What's a PBGV? and answers to other riddles

Jeni's Charlie.
What a cute little mutt-like dog! You're sure it's a purebred?
Yes. The Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen is a type of hound, originally bred to hunt rabbits in the Vendee region of France. Its ancestry can be traced back to the 16th century.

Why haven't I heard of them before?
Probably because you're a North American, and there were only a handful in the U.S. before the mid-1980s. The AKC began registering the breed in 1990.

How do you pronounce the name?
Badly. Officially we use the French pronunciation, Peh-TEE Bah-SAY Gree-FOHN Vehn-DAY-uhn, but they're more commonly known as PBGVs, or Petits (peh-TEES), or Peebs, or PBs, among those who are owned by them.

How would you describe them?
Happy, comical, mischievous, friendly, energetic, stubborn, sweet, unrepentant, smart, rugged, active, bold, exuberant and curious as a cat. They have a deep, musical hound's voice and their rear-ends are constantly wagging. They do love their tails, holding them upright most of the time and wagging them against any object that makes a satisfying thump. They have a quick, lively gait and an irresistible face. They're independent, yet willing to please. Most of all, they're "busy," and cannot stand to be ignored. The females tend to be more dominant than the males, as a result of their working in packs, where the females are the ones who rule the roost.

How big do they get?
About 13 to 15 inches high at the shoulder, but that long body puts them well within reach of kitchen countertops when they stand up. They commonly weigh 25 to 42 pounds.

By the way, whose web site is this?
It's the web site of PBGV-L, an e-mail list for devotées of the breed. The mailing list is owned by Beth Sudlow and administrated by Joan Mann and Beth Sudlow. The e-mail list and this web site are not affiliated with the PBGV Club of America, although Ann and many other list members are also PBGVCA members, and adhere to the Code of Ethics of the parent club. The rest of us just like to talk about our dogs. In November of 1996 we put up a holiday web site with goofy pictures ("Petits on Earth, Good Will Toward Men"), and then we said, "What the hey, let's make it a permanent web site!" So there you are. If something doesn't look right, report it to our webmistress.

What colors are PBGVs? Which are the most common and least common colors?
They're white with markings of hare-color (often referred to as sable), orange, black, gray, grizzle, or lemon, sometimes with tan accents. We tend to go through cycles as to the most common/least common. Right now, the darker colors seem to be predominant; lemon is probably the least common.

The predominant PBGV coat pattern is open-marked (white with spots and patches), though we do see blanket or broken blanket patterns as well. There are also dogs which carry the gene for "half masks," where one eye (sometimes both) is surrounded by white instead of colored hair, and dogs which carry the gene for ticking (fine flecks of color of varying density in the white areas).

What health problems are they prone to?
The Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen is generally a healthy breed. As with all breeds, though, problems do exist and can be severe. Health problems occasionally encountered include some hereditary eye abnormalities, aseptic meningitis, seizure disorders and epilepsy, hypothyroidism and allergies. Those long ears also make them susceptible to ear infections. For more information, see our Health & Grooming page.

How long do they live?
They average 10 to 14 years.

How much do they bark? Do they make good watchdogs?
Right in the standard it states "good voice freelyand purposefully used," so some barking should be anticipated. There are exceptions to the rule, of course, but as a scent hound, one of the ways the pack communicates to each other is through their voices, and each voice is different. They have deep voices for a not-very-big dog, and quite a musical range: A standard bark, plus a full-throttle "Arrrrroooooooooooo" when they're really excited. As for your other question: Watchdogs? Yes, surely. They'll let you know if something is going on, but if you're looking for protection, best look elsewhere. A PBGV likely would bring the burglar toys and lick him to death.

Do they shed much? How much grooming is necessary?
The goat-like coat of the PBGV doesn't shed much. A good brushing with a wire slicker once or twice a week should be sufficient. Some, however, have heavier undercoats than others, and tend to mat more. Also, in a bearded dog, things can tend to "collect," so extra care needs to be taken there. Unless you're showing, brushing should take care of this overall wash and wear dog. However, since they do enjoy getting into things, being dirty can be a constant, so be prepared to wash!

Are they good with kids? How about other animals?
Petits are generally good with kids, but we'd suggest older rather than younger children due to their high activity level and need for control. As hounds, they have a strong chase instinct and we'd suggest being careful about cats, although many can and do live in multiple cat households. As far as other dogs, they generally can get along. But there certainly can be arguments, as in most breeds, over food or human affection -- generally sound and little fury, but it does happen.

Do they drool?
No, not usually. But when they drink, the water clings to the beard. This is exactly the moment when they feel compelled to shower you with affection. If you won't let them kiss you, they'll settle for dripping cold water tenderly upon your knee.

How many of them are in North America?
This is basically a guess: 2,000 to 4,000. In 1995, 323 dogs were registered by the AKC, ranking it No. 111 that year. By comparison, 132,051 labrador retrievers were registered that year.

