Scientific name Canis lupus familiaris
|FCI Group 6, Section 1.2 Scenthounds: Medium-sized #24|
Similar Petit Bleu de Gascogne, Ariegeois, Grand Anglo‑Français Tricolore, Porcelaine, Westphalian Dachsbracke
The Poitevin, known as the Chien de Haut-Poitou until 1957, is a breed of dog used in hunting as a scenthound, from the province of Poitou. This predominantly pack hound was created in the 17th century specifically to hunt wolves.
A very refined and athletic hound, with a flat gently sloping skull, a long narrow tapering muzzle, long slender well muscled neck, long straight heavily boned legs and a long tail. Their short coat is usually tricolour with a black saddle, tricolour with large black patches or white and orange. They are a scent hound with some sighthound traits. The Fédération Cynologique Internationale breed standard gives the ideal male height at the withers as between 62–72 centimetres (24–28 in) with females slightly smaller with a height range between 60–70 centimetres (24–28 in).
History and use
Originally there were three lines of the breed, the Larrye, the Montemboeuf and Céris. The finest of these lines, the Larrye, was created by the Marquis de Larrye of Poitou in 1692 when he received 12 hounds from the Dauphin of France, these he crossed with local hounds and English Staghounds. The breed suffered during the French Revolution, in 1793 Marquis François de Larrye of Poitou was beheaded during the Reign of Terror.
After the revolution, two brothers of the de la Besge de Montmorillon family, Emile and Arthur, set about reviving the breed, a difficult task as only two hounds of the Larrye line had survived. The breed's fortunes were again in doubt when a rabies epidemic swept through the pack in 1842. The breed was revived through extensive out crosses of Foxhounds, by careful selection for type, the foxhound's influence was reduced within three generations, with Poitevin features such as skull profile and ear length being restored to the breed. Further infusion of Foxhound blood was necessary following World War II.
Originally bred to hunt the wolf, today the Poitevin is used to hunt boar and deer the breed is renounced for its extraordinary nose, melodious voice, athleticism and endurance, its extraordinary speed has given rise to the nickname "Greyhound among the French hounds".
The Poitevin was central to the development of the Grand Anglo-Français Tricolore, Chien Français Blanc et Noir and Anglo-Français de Petite Vénerie. All three of the original strains (prior to infusions of Foxhound blood) were used in the development of the Billy in the 19th century.