can be stubborn and disobedient.

3. Noble

She has a distinguished expression and carriage in keeping with her royal heritage.

4. Friendly

In spite of her willfulness, the Grand Griffon Vendéen has a friendly, happy nature. She is comfortable even with most strangers.

5. Sociable

The Grand Griffon Vendéen temperament is rarely shy. She is outgoing and enjoys people.

6. Affectionate

She is openly affectionate with her family members.

7. Energetic

As you would expect from a hunting breed, high energy is a hallmark of the Grand Griffon temperament. They need a good deal of exercise.

8. Good-natured

She has an even-tempered disposition. She can “go with the flow” until you ask her to do something she doesn’t want to do.

9. Docile

At home, she is calm and gentle. The Grand Griffon Vendéen temperament is a good fit for families with children.

10. Enthusiastic

According to the United Kennel Club (UKC) breed standard, this dog is “passionate” about her work.

11. Protective

She is generally friendly with strangers, but the Grand Griffon Vendéen can be protective if she senses a threat. She is a good watchdog who is rarely aggressive.

12. Dog-friendly

The Grand Griffon Vendéen is a pack hunter. She generally gets along well with other dogs. However, the Grand Griffon Vendéen temperament can be aggressive toward other animals.

13. Athletic

This dog is an escape artist. She will rarely meet a fence she won’t try to jump over or dig under to follow her nose. She will need strong containment.

14. Prey Drive

This aspect of the Grand Griffon Vendéen temperament can be hard to deal with if you have other pets at home. She may do well with cats if they are raised together, but she is not trustworthy around other small animals.

Grand Griffon Vendéen History

The Grand Griffon Vendéen is a French scenthound with exceptional skills. She is the largest of a family of Griffons.

The others include:

The Grand Griffon Vendéen’s roots go back to the 1500s. Its earliest ancestor is the Canis Segusius, an ancient breed that was kept by the Gauls.

The Grand Griffon Vendéen can also claim “the King’s White Dog” (or “the King’s White Hound”) as an ancestor. French kings used this breed as pack hunters for nearly two centuries prior to the French Revolution.

Many of the Griffon types owe their existence, at least partially, to the Grand Griffon Vendéen. The French Revolution and two World Wars took their toll on most French hound breeds.

The Grand Griffon Vendéen fared better than most, so this breed was used as a cross to restore a number of other, nearly extinct, Griffons.

Grand Griffon Vendéen Training

Proper training is critical for this breed. Her combination of intelligence and stubbornness can make training unusually challenging.

Without firm and consistent leadership, the Grand Griffon Vendéen temperament will almost certainly be problematic.

Expect to spend much more time and effort to train this dog than other breeds. She will be stubborn and even disobedient until she respects you as a leader.

Even then, she may never be blindly obedient. She has a strong mind of her own and wants to use it.

Again, a firm but fair hand and consistency in training are key. This breed must respect your authority or you are not likely to have a successful bond with her.

Appropriate exercise and mental stimulation should make the training easier. Be sure she gets enough of both. Otherwise, you will likely have some unwanted Grand Griffon Vendéen behaviors on your hands.

She can become destructive, bark excessively, dig, and chew.

Helpful Dog Training Resource:

For help with training your Grand Griffon Vendéen dog, you should take a look at The Online Dog Trainer by Doggy Dan. Doggy Dan is an expert Dog Trainer based in New Zealand. His online resource contains Hundreds of Excellent Dog Training Videos that will take you step-by-step through the process of developing a healthy, happy well-behaved dog.

Grand Griffon Vendéen Appearance

General Appearance

The Grand Griffon Vendéen is a large rugged-looking breed. She has a longer back and shorter legs than most Griffons. She has long hair, a rough outer coat, and a dense undercoat.

Grand Griffon Vendéen colors can vary. They can be black, white, fawn, or tan or any combination of two or three of these.

She has a muscular build with a deep chest.

Her skull is moderately domed. Her ears are not too highly set. They are long and shaped like an oval at the ends. She has long eyebrows and a mustache and beard.

Her face has a sweet expression with dark eyes. The nose is large and can be black or brown, depending on the dog’s color.

Her muzzle is as long as her skull. She has a scissor bite.

She has a long, straight tail that she carries upright like a saber.

Grand Griffon Vendéen Size

The average Grand Griffon Vendéen weight is 66 to 77 pounds. And the Grand Griffon Vendéen height averages 23-1/2 to 25-1/2 for females and 24-1/2 to 27-1/2 inches for males.   

Grand Griffon Vendéen Lifespan

The breed’s life expectancy is 10-12 years, which is typical of breeds of this size.

Grand Griffon Vendéen Hunting

Hunters created the modern Grand Griffon Vendéen to track large prey like boars and deer. She also hunts smaller animals such as the fox.

Following the French Revolution, the Grand Griffon Vendéen was no longer a breed favored by royalty. She was owned mostly by the lower classes, who did not hunt on horses.

For this reason, they were selectively bred for short legs. The modern Grand Griffon Vendéen is longer than she is tall. This was done purposely to slow the dog’s pace so hunters could keep up with her on foot.

Hunters find that the Grand Griffon Vendéen traits of independence and problem-solving ability make her an exceptional hunter.

