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5 things to know about the petit basset griffon Vendéen, the new ‘it’ dog

Is there a new “it” dog breed?

That might be the question some are asking now that Buddy Holly, a petit basset griffon Vendéen, took home the top prize at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show on Tuesday.

It marked the first time a dog representing the hound-type breed, known especially for their rabbit-hunting skills, earned the Best in Show prize at the event, which has been awarding the honor since 1907. Indeed, the petit basset griffon Vendéen is hardly a well-known dog, ranking 154th as the most popular breed in the U.S. (French bulldogs are No. 1).

“I never thought a PBGV would do this,” Buddy Holly handler and co-owner Janice Hayes told the Associated Press, referring to the breed by their initials.

So, what’s there to know about the new top dog’s breed? Read on:

What is the origin of the petit basset griffon Vendéen?

As the name implies, the breed comes from France — specifically Vendée, an area in the western part of the country. The American Kennel Club (AKC) says that, along with 27 other types of hounds, PBGV are still bred in France today “for their original purpose: to hunt game by scent.”

The AKC goes on to note that in the early 20th Century, Paul Dezamy, who was president of a club dedicated to the breed, established standards for them. But those specifications applied to both the larger version (or “grand”) and smaller (or “petit”) ones. By the 1950s, “the PGBV received its own standard and was regarded as a separate breed,” the AKC says.

What are the characteristics of the breed?

These are dogs with “a rough, scruffy outline and distinctive long eyebrows, beard, and moustache,” according to the Dogtime website. Size-wise, they run between 13 to 15 inches with a long body — about the right fit to track down small game like rabbits.

They also apparently pack a lot of personality into their frame. Dogtime describes them as “active, happy, curious and highly intelligent” and the kind of dogs “that need attention from people.” But there’s a warning that they “can have a mind of their own” and can try to escape. “Electric fences don’t deter a PBGV who has seen a rabbit or a squirrel just beyond,” Dogtime says.

What do owners and fans say about the breed?

They are quick to sing the praises of the dog’s cute appearance — “like a basset hound, but furry,” one owner notes on Twitter. And their cute behavior, too: They “are little comedians” says another. Still, on dog forums, some warn they can be a bit smelly and many a dog website makes note of their potential to bark aplenty.

Buddy Holly, the prize-winning petit basset griffon Vendéen, at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show Tuesday.

Getty Images.

What else should you keep in mind if you’re considering one as a pet?

They typically live between 11 and 14 years, according to the Dogbreedslist site. And they require an owner who’s willing to give them lots of exercise, says the Yourpurebredpuppy site. Their coat also requires regular brushing. “Contrary to what some breeders say, these dogs do shed and are not hypoallergenic,” adds.

What does a petit basset griffon Vendéen cost?

Expect to be charged $1,200 to $1,600 by a reputable breeder, according to Dogbreedslist, though you can always see if one is available to adopt from a shelter. But the full cost still makes the breed more affordable than the highly popular French bulldogs, which run up to $3,000.

This story originally appeared on Marketwatch

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