How is "Picardy" pronounced?
PI-car-dee (emphasis on the PI). You can hear an English narrator saying it in this cool video about the cathedrals of the region.
Why is the breed so rare?
Short version: The Picardy Spaniel was developed in a part of northern France that was ground zero for two world wars. Obviously, building a strong population of hunting dogs and attracting the attention of the gundog world is not easy when you are just trying to survive the next artillery barrage.
Since the 1960s the breed has gained a lot of ground but Picardy Spaniels are still bred the old-fashioned way; mainly in the homes of hunters who produce a litter or two every couple of years from their personal hunting companions. One of the goals of the Alliance is to help the breed establish a viable breeding population of Picardies for North American hunters. But we want to avoid the problems that rapid growth and too much popularity can bring. Our breeders will follow the lead of our French counterparts, hunters producing a litter or two every couple of years from their personal hunting companions. Long version here.
Is the Picardy Spaniel a pointing breed? I thought spaniels were flushing breeds?
Short version: The French use the word "épagneul" for almost any breed of pointing dog that has a long coat. So to French hunters, a Small Munsterlander is a Petit Épagneul de Munster, a German Longhaired Pointer is an Épagneul Allemand, and in the past French hunters even called English Setters Épagneul Anglais. However in English, the word "spaniel" came to be used only for flushing breeds like Springers and Cockers. And that is why it is confusing to see a pointing breed with the word "spaniel" in its name. But the fact is, there are actually more breeds of spaniels (épagneuls) that point than breeds of spaniels that flush! Long version here.
Where can I see videos of Picardie Spaniels in action?
There are a few videos on Youtube and more to come. Here is one of a Picardy Spaniel named Léo (Leroi de Chez Maurice) in action in Manitoba. The video has a question and answer format and features Léo hunting in the field, forest and water.
Here is another video, this one in French (with English subtitles at the beginning). It show a number of Picardy Spaniels in action their homeland.
What is the typical pace and hunting range of a Picardy?
Picardies tend to have a classic 'continental' hunting style. They run at an 'all-day' galloping pace instead out to a range of about 100 metres in open fields. In tighter cover, they will shorten up their search, reaching out to 20-50 metres or so. Naturally there is some variation in the breed, some run faster and bigger, others not as fast and not as far.
Are Picardies good retrievers?
It is very unusual to hear of a Picardy that does not have a strong natural desire to retrieve. Yes, there are probably some that lack the desire to fetch, but in general, a well-bred Picardy Spaniel makes a good retriever of downed upland birds, waterfowl and even furred game.
Do Picardies like to swim?
Personally, the only water work problem I have with my Picardy is getting him OUT of the water! Most Picardies love the water and are strong, eager swimmers. But, like all breeds, there is some variation. There probably are some Picardies out there that are less keen on water work, but they would be the exception rather than the rule.
Are Picardies good with kids?
The typical Picardy is a gentle, easy-going family companion, so they are usually very good with kids. However no dog should be left with small children unattended. Even the sweetest dog and the best-behaved child are at some risk if left alone.
Are Picardies good guard dogs?
Nope. Most are way too friendly for anything beyond barking at the mailman.
Why should I get a Picardy instead of another breed?
The key to happiness in the field and the home is finding the right dog for YOU.
You should consider a Picardy if you need/want:
- A dog that is easy to handle in the field, has a medium-speed, close-to-medium-range search, strong desire to retrieve on land and water.
- A dog with a lot of natural hunting ability that requires very little training beyond just taking it to the field to hunt.
- A dog that is calm, good natured and easy to live with.
- A dog with a long coat and/or live in a region where a long coat is useful for keeping it warm.
You should NOT consider a Picardy if you need/want:
- A dog that can handle hard-core, high-pressure training.
- A big running dog that can compete in all-age trials.
- A dog that is 'sharp' on predators and/or would make a good guard dog.
- A dog that can participate in CKC or AKC shows or trials.
- A dog with a short coat, capable of hunting in hot, arid conditions for long periods of time.
How well do Picardies do in the cold? Can they handle a Canadian winter?
Picardies can do well in the cold, but they aren't Huskies. If they are active outdoors in the cold (running, playing, hunting) and have a warm, sheltered place to sleep (we suggest next to your fireplace or under the covers in your bed) they can handle a Canadian winter just fine.
Are the Picardy and the Blue Picardy the same breed?
No. They have been considered separate and independent breeds since the 1930s. And while they have a lot in common and are in the same club that represents three breeds (Picardy, Blue Picardy and Pont Audemer), there are some differences beyond just the colour of the coat. You can read about the Blue Picardy here.
Are Picardies easy to train? Could I send one to professional trainer?
Picardies tend to be 'out of the box' dogs. They are born with a lot of natural ability to run, point, fetch and swim so just letting them do what comes naturally is the best way to get them started. So if all you want to do is hunt with your Picardy, just take it to the field and let the wild birds do the teaching.
If you want to run a Picardy in higher level tests and trials and/or want it to be steady to wing and shot in the hunting field, you will need to do some additional training. Fortunately, Picardies are very cooperative dogs that want to please their owners. They can also take a certain amount of pressure in training without shutting down. That said, Picardies tend to be on the soft side, so an easy-does-it training approach works best. If you are considering sending one to a pro, avoid hard-core, high-pressure trainers like the plague. Look for a trainer that has a gentle, patient way with dogs like those that use the West method or other similar approaches.
What is involved in importing a Picardy to North America.
Short answer: See this article.
What books do you suggest I read to learn more?
For raising and training advice, we suggest two excellent books by Joan Bailey: How to Help Gundogs Train Themselves and How to Have the Best Trained Gundog. For more information on the breed (and all other pointing breeds) see Craig Koshyk's Pointing Dogs, Volume One: The Continentals.