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Filtering by Tag: Extinct

The Braque Dupuy

Craig Koshyk

The origins of the Braque Dupuy have been the subject of speculation since it first appeared on the French gundog scene in the mid-1800s. No one knows exactly how the breed came to be, but it was probably created by hunters who bred sight hounds to French braques.

The first such crosses are said to have occurred in 1808 at the kennels of Omer and Narcisse Dupuy, hunters in the Poitou region of France. Apparently the Dupuys were impressed by the hunting skills of a sighthound named Rémus belonging to one of their friends. They were also frustrated with their own braques. They found them to be too heavy and close-working. So, in an effort to develop a dog with the speed of a sight hound and the firm point of a braque, the Dupuy brothers bred Rémus to two of their bitches. Three pups from the first two litters were kept and then bred back to their best braques. That second cross produced a dog with all the qualities they were seeking. They named him Rémus in honor of his grandsire, and bred him to a female braque named Léda. Pups from that breeding were the first to be considered true Braques Dupuy.

The breed struggled to gain acceptance in its early days, and by about 1850 was in serious trouble. But a man named Gaston Hublot is credited with reconstructing it and even wrote a book about the breed, Le Chien Dupuy, in 1899. In terms of appearance they resembled sight hounds more than braques. They were very tall and had a short white and liver coat. Some may have had black and white coats.
The Dupuy Pointer is a big upstanding dog with considerable elegance in his movements. The head is narrow and long. Occipital bone prominent, muzzle long, lean and slightly arched. Eyes golden brown in color with a rather melancholy expression. … Stern [tail] long, set low and carried like a greyhound’s tail.
In terms of hunting style there seems to be a difference of opinion. Some authors describe the Dupuy as a fast dog that excelled at hunting on the plains. Others write that it was more of a trotter. In a letter published in Le Chenil in June of 1887, a Mr. O. Pineau, who had been around Braques Dupuy for most of his life, explained that it may have been a bit of both.
The Dupuy has a lot of drive; when young and rested it searches at a gallop; if it is affected by age or fatigue, its pace is a fast trot. In action, it holds the head high, into the wind, but when a partridge runs, it follows all the twists and turns of its trail, sometimes putting its nose where the game placed its feet. The Dupuy retrieves quail or partridge naturally when he has seen other dogs do it. But the use of the force collar is often necessary to make it retrieve a hare that it finds a bit heavy, or strong smelling waterfowl that it is not used to.
In another account, the breed is described as being similar to the English Pointer.
The Braque Dupuy is very much like the English Pointer in build, but his head is squarer, and he is stouter on his pins [legs]. He is a moderately fast ranger, and a clever finder of game, very stanch and steady. When brought-up to it he does not mind rough work, but few of them go well to water. They are dashing workers, and are very greatly prized. I have seen a brace that would come to their points at awful distances, by a tropical heat; hence, for the hot departments of France they are admirably suited. (Walter Esplin Mason, Dogs of All Nations, 48)
After the First World War, the Braque Dupuy went into a steep decline, and had all but disappeared by the 1950s. In 1960, Jean Castaing wrote:
If, here and there, we see, very rarely, a dog called a Braque Dupuy, it is most often a bastard of unknown origins whose sighthound look is more or less of the Dupuy type. I do not believe that there is an organized breeding program even though breeders try from time to time to reconstitute this artificial dog that had its moment of glory mainly due to a desire to create a French version of the [English] Pointer.

My friend Christophe Oriou, an avid hunter and field trial enthusiast, lived in the Poitou region in the 1990s. While there, he did some research into the breed.
I discovered that the last Dupuy with a real pedigree belonged to Mr. Charpentier, a dentist in the village of St. Jean de Sauves. His wife showed me some color photographs of the dog—it had died in 1964. It was very moving to realize that I was looking at the very last Braque Dupuy. After him, the breed disappeared without a trace!
Strangely, despite that fact that no one has actually bred a Braque Dupuy in over half a century, the FCI continues to publish the breed’s official standard and still lists it in Group 7 for pointing dogs. There are even people in Europe qualified to judge the breed—even though they have never seen a Braque Dupuy! But there is a logical explanation for this seemingly bizarre situation. It was Michel Comte, the father of the modern Braque du Bourbonnais, who explained it to me.
Under certain circumstances, a breed that is thought to be extinct can still be listed. It is a way of “keeping the porch light on”. In other words, if someone decides to revive the breed from whatever remnants can be found, there will still be an official standard to use as a guide and there will be judges ready to evaluate the dogs. In fact, if it were not for this peculiar policy of the SCC, the Braque du Bourbonnais would have never been recreated. 

