The Braque Français type of hunting dog has existed since the 15th century. Currently 2 separate regional varieties or breeds exist, both from the south of France. The Braque Français, type Gascogne (French Pointing Dog - Gascogne type, larger size, No. 133) and the Braque français, type Pyrénées (French Pointing Dog - Pyrenean type, smaller size, No. 134.) They are popular hunting dogs in France but are seldom seen elsewhere.
The first breed club was formed in 1850. It is recognized in its home country by the French Kennel Club (Société Centrale Canine, S.C.C) and internationally by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale. Of the major kennel clubs in the English-speaking world, only the Canadian Kennel Club in Canada and the United Kennel Club in the U.S. recognize them. The Canadian Kennel Club recognizes one breed, the Braque Français (Pyrenees) in its Sporting Dogs Group while the United Kennel Club recognizes both breeds in its Gundog Group, with the names Braque Francais De Grande Taille and Braque Francais, De Petite Taille - petite taille(smaller size) means the Pyrenean is smaller than the Gascogne, and does not mean that it is a little dog. The breeds are also recognized by many minor registries, hunting clubs, and internet-based dog registry businesses under various versions of the names, and promoted as rare breeds for those seeking unique pets.
There are two distinct types of the Braque Français which has been dictated by the Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI), whom are the only organization to publish detailed breed standards and to which neither the United States nor Canada is a member. Generally, the FCI standard is informally accepted on this continent as the "de facto" standard for the breed. The first and smaller of the two is the Pyrénées type. The Pyrénées dog stand 18-23 inches at the shoulder, this results in a dog weighing 39-53 pounds, females are slightly smaller at 18.5-22 inches, giving the impression of a “German shorthaired pointer shrunk down to Brittany size.” The larger Braque Français, type Gascogne are 22.8 – 27.2 inches from the shoulder and generally weigh between 38-55 pounds with the females being similarly slightly smaller than the males standing 22-26.5 inches in comparison. The Pyrénées has the same general characteristics of the Gascogne type with their differences being noted in the descriptions which follow:
The Braque Français is a rustic dog, of medium proportions and noble appearance, not heavy but sufficiently lean muscled; the skin of the Pyrénées is tighter than that of the Gascogne, with a coat that feels slightly silky to the touch. The coat of the Gascogne is thick while that of the Pyrénées is described as “finer and shorter.” The acceptable color patterns of the Braque Français are; White with dark brown patches of differing shades, with or without mottling. Dark brown spotted and mottled or self-coloured, with or without white on the head, chest and legs. Or white with cinnamon patches and mottling, sometimes self-coloured. Markings of pale tan may appear over the eyes, on cheeks and limbs or in scattered mottling. The only noted difference in coloring between the two types is that the Pyrénées usually have more mottled brown on their body than the Gascogne does.
Substantial but not too heavy, the head of the Pyrénées is slightly broader. Their skulls are almost flat or very slightly rounded with a slight median furrow and no prominence of the occiput. They have chestnut brown or dark yellow eyes that are deeply set and wide opened with a “frank” expression. The muzzle is chestnut-brown in color with nostrils that are well opened and somewhat shorter than the skull. It's broad and rectangular, sometimes convex in profile. The toplines of the skull and muzzle are slightly divergent. The Pyrénées muzzle appears narrower while the Gascogne’s muzzle has a more square appearance. They have a complete set of evenly spaced white teeth, meeting in a scissor or level bite. The lips of the Pyrénéesare less pendent or less convex than in the Gascogne. Their ears are of medium length on or above the eye line, barely folded and rounded at the tips as well as being not too broad at the base. The standard set by the FCI dictates that the ears must end one inch short of the nose leather. On the Gascogne if the ears are pulled forward they will reach the tip of the nose. The ears of the Pyrénées are set a bit higher and are a little shorter than the Gascogne. The neck is of good length and slightly arched with a slight to no apparent dewlap.
BODY AND LIMBS: The chest is broad and deep to the elbow, the ribs are well rounded, and their back although sometimes a bit long, is strong and straight, and is always well supported. The loin is short, muscular and slightly arched while the croup is slightly oblique. Its belly is flat with the Pyrénées having more tuck-up or less let down then in the Gascogne type. The forequarters of the Pyrénées type dogs are lighter than in the Gascogne but both have forelegs that are long, straight, well-vertical and strong with well-muscled shoulders which are moderately sloping or oblique. The hindquarters of both types are very straight and vertical with fleshy, muscular thighs. The hocks are moderately angulates and the rear pasterns are described as short. The feet are nearly round with tight, well arched toes. They have strong nails and pads which are thick and fleshy. Their tails are set off the natural line of the croup, they are generally docked, but a natural tail or a natural bob are not a fault.
Ideal Braque Francais temperament is described as "friendly, sociable, gentle and submissive" and, as a soft breed, should not be subjected to harsh training methods. Temperament of individual dogs can vary, and all dogs must be well socialized with people and other animals at an early age in order to be a good pet.
As far as the health of the breed is concerned, no specific diseases or claims of extraordinary health have been documented for this breed.
For those who wish to breed, or simply choose a dog free of defect, these magnificent creatures there are several notable faults or “disqualifications” as deemed by the FCI that should be paid heed when choosing your Braque Français.