Braque du Bourbonnais
The Braque du Bourbonnais is an ancient breed. The Braque du Bourbonnais is considered one of the most ancient pointers of the pointing breeds developed in France. The breed was described in French literature as early as the late 1500’s. Even then, the breed was known for its keen hunting instincts. Like many of our contemporary pointers, the Braque du Bourbonnais is thought to have originated from the ancient Spanish pointer. Of the numerous French pointers, most experts agree that these breeds originated from the same stock, the French Pointer or Braque Francais. Each breed of pointers in France is named for the region in which they were developed. Some examples include the Braque Saint Germaine, which is the pointer from Saint Germaine. The Braque d’Auvergne is the pointer from the Auvergne region and the Braque du Bourbonnais from the province of Bourbon, a region of central France.
The word “BRAQUE” is derived from a French verb which means to aim or point, and as a noun can be translated as “pointer”.
Even in the 1500's authors described the Braque du Bourbonnais as an agreeable hunting partner that was strong–looking and very hardy. Historically the breed was required to be naturally tailless or born with a very short tail. In addition, the breeders strived for an original coat called "faded lilac". A coat with a white background completely covered by fines lines or distinctly ticked liver or fawn coloring the French call lie de vin or fleur de peche or "wine dregs" or "peach blossom". A dog that deviated from these characteristics, with a tail and/or with spots, was considered not pure and was not used for breeding. Apparently, the Braque du Bourbonnais was never a common breed, however, strict adherence to these breed requirements and the effects of two world wars nearly drove the Bourbonnais to extinction.
After the First World War, a group of dedicated breeders formed the first Club du Braque du Bourbonnais in 1925. The first breed standard was published in the club's first bulletin in 1930. The goal of this organization was to revive the breed and bring it back to its pre-war prominence. Although the organization and these breeders made considerable progress, their efforts were again nearly wiped out by the Second World War. Following WW II, the Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI) dropped the breed from its registry for lack of breeder activity.
The strict adherence to a naturally tailless dog and stringent color requirements resulted in a dog based on appearance rather than performance. Consequently, many breeders lost interest in the breed and no pups were registered from 1963 to 1973. In 1970, under direction of Michel Comte, a group of breeders joined together with a common goal – to ensure the survival of the breed. A second Club du Braque du Bourbonnais was created in 1982, with official recognition by the Society Centrale Canine (SCC), the French affiliate of FCI in 1985. The goal to revive the breed has been achieved, the breed standard was relaxed, spots and docked tails were considered acceptable and the breed’s noted hunting instincts restored. The new breed standard was fully recognized by the SCC and FCI in. 1991, the standard was then translated and published on the FCI website in 1998. Today the breed’s pointing intensity, instinct to retrieve; its great intelligence, its trainability and its passionate love for his master have been underlying goal in the breed’s restoration.
Through the dedication of these early French breeders not only has the Bourbonnais survived extinction but is now firmly established in its native country and is present in the United States, Canada, Greece, Germany, Belgium, Italy, and other countries. Today the breed is in all sense of the word a continental breed, an “all purpose” gun dog not a specialist like the English Pointers and Setters. Consequently, the Bourbonnais was developed to be a truly versatile breed, a breed with a keen nose and intense pointing instinct, an eagerness to retrieve from both land and water, and the energy and drive to track wounded game. These characteristics have now been set while retaining the breed’s calm, gentle demeanor. These characteristics combined with their small size and short coat makes the Bourbonnais an ideal home companion and pet for the family that hunts.
Contemporary Bourbonnais breeders in France are committed to avoiding the mistakes of the past. Today, French breeders strive to produce Bourbonnais that conforms to a breed standard but equally important, Bourbonnais must now be equally proficient in the field as pointers, retrievers and trackers. Since the early 1970's Bourbonnais breeders have substantially and rapidly improved the breed’s confirmation and field performance.