The region of Picardy is located in northern France. Its wetlands, fertile plains of grain and sugar beet and lush woodlands all provide ideal cover for game birds. With the River Somme at its heart, its wetlands provide a perfect natural habitat for waterfowl.
After a period of evolution in the 19th Century, the various épagneuls (spaniels) of France were separated into distinct breeds. In 1907, as the French Spaniel began to subdivide into separate regional varieties, the Picardy Spaniel was officially recognized as a distinct breed. Its standard was drawn up in 1908 and has remained largely unchanged to this day.
When the First World War broke out in 1914, the region of Picardy became ground zero for some of the most intense battles of the conflict. Incredibly, the Picardy Spaniel survived despite the absolute devastation of the area. The Second World War proved even more difficult for the breed than the First. When it was over, the Picardy Spaniel had almost disappeared. Fortunately, a small group of breeders, led by former breed club president François Prin, united to save it.
By the 1980s it was clear that their efforts had paid off. The number and quality of the dogs had improved considerably. Picardy Spaniels were winning field trials, dog shows and the admiration of more and more hunters, especially in the north of France.
Today, the breed remains virtually unknown outside of France but enjoys a well-deserved reputation among French hunters as a solid gundog, well equipped for hunting in difficult conditions and terrain.
Formed in 1921, the Club de l’Épagneul Picard was amalgamated with the Club de l’Épagneul Bleu de Picardie in 1938, and with the Club de l’Épagneul de Pont-Audemer in 1980. Today the Club des Épagneuls de Picardie et de Pont-Audemer is a small but relatively dynamic club, hosting tests, trials and conformation events for all three breeds every year.
In Canada and the US, the breed is recognized by the North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association (NAVHDA). It is not currently recognized by the Canadian or American Kennel clubs and the NAPSA has no plans to seek recognition of the breed by either registry.