The Billy: Aristocratic French Hound
By Michael Russell
The Billy is a French hound that is believed to have been the product of careful line breeding in the 19th century between the three ancient breeds of French hounds which are now extinct, the Larye, Ceris and Montembeufs. He is unique in that these breeds of which he is the descendant were true French Hounds and there is no Foxhound blood in the mixture. The other breeds which bear the stamp of the ancient extinct French hounds include the Poitevin and the Grand Bleu de Gascogne. His creator, M.G. Hublot du Revault wished to produce a packhound that would run deer exclusively. The resulting hound, the Billy, is a packhound but not of the type which will pursue the fox, for he on the taller side (23-26 inches at the shoulder) with a lean appearance and quite swift and has the instinctive desire to give chase to the deer. The breed bears the name of the Castle Billy, the domicile of his creator, in Poitou.
The Billy is an elegant and naturally quick hound, built for speed and with a more delicate look to his body than that of the Foxhound. He was nearly extinct after the World Wars but a pack was revived with the few remaining Billies and the addition of the Poitevin Hound and Harrier blood to keep the gene pool strong. The resulting breed continues with the original name but is still quite rare even in France and is seldom seen on the International dog show circuit. The Billy is a member of the Gundog Group of the F.C.I.
The color of the Billy is a lovely pale lemon yellow with some mottling of deep orange. He carries a short dense coat. He is aristocratic in appearance, not at all coarse. The nose is long and the muzzle is not as deep as the Foxhound. Although he has the typical hound drop ears, they are set higher on his head so he does not have the droopy or mournful expression so often associated with hound breeds. The temperament of the Billy is that of the packhound, always eager to give chase. He is said to have a light and melodious trumpeting quality to his baying which will change in tone and nature according to the proximity and size of the game he is after.
The Billy standard requires a height of 23-26 inches and a weight of 55-60 pounds. From this description one can assume that the dog is not a heavyweight in appearance. He is rather a dog which should appear elegant in stature. Like many hounds of the pack type, this dog is content to be an outdoor dog. He is not a breed which is kept as a pet but is rather housed as a pack dog and is quite happy to be in a kennel situation.
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