The Griffon Nivernais is a breed of scent hound that originated in the Nivernais region of France. It is believed to have ancient roots, with origins dating back to the Middle Ages. These dogs were traditionally used for hunting purposes, primarily to track and trail game, such as wild boar, deer, and other large game animals. Over the years, the breed's popularity has waned, but dedicated breed enthusiasts and efforts have helped preserve this unique and robust breed.
The Griffon Nivernais can suffer from hip and elbow dysplasia, degenerative myelopathy, and progressive rod-cone degeneration. They are also prone to ear infections due to their floppy ears.
Griffon Nivernais dogs are known for their tenacity, intelligence, and strong hunting instincts. They are courageous and determined in the field, making them excellent tracking and trailing dogs. At home, they are generally affectionate and loyal to their families, though they may exhibit some independence and stubbornness, common traits in hounds. Early socialization and training are crucial to ensure a well-mannered and well-adjusted companion.
According to the UKC, these dogs have unparalleled skills as wild boar hunters. They were originally known as the Griffon-Vendeen-Nivernais.
The Griffon Nivernais made a notable appearance in the 2009 French-Canadian animated film "La Légende de Sarila" (The Legend of Sarila), where a character named "Nanook" is portrayed as a loyal and brave Griffon Nivernais.
The Griffon Nivernais has a distinctive coat that is rough and coarse. It is medium to long in length and features a dense undercoat, which provides protection from various weather conditions and rough terrains. The coat's texture is essential for the breed's role as a hunting dog, as it helps protect them from thorns and underbrush while working in the field.
The breed was said to be admired by King Louis IX and during his reign the Griffon Nivernais, which gave rise to one of their alternate names: Gris de St. Louis (Grey Dogs of St. Louis).