The Artois Hound is a rare dog breed of dog, and a descendant of the Bloodhound. A scent hound 22-23 inches high at the withers, weighing anything between 55 and 65 pounds, it is a well constructed dog with a slow graceful gait. It has a large, strong head, a medium-length back and a pointed tail that tends to be long and sickle-shaped. Their ears are set at eye level; they have large prominent eyes and quite thick lips.
This breed, formerly named Picard, was much appreciated in ancient hunting at the time of Henry IV of France and Louis XIII of France, and much sought after. Selincourt already made much of it, wondering and amazed to see these dogs pulling a hare which had passed by one hour ago in dry weather. Le Couteulx de Canteleu, in Manuel de Vénerie Française (1890), (Manual of French Hunting - 1890), praises also the Artois hound. He reports that the artesian breed of his time was crossbred and difficult to find pure but, in spite of that, it still remained one of the best breeds for hare hunting.
Northern France, bordering the English Channel, consists of the historical regions of Artois Hound. Hounds from this region stem from some of the earliest types.The Artois Hound was a favorite by the 17th century. The Prince Alexandre de Gray wrote to the Prince de Galle, in 1609, of his intention to "send a pack of little d'Artois dogs to the king ..." In fact, this small French hound may have contributed to the formation of the Beagle in England.By the 19th century it became popular among French hunters to avail themselves of the dogs from the British Isles. With the importation of many British types, the inevitable crossbreeding resulted in the deterioration of the pure Artois Hounds. Crossing also took place with the taller, more elegant, longer, scroll-eared hounds called Normands (now extinct). During the 19th century, only the packs kept at Chantilly and those of the Prince de Conde retained the ancient type.In the 1880s, Ernest Levair and his cousin, M. Therouanne, began a 20-year effort to breed the original d'Artois, removing the last of the Normand blood.Their efforts resulted in great success. At the end of the 19th century and at the beginning of the 20th, M. Levoir in Picardy had attempted the re-establishment of the old Artois type without really succeeding. During that period and until the beginning of the First World War, it was another Picard breeder, Mr. Mallard, who dominated the raising of the breed. But if he produced very pretty dogs, as witnessed by his numerous awards in canine shows, they were not always in the type conformed with the description given by contemporary authors. For all their efforts however the Second World War was very damaging for the breed and after the Second World War, it was believed that the Artois was all but extinct.By the middle of the 20th century the breed had nearly disappeared, however in the 1970s a few aficionados
, in particular Mr. Audrechy, (of Buigny les Gamaches in the Somme), decided to reconstitute the breed from a few remaining specimens which they located after along search. Thanks to their efforts the modern day Artois hound closely resembles the original. There are now about 500 dogs registered in their stud books, making a strong comeback since 1975.
There are no known health problems that are specific to the Artois Hound. Any health problems it may develop can be found in most other dog breeds. These dogs may have a maximum life expectancy of 13 years.