|Classification||AKC (American Kennel Club): Herding
UKC (United Kennel Club): Herding
CKC (Canadian Kennel Club): Herding
ANKC (Australian National Kennel Council): Working
RKC (The Royal Kennel Club): Pastoral
FCI (Fédération Cynologique Internationale): Group 1: Sheepdogs and Cattledogs Section 1: Sheepdogs
|Bred For||Herding, Guarding, Companionship|
|Known For||Coarse Coat, Intelligence, Confidence, Vigor|
|Activities||Herding, Guarding, Running, Conformation Shows, Dog Sports|
|Measurements||Height at Withers: Males 23-27 in.; Females 22-23.5 in.
Weight Range: Males and Females 55-100 lbs.
|Coat||Type: Hard and Dry, Long, Slightly Waving, Rasping
Color: Black, Gray, Tawny
Grooming: Daily Brushing, Occasional Bathing, Periodic Nail Trimming, Regular Tooth Brushing
|Temperament||Confident, Smart, Faithful|
|Expectations||Lifespan: 12 Years
Energy Level: Moderate to High
Exercise Requirements: 2 Hours/Day (Minimum), Daily Walks, Vigorous Running, Regular Exercise, Playing with Another Dog, Mental Stimulation
|Breed Standards||AKC Briard Breed Standard
UKC Briard Breed Standard
CKC Briard Breed Standard
ANKC Briard Breed Standard
RKC Briard Breed Standard
FCI Briard Breed Standard
|Similar Breeds||Beauceron, Berger Picard, Bouvier des Flandres, Polish Lowland Sheepdog|
The Briard is a charming dog breed known for its courage, loyalty, and spirit. Hailing from France, this ancient shepherd dog has been the choice of many for both work and companionship. Its keen sense of duty and protective nature make the Briard an excellent guardian, while its loving disposition makes it a cherished family member.
Mature male Briards typically stand between 23 and 27 inches tall at the shoulder, while females are slightly smaller, measuring around 22 to 25.5 inches.
The weight varies based on the overall size and build of the individual dog. Generally, adult Briards can weigh between 55 and 100 pounds.
The Briard presents a harmonious balance in its proportions. The body may be slightly longer than it is tall; however, the overall silhouette is square but not cobby. This breed is not merely a fluffy facade; beneath the luxurious coat lies a robust framework of strength and agility, showcasing the Briard’s herding ancestry and its capability for strenuous work.
Texture: The Briard boasts a harsh double coat that is both long and wavy. The outer coat is coarse and dry, ensuring it is resistant to the elements, while the undercoat remains soft and dense. This unique texture not only gives the Briard its distinctive appearance, it also provides a rasping sound when touched, proof of its protectiveness in inclement weather.
Note: The coat of the Briard is hard and dry but with a good sheen. It lies flat, falling in slightly waving locks. The head is covered in long hair, parting naturally along the centerline of the face. All uniform colors are acceptable, the deeper the shade the better. White is not an acceptable color; however, a small white spot on the chest and/or white hairs scattered throughout the coat are not uncommon in a good Briard.
Skull: Broad and slightly rounded, the Briard’s skull conveys its strength. It is well-proportioned with the rest of the body, with a prominent occiput and a well-marked stop. The forehead is very slightly rounded.
Expression: One of the Briard’s most captivating features is its expression, which is both confident and kind. Even when its eyes are obscured by its flowing coat, one can sense the dog’s alertness and keen observance.
Eyes: Dark and set well apart, the Briard’s eyes are large and oval in shape. They possess a lively, intelligent gaze that speaks of its curiosity and alert nature.
Ears: Set high and covered in hair, the Briard’s natural ears do not lie flat against the head. When cropped, they stand upright and parallel to each other. When alert, the ears perk up and face forward, adding to the breed’s inquisitive expression.
Muzzle: Strong and ending in a slight square shape, the Briard’s muzzle is of equal length to that of the skull, giving a balanced appearance to the head.
Nose: Prominent and always black, the nose adds character to the Briard’s appearance and is a testament to its keen sense of smell.
Bite: The Briard possesses a strong jaw with a scissors bite, where the upper incisors closely overlap the lower incisors, ensuring a usefulness when working livestock.
The Briard’s tail is a significant feature that plays into its overall majestic appearance.
A Briard’s tail is long and feathered, reaching at least to the hock. It often has a distinctