The Braque Saint Germain

I have a real soft spot for the French breeds of pointing dogs. One of my favorites is the Braque Saint Germain. But I must say tracing its history and reviewing its current situation has been like following the tracks of a roller coaster. From a royal beginning in the court of a French king to a series of gut-wrenching ups and downs, the breed has flirted with fame, fortune – and extinction – for over a hundred years.

Currently, we are in an upturn. From an all-time low of just a few years ago, it looks like things are set to improve dramatically over the next few years.


Because Xavier Thibault is back.

Xavier is a hunter and gifted dog trainer who has amassed an impressive collection of awards. He is also the polar opposite of a diplomat. He’s the kind of guy that will tell you straight up what he thinks of your dog’s hunting abilities…good or bad. That sort of honesty can cause ripples in any breed. In a breed dominated by show breeders and non-hunters, it can cause a lot of panties to get all bunched up.

For over 20 years, Xavier did his best to breed top quality Braque Saint Germain and raise the overall hunting qualities of the breed. But several years ago, facing an impasse with the breed club and a series of personal difficulties Xavier abandoned dog breeding entirely; and the Braque Saint Germain lost the last hard-core breeder of world class hunting dogs.

Fast forward to December of 2009. A notice appeared on one of the French gundog forums that I frequent announcing that Xavier was back. He’d bred a litter of pups from a combination of two of the lines he established when he was active. The pups represent a new start of his kennel and the culmination of over 20 years of dedication to the breed as a hard hunting gundog.

So what is a Braque Saint Germain like? Well I’ve seen a few over the years and I can honestly say that the dogs from Xavier’s line are head and shoulders above anything else in the breed. Comparing them to the average Saint Germain is like comparing a late model Ferrari to a Minivan with bald tires and empty gas tank.

When I first saw his dogs Muse and Malice in the field, they were, to me, exactly what a Braque Saint Germain should be. They ran fast and wide with the grace of a Pointer, yet with the ease of handling of a Braque. Around the house they were as affectionate and calm as any dog I’ve ever met. In fact, Malice had her head in my lap within five minutes of meeting me.

In terms of appearance, they do look like white and orange Pointers - almost. The head is definitely more ‘Braque’ in shape with a much less defined stop. The coat seems thicker, the muscles less pronounced. The eyes are round, the ears are rather long and attached lower on the head than those of a Pointer. My wife and I agreed that they had a softer, kinder look than many of the Pointers we’ve met.

In action they were really something to see. They ran with long, flowing strides, head held high. Their range was a comfortable 100 meters in open areas, although I am told that they would sometimes run much wider than this. Points were sudden and intense, their coulé very stylish. Compared to Pointers, there is a definite difference in the style of movement. But it is hard to describe. The Braque Saint Germains just seemed to run with a more elegant stride. Xavier explains the difference this way: “if a Pointer can be compared to Mozart, then a Braque Saint Germain would be more like Chopin.” ( for you rock and roll fans, 'if pointers are like Black Sabbath, Braque Saint Germain are more like U2)

The other Braques Saint Germain I’ve seen in field trials in the north of France where less impressive. They were not terrible, but they were definitely not in the same league. It seems that there is a deep split between show and field lines in the breed, and that’s a shame. The Braque Saint Germain deserves more: more attention from hunters, more support from its club for field activities, and more respect among hunters.

If you are interested in finding out more about the breed or about the pups Xavier has available, drop me a line or leave a comment. This may be an excellent opportunity to get in on the ground floor of a GREAT line of Braque Saint Germains that could be exactly the kind of gundog you are looking for.

Read more about the breed, and all the other pointing breeds from Continental Europe, in my book Pointing Dogs, Volume One: The Continentals


  1. I just got a rescue from a local shelter in the Chicago area that looks very similar to this breed in all photos I have seen. I however was told that this dog is a Brittany & Germain shorthair mix. I don't see the GSP in this as it has no brown. The markings are in my opinion exactly the same as the St Germain. This seems like a rare breed to be in a rescue shelter around Chicago; I wonder if there is a definitive way I can tell. Is it possible for me to send you some photos. I also think he has a run like you described - like Chopin. Thanks, Jerry

  2. I just "discovered" this breed today and henceforth this blog.
    I would appreciate any further information you can provide regarding the availability here I the USA.

