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Country of origin France

The Chien-gris was a breed of dog, now extinct, which originated in Medieval times. Like the Chien de St Hubert it was a scenthound, and once formed part of the pack of the Kings of France. According to King Charles IX,[1] (1550-1574) they supposedly were introduced to France through Saint Louis (ie King Louis IX, 1226-1270), who had encountered these hounds while a prisoner during the Crusades, and subsequently received some as a gift. Old writers on hunting liked to ascribe an ancient and remote origin to their hounds, and these were claimed to be originally from Tartary.

They were large, and were preferred by the Kings to the St Huberts, which were said to be only of medium size, even though they did not have such good noses.

Jaques du Fouilloux,[2] in the 16th century, says they were common, and describes them as ‘gris’ (grey) on the back with forequarters and legs tan or red, some having near black hair on the back. They were headstrong, wide casting hounds, inclined to change or overshoot, but determined in their pursuit of a quarry to the death. However, by the nineteenth century, like the St Hubert, they had become virtually impossible to find, because of mixed breeding and the effect of the Revolution on French hunting.[3]

George Turberville[4] translated du Fouilloux’ book on hunting into English, and used the term ‘Dun hound’ to translate ‘Chien-gris’. We may presume he did not translate it literally as ‘grey-hound’ to avoid confusion. One finds the term ‘dun-hound’ in some subsequent writing in English, suggesting that the kind also existed in Britain, and it has been supposed that these ‘dun-hounds’ went into the make up of the Bloodhound, accounting for the ‘badgering’ of the hair in the saddles of some bloodhounds.[5] However, Turberville did not make it very clear that his book was a translation, and it is highly possible that people mistakenly believed his work was about English hunting. Early references to the dun-hound may simply come from people relying, like Nicolas Cox, on Turberville,[6] [3] and it is quite possible that the dun hound was never a significant animal in British hunting.


  1. ^ Charles IX (1625) (in French). La Chasse Royale.  
  2. ^ du Fouilloux, Jaques (1561). La Venerie de Jaques du Fouilloux[1].  
  3. ^ de Canteleu, Le Couteulx (1858). La Vénerie Française.  
  4. ^ Turbervile, George (1575). The Noble Art of Venerie or Hunting[2].  
  5. ^ Harmer, Hilary (1968). The Bloodhound.  
  6. ^ Cox, Nicolas (1674). Gentlemen's Recreation.  

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