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24 French Dog Breeds More Charming Than Paris – The Ultimate Guide to Dogs from France

There are approximately 57 French dog breeds in the world.
Written by Richard Jeng

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of France? Fashion, French cuisine, FC Paris and most likely the Eiffel Tower. As a dog lover? I think of the 57 amazing dog breeds from France. Yes, there are that many of them and we have a lot to thank France for.

As a matter of fact, France is tied with Great Britain for producing the highest number of dog breeds! Germany follows closely with 47 dog breeds of their own. If you’re interested, check out my guide to all 31 recognized German dog breeds.

As for dogs of France, let’s dive into the 24 recognized dog breeds.

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Small French Dogs

Dog breeds from France come in all sizes, including small – or as I like to call it, fun size. They’re fantastic small dogs that have become widely popular lap dogs internationally. In this section, well group small and toy dogs together because there are so few.

What’s a small French dog? We classify these dogs as 5 to 22 pounds in weight.

1. Toy Poodle

Highlights: Lively, Intelligent, Confident

Some claim Poodles originated from Germany, however, many say they’re from France. No matter the true origin, few people can deny the charm of a Toy Poodle.

They’re adventurous and agile little dogs that know when to play and when to obey. Few toy dog breed are as smart as a Toy Poodle.


  • A Toy Poodle’s coat will never stop growing. However, they don’t shed a lot either, so regular grooming is necessary.
  • The Poodle is the national dog breed of France. Hence, the “French Poodle.”
  • Technically, the Toy Poodle was first bred in America. However, this variation originated from the Standard Poodle.

2. Lowchen

Highlights: Loving, Sociable, Optimistic

Not only are Lowchens one of the best lap dogs from France, but they’re also the most expensive dog breed. Nicknamed, the “little lion dog,” they’re charming lap dogs with a huge heart.

Like the Poodle, historians can’t seem to agree over the origin country of this breed. France or Germany? Who cares.


  • A Lowchen from a reputable breeder can cost you upwards of $10,000 USD.
  • During the middle ages, the Lowchen were popular dogs among the noblewomen of France.
  • Through Renaissance art, we know that this breed has not changed in appearance for over 500 years.

3. French Bulldog

Highlights: Playful, Alert, Docile

Frenchies are undoubtedly one of my favorite dog breeds, period. They resemble mini bull dogs but stand apart with their erect triangular ears (bat ears).

Although small, they make excellent guard dogs and don’t require much care. In other words, they’re quite adaptable and perfect for all types of environments and owners.


  • Due to their round heads and squat frames, most French Bulldogs can’t swim. Keep an eye on them near water.
  • Because Frenchies have unusual body builds, they need to breed through artificial insemination. This is likely why they cost so much.
  • These dogs have much shorter snouts than others, meaning it could be difficult to breath in warm temperatures. Don’t let them overheat and keep them cool.

4. Papillon dog

Highlights: Intelligent, Friendly, Cheerful.

Papillon dogs are one of the smartest dog breeds in the world, putting them in the same class as Labradors and Rottweilers. For this reason, they perform extremely well in agility competitions.

However, more casual owners can enjoy these dogs’ ability to pick up tricks extremely quick.  In fact, with just 5 repetitions or less!


  • Papillon in French means butterfly. They were given this name because of their wing-shaped ears.
  • According to researcher Stanley Coren, Papillons are the eight most intelligent dog breeds.
  • Not all Papillons have the butterfly ears. Some have droopy ears and they’re called the “phalene type.”

Medium French Dogs

Some of the best medium-sized dogs originated from France. Unlike Japanese dog breeds, they come in a large variety: different sizes, shapes, colors and looks. Each breed is completely unique in their own right.

What are medium-sized dogs? For the purpose of this article, we consider all dogs that weigh between 23 and 49 pounds to be medium dogs.

5. Barbet Dog

Highlights: Affectionate, Good natured, Lively

The Barbet is known for it’s almost-rectangular frame, along with a long sweeping tail and fluffy head. They’re intelligent dogs but also deceivingly athletic – able to quickly retrieve birds, ducks and other small game.