The Guerlain Griffon

Craig Koshyk

In 1907 Robert Leighton wrote about 
an orange and white rough-haired breed known 
as the Guerlain Griffon. He described it as:
...perhaps the most elegant in shape and appearance, owing to its shorter and less rugged coat and lighter build. This breed is usually white in color, with orange or yellow markings, rather short dropped ears, and a docked tail, and with a height of about 22 inches. The nose is always brown, and the light eyes are not hidden by the prominent eyebrows so frequent in the French spaniels.
W. E. Mason also mentions the breed:
This is a medium-sized dog, short in the body and compactly built. He has a big head for his size and the eyes are rather large and light-brown in color. The nose is always brown with nostrils well open. Chest broad and back strong and well-developed. The legs are straight and muscular, rather on the long side and well-covered with short, wiry hair. Stern [tail] is carried straight, covered with wiry hair but without feathering, and a third of its length is generally docked. The coat is hard and wiry, rather short and not curly.
The most interesting document I have found on the Guerlain Griffon is an article published in the February 4, 1886 edition of Le Chenil. It was written by the Marquis of Cherville (Gaspard de Pekow) and describes his own efforts to establish the breed that was later perfected by a man he refers to only as “Mr. G”.

 The Marquis wrote that he purchased a brown and white rough-haired griffon from a Mr. Lebastard in 1846. He named the dog Tom, and became so fond of it that a short while later he bought a bitch with a similar coat in Normandy. However, when he bred the two together, he found that the results were not what he had hoped for. The offspring had long, silky hair. They were also smaller than their parents and much less vigorous. So, in 1857, the Marquis bred a bitch named Crimée, a perfect hunter but with mediocre looks, to an extraordinarily vigorous Pointer named Narbal. From that union, he kept two pups: a dog he named Garçon and a bitch he named Cartouche.

When Cartouche was a year old, the Marquis gave her to Alexander Dumas, the well-known author of such classics as The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers. Dumas did not keep Cartouche; he presented her as a gift to the national hero of Italian unification, Giuseppe Garibaldi. Naturally, this created a huge demand for her puppies in Italy, and she was bred several times leaving many 

Garçon, Cartouche’s brother, had a harsh, fawn-colored coat with white “socks” on all four legs.
He was very tall, with incredible physical strength. I once saw him in front of M. Clérault, retrieve at a gallop a hare of seven or eight pounds and, despite the weight, he leaped over a stream a meter 
and a half wide in a single bound. 
The Marquis repeated the breeding that produced Garçon and Cartouche. From it, he kept a bitch. He named her Mike. But Mike’s coat was mainly white with only small fawn-colored patches and spots. Nevertheless, the Marquis was so pleased with Garçon and Mike—he wrote that they were the best hunting dogs he’d ever known—that he decided to establish his own line by way of a brother-sister mating. 

In the article, which is written in French, he actually uses the English expression “in and in” to describe his breeding program. However, he admits that things did not pan out the way he had hoped. After the third generation, everything seemed to fall apart. The dogs were smaller and lacked vitality. Many fell ill, some were timid and others had little to no hunting abilities. Realizing that he was getting on in years, and no longer having the time to continue his projects, he stopped breeding his griffons and turned to English dogs instead.

This is where “Mr. G” enters the story. His full name was Aimé Guerlain and he was the son of Pierre-François Pascal Guerlain, the founder of one of the oldest perfume houses in the world. Aimé Guerlain was also an avid hunter who spent many days in the marshes of Picardy, particularly near Le Crotoy, a spa his father established in the early 1800s on the Bay of the Somme. 

In 1868, in an effort to establish his own line of dogs, Aimé Guerlain bred a bitch from a strain of griffons known as Griffons Picards, to one of the Marquis’ dogs. The pups turned out so well that he bred several more litters using similar combinations. As his line developed, Guerlain avoided the problems of excessive inbreeding by crossing to English Pointers when he needed outside blood. He eventually produced a white and orange wire-haired pointing dog that became known as the Guerlain Griffon. When the Marquis saw some of them in the field, he wrote:
Their search, without being too wide, is very active and sufficiently open; they have a good nose and their points are very solid; they are remarkable for their prudence and cooperation. Well-trained, they are exceptional retrievers. Overall, Mr. G, and M. Boulet, in their breeding of griffons, demonstrate a steadfastness, a tenacity that we must applaud and from which their breeds will benefit greatly if these men can create converts from among their colleagues.
When the first field trial was held in France in 1888, the winner of the quête restreinte (close search) stake was a Guerlain Griffon named Sacquine. Sadly, despite this and other achievements —Aimé Guerlain even sent a number of his dogs to Tsarevich (Grand Duke) Nicholas of Russia — he was unable to gain many converts beyond the circle of his close friends. The Guerlain Griffon eventually died out just after the turn of the 20th century.

Read more about the breed, and all the other pointing breeds from Continental Europe, in my book Pointing Dogs, Volume One: The Continentals

More on the Boulet Griffon

Craig Koshyk

In response to a comment on a forum, I wrote:

The story of the Boulet Griffon is very interesting. One of the most fascinating aspects is just how famous the breed and its creator really were; and how quickly they faded into near total obscurity.

I always knew that the breed was well known at one time, but it was not until major libraries and foundations began to make their archives available on-line that I realized just how big of a deal the Boulet Griffon was in its day. For example, there was a sporting newspaper/magazine called "Le Chenil" published weekly in France from the 1880s to the 1920s. I had only seen a few copies of it in old bookstores in Paris but could never afford to purchase a copy. But then one day about a year ago I discovered that the National Library of France had just uploaded the entire collection to the net and that I could consult any issue I wanted for...FREE!