What kind of dog competitions can they be trained for?
Conformation and agility are the most popular at this time. Obedience titles are definitely possible, but it may take longer -- the young ones are often too full of the devil -- and if you're looking for the perfect 200, this breed will drive you crazy. With the Petits' great ability to improvise, they can and will add little creative nuances of their own, and while greatly entertaining, they're not particularly appropriate for the serious obedience competitor. But there are PBGVs with obedience titles, thanks to the persistence and good humor of their trainers.

On the other hand, a new type of obedience known as freestyle obedience is perfect for them. Best description? Dancing with your dog. Or imagine the equestrian dressage competition at the Olympics, then add the Petit sense of humor and you've got freestyle.

Some PBGVs have earned titles in hunting and tracking. Quite a few have been trained as therapy dogs, and we also have produced officially sanctioned Search and Rescue dogs. If you're lost or hurt, what would be more wonderful than being found by a PBGV?

Flyball competition is another means of fun. Consider lure coursing, too. While they're not eligible for titles since they are not sighthounds, they do enjoy it immensely. It's a great game called "Get the Glad Bag Bunny!"

And are they still used as hunting dogs?
Yes. In France, they're considered primarily hunting dogs rather than companion dogs; over here it's the opposite. But they're smart, independent thinkers with quickness and stamina, and can be trained to hunt just about any game. Several of our Canadian list members regularly hunt with PBGVs, and there's a hunting pack called the Skycastle Hounds in Pennsylvania. The past few years PBGVs have been participating in Hunting Instinct Tests and doing well.

Who would NOT make a good PBGV owner?

Who WOULD make a good a PBGV owner?

How can I learn more about them?

Books: Get the book "Understanding the Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen," by Kitty Steidel (Orient Publications, Inc.) Your local bookstore can order it for you, or you can write to Kitty at 498 Live Oak Rd., Santa Barbara, CA 93108, and include $29.95.

Videos: PBGVCA National Specialty Videos are available from Sirrius Videos, 147 N. Dubois Rd., Ariel, Wash. 98603. Voice/Fax: (360)225-7534. The American Kennel Club Video Series includes "Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen." Contact the AKC at (919) 233-9780.

Web sites: Visit the personal web sites of our members (or their dogs):
Alf's Home Page, with Ozzy's Corner
BRENLAR Siberians, Shiba Inu, PBGV and NFCs
Chaparral Kennels
Denbo's PBGVs of the South
Du Greffier du Roi (The Netherlands)
General Beauregard
Go-Getter PBGV's
Henry and Puffin (lots and lots of photos)
Jamar PBGVs (U.K.)
Janvanpbgv's Home Page
Joie de Vie PBGVs
Jombri PBGVs
Kennel Chouan (Denmark)
Le Chasse PBGVs
Katie's PBGV Page
Maddee's World
Polygor Petits Bassets Griffons Vendeens
PBGVCA Home Page -- the web site of the PBGV Club of America
Raregems Kennel.
Rocky, the fearless PBGV
San-Duval Petits
Shamblewain's Petits Bassets Griffons Vendéens
The Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen Fanciers of Canada
Toucher L'Ame Kennels (Touch the Soul)

Join the PBGV-L mailing list: Send a message to listserv@apple.ease.lsoft.com with nothing in the subject field and a message that says SUBSCRIBE PBGV-L followed by your first and last names. Need help? Contact co-list owner Beth Sudlow at ilovepbgvs@earthlink.net. For all the details, see our Join Us page.
I want one! Can I find one at a pet store?
Irresistible puppies. Here's a larger picture, too cute for words.
No, thank goodness. The puppy mill breeders haven't discovered PBGVs yet, and we hope to keep it that way. The puppies are so darn cute they'd sell like hotcakes, to plenty of impulsive buyers who shouldn't own one and will regret the decision.

All right then, how can I find a breeder?
Contact the Public Education Committee of the PBGV Club of America at pec@pbgv.org. One of the chairpersons will respond. They keep a list of breeders with available puppies, and will refer the interested buyer of a puppy or older dog to a reputable breeder, or to someone who would at least let the potential buyer come and meet a Petit up close.

Is there a breed rescue organization?
Yes. The Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen Club of America works with individuals and animal shelters in finding owners for PBGVs who need a new home, whether it's a rescue situation or a relocation. To inquire about adopting a rescued dog, or if you believe you have found one, contact the coordinator for the PBGVCA Rescue Committee: Colleen Learn at clearn1@tampabay.rr.com, or assistant coordinator Pam Helmer, celestial@goeaston.net.

How can I join the Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen Club of America?
For information about joining the club and/or applications, please contact the membership committe. Visit the PBGVCA web site at www.pbgv.org.

Talk to PBGV-L