Grand Griffon Vendéen Health Issues

The majority of Grand Griffons Vendéen are robust and healthy. However, like all breeds, there are a few health conditions that they are prone to.

Hip and Elbow Dysplasia – This is a malalignment of ball-and-socket joints of the hips and elbows. It can result in lameness, arthritis, and loss of function.

Patellar Luxation – This is a dislocated kneecap. It can be temporary and easily treated with pain medicine, but when it’s severe and lasting, the dog may need surgery.

Epilepsy – Epileptic seizures in dogs are usually idiopathic, meaning that the cause is unknown. They may need lifelong medication to control the seizures.

Hypothyroidism – This is an underactive thyroid gland. It is easily treated with medication, but the dog will need lifelong testing of its thyroid levels.

Allergies – This is by far the most common health condition in the Grand Griffon Vendéen. Many of these dogs suffer from either skin or food allergies

They can be genetic or environmental and may be controlled with a change of diet. Some dogs will require medication.

Note: Don't let the many issues above scare you. The best way to approach health problems is to prevent them in the first place. The Ultimate Guide to Dog Health is a great place to start. Get a copy to keep at home. It will help you prevent the painful health issues that can plague your lovely Grand Griffon Vendeen from expressing his winning personality and maximizing his life expectancy.

Caring for the Grand Griffon Vendéen

Grand Griffon Vendéen Grooming

The Grand Griffon Vendéen’s coat requires a fair amount of care. It can become matted and tangled, so she needs to be brushed several times a week.

You may choose to get her professionally groomed from time to time to make this task easier.

The Grand Griffon Vendéen does not need regular baths. Only bathe her when necessary.

Griffon Vendéen Diet

You should feed your Grand Griffon Vendéen a high-quality food for large breeds. If you are hunting your Grand Griffon Vendéen, she may need a high-performance or working-dog formula.

Grand Griffon Vendéen Exercise

As with most hunting dogs, the Grand Griffon Vendéen has a very high energy level. They need at least an hour every day of vigorous exercise.

Ideally, this breed would hunt. If not, then they do best with some other job to do.

They are athletic and do well at organized dog sports. Training and competing would be a great way to exercise this dog.

Because they are very intelligent, they also need mental stimulation to be content. Canine sports would meet this need, as well.

Again, your Grand Griffon Vendéen must have plenty of physical and mental stimulation. If she does not, her behavior will likely be a problem.

Click here to see how exercise can benefit a dog's behavior.

If you are not able to provide these things, then this is not the best breed for you.

Finding a Grand Griffon Vendéen

Buying a Grand Griffon Vendéen from a Breeder

If you’d like to find a Grand Griffon Vendéen for sale, you may need a lot of patience. At the time of this writing, a Google search turned up no Grand Griffon Vendéen breeders in North America or on English-language European sites.

However, we did discover several Facebook pages and groups that offered Griffons for sale and rescue. None were specifically for Grand Griffon Vendéen puppies, but you may want to investigate that.

A search for user groups and forums online is another avenue to try. These groups exist for nearly every breed.

You might also try YouTube. Many people, including breeders, post videos there about their dogs. You may be able to find a Grand Griffon Vendéen breeder or an owner who can point you to a good breeder.

Selecting a Breeder

If you are able to find a breeder online, be very careful! You will want to verify that this breeder is reputable and not a “backyard breeder” or puppy mill.

Dogs bred by these people are often in poor health. Their living conditions can be horrendous.

The parents are often poorly fed and receive no health care. They are usually kept in cages with no sanitation. The females are bred continuously until they wear out or die.

These people also breed with no regard to the genetic soundness of the breed.

You will get no health guarantees with a puppy mill and no support of any kind. Buying a Grand Griffon Vendéen puppy from one of these so-called breeders would help to perpetuate an inhumane practice.

A responsible breeder will tend to the care of their dogs. They will not release a puppy until it has had all of its shots and has been given a clean bill of health.

Reputable breeders guarantee the health of the puppy and offer to buy it back if you ever need to surrender it. They usually offer lifetime support with raising and training your dog.

They will also know the pups’ pedigrees and genetic history.

Finding a Grand Griffon Vendéen for Rescue or Adoption

If you would prefer to find a Grand Griffon Vendéen for adoption, you will probably have a long wait. Again, a Google search at the time of this writing came up with nothing.

Facebook groups do exist for Griffon rescue. We were only able to find a few who offered rescue services for several or all Griffon breeds. You could put your name on a list for when a Grand Griffon Vendéen becomes available.

An alternative that may also meet your needs is to consider some of the other Griffon breeds. There are far more Brussels Griffons available, for example, or Petite or Grand Basset Griffons.

A little research into some of the other Griffons may turn up one that will suit your lifestyle as well or better.

Is the Grand Griffon Vendéen the Right Breed for You?

The Grand Griffon Vendéen is an interesting breed. She has a sweet and docile disposition, but that independent streak can make her challenging to train, even for an experienced dog owner.

She has so many wonderful qualities, though, that in the right hands, she’s worth the effort. With appropriate training and exercise, the Grand Griffon Vendéen temperament will fit into an active family’s lifestyle beautifully.