Although not officially recognized by the United Kennel Club until 1991, the grand bleu de Gascogne, or French staghound, is a scent hound with a long history. This muscular dog looks much like a more modern canine, the bluetick coonhound. Though the two are related, there are several notable differences between the breeds include size, speed, head shape and a dewlap on the grand bleu, something much less noticeable on the coonhound.
Old Breed and New Breed
The grand bleu de Gascogne is an old breed with a lineage that can be traced to the original scent hounds of the Phoenicians and Gauls. The bluetick coonhound’s history begins much more recently, and in fact, lists the grand bleu de Gascogne as an ancestor, along with the English foxhound. Once, the dog was known as the English coonhound, but bluetick breeders broke away from their English counterparts in 1945 due to different views on hunting styles.
Subtle Physical Differences
Differences in appearance are subtle, but they can be found. Both the bluetick coonhound and the grand bleu de Gascogne are muscular and sport smooth, glossy coats of white fur heavily mottled with blue or black spots and freckles, known as ticking. According to the American Kennel Club breed standard, the bluetick’s head is broad, and there is only a "slight trace" of the dewlap, the flap of skin under the neck. The grand bleu de Gascogne, according to the United Kennel Club standard, has a "narrow skull" and a well-developed dewlap.
Big Bleu and Smaller Bluetick
The most obvious difference between the two breeds may be their sizes. Though their heights are comparable, the grand bleu de Gascogne is the much heavier of the two breeds, with males standing 25½ to 27½ inches in height at the withers and weighing between 80 and 110 pounds on average. Bluetick coonhound males usually stand between 22 and 27 inches high and weigh 55 to 80 pounds. Females of both breeds are slightly smaller.
Hunting at Different Speeds
Both breeds were developed to hunt game, but the bluetick coonhound was developed in part because American hunters found the grand bleu de Gascogne too slow on the trail. Breeding the ancient dog with quicker breeds such as the English foxhound produced a dog who could trail game at a faster pace while maintaining the endurance and cold-trailing ability for which the grand bleu de Gascogne is known.
Personality and Temperament
Both dogs are described as even-tempered, with the grand bleu de Gascogne's personality ranging from reserved to outgoing. As this breed is often taken on hunts with other scent hounds and their handlers, this easygoing nature is important. Blueticks share the grand bleu's even temperament and love to hunt or participate in other high-energy activities. Their affectionate, loyal natures make blueticks good family dogs, as well.
Based outside Pittsburgh, Jamie Rankin began her career as a professional writer as a news and sports journalist with the "Daily Courier," a subsidiary of the "Pittsburgh Tribune-Review." Her work has appeared in both publications. Rankin, who holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism and communications from Point Park University, has been writing sports and pet-related articles online since 2004.