A medium-sized Pointer, the white and orange coat, pink nose, and the Braque Saint-Germain‘s golden eyes all ensure that it is a visibly stunning dog. With a muscular body and elegant silhouette, it’s no wonder that this breed was once the most popular Pointer in the French show ring.
A multi-purpose canine, the Braque Saint-Germain was bred for function and form and is commonly used for hunting in its native France today. A dog with stamina and determination, this breed rarely tires and thrives when outdoors and active. Potential owners should be aware of the high exercise requirements of this dog before taking one on.
About & History
A versatile hunting dog that has been used not only for pointing but also for flushing and retrieving, the Braque Saint-Germain can work with various games, including rabbits and pheasants. Unlike most hunting dogs, traditionally, this breed has been popular in the show-ring and has been bred to have a very uniform and specific appearance.
Originally bred in France by mixing English Pointers with the Braque Français, this breed is thought to have been developed in the 1830s and claims to have a very posh heritage. King Charles X of France has gifted two English Pointer dogs who were very talented hunters. The female, called Miss, was bred to a local Braque Francais dog, and the legacy of the Braque Saint-Germain began. Initially, the breed was called Compiegne Pointers due to the kennels’ location in which they were bred, but this name was later altered when the kennels relocated to the Saint Germain region. Many of the dogs produced were shown in dog shows all over France and, at the time, were the most established Pointing breed in their native country.
The Braque Saint-Germain breed was initially very popular, and a club was formed in 1913 that aimed to increase their prevalence within France, as well as to enhance the breed. Unfortunately, the population size of the Braque Saint-Germain was greatly reduced in each World War. They have never fully recovered from the dramatic decline in population size in the first half of the 20th century. Still, they remain a breed with a loyal following and are not at risk of extinction at present.
In recent years, English Pointers have been permitted to enter the Braque Saint-Germain gene pool to increase their numbers and add some genetic diversity. Even though few, if any, breed members have been exported internationally, the UKC granted full recognition to the breed in 2006 within their gun dog group.
The Braque Saint-Germain’s appearance is particularly important to breeders, even though they are primarily gun dogs. Historically, they have participated in a large number of French dog shows. Breed members should be of medium build with good muscling and heavy bones. The skull of the dog should be round and should be the same length as their muzzle.
Their pink nose should have wide-open nostrils, while their big, golden eyes should exhibit a placid and relaxed expression. Their ears are curved at the tip and shouldn’t reach any further than the level of their eyes. The shoulders of the Braque Saint-Germain are quite impressively long, and their limbs should be sturdy and heavy. They have a wide chest and a straight back, though their croup will slope slightly. The tapering tail of the dog is carried at a distinctive horizontal angle when on the move.
The Braque Saint-Germain’s short coat should be a faded white color with orange markings, and it is preferred that the ears be orange all over. Unlike the English Pointer, no black fur is tolerated. Males stand at 56cm to 62cm tall, while the slighter female will reach heights of between 53cm and 60cm. Most breed members will weigh somewhere between 18kg and 27kg.
Character & Temperament
While it is true that the Braque Saint-Germain has traditionally excelled in the show ring, they are primarily hunting dogs and, as such, have the character expected of a working animal. This breed is easy to train and loves to be kept active and provided with a task. They should have a ‘soft mouth‘, meaning they don’t hurt or damage the prey that they retrieve.
They also tend to work in packs, meaning that they usually get on well with other dogs. While they have undeniably got an instinct to chase small animals, anecdotally, they get along well with small pets within their household that they have been introduced to from a young age.
The Braque Saint-Germain truly is a family dog and does best when kept indoors with human companionship. They are particularly affectionate with those they trust and will bond closely with every family member. They are not typically a breed that will show any aggression, which means that they are suited around children though they would not make good guard dogs. While it is true that this breed will be keen to befriend any child it meets, caution is advised with very young children who may not be able to withstand the enthusiastic greetings and rambunctious game playing!
More so than many other dog breeds, the Braque Saint-Germain can be a real delight to train. This is a willing dog eager to please its master and has the intelligence to complete most tasks set to it with relative ease. Trainers will have the greatest success when focusing on those behaviours that come naturally to the breed, such as retrieving.
It is often said that the Braque Saint-Germain is a resilient dog that is far less sensitive than other closely related breeds. Trainers have the option of using firmer methods than might be expected. However, they will still get the best results with the use of positive (rather than negative) reinforcement techniques.
Frustratingly, there is no concrete date available regarding the Braque Saint-Germain’s health, and no studies have been performed on the breed to date. A working dog they are generally accepted to be a hardy breed. The prudent owner would be on the lookout for these potential health conditions:
Responsible breeders should perform hip scoring to ensure the small population of the Braque Saint-Germain remains healthy. A simple x-ray of the hips will allow a veterinarian to assess their quality of the hip joints and inform the breeder if they are good enough to allow for reproduction.
When the ear canal becomes plugged with a build-up of malodorous debris, an infection is likely. Ears may also be red, hot, and tender. Affected dogs tend to shake their head and rub their face on the floor. Infections mainly occur due to a proliferation of bacteria and yeast, though they may also be due to a foreign body, such as a grass seed within the ear canal or ear mites.
Exercise and Activity Levels
There is no slouch for exercise; the Braque Saint-Germain is a dog that loves to be out and about. They have great stamina when working and can travel large distances over long periods without seeming to tire. If kept solely as a companion animal, owners should provide an hour or two of solid exercise each day. They should also keep the dog stimulated with various games and training sessions.
Any attempt to keep this breed in a small apartment or home or to exercise them for less than the recommended amount of time will likely lead to a frustrated dog that makes for a difficult pet. Anxiety, hyperactivity, and destructive behaviours are likely to develop in these situations.
The short coat of the Braque Saint-Germain needs brushing no more than once or twice a week. Their toenails may need trimming every few months, particularly if they are not walked on hard surfaces. The breed’s transparent claws make claw clipping easy, as the quick is visible, making it more avoidable than in dogs with darkly pigmented claws.
The most important grooming duty that an owner must not neglect is the maintenance of good ear hygiene. Ears should be cleaned out every one or two weeks with a dog ear cleaner. Owners should also ensure that ears are dried on the inside and out after being exposed to water.
Famous Braques Saint-Germain
A relatively rare breed confined to France, there are no well-known breed members in popular culture. On Instagram, however, you will find a fair few ‘every day’ examples, with saint_nol being one of our favourites. He certainly gets his fair share of outdoor exercise in beautiful Slovenia, truly living the good life!
While there are no well-established cross-breeds, the English Pointer is often crossed with the Braque Saint-Germain to keep the breed alive.