The Chien-Gris Dog Breed: Everything You Need to Know

The Chien-Gris dog breed or Gris de Saint-Louis is a now-extinct scenthound that was developed and existed in Medieval France and favored by King Louis.

In this article, we’ll explore the fascinating history, appearance, temperament, and health of the Chien-Gris dog breed in order to keep its memory alive.

History and Origin of the Chien-Gris Dog Breed

The Chien-Gris in Medieval Europe

The Chien-Gris, meaning “gray dog” in French, is believed to have originated in France in the 14th century to assist hunters in tracking and catching game, such as wild hogs and deer.

The breed was often kept by nobles and other wealthy individuals and was a popular choice for hunting due to its exceptional sense of smell and its ability to track game for long distances.

The Chien-Gris was known for its stamina, courage, and tracking skills on the field. In addition to its hunting abilities, the breed was also prized for its loyalty and affectionate nature toward its owner.

The Role of Chien-Gris in War & Hunting

The Chien-Gris was often used in times of war to track down fleeing enemies and to guard properties and people. The breed was highly valued for its high intelligence and courage on the battlefield, and many soldiers relied on them for protection.

During peacetime, the Chien-Gris continued to be a popular choice for hunting. They were often used in packs to track down large game, such as boars and stags. Their ability to work in packs made them highly effective at bringing down prey.

The Decline and Extinction of the Breed

Unfortunately, the Chien-Gris population experienced a severe decline due to the effects of the French Revolution on hunting as a hobby and the practice of crossing the breed with other dogs.

Over time, members of the breed were impossible to find. Today, the Chien-Gris is an extinct dog breed, but it continues to be recognized for its exceptional tracking abilities.

Physical Characteristics and Appearance

Size and Weight

The Chien-Gris was a medium-sized dog, typically weighing between 40 to 60 pounds and standing about 20 to 24 inches tall. It had a lean and muscular build, allowing it to be an agile hunter and tracker.

Coat and Color

One of the most distinctive features of the Chien-Gris was its coat, which is often a shade of gray or gray-blue, with black or white markings. The coat was dense, short, and shiny, which helped protect them from cold weather.

Distinctive Features

Other distinctive features of the Chien-Gris included long, droopy ears and a long, narrow muzzle. The long ears helped pick up scents from the ground, while their narrow muzzle allowed them to follow a scent trail with precision.

Temperament and Personality Traits

The Chien-Gris was known for its affectionate and gentle temperament. It was loyal, calm, and patient, with a streak of stubbornness and strong will.

Intelligence and Trainability

The Chien-Gris was a highly intelligent breed. It was a quick learner and was relatively easy to train. However, due to its origin as a hunting dog, many breed members showed stubbornness and required experienced owners.

Socialization and Interaction with Other Animals

Like all dogs, socialization was the key to ensuring that the Chien-Gris gets along well with other animals and people. The breed had a strong prey drive, and unless properly socialized, it was not suitable for households with smaller pets.

Energy Levels and Exercise Needs

The Chien-Gris was an active breed that requires regular exercise to stay happy and healthy. Going on a hunt was an excellent way of keeping it physically active and mentally stimulated at the same time.

Health and Lifespan

We do not know much about the health issues in the breed. However, considering the size and general appearance of the Chien-Gris, it was probably prone to conditions such as:

  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Bloat (GDV)
  • Ear Infections

The breed was not very long-lived and had an average lifespan of between 9 and 11 years.


The Chien-Gris was a unique and loyal breed with a rich history and personality traits. The two hallmarks of the breed were the silver-grey coat color and exceptional tracking skills on the hunting field.

Sadly, today, the Chien-Gris dog breed is extinct. However, dog enthusiasts around the world are well aware of its former popularity and are making efforts to keep its memory alive.

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