The Braque du Puy was a breed of pointing dog native to France. The Braque du Puy was known for its refined, sight hound-like appearance and its skill as a hunting companion. The Braque du Puy was relatively popular at one point although it never achieved the numbers or fame of some other French Braques. The Braque du Puy is now generally considered extinct, although a few fanciers insist that the breed continues to exist in remote regions of Europe, and Braque du Puys are even occasionally offered for sale through rare breed dealers although these dogs are likely recreations rather than the original breed. The Braque du Puy is also known as the Braque Dupuy, the Dupuy Pointer, and the Du Puy Pointer.
Very little is known for sure about the origins of the Braque du Puy, and most of what is claimed is little more than rumor and suspicion. What is clear is that the dog originated in France at some point in the 1800’s, and that it was a member of the Braque family. Braque is the French name for Pointer. Unlike in England where all Pointers were considered the same breed, the French developed numerous different Braque varieties. The ancestry of the Braques is quite disputed. Some claim that these dogs were descendants of the Spanish Pointer or the Portuguese pointer; others believe that they may have been descended from the Pointer of England. There are also those who think that the Braques were developed within France from native Hound breeds. Whatever the truth, Braques were common throughout France by the 19th Century. Their primary purpose was to find birds with their sense of smell and then point at them to alert their owner as to their location. The birds would then be shot and depending on the location and the breed of Braque, the dog would then retrieve the dead birds and bring them to its master.
At some point in the 1800’s, a new variety of Braque was developed that became known as either the Braque du Puy or Braque Dupuy. There is a substantial amount of disagreement as to how these dogs were developed and how they got their name. The most common story for their origin is that the Braque du Puy was developed by crossing a sight hound with another breed of Braque, most likely the Braque Francais, with some type of sight hound, known in French as Levriers. Many claim that the breed was developed by two brothers with the last name Dupuy or du Puy. There are many variations of this story, and in several the brothers are named Homere and Narcisse. Allegedly living in Poitiers, France, the du Puy brothers owned a liver and white Braque Francais female by the name of “Miss.” These brothers acquired a male Sloughi from a soldier named Roy. Named Zidar, this Sloughi originally came from North Africa and was acquired by Roy while on duty there. They bred Miss and Zidar together, giving rise to the Braque du Puy which was named for them. There does not seem to be any evidence confirming or denying this story, and any or all elements of it may be true. It is also possibly that it is completely made up. Another story tells of a French gamekeeper by the name of du Puy. This gamekeeper was supposedly a dedicated servant of the King of France and was charged with keeping a kennel of French Setters. These Setters were the descendants of English Setters which had been imported to France. Du Puy allegedly managed to maintain his kennel of French Setters throughout the French Revolution and its bloody aftermath. The hardships wrought by the revolution caused the French Setter to go extinct everywhere else in France. This meant that Du Puy had to extensively cross his dogs with other gun dogs such as Braques to maintain them. In honor of his efforts, the resulting breed became known as the Braque du Puy in his honor.
It is quite possible that the Braque du Puy has nothing to do with anyone named du Puy or Dupuy. Puy is a term used in the South of France to describe volcanic hills and less commonly the volcanoes themselves. There are numerous places in France named Puy, much like there are many places in England and America with hill in the name. The Braque du Puy may have been developed in any of these locations, or perhaps was simply frequently used in areas where they are prevalent. This may be the origin of its name. If so, the breed was probably developed by a single hunter or small group by crossing Braques with either some type of sight hound or possibly a type of Setter. It is perhaps most likely that the sight hound used was in fact a Sloughi, as the French military occupied Algeria, the Sloughi’s homeland, beginning in 1830. A sizable number of Sloughis were imported into France in the 1800’s, many by returning servicemen.
The Braque du Puy was a very refined looking dog. This made it relatively popular throughout France during the 19th Century, although the breed was always most closely associated with Poitou, a marshy region located on France’s western coast. Some have claimed that the breed was known there prior to 1808, but it is unclear what this claim is based on. The Braque du Puy was said to be ideally suited for working in marshy climates, although it is unclear if it had any specialized adaptations for such environs. The Braque du Puy was apparently very rare outside of France, but it may have been introduced to a few neighboring countries.
The Braque du Puy was well-known to French sportsmen, but was never nearly as popular with them as many other breeds of Braque. It is possible that the breed did not possess the keen nose of many other family members as a result of sight hound ancestry. The breed maintained a following well-into the 20th Century. It is almost certain that breed numbers were decimated by World War I and World War II, as were the populations of virtually every large French breed. It is quite possible that these conflicts reduced the population of Braque du Puys to such a low level that the breed could not recover. Bred almost entirely as a working dog, the Braque du Puy was never a regular entrant into French show rings. In the early 1960’s, there was some interest in reviving the breed. A written standard was published in 1963 and accepted by several canine organizations. However, it is unclear whether the breed was even still in existence when the standard was published, which may have been based on reports of a dog that was already extinct.
There is substantial disagreement as to what became of the Braque du Puy. Some claim that the dog was extinct by the end of World War II. Others think that a few breed members continued to live on until the late 1960’s or early 1970’s, when they eventually died out. The consensus among the dog experts is that the Braque du Puy was extinct by the end of the 1970’s. There are a small number of fanciers who claim that the Braque du Puy never went extinct. They believe that it continued to live on in remote areas of Europe. These fanciers will occasionally offer a Braque du Puy for sale through rare breed dealers. In fact, the Braque du Puy continues to be recognized by several rare breed associations across the world. Most (but not all) respected experts think such claims are completely false and that any Braque du Puys offered for sale are either recreations or mixed breed dogs.
The Braque du Puy looked exactly like what it was purported to be, a cross between a Braque and a sight hound. This breed was known for its very refined appearance. The Braque du Puy was a medium-sized dog, generally standing between 25 and 27 inches tall at the shoulder and weighing about 66 pounds. The dog was very lightly built, with thin legs and a long, narrow tail. The dog did have a deep, powerful chest, but not to the extent of other Pointers. The Braque du Puy had a long, narrow head and muzzle like a sight hound, but with the bulbous shape and pronounced stop of the Pointers. The lips were relatively tight, with no loose skin. The ears were relatively but not excessively long, and hung down close to the head. The hair of the Braque du Puy was quite short. It was mostly smooth to the touch but was often significantly courser on the back. The Braque du Puy was primarily a white dog, but always had tan or liver markings. These markings were usually quite large and blotchy, with same-color ticking in between.