A correctly proportioned Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen is about 50 percent longer than tall, enabling the dog to push through dense thickets. This breed has strong bone and surprising nimbleness. The gait is free, giving the appearance of a dog that is capable of a full day in the field. The tousled appearance results in part from the rough coat, with long facial furnishings. This, in combination with the thick shorter undercoat, gives the PBGV ample protection against brambles and the elements. The dog’s alert and friendly expression reflects this breed’s true nature.
The PBGV, as it is affectionately known, is an ancient breed with roots in sixteenth-century Europe. The long French name provides an accurate description of the breed: Petit (small) Basset (low) Griffon (rough-coated) Vendéen (its area of origin in France). This area, on the west coast of France, is filled with thick brambles, underbrush, and rocky terrain, requiring a dog that had a coat that could withstand thorns and brambles, short legs that could enable the dog to wind his way through the underbrush in pursuit of rabbits, but nimbleness to run over rocks and logs without tiring. Thus, the PBGV is more than a wirecoated Basset Hound, and more than a dwarf Grand Basset Griffon Vendéen (a breed that resembles a slightly taller PBGV), even though closely related to both breeds. In England in the mid 1800s, the PBGV was shown with the Basset Hound as a wire-coated variety, but the PBGV is a longer legged, more nimble hound. In France, the Griffon Vendéen was considered to be one breed with two sizes until the 1950s. The AKC recognized the PBGV in 1990, and since then the PBGV has attracted many new admirers because of its merry disposition and tousled carefree appearance.
Despite its appearance, the PBGV is not a Basset Hound in a wire coat. It is a merry, inquisitive, tough, busy dog, always on the lookout for excitement and fun. This dog loves to sniff, explore, trail, and dig. Amiable and playful, the PBGV is good with children, other dogs, and most pets, and is friendly toward strangers. The breed is stubborn and independent, and tends to dig and bark.
Not content to lie around, this dog’s exercise requirements can be easily fulfilled, however, by a good walk on leash or a vigorous romp in the yard. The coat needs weekly brushing and occasional tidying of straggling hairs.