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History of the Blue Picardy Spaniel

Introduction
The Blue Picardy Spaniel, one of Canada's most rare breeds, is a CKC Group One Sporting Dog. Males are 55 to 62 cm at the withers and weigh 20 to 25 kg. In size, head type and overall proportions, the Blue Picardy Spaniel resembles a setter more than a spaniel. It has a ram-shaped muzzle with a prominent nose. Its eyes are expressive and dark amber in color. Its chest is deep and its legs are strong and well boned with large feet. The Blue Picardy Spaniel has a distinctive gray-black, mottled coat with black spots that is flat and straight with feathering on the ears, legs, underside and tail.

The Blue Picardy Spaniel is a versatile hunting dog that was developed to hunt, point and retrieve all types of game. It has a fine sense of smell and systematic approach to hunting. It has a strong desire to retrieve and is a capable water dog. The breed has a gentle, acquiescent, affectionate character.

Origin and History
The Blue Picardy Spaniel is a direct descendent of the old and vast family of French Spaniels. In the 14th century, Gaston Phébus and Henri de Ferrières recorded the first descriptions of the French "setting dogs" in their treatises on hunting, but it is quite probable that the Blue Picardy Spaniel originated well before that.

Over the years, the spaniels of France separated into many regional types, where size, color and hunting abilities varied according to the areas they inhabited and their owners' hunting habits. Picardie, France, particularly the area around the Bay of Somme, was a paradise for hunters of waterfowl.

Towards the end of the nineteenth century, the most avid and wealthiest hunters from Great Britain, and their dogs, crossed the English Channel to hunt in France. The Picardie marshes and sandy moors of Brittany became the favorite hunting grounds of many setter owners. Because of the implementation of the quarantine, prohibiting the re-entry of their dogs into Great Britain, some hunters boarded their setters on Picardie farms. Consequently, the Picardie spaniels were infused with English blood; most likely the blue belton English Setter, and perhaps the Gordon Setter, after 1900

The presence of the first black, blue-gray coated spaniel was recorded in 1875 but it was not until after 1900 that the "Picard Spaniel" first appeared in the dog fanciers' circle. In 1904, a Mr. Ratel showed a Picard Spaniel, officially classified as a French Spaniel, at the Paris Canine Exposition. It was not until 1907, when the Spaniel Club was founded, that specific classes were formed for each variety of spaniel.

In 1921 the Picard Spaniel and Blue Picardy Spaniel Club was formed. The Blue Picardy Spaniel was classified as a separate breed because of its distinctive "grayish-black mottled" color and its blue rather than brown skin pigmentation. In Europe, the breed was recognized as a distinct race in 1938. The Canadian Kennel Club officially recognized the Blue Picardy Spaniel in 1995.

Don Fath
P.O. Box 546
Black Diamond, Alberta T0L 0H0
Email: dfath@cadvision.com

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