10 Things You Didn’t Know about the Chien-Gris

Chien Gris

Have you ever considered the possibility that certain breeds of dogs may actually be extinct? It’s sort of hard to think about because most of us are around dogs on a daily basis. At the very least, they’re at least seen running around. As a result, it makes it hard to imagine that there are certain breeds that simply don’t exist anymore. However, that is exactly the case with a breed called the Chien-Gris. As you might have already guessed, this is a French name for this particular breed that loosely translates to Gray Saint Louis Hound. These dogs were popular during Medieval times, but not a single example of the breed exists today. As it turns out, they have a rather interesting history, one that you can learn a great deal more about right here.

Origin of the Breed

This breed goes so far back that its exact origin is difficult to pinpoint. One story says that King Louis, sometimes referred to as Saint Louis, was imprisoned during the Crusades and received these dogs as gifts upon his release. Another says that they originated from a remote French settlement before being found in additional parts of France and even in some areas of Britain. One thing that is known is that the breed was used for hundreds of years in what is commonly referred to as the royal packs, a group of hunting dogs that were used by French royalty for that particular sport. These dogs were believed to comprise a large number of the royal packs from 1250 until 1480.


It’s believed that these dogs were predecessors to the modern-day Bloodhound, although it is virtually impossible to prove that. Other sources claim that the Bloodhound was actually an established breed in its own right, but this particular breed was then bred with it in order to influence modern-day Bloodhounds. Like so many other possibilities, it’s almost impossible to prove how things really went because written records of dog breeding were not kept during much of this time. In addition, the records that did exist were largely destroyed after the French Revolution. This left almost no written record of anything about this particular breed. That has forced experts to go back and look at other dogs, like the Bloodhound, in order to try and discern whatever information they can. There are definitely some similarities between the two, but there are also plenty of differences as well. This particular breed, sometimes referred to as the Grey Dog, was almost always gray in color along its spine with either brown or tan shoulders and legs. Rarely, the grey would be so dark it was more black than anything else. The dog was built much like a lot of other sighthounds, although many people believe that it was actually far more delicate than your typical Hound of this type. As a result, there are some claims that these dogs weren’t really all that skilled at hunting. However, it’s difficult to believe that they would have been used for hundreds of years by French royalty if they weren’t capable of possessing at least some appreciable level of skill. It is known that they had a tendency to stand rather tall, almost two feet high at the haunches, with many of them weighing in between 90 and 100 pounds. In addition, they tended to have long snoots which allowed them to sniff out prey more easily.


In reality, experts can’t even agree upon exactly when the dog became extinct. Some believe that it happened immediately in the aftermath of the French Revolution and others believe that just a few examples of the breed continued to live on for another 20 to 50 years. One thing is certain, it’s very likely that the breed was entirely extinct sometime between 1800 and 1850. While much of this was due to the French Revolution and the utter chaos that happened as a direct result of it, a lot of it has its roots in the way these dogs were bred as well. For example, people had a tendency to crossbreed this particular dog with a lot of other similar breeds, thus diluting the breed itself. It’s highly unlikely that people really thought about it at the time, but they were essentially making it impossible to find a purebred Grey Dog that could be bred to another purebred. Eventually, the gene pool became so diluted that virtually all of the characteristics unique to this particular breed were lost.

Its Spirit Lives On

Is it really possible that the modern-day Bloodhound can be heavily influenced by this particular breed? In reality, it is possible. However, it may not be plausible. Furthermore, it’s difficult to discern that fact with any level of certainty. Even a DNA test may not get the job done, as these dogs were bred so long ago that any traces of unique DNA may have been lost by now. There is little doubt that they were indeed heavily bred to the Saint Hubert Hound, which is sometimes referred to as a Bloodhound. That said, this dog wasn’t exactly like the Bloodhound you’re likely to see today. As a result, it’s likely that these particular dogs did indeed have some influence on the modern-day Bloodhound, but it’s not fully possible to tell exactly how much influence still exists. The one thing that virtually all the experts agree on is that this was a very popular dog throughout France. As you’ve probably already discovered by reading this, they were exceptionally popular with royalty there and they were widely owned by virtually anyone involved in hunting during the Medieval times, leading all the way up to the French Revolution. After that, the history of the dog becomes much more difficult to sort out, even to the point of knowing whether or not the breed ceased to exist as a whole at that particular point in time.

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