Berger Picard

Table of Contents

  1. Statistics Table
  2. About the Berger Picard
  3. General Appearance
  4. Owning a Berger Picard – What to Consider?
  5. Berger Picard Puppies
  6. Berger Picard Activities & Dog Sports
  7. History of the Berger Picard
  8. Berger Picard Clubs
  9. Berger Picard Rescue Groups
  10. Berger Picard Facts
  11. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Berger Picard
Classification AKC (American Kennel Club): Herding
UKC (United Kennel Club): Herding
CKC (Canadian Kennel Club): Herding
ANKC (Australian National Kennel Council): Not Recognized
RKC (The Royal Kennel Club): Pastoral
FCI (Fédération Cynologique Internationale): Group 1 – Sheepdogs and Cattledogs; Section 1 – Sheepdogs
Bred For Herding, Working, Companionship
Known For Scruffy Appearance, Distinctive Erect Ears, Confidence, Observant
Popularity Low
Activities Herding, Running, Hiking, Farm Dog, Conformation Shows, Dog Sports
Measurements Height at Withers: Males 23.5-25.5 in.; Females 21.5-23.5 in.
Weight Range: Males and Females 50-70 lbs.
Coat Type: Harsh, Wiry, Shaggy, Medium Length, Protective
Color: Fawn, Brindle
Pattern: Brindle, Charbonné
Grooming: Monthly Brushing, Monthly Combing, Occasional Bathing, Periodic Nail Trimming, Regular Tooth Brushing
Temperament Alert, Good-Natured, Loyal, Observant
Expectations Lifespan: 12-13 Years
Energy Level: High
Exercise Requirements: 2 Hours/Day (Minimum), Daily Walks, Vigorous Running, Regular Exercise, Playing with Another Dog, Mental Stimulation
Breed Standards AKC Berger Picard Breed Standard
UKC Berger Picard Breed Standard
CKC Berger Picard Breed Standard
ANKC: Not Recognized
RKC Berger Picard Breed Standard
FCI Berger Picard Breed Standard
Similar Breeds Belgian Laekenois, Belgian Malinois, Briard, Dutch Shepherd

About the Berger Picard

The Berger Picard, often simply known as the Picardy Shepherd, is a rare and ancient French herding dog known for its energetic spirit and striking appearance. This breed exudes confidence and intelligence while maintaining an unmistakable rustic charm.

General Appearance

Height and Weight

Male Berger Picards typically stand between 23.5 and 25.5 inches at the shoulder, while females have a height range of 21.5 to 23.5 inches.

As for weight, adult Berger Picards typically weigh between 50 and 70 pounds.

Proportion and Substance

Berger Picards exhibit a balanced build, with their body being slightly longer than their height at the withers, especially noticeable in females. This build not only speaks to the dogs’ agility and stamina in the fields but also their history as diligent herders. The distance from the withers to the elbow equals the distance from the elbow to the ground. The breed’s sturdy bone structure and well-defined musculature are tailored for enduring work, ensuring these dogs move with agility and efficiency.

Coat Texture, Colors, and Markings

Texture: The Berger Picard sports a distinctive double coat that is both crisp and wavy, but never curly. It is medium in length, providing ample protection against various weather conditions, yet it must never appear overly refined or manicured.


  • Fawn
  • Brindle


  • Charbonné
  • Brindle

Note: The coat of the Berger Picard consists of a soft, short, and dense undercoat and a rough, shaggy outer coat that presents an unkempt appearance. A moderate beard and moustache, rough eyebrows, and a ruff on the front and sides of the neck create a distinctive look called “griffonage.” Fawn-colored dogs may be clear or have dark trim on the ears and a gray underlay on the head and body known as “charbonné.” A brindle coat can have a base color from black to light gray to fawn, with brindling that is black, brown, red, gray, or fawn. A small white patch on the chest or on the tips of the toes is acceptable. Solid black dogs or white, pied, spotted, or harlequin dogs are not acceptable in the Berger Picard.


Skull: The skull is well-defined, rectangular, and narrowing towards the eyes. A slight, sloping furrow is present between the eyes.

Expression: The Berger Picard has a frank and confident expression, often giving it an appearance of being in deep thought. The breed’s expressiveness is one of its most endearing charms.

Eyes: Almond-shaped, and of a dark hue, the eyes of the Berger Picard are lively and exude intelligence. Their placement is slightly oblique, giving the dog a unique, discerning look.

Ears: Standing upright and of medium size, the ears are set high on the head and are a hallmark of the breed. They are tipped slightly forward, always alert and ready to pick up on any sound.

Muzzle: The muzzle is parallel to the skull, strong, and tapers slightly towards the nose. It’s of equal length to the skull, showcasing the harmonious relationship of both.

Nose: The nose of the Berger Picard is always black, providing a stark contrast to its coat and enhancing the dog’s alert facial expressions.

Bite: The Berger Picard possesses a scissors bite, where the upper incisors closely overlap the lower incisors. The evenly spaced teeth are set in strong jaws, a benefit in any hard-working farm dog.


The tail of the Berger Picard is a testament to its lively nature and expressive demeanor.

The Berger Picard’s tail is strong at the base and tapers towards the tip. When at rest, it hangs down and reaches the hock. In action or when the dog is excited, the tail can be slightly curved, but it should never curl over the back. Instead, it moves in harmony with the dog’s gait, reflecting the dog’s mood and energy.

The tail of the Berger Picard left natural and is never docked. Its tip ends in a slight crook or “J” shape, never leaning to the right or left..

Owning a Berger Picard – What to Consider?

The Berger Picard is a lively and intelligent breed, bringing both joy and challenges to its caretaker. Their loyalty and affection make these dogs endearing companions, but potential owners must be prepared for their energetic and sometimes stubborn nature.

Berger Picard Health

Berger Picards are generally hearty dogs, owing to their history as hard-working herders. However, like all breeds and mixed breeds, they can be susceptible to certain health conditions. Regular veterinary check-ups, a balanced diet, and adequate exercise can help to ensure they lead a long and healthy life.

A Berger Picard typically has a lifespan of 12 to 13 years. Proper care, regular check-ups, and a loving environment can often support the likelihood of their reaching the higher end of this range.

Potential Health Risks

While the Berger Picard is known for its hardiness, there are certain health conditions to which the breed can be predisposed:

Hip Dysplasia: A common condition in many dog breeds, hip dysplasia involves an abnormal formation of the hip socket, leading to arthritis and potential pain.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): This is an eye disorder that can eventually lead to blindness.

Primary Lens Luxation (PLL): PLL is a genetic eye disorder where the lens becomes dislocated.

Heart Concerns: Some Berger Picards can face heart conditions that compromise their ability to form their role as a worker as well as a companion, so regular check-ups are essential.

Elbow Dysplasia: Similar to hip dysplasia, this is a malformation of the elbow joint that can lead to arthritis and pain.

Deafness: Some Berger Picards may be born deaf or develop hearing issues later in life.

Autoimmune Thyroiditis: This is an inherited thyroid condition common to many breeds and mixed breeds.

Dental Issues: Regular dental check-ups are essential, as some dogs may develop gum disease or other oral health problems.

Regular veterinary visits can help in the early detection and management of these and other potential health issues. It’s also beneficial for Berger Picard owners to be aware of any genetic testing or health screenings recommended for the breed.

Berger Picard Puppies

The arrival of a Berger Picard puppy can be a delightful event, filled with energy, playfulness, and those iconic, expressive ears. As with all dogs, however, there are specific considerations to keep in mind when bringing home a Berger Picard puppy.

Caring for Puppies

When raising a Berger Picard puppy, early socialization is paramount. This breed’s inherent intelligence and alert nature mean these dogs benefit greatly from positive interactions with various people, pets, and environments during their formative weeks and months.

Diet plays a critical role in a puppy’s growth. Ensure they’re fed high-quality puppy food that caters to their nutritional needs, promoting healthy bone and muscle development. Regular feeding schedules and portion control are equally important to prevent overfeeding and potential weight-related health issues.

Puppies of this breed can be quite active, so providing ample playtime, both indoors and outdoors, is crucial. However, while they may be full of energy, it’s essential to avoid strenuous activities that could harm their developing joints, such as prolonged running or jumping from heights.

Lastly, while Berger Picard puppies can be eager learners, they can also exhibit a stubborn streak. Consistent training, positive reinforcement, and patience are vital during their puppyhood to instill good behavior and manners that will carry into adulthood.

Berger Picard Activities & Dog Sports

The Berger Picard, with its history as a herding dog, possesses a natural drive for activity and work. This drive, combined with the breed’s intelligence and agility, makes this working farm dog suitable for a variety of dog sports and activities.

Herding Trials: Given their origin as herding dogs, Berger Picards excels in Herding Trials. These events test the dogs’ ability to control and manage livestock, showcasing their instinctual skills.

Agility: With their nimble footwork and keen intelligence, Agility Trials are a playground for Berger Picards. They’ll swiftly navigate tunnels, jumps, and weave poles, thriving on the challenges that this sport provides.

Obedience: Despite their occasional independent streak, with proper training, Berger Picards can shine in Obedience Trials. Their desire to please and quick learning curve can make them stand out in these precision-based events.

Rally: This sport combines elements of Agility and Obedience. Berger Picards can take to Rally (or Rally Obedience) with enthusiasm, navigating predetermined courses set with various tasks and commands.

Conformation Shows: Berger Picards are a sight to behold at Conformation Shows, where their physical attributes and confident demeanor are judged against the Breed Standard. Participation in these events not only provides an opportunity to showcase the breed to the general public, it also promotes healthy breeding practices and responsible dog care.

Participating in dog sports not only provides physical stimulation for the Berger Picard, it also offers valuable mental engagement. Regardless of the chosen activity, it’s essential to be certain it’s enjoyable for both the dog and the handler, creating a bond that’s rooted in trust and mutual respect.

History of the Berger Picard

The Berger Picard, affectionately known by some as the Picardy Shepherd, stands as one of the oldest French herding breeds, with a rich heritage deeply rooted in the Picardy region of northern France. Its lineage is believed to have originated from the herding dogs brought to Europe by the Celts during their migrations. Over centuries, these ancient dogs intermingled with local dogs, gradually evolving into the distinct Berger Picard we recognize today.

Historically, the Berger Picard’s primary role was herding livestock, especially sheep, in the fields of northern France. The dog’s agile build, combined with its sharp intellect, made it an invaluable worker. Moreover, its tenacity, loyalty, and keen alertness rendered it an excellent watchdog, safeguarding farms and families without reservation.

However, the breed faced significant challenges during the 20th century. The two World Wars, which had many of their battlegrounds in the regions where the Picard was most popular, led to a drastic decline in its numbers. The wars nearly resulted in the breed’s extinction. Following World War II, dedicated breed enthusiasts began concerted efforts to revive the Berger Picard. Despite these efforts, however, the breed remained relatively unknown outside its native region for a long time.

On the global stage, the Berger Picard gained recognition from several notable kennel clubs. The Fédération Cynologique Internationale, an international canine organization, has long championed the Berger Picard, and The Royal Kennel Club in the United Kingdom has also recognized the breed, enhancing its status on an international level. The American Kennel Club officially acknowledged the breed only in 2015, boosting its popularity in the United States.

Today, the Berger Picard’s challenging past stands as a testament to its resilience. The breed, once on the brink of extinction, has not only survived but thrived, endearing itself to dog enthusiasts worldwide. Whether on the farm as a working dog or in homes as a loyal companion, the Picard continues to capture hearts with its unique charm and rich history.

Berger Picard Clubs

The Berger Picard, with its storied history and distinctive characteristics, has garnered the admiration of dog enthusiasts globally. This has led to the establishment of several breed clubs dedicated to the preservation, promotion, and welfare of the Berger Picard.

In the United States, the Berger Picard Club of America is the primary organization that advocates for the breed. Established with a mission to preserve the Picard’s integrity and heritage, this club conducts various events and educational programs, and provides resources to both potential and current caretakers of the breed.

In Canada, the Berger Picard Club of Canada stands dedicated to the welfare of this French breed, emphasizing breed and breeder education, health testing and research, and responsible dog ownership.

Membership or involvement in these clubs is beneficial for both novice and seasoned Berger Picard owners. These organizations provide a platform for networking, sharing experiences, and staying updated on the latest research and best practices related to the breed. Additionally, they serve as a hub for breed-specific events, including specialty shows, training camps, and seminars, further fostering a sense of community among Picard aficionados.

Berger Picard Rescue Groups

The Berger Picard, with its loyal following, has fortunately spurred the establishment of rescue groups committed to assisting and rehoming Picards in need. These groups aim to ensure that every Picard finds a loving and appropriate home, regardless of circumstances.

In the United States, rescue operations often collaborate with the Berger Picard Club of America to help rehome and rehabilitate dogs. Additionally, there are specific organizations such as the Picard Rescue Network that focus solely on the breed.

Canada also boasts a supportive community for the Berger Picard, with rescue initiatives often working in tandem with the Berger Picard Club of Canada to ensure the well-being of these lively and loving dogs.

It’s important to note that while breed-specific rescue groups are an excellent resource, many dog rescue organizations and local shelters may have Berger Picards available for adoption.

Berger Picard Facts

Silver Screen Star: The Berger Picard may not be Hollywood’s go-to breed, but it has experienced its share of the limelight. Most notably, a Berger Picard played the lead role in the 2005 family film, Because of Winn-Dixie.

Ancient Lineage: Genetic studies suggest that the Berger Picard shares a close ancestral link with the Briard and the Beauceron, underscoring its status as one of the most ancient French breeds.

Name’s Origin: The breed’s name is derived from the Picardy region in northern France, where it has been historically popular as a working farm dog.

Unique Ears: The Picard’s prick and forward-turning ears, standing tall and alert, are a defining feature. Notably, no two Picards have the exact same ear set, making each one somewhat distinct in appearance.

Minimal Popularity: Despite its numerous qualities, the Berger Picard remains one of the lesser-known dog breeds. This is partly attributed to the devastation it faced during the World Wars, which nearly led to its extinction.

Natural Look: The Berger Picard boasts a rustic appearance, which is intentional. The various registries’ Breed Standards emphasize a natural, “ungroomed” look, ensuring that the breed retains its traditional herding dog aesthetics.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Do Berger Picards shed?

Yes, Berger Picards shed, but their shedding is moderate and not excessive. Their coarse, wiry coat helps to trap some of the loose hair, making shedding less noticeable. Regular brushing can help to manage and reduce the amount of hair around the house.

Are Berger Picards good for novice owners?

Berger Picards can be a suitable choice for novice owners, but they do require consistent training and socialization. Their intelligent and independent nature means they can sometimes be stubborn. First-time dog owners need to establish a clear leadership role and seek guidance on training techniques if necessary.

Are Berger Picards hypoallergenic?

No, Berger Picards are not hypoallergenic. While no dog is truly hypoallergenic, some breeds produce fewer allergens than others. However, the Berger Picard’s shedding and dander might cause reactions in allergy-sensitive individuals.

Can Berger Picards be service dogs?

Yes, Berger Picards can be trained as service dogs. Their intelligence, alertness, and loyalty make them suitable candidates. However, like any breed, individual temperament and aptitude play a significant role in determining success as a service dog.

How was the Berger Picard bred?

The Berger Picard was bred as a herding and livestock guarding dog in the Picardy region of France. Its origins are ancient, and it’s believed to be one of the oldest French shepherd breeds. The Picard’s development was influenced by its working environment and with the need for a robust, reliable herder.

Where is the Berger Picard dog from?

The Berger Picard hails from the Picardy region in northern France. This breed has deep roots in the area, with its history as a working dog spanning centuries. Its name directly reflects its French region of origin.

Do Berger Picards bark a lot?

Berger Picards are known to be alert and can be vocal if they perceive something as amiss. Their herding background means they might use barking to communicate or control. However, with proper training and socialization, excessive barking can be effectively managed.

Are Berger Picards high or low maintenance?

Berger Picards are moderate in terms of maintenance. Their coat requires regular brushing but doesn’t need frequent baths, and they do have exercise needs due to their active nature. However, the breed’s intelligence and independence can sometimes challenge inexperienced owners, necessitating consistent training and active engagement so that everyone remains happy in the relationship.

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