They usually have a very calm demeanor, but don’t let that fool you. They need quite a bit of exercise to maintain good health.


  • After WWII, the Barbet dog was nearly extinct. Using the few dogs left, devoted breeders successfully revived this breed.
  • The Barbet dog has an affinity towards water. Let them go for a swim and they’ll be as happy as ever.
  • At a point in time, the name barbet was a generic term for dogs with long, curly and woolly coats.

6. Basset Fauve de Bretagne

Highlights: Intelligent, Happy, Courageous.

Also known as the Fawn Colored Brittany Basset, this dog is a versatile French hunter capable to tracking small game on all kinds of terrain. The Basset Fauve has a quick step and will chase down a wild rabbit with ease.

On the other hand, their charming and warm personalities make them fantastic companion dogs for all different types of families.


  • These dogs were derived from the extinct Grand Fauve de Bretagnein during the 1800’s.
  • The word “bas” in French means low. So, “basset” means low set, which refers to their short legs.
  • Although relatively vocal dogs, the Basset Fauve de Bretagne doesn’t really bark much.

7. Braque du Bourbonnais

Highlights: Friendly, Adaptable, Calm.

The Braque du Bourbonnais is part of the pointer group and has a relatively calm demeanor. They’re the perfect balance between a hunting and family dog.

In fact, i’d say they’re most ideal for families that go on hunting trips. On the field, they’re serious workers with a keen sense of smell. However, they’re affectionate and friendly dogs at home.


  • The Braque du Bourbonnais is the oldest and most ancient breed from the pointer dog group.
  • In french, “braque” means “to point,” which refers to the type of dogs they are: pointers.
  • There is evidence tracing these dogs back to the 1500’s, where they appeared on old French artwork and in literature.

8. Braque Francais Pyrenean

Highlights: Friendly, Loyal, Intelligent.

The Braque Francais Pyrenean is the legendary French hunting dog bred to maneuver the rocky terrain of the Pyrenees mountain range. Skilled retrievers, the Francais Pyrenean also has all the traits of a loving family dog.

They’re docile, affectionate and get along with both people and other dogs. There are few French dogs as balanced as this breed.


  • Up until the 19th century, these dogs were considered to be the same as the Braque Francais Gascogne.
  • The Braque Francis Pyrenean is considered to be the ancestor to all the shorthaired pointing dog breeds today.
  • Like with some retrievers, the Braque Francis Pyrenean dogs love water and are great swimmers.

9. Brittany

Highlights: Lively, Bright, Playful.

Don’t let their playful nature fool you, the Brittany is a fierce and tireless retriever on the field. In fact, they’re one of the best gun dogs France has to offer. Brittany dogs are always bursting with energy, but also obedient when necessary.

They need a ton of exercise both mentally and physically, but make great companions when given them. My recommendation: they’re the perfect dogs for any outdoorsy family or single owner.


  • These dogs originate from the most western region of France – also called Brittany.
  • Brittany dogs frequently appeared in paintings by famous French, Dutch and Flemish artists, suggesting they were popular dogs in the 17th century.
  • They were originally bred to be the most versatile bird retrievers – and they were.

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10. Grand Basset Griffon Vendéen

Highlights: Independent, Cheerful, Sociable.

The Grand Basset Griffon Vendéen, or GBGV for short, is a rugged and sturdy dog who loves nothing more than to work. In fact, they’re some of France’s best scent dogs and they don’t tire easily.

Give them a scent and they’ll track for hours. Outside of their “work,” the GBGV is a consistent and stable dog you can depend on. They’re as great for families and they are for the search and rescue squad.


  • These dogs were hunting dogs for the poor. The GBGV’s short legs allowed poor hunters that couldn’t afford horses to keep up with them.
  • It wasn’t until 1990 that the GBGV officially made it to the United States. The first litter gave birth just four years later.
  • GBGV dogs are trained in the US and Europe for professional mantrailing, which is following the scent trails to find people.

11. Griffon Fauve de Bretagne

Highlights: Intelligent, Optimistic, Determined.

The Griffon Fauve de Bretagne is a determined hunting breed capable of tracking down all types of game in a variety of terrain. They take their hunting jobs seriously and it shows when they’re out there.

Aside from hunting, these dogs also make excellent family pets. They have a bright and cheerful personality with a lot of loyalty. Tricks and obedience are no problem with these dogs, as they are very eager to please the owners.


  • Due to the extinction of native wolves, these dogs were nearly wiped out without a job. However, they were successfully revived in the 1940’s by a group of enthusiasts.
  • The GFDB are relatively common dogs in France, but a rare sight outside Europe.
  • Like the Brittany dog, the Griffon Fauve de Bretagne also originated from the Brittany region of France.

12. Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen

Highlights: Alert, Lively, Cheerful.

Among all French dog breeds, the Petit Basset is certainly the most animated and lively. Great with kids, the PBGV is also renowned for being skillful rabbit hunters.

They’re top-tier hunters and proudly know it too. When at home, they’re sociable and affectionate especially in a good home environment.


  • The PBGV’s coat, mustache, eyebrows and beard were specifically bred to protect them from the harsh terrain of coastal France.
  • These dogs are nicknamed “the happy breed” due to their constant cheerful personalities.
  • King Louis XII had several of these dogs in the late 15th century. In fact, the PBGV was called “Chiens Blancs du Roi,” which meant “King’s white hounds.”

13. Standard Poodle

Highlights: Very Intelligent, Lively, Proud.

As the official breed of France, the Poodle is an active and versatile French dog known for extreme dog intelligence. In fact, they’re the second smartest breed – only behind the Border Collie.

Poodles have bright personalities and can be very prideful as they are indeed graceful and noble-like dogs. For ambitious owners, Poodles make some of the best show dogs in the world.


  • A Poodle’s coat serves the purpose of protecting vital organs and areas while swimming in water.
  • Elvis Presley was a huge fan of Poodles. Not only did he own one (Champagne), but he also frequently gave them away to all the women of his life.
  • The standard Poodle is ranked as the second most intelligent dog breed – only the Border Collie ranks higher.

14. Pyrenean Shepherd

Highlights: Passionate, Devoted, Alert.

The Pyrenean Shepherds are ancient herding dogs originating from the Pyrenees mountain ranges of France’s borders. Though they look like calm companion dogs, they’re actually tough and agile herders.

They bring a lot of enthusiasm and energy to the table and can be a handful for some owners. Keep these vigorous dogs occupied and you’ll have a brilliant family dog that’s fully committed.


  • There are no official historic records of breeding the Pyrenean Shepherd. However, historians estimate they may have been around for over 6,000 years.
  • During World War I, these dogs served as couriers (delivery dogs) and search and rescue dogs for the French Army.
  • A Pyrenean Shepherd managing a 500 sheep flock will run almost a marathon a day.

Large French Dogs

France is home to some of the most famous large dog breeds. From the Bloodhound to the Great Pyrenees, large French dogs have become popular all around the world.

In addition, they’ve been utilized as excellent police dogs as well. If you’re looking to keep a large breed, i’d take a long hard look at these dogs.

Whats’ a large dog breed? We classify the dogs in this section as 50 pounds and up. Some of which, reach over 100 pounds in weight!

15. Basset Hound

Highlights: Docile, Patient, Stubborn.

Though the Basset Hound is a borderline large/medium dog, an adult male can reach up to 65 pounds. With long droopy ears and a charming personality, the Basset Hound has received a lot of love from international dog fans.

They may look a little funny, but make no mistake – these dogs have a strong core and a powerful stance. The stamina in Basset Hounds means they’re able to tirelessly track down deers and rabbits with their sharp nose.


  • Basset Hounds have 220 million smell receptors in their nose. This gives them one of the best noses among all dogs – second to only the Bloodhound.
  • Their droopy ears help bring scents to their face, while the loose skin on the chin (dewlap) helps trap scents.
  • In 2011, a Basset Hound named Victoria was elected co-mayor of Concord, Ontario (Canada).

16. Beauceron

Highlights: Calm, Loyal, Obedient.

The Beauceron is truly a favorite among women and families. They’re powerful yet compassionate and sensitive dogs. Their loyalty makes them outstanding protectors of the home, especially with children.

Despite these family-oriented traits, the Beauceron dogs were bred to be competent herding dogs. With that said, these muscular 100-pound dogs need extensive socialization and obedience training to make awesome companions.


  • The Beauceron dog was used to develop the Doberman Pinscher.
  • Their droopy ears help bring scents to their face, while the loose skin on the chin (dewlap) helps trap scents.
  • In 2011, a Basset Hound named Victoria was elected co-mayor of Concord, Ontario (Canada).

17. Berger Picard

Highlights: Devoted, Cheerful, Vigilant.

Some owners will tell you that the Berger Picard is the best problem solver in the dogdom. With an independent-minded personality and a stubbornness, it’s not hard to believe this.

At times, it seems like these intelligent herding dogs have unlimited energy. So, it’s important to keep these dogs stimulated physically to prevent destructive behavior. Berger Picards are best for owners with an active lifestyle.


  • Historians believed the Berger Picards were brought to the northern region of France in 400 B.C.
  • After World War II, few could spare enough food to feed large dogs like the Berger Picard, thus nearly putting them into extinction. They were successfully revived in 1950.
  • They were popular in northern France in a region called Picardy, hence the name. At one point, they were called Picardy Shepherds instead.

18. Bloodhound

Highlights: Affectionate, Curious, Self-determined.

Bloodhounds are world famous for their amazing noses. They do one thing better than any other dog – finding lost people. When off duty, these dogs are stellar family dogs.

Despite popular belief, Bloodhounds are quite sociable creatures and love being around family, especially kids. Training these dogs isn’t recommended for novice owners, but if properly trained they’re some of the best dogs France has to offer.


  • It’s estimated that the Bloodhound has nearly 300 million scent receptors, giving them the best nose in the dogdom.
  • The Bloodhound can follow a scent for 130 miles even 300 hours after the scent has left the area.
  • In the United States, a Bloodhound’s nose-work results are considered reliable and admissible in a court of law.

19. Briard

Highlights: Affectionate, Confident, Loyal.

Dog owners looking for a true companion dog – look no further. The Briard is a devoted and loving dog with a lot of heart. They enjoy being around people and playing with family members, especially with the children.

On the field, they’re capable and skilled herders, often herding hundreds of sheep. Briards possess all the best traits of herding dogs: trainable, hardworking and intelligent.


  • French military leader Napoleon had a strong dislike for dogs. Despite this, he was a fan of the Briard dog breed.
  • As the third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson owned and loved these dogs. He’s credited with bringing the Briard to America.
  • Prior to working as calm herding dogs, Briards were used to protect livestock from wolves and poachers.

20. Dogue de Bordeaux

Highlights: Friendly, Devoted, Brave.

The Dogue de Bordeaux, or Bordeaux Mastiff, is arguable the king of French guard dogs. These massive dogs easily top over 100 pounds with an intense muscular build.

Not only are they affectionate towards the family, but they also have great protective instincts. When it’s time to protect, they’ll courageously jump into action. However, they’re quite sensitive and sweet dogs in the home.


  • The Dogue de Bordeaux is the most ancient French dog breed. They existed before France was officially France.
  • These French dogs are known to be serious droolers. Seriously, they drool a lot.
  • Folklore says the Dogue de Bordeaux was brought to France by Julius Caesar since they were used as Roman war dogs.

21. French Spaniel

Highlights: Calm, Confident, Sociable.

There’s not a lot to dislike with the French Spaniel, if any. They’re a very balanced breed and make great companions or hunters.

French Spaniels often have a very calm and docile demeanor with a deep love for all animals – people, dogs or cats. When on the field, they’re enthusiastic retrievers, but can also be affectionate dogs at home.


  • By the 20th century, the French Spaniel was nearly extinct. However, the breed was almost single handedly saved by a French priest, named Father Fournier.
  • The French Spaniel is a relatively new dog breed in the United States. In fact, these dogs didn’t make it there until 1997.
  • Among all spaniel dogs, the French Spaniel is the largest from the group.

22. Great Pyrenees

Highlights: Vigilant, Patient, Gentle.

Although larger in size, the Great Pyrenees is like a white Golden Shepherd: patient, calm and friendly. They’re massive working dogs bred to protect livestock from pesty wolves.

For that reason, Great Pyrenees dogs are fantastic guardians of the home. There aren’t many animals that would want to see this powerful bear-like beast charging at them with their deceptively quick sprints.


  • The Great Pyrenees is so ancient that archaeologists have found fossils of these dogs dating back between 1800 to 1000 B.C.
  • These dogs are nocturnal by nature. They were originally bred to protect livestock while the shepherds were asleep at night.
  • The Great Pyrenees were considered royal dogs in France. At one point, King Louis XIV had declared the Great Pyrenees as the Royal Dog of France.

23. Porcelaine

Highlights: Independent, Lively, Strong.

Porcelaines are highly adaptable hunting dogs perfect for all types of people. Not only are they fierce hunters, but also an obedient and loyal companion.

Unlike most hunting dogs, it’s relatively easy to train a Porcelaine, making them great for novice owners. When properly trained, these dogs are fantastic at home and get along with children or other dogs.


  • According to historians, the Porcelaine dog is the oldest French scent hound still in existence today.
  • The French Revolution put the Porcelaine extinct. However, they were reconstructed and successfully revived post war.
  • Historians believed the Porcelaine made its way to the United States as a gift from French royalty to President George Washington.

24. Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

Highlights: Affectionate, Trainable, Loyal.

These diligent sporting dogs are second to none when it comes to retrieving. Also known as the “supreme gun dog,” the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon is always eager to perform its job.

At home, they’re loving and affectionate. However, they require a decent amount of exercise and grooming. Although they don’t shed much, their wiry coats need brushing to remove debris if they’ve been playing outside.


  • The Wirehaired Pointing Griffon have webbed feet and are some of the best swimmers in the dogdom.
  • Although this dog breed has Dutch origins, most of the development was done in France.
  • Many believed that renowned Greek historian, Xenophon, mentioned this dog back in 500 B.C. They’re more ancient than you think!

Finding a French Dog Breed

Looking for a French breed from this list? You’re in luck. All these dog breeds are recognized by the FCI and/or more importantly, the American Kennel Club. For this reason, you should be able to find these dogs with relative ease.

The first step that I always recommend is to look in your local animal shelter. However, unless you’re looking at a Poodle or a Basset Hound, it may be pretty difficult to find your breed.

These French dogs aren’t as popular as the German Shepherds or Labradors, so it may take some time to find one – if ever. But with a little persistence, you should have no problem.

After you’ve looked through shelters, look online for a specialist breeder. More often than not, you may be able to find a breeder, but not close by. If you have your hearts set on one of these dogs, be prepared to travel a bit.

Reputable Breeders

It’s important to find a reputable breeder when looking into special dogs, such as these French dogs. Because many people become a bit desperate when looking for less common breeds, they resort to non-reputable breeders.

However, there are so many benefits in finding an experienced and responsible breeder.

First, you will have access to the history of your future puppy. This means the medical information of the pup’s bloodline. Any potential ailments or diseases can be verified with a reputable breeder. Unless you’re adopting, never buy a dog without checking out the pedigree.

What’s great about these reputable breeders is that they’re true professionals. You’ll have access to their knowledge and expertise. Raising a puppy can be a difficult task, so it’s probably a good idea to keep an expert on hand.

And lastly, reputable breeders follow the breed standard. Sleep well knowing that you’re getting what you paid for.

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About the author

Richard Jeng

Richard has been raising dogs his whole life, including a Poodle, Pomeranian, Corgi and Australian Shepherd. He's always working with animal shelters and dog rescues because of his passion for all dogs. Fun fact: his all time favorite breed is the German Shepherd. Read More.

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