BILLY (French Hound) – Dog breeds

BILLY (French Hound) - Dog breeds

Billy breed character

Billy is a large, light-colored hound. As a typical hunter, he is gentle with people, including strangers, so he is not suitable as a watchman. He is a good companion for children with whom he is gentle and patient. He is usually not aggressive towards strangers, although there are conflicts between dogs of the same sex, because billy in a group like to establish a hierarchy. Due to its strong hunting instinct, it can be dangerous to small pets and those found outside.

Billy's portrait
photo: Shutterstock


Billy is first and foremost a great hunting dog with a deep and melodious voice and an excellent sense of smell. It is used for hunting deer, wild boar or roe deer. It is a great gallopen and can travel 40-50 km during a hunt. During the chase, he „plays” nicely, and the hunter can recognize, by changing the barking method, what animal the dog is approaching, whether it is near or far, etc. Billy is resistant to various climatic conditions. Not very friendly towards other dogs, often works better alone than in a group.

Two billiards on the grass, one is standing, the other is lying
photo: Shutterstock

Training and education

The training and upbringing of a billy dog ​​should begin at a young age. It is an intelligent dog and prone to training, but it has the independence typical of hounds and a strong hunting instinct, therefore learning requires patience and consistency. He can be stubborn and can be easily distracted by smells, so you need a certain feeling in driving him. On the one hand, the trainer must be firm, consistent and set clear boundaries, on the other hand, he should allow some outlet for the dog’s instincts and not expect absolute obedience from him in every situation. When released, billy can be difficult to control. In dogs kept in packs, the rules of discipline are inculcated on a daily basis, most of all being mastered before the meal is served.

Who is this breed for

As a beagle, Billy is suited to hunting and spending time outside. A lot of exercise is essential for his well-being and health. If the billy is not a hunting dog, the owner must make an effort to provide him with an appropriate dose of activity – both running and the possibility of using his nose, e.g. through tracking classes.

Billy's portrait
photo: Shutterstock

Billy can be a good family dog ​​as long as his needs are met. Requires regular movement, tolerates loneliness and being locked in a small room very badly. It is generally not recommended to keep this dog in the city. He will find his way in the countryside, but if someone takes care of him with commitment – running around the garden cannot be the only form of activity. Leaving him alone for long periods of time, being inactive and not being able to use his nose can make him depressed or unbearable.

The pros and cons of the billy breed

Billy – what is he like? Find out about its advantages and disadvantages!


  • requires a lot of exercise and occupation
  • has a strong hunting instinct
  • he is stubborn and quite independent
  • requires consistent upbringing


  • easy to care for
  • healthy and resistant
  • quite amenable to training
  • he likes children

Billy breed health

This breed is generally healthy and hardy, although some individuals can catch colds easily due to the short coat, so these dogs should stay indoors in winter. As with all dogs with large hanging turbinates, ear infections can also occur – the ears collect dirt and the inside of the ear is poorly ventilated. There are reports that the breed may have genetic problems due to a narrow gene pool, but lack of specific data on the genetic diseases encountered in the breed.


The diet should be adapted to the activity of the dog. During the hunting season, it is good for the food to be richer in fat. It is recommended to add more fatty meat or food for active dogs. It is worth supplementing food with oils, eg fish oils and vitamin E. After the hunting period, the food should be less energetic.


Billy doesn’t need time-consuming grooming. His coat is short and hard, so you only need to brush it occasionally, for example once a week or two, and more often when shedding. When the billy is muddy or dusty, you can wipe it with a damp cloth. We only bathe it when necessary.

Billy's portrait
photo: Shutterstock

The ears require more attention – they tend to get infected, especially if the dog is swimming. Check them regularly and clean them if necessary. Of course, eyes, teeth and claws also need to be checked. Depending on the needs, we clean the teeth and trim the claws. After running in the field, we also check the paws and skin, as these dogs may injure themselves by running over the bushes. We also control whether the dog has caught ticks.


For combing short hair, a rubber glove or a comb with protrusions can remove the loss of hair.

History of the billy breed

The billy breed comes from France. The „white dogs of the king” or „white official dogs” were bred by Louis XII and were used in royal packs for over two centuries. They are favorites, incl. Francis I Valois, Henry IV Bourbon and Louis XIV (XVI-XVII centuries).

The hunting dog packs were disbanded during the French Revolution (1789–1799). The „white dogs of the king” did not become extinct, but they were crossed with smaller hounds and, among others, were bred on this basis. the ceris race, used for hunting hares and wolves, and the montembœuf race for wild boars.

Billy trotting in the grass
photo: Shutterstock

At the end of the 19th century, a hunter from Poitou – Gaston Hublot de Rivault Taco decided to recreate this old breed. He named it after his estate, Billy Castle in the Borough of Billy, now incorporated into the Parish of Maisontiers. He based his breeding on three breeds, now extinct, which are also the ancestors of poitevin: ceris, montembœuf (breeds derived from the „white dogs of the king”, bred after the French Revolution) and larrye (a breed created by the Marquis de Larrye in 1692 on the basis of French hounds and the English foxhound, known for a very sensitive smell). While contemporary poitevin is more like the original tricolor larrye line, Rivault was more attracted to the pale colors typical of the ceris („cherry”) and montembœuf lines. The color of the coat was one of the main factors in selecting the founder dogs.

Billy's portrait
photo: Shutterstock

In 1886, the first billy breed standard was established. It has become quite popular in France, not only because of its hunting skills, but also because of its beautiful appearance and nice disposition. Unfortunately, the pack was dispersed in 1927, and after World War II, the existence of the breed was again questioned, as only a few dogs survived the war (sources provide numbers from 2 to 10). However, Rivault’s son, Anthony, resolved to save the breed through the judicious use of poitevin, porcelain, and harrier in breeding. It succeeded, its numbers increased, but the billy still remains a rare breed, although in native France there are several packs with which deer are hunted and two packs for hunting wild boar. The FCI recognized the breed in 1973. Outside of its home country, the billy is rarely seen.

Billy in Poland

This breed is not common in our country.

Billy breed standard

Billy – Group VI FCI, section 1.1, reference number 25

  • Country of origin: France
  • Character: a balanced dog, gentle towards people, can be conflicting towards other dogs; has a strong hunting instinct, very persistent in hunting (interestingly, the standard does not indicate the typical temperament for this breed at all)
  • Size: males 60-70 cm, females 58-62 cm
  • Weight: dogs 34-35 kg, bitches 33-34 kg
  • Robe: short, sharp to the touch, sometimes a bit rough
  • Ointment: completely white, white with a shade of „coffee with milk”, white with light orange or lemon patches or a saddle pad
  • Length of life: 10-14 years
  • Weather resistance: big
  • Maintenance costs: PLN 150-200 per month
  • Price of a pedigree dog: the possibility of acquiring a puppy only abroad

The full FCI template in force in the Polish Kennel Club (pdf)

Interesting facts about the billy breed

Billy was one of the founding breeds in the creation of the large Anglo-French white-orange hound in the late 19th century.


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