Griffon Nivernais: Dog Breed Characteristics & Care

History, Care Tips, and Helpful Information for Pet Owners

several Griffon Nivernais dogs in a field


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The Griffon Nivernais is a medium-size hound dog breed from France with a long, rough, shaggy coat that gives the dog a somewhat scruffy look. The dog has a moderately long head with bushy eyebrows and drop ears. And overall, this scenthound is slightly longer than it is tall, which helps to give it a smooth stride and good endurance. The Griffon Nivernais is an athletic breed that loves being outdoors and would do best with an active household.

Breed Overview

Group: Hound

Height: 20.5 to 23.5 inches (female), 21.5 to 24.5 inches (male)

Weight: 45 to 55 pounds

Coat: Long, rough

Coat Color: Wolf gray, blue gray, or gray grizzle with/without tan, white, and black markings

Life Span: 10 to 14 years

Temperament: Independent, fearless, affectionate

Hypoallergenic: No

Origin: France

Characteristics of the Griffon Nivernais

The Griffon Nivernais tends to have an affectionate temperament with its family, but it can be somewhat reserved around strangers. A stubborn streak also can be part of this dog's personality, complicating training at times. Plus, the breed is known for its vocal nature, though that can vary by individual dog.

Affection Level High
Friendliness Medium
Kid-Friendly Medium
Pet-Friendly Medium
Exercise Needs High
Playfulness Medium
Energy Level High
Trainability Medium
Intelligence Medium
Tendency to Bark High
Amount of Shedding Medium

History of the Griffon Nivernais

The Griffon Nivernais can trace its ancestors back to the 1200s in France. These scenthounds were used for hunting, particularly wild boar and wolves, and protecting property. However, by the 1800s the breed had virtually disappeared, especially as faster hounds had been developed. 

Then, in the early 1900s, Griffon Nivernais enthusiasts attempted to reconstruct the breed. They mixed some of the last remaining breed representatives with other dogs, including the otterhound, Griffon Vendéen, and French foxhound. This modern Griffon Nivernais is smaller than its ancestors, but it still closely resembles those ancient dogs.

The breed is still very rare today, especially outside of France. The American Kennel Club does not officially recognize it. But the United Kennel Club lists it as part of its Scenthound Group.

Griffon Nivernais Care

The Griffon Nivernais needs a good amount of daily exercise. Its coat stays fairly clean but does have some specialized grooming needs. And it should receive training and socialization ideally from a young age.


Plan to spend at least one to two hours per day exercising your Griffon Nivernais. Long walks, jogging, cycling, and hiking all are ideal activities to burn some of this breed’s energy. Plus, dog sports, such as tracking, can provide mental challenges. 

Always keep your Griffon Nivernais on a leash or in a securely fenced area when outdoors. This breed has a high prey drive. And it might ignore recall commands in favor of chasing a small animal or other perceived prey.


The Griffon Nivernais’s coat should be brushed weekly to remove loose fur. The coat naturally repels dirt and isn’t prone to tangling or matting. But it should be hand-stripped a couple times per year to remove dead fur. 

Because the coat stays relatively clean on its own, a bath will likely only be necessary when the dog gets dirty—generally every one to two months. But make sure to check your dog’s ears at least weekly to see whether they need cleaning. Also, plan to trim its nails every month or so. And brush its teeth every day.


Start training and socializing your Griffon Nivernais when it’s a puppy to instill good manners and prevent bad habits from forming. The breed is known for having a stubborn and independent streak. But it typically takes well to positive-reinforcement training methods. Avoid harsh corrections, which can cause your dog to shut down and refuse to learn. And be consistent in your commands; don’t let bad behaviors slide.

Aim to expose your dog to different people and other dogs from an early age to boost its comfort and confidence. The breed often gets along well with other dogs, as long as it’s had proper socialization. And while it can be reserved around strangers, having positive experiences around a variety of people can help to make it more open and friendly.

Common Health Problems

The Griffon Nivernais is generally a healthy dog breed with no known hereditary health issues. That said, it still can develop age-related health issues that affect many dogs, such as arthritis.

Diet and Nutrition

Always have fresh water accessible for your dog. And feed it a high-quality canine diet. It’s typical to feed two measured meals per day to ensure proper nutrition. But you should always discuss both the type of food and the amount with your vet. Age, activity level, and other factors can influence a dog’s dietary needs. In addition, be mindful of treats and other extra food to avoid overfeeding your dog.

Where to Adopt or Buy a Griffon Nivernais

Depending on where you live, it can be extremely difficult to locate a Griffon Nivernais at a rescue organization or reputable breeder. The breed still has very limited numbers. As such, it’s difficult to gauge how much a responsible breeder would charge on average for a puppy.

For further information to help you in your search for a Griffon Nivernais, check out:

Griffon Nivernais Overview

  • Typically a healthy breed

  • Good for outdoorsy owners

  • Generally affectionate with family

  • High prey drive

  • Can be stubborn about training

  • Needs specialized grooming

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

Before bringing home a Griffon Nivernais, do thorough research to make sure the breed is right for your lifestyle. Talk to Griffon Nivernais owners, rescue groups, reputable breeders, and veterinary professionals.

If you’re interested in similar breeds, check out:

There’s a whole world of potential dog breeds out there—with a little research, you can find the right one to bring home!

  • Are Griffon Nivernais good family dogs?

    The Griffon Nivernais is moderately tolerant of kids and can be good for a household with respectful older children. However, it should always be supervised around young children.

  • Are Griffon Nivernais aggressive?

    The Griffon Nivernais can be reserved around strangers. But with proper training and socialization this does not typically turn into aggression.

  • Are Griffon Nivernais good apartment dogs?

    The Griffon Nivernais is best for a home where it has access to an outdoor space to run freely. The breed is often too active and vocal for apartment living.