To the left is the front cover of Le Chenil for the week of Nov. 18, 1886. It features an illustration of Marco the most famous of Boulet's dogs. The caption beneath the photo reads: Marco, French pointing griffon of the Boulet breed. 1st Prize, Paris 1882 with special mention, 1st Prize, Spa 1882, 1st Prize, Le Havre 1882, Prize of Honor, Paris 1886, Special Prize, Le Bronze d'Art for the handsomest French pointing dog of all classes, Paris 1886 (then Marco's registration numbers are given for various studbooks) Breeder and owner, M. Emmanuel Boulet from Elbeouf.

Needless to say, as soon as I found the site with all the issues, I spent 18 hours a day for weeks on end reading every single one of them. And the number of times Boulet and his dogs were mentioned..and in absolutely glowing terms... was unbelievable. Just about every single issue from about 1880 to 1900 had an article, ad, announcement about him or some sort of note regarding a placement of one of his dogs in a show or field trial.

But then it just sort of trails off. Eventually there is nothing.

As mentioned in the previous post, in the 1990s a guy in France tried to recreate/revive the breed but gave up after only a few years. Today, the closest thing to a Boulet Griffon is a non-pointing breed called the Barbet. You can see photos and read about the Barbet here.

Read more about the breed, and all the other pointing breeds from Continental Europe, in my book Pointing Dogs, Volume One: The Continentals

Breed of the Week: The Boulet Griffon

Craig Koshyk

If one of the main functions of kennel clubs or registries is to preserve breeds of dogs, it is sadly ironic that the only thing left of the Boulet Griffon are the dusty remains of Marco, the first dog ever entered into the French stud book. His taxidermied body is stored, half-forgotten, at the Municipal Museum of Natural History in Elbeuf, France.
Marco, the first dog entered into the L.O.F (French Stud book)
Born into a wealthy family in 1840, Emmanuel Boulet founded a weaving business in Normandy. Like his contemporary, Eduard Korthals, Boulet had an enormous passion for outdoor sports and the breeding of gundogs. Unlike Korthals, he did not set out to create a new breed. Boulet wanted to save and improve upon an old breed that had almost disappeared, the Griffon d’arrêt Français à poil long (French Longhaired Pointing Griffon).

He started with several dogs purchased from a Mr. Govellain, who had kept a line of them for over 60 years. After a somewhat rocky start, Boulet eventually achieved a level of consistency in his dogs that was almost unheard of in the French pointing breeds. In terms of looks:

The Boulet Griffon has many of the same characteristics as the Korthals Griffon, the chief difference being that his coat is much longer and not so hard in texture. The coat is fairly long and semi-silky, without being glossy, flat rather than wavy, and never curly. Its color is that of a dead chestnut leaf or a dark coffee brown, with or without white; never black or yellow. (from The New Book of the Dog by Robert Leighton)

Illustration of Marco in better days
Boulet selected his dogs to be naturally close-working, but with excellent noses and a firm point. With help from his friend and professional trainer, Léon Verrier, his dogs became very successful in field trials and won countless awards in shows. The sporting press from the 1880s and ’90s, is filled with articles on the Boulet Griffon; lauding the master breeder’s genius and casting him as the saviour of the Continental pointing breeds. The publicity soon attracted the attention of some of the most powerful people in the world, including Nicholas, the Tsarevich (Grand Duke) of Russia, who traveled to Elbeuf while on a state visit to France just to meet Mr. Boulet and see his griffons. Even the president of France paid homage to the great breeder, presenting him with a national medal of honor for his work. Legend has it that in return, Boulet offered the president a sweater knit from the wool of his griffons.

Yet, despite the popularity of the Boulet Griffon and the fame and fortune of its founder, only a few short decades after Emmanuel Boulet died, the breed faded into oblivion. It is tempting to conclude that it was the founder’s death that led to the breed’s demise, but the truth of the matter is that Boulet himself abandoned it in 1890. In a letter published in the sporting press, Prince Albrecht of Solms-Braunfels tells us why.
It was also Mr. Boulet, who ranked as the top griffon breeder in France, who recently picked out three young the Ipenwoud (Korthals’) Kennels. This gentleman stated to me that he now wanted to breed this line pure and not cross it with his line...because his dogs are too long- and soft-haired as a result of crossbreeding and he wants only prickly-haired dogs.
After Boulet’s death in 1897, a few breeders attempted to continue his work but were unable to prevent the Boulet Griffon from eventually disappearing just after the Second World War. For many years the FCI continued to publish its standard, but in 1984 the breed was finally removed from the list of recognized breeds and its standard dropped. Several years later, a Frenchman by the name of Philippe Seguela began a breeding program aimed at recreating the Boulet Griffon. He managed to produce dogs that were apparently quite close to the original in terms of looks and performance. Unfortunately, he abandoned the project in the early 1990s.

For more information on Emmanuel Boulet and his dogs see Ria Hörther's excellent article (in Dutch) from her website.


Read more about the breed, and all the other pointing breeds from Continental Europe, in my book Pointing Dogs, Volume One: The Continentals