Breed profile: Braque du Bourbonnais
The Braque du Bourbonnais is a pointing breed that hails from the Bourbon region of central France. The breed is typically strong and 'cobby', and traditionally used for rough shooting.
It has never been a common breed but the Braque du Bourbonnais almost disappeared completely after the Second World War. In 1970, a group of dedicated breeders led by Michael Comte formed the Braque du Bourbonnais Club. The standard for the breed was drafted and is now firmly established in its native France.
The Bourbonnais is a medium-sized dog, which stands roughly 18–22.5 inches at the shoulder. Weights typically range between 18–24kgs for dogs, and 16–22kgs for bitches. Thicker set than a typical English pointer, they have short necks and are very muscular.
The breed has a smooth, tight coat which is easily maintained. Some dogs are bred naturally tailless, others have very short tails. The coat colours are fawn, liver, and white, lightly or heavily ticked (see images).
Temperament and working ability
Today the breed is gaining popularity as an all-purpose gundog, known for its intelligence, trainability and loyalty. The Braque du Bourbonnais is a versatile working dog, with the stamina to work all day in the field. They are natural hunters, used to hunt, point and retrieve, and make ideal working partners for falconers and rough-shooters alike. They work steadily, in a methodical manner, and tend not to range as far as other pointing/HPR breeds.
In France, Bourbonnais' are also used to find truffles. The breed is known for being very affectionate and a devoted companion. They make very good family dogs but do not enjoy long periods of isolation, and require regular exercise. They are also proficient swimmers.
The Bourbonnais has no specific health issues.
An owner's opinion
Mark Pauline is a passionate Braque du Bourbonnais owner and handler who has worked the breed now for four years. He is one of the very few owners of the breed in the UK. “They are the best-kept secret in the working dog world,” he says. “They are so versatile and, for a pointing breed, very trainable. I know of several people who work the breed in the USA on everything from Mearns quail in Nevada, and partridges and pheasants in the mid-West, to woodcock and snipe over vast areas in the Great Lakes states.
“I use them exclusively on grey partridges and snipe with falcons in the UK, and the partnership they have developed with the falcons is quite remarkable. My dogs work steadily and don't put too much pressure on the birds. And it has all come very naturally to them. I often see them stealing a glance up at the falcons when they're onto something.
“It is no surprise that they are gaining popularity with rough shooters in France – they also make excellent and loyal family dogs.”
Mark imported his dogs from breed club members abroad; enthusiasts keen to keep the working characteristics of the breed at the forefront of their breeding plans.
He has recently had a litter of Braque du Bourbonnais pups from his dog Hugo and one of his bitches; puppies will be available to suitable homes in early April. They are French KC registered and, being the first litter born in the UK, Mark is keen to promote the breed, which he has every confidence will gain popularity and establish itself with the many other European HPR/gundogs that have arrived on our shores in the past.
For more information, please contact Mark Pauline.