  3. This looks like a terrific breed and I'd love to find out more about the breed and how to adopt one in the U.S.

    Cheers - Shanna

  4. George St. Germain, Jr.Friday, March 25, 2011

    I'm interested! saintinmo@yahoo.com

  5. Interested in seeing one for real.
    saintinmo yahoo.

  6. I have been researching various breeds in preparation to getting a new dog. After several years, I'm just now getting far enough along from the loss of my last companion to consider this. I've become very interested in the Braque St. Germain breed and have been trying to find a recommended breeder for a working stock dog. I realise this post is over a year old now; but could you provide me with any further information concerning Xavier's breeding activities?

  7. Unfortunately, it seems as though Xavier has once again curtailed his breeding activities to concentrate on other pursuits.

    Your best bet at this point would be to contact the breed club in France (I'm sure some of their members speak English) and to ask them to refer you to a breeder. Just make SURE to stick to field-bred lines and breeders who HUNT with their dogs if you want a decent hunting BSG.

  8. I just can say DogWilling described the breed totally correct. We now have our BSG since one year (although bred in Germany) and she is learning very quickly and hunts in style. We won the german VJP against Weimaraner and Large Munsterlander and now preparing her for the german HZP. She is so far fine in all subjects. We hope Your book will introduce this wonderful breed to more people.

  9. To discover the real situation of the breeding of Braque Saint Germain, see the breed club website and see the results of hounds Saint Germain in open events, ie "all races", but also all disciplines (spring, summer, autumn, solo and couples), all biotopes (wood, sugar beets, wheat, stubble, ...) and all game (partridge, pheasant, woodcock, snipe, ...).
    The results of Xavier Thibault date back almost 20 years ...! since he has not produced anything.
    That's the reality of farming Braque Saint Germain in France

    1. Thank you very much for you comment. It is nice to see that the website for the club has finally been updated. I stopped visiting it since updates were very infrequent over that last few years and the club seemed quite moribund. It is also nice to see that there are now some Braque Saint Germains competing in open trials. BRAVO! The infusion of Pointer blood seems to have had a positive effect. I hope more owners of Saint Germains will start to compete and hunt with their dogs. It is a very nice breed that deserves to be better known among hunters.

      And finally, I am aware that Xavier has not produced any litters in recent years, but dogs from his kennel are found in the pedigrees of many of today's Braque Saint Germains. When he was actively breeding, despite the fact that he was more or less the only breeder focussing on selecting Saint Germains for field trials and hunting he succeeded in producing some outstanding dogs. So it is only fair to recognize his efforts and seems rather insulting to dismiss them by saying they "date back almost 20 years".

      Thanks again for your comments!

  10. La dernière portée issue de chez moi a 5 ans aujourd'hui, ça c'est une réalité. Deuxième réalité, l’élevage a cessé il y a donc 5 ans, quand l'on veut dire de vrai vérité on se renseigne au moins un minimum. Pour les résultats oui il y en a pour le moment en demi sang (qu'un éleveur sérieux n'aurait pas sortie il aurait attendu d'avoir des chiens dans le vrai standard). Quand a se tenir au courant de l’élevage, je n'ai jamais eu le privilège d’être autoproclamé "élevage recommandé par le Club" se qui pourrait être risible de la part d'un membre du club.

    Les résultats sont là c'est indéniable, comme il y en a eu d'autres par le passé avec d'autres chiens de plusieurs élevages. Répéter ce que l'on entend n'est pas toujours une bonne chose et l'apanage des imbéciles. Un élevage et ses résultats se juge sur le temps et non sur un ou deux chiens. Avec 100 naissance le BSG restera fragile et ne se développera pas, et ce pour plusieurs raisons les "éleveurs" de BSG ont toujours un train de retard. Posez vous les bonnes questions, pourquoi le braque d’Auvergne se développe? l’Épagneul de saint usuge? le braque de l'ariége? le braque du Bourbonnais ect…? Et pourquoi d'autres marchent moins bien, Breton, Braque allemand?

    En se qui concerne l’élevage actuel je trouve qu'une retrempe est la meilleur des choses mais quelle optique par la suite sans consanguinité poussée? Quelle optique pour le développement de la race? ect... si j'ai arrêté c'est pour plusieurs raisons personnelles tout d'abords et surtout pour cause de la bétise humaine, l'humain travaillant plus pour flatter son ego que pour le bien des races. 200 ans que le BSG n'arrive pas a se sortir de son impasse et pour ma part je ne le voit pas s'en sortir avant de nombreuses années (posez vous toujours les bonnes questions).

    Je vais arrêter là, la bêtise ne mérite pas trop que l'on si attarde signé Xavier THIBAULT qui lui signe de son vrai nom