Minimal tail and maximum desire make the Braque du Bourbonnais a wonderful choice for hunters interested in an unusual breed of bird dog.
This series of Project Upland hunting dog breed profiles focuses on the hunting characteristics that set one breed apart from another, understanding that within a breed individual dogs may vary in temperament, conformation, instincts and abilities. This particular article focuses on the Braque du Bourbonnais.
Original Purpose of the Braque du Bourbonnais
The Braque du Bourbonnais is a very old breed. Evidence places it back as far as the 1500s through various accounts of tail-less pointing dogs in the French region of Bourbonnais. After nearly disappearing for centuries, Michel Comte carefully re-created the breed in the early 1970s, drawing their contemporary genetic profile from mix-breed Braques.
The Braque du Bourbonnais has a naturally very short tail (or may be considered “tail-less”), although some breeders dock the tails to a short nub.
Hunting Style and Temperament of the Braque du Bourbonnais
Braque du Bourbonnais are described as insatiable in their desire to train and hunt. They are medium-distance, medium-paced gun dogs that can stretch out to 200 yards but will check in frequently, averaging the distance to a workable range. They are truly versatile in their ability to scent, point, retrieve, track and swim.
On point, the Braque du Bourbonnais is strong and solid but lacks the elegance of English setters or the athletic “wow” power of German shorthairs. Project Upland’s Chet Hervey owns a Braque du Bourbonnais and describes their pointing style well. “One of the best and funniest thing about BdBs is their point,” Chet says. “The combination of their stalky, busty, pit bullish build and boxy head; the fact that they have no tail; and the way that they keep their butt really low while pointing makes them comically brutish. No setter-flair to be found. Very utilitarian. And I love that.”
As a family dog, the Braque du Bourbonnais has a gentle disposition and ardent desire to please.
Traits of the Braque du Bourbonnais important to hunters
Small to medium – 40-55 pounds for males, 35-50 pounds for females
The Braque du Bourbonnais is recognized and celebrated for the unique ticking patterns on its coat and a freckled face, both with colors varying from reddish brown to peach to white with more distinctly dark ticking. Their short coats are fine and dense, with slightly longer, coarser hair on their backs – minimal grooming needed.
The Braque du Bourbonnais points at an early age. They take to water and tracking training well but can be considered fairly soft dogs that respond best to training methods that support their desire to please.
There are some reports of hip dysplasia and congenital heart disease in the breed, but otherwise, the Braque du Bourbonnais has a very good health profile.
Finding a Good Breeder
There are only about two thousand Braque du Bourbonnais in the world. Most breeders are breeding for hunting, not show, so despite the small population in the U.S., the chances are excellent for getting strong hunting skills from a Braque du Bourbonnais. In the U.S., the most notable Braque du Bourbonnais breeders prove their dogs through hunt tests such as those in the North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association. Many also import dogs as needed to maintain the quality of the gene pool.
Nancy Anisfield is an outdoor writer and hunting dog photographer, creative director for the Ugly Dog Hunting Company, member of the Pheasants Forever / Quail Forever Board of Directors, and co-owner of the Track2Wing Project which grants Action trackchairs to individuals with mobility challenges who want to train and hunt with bird dogs. She and her husband live in Hinesburg, Vermont, where their lives are governed by her two German shorthaired pointers and his two German wirehaired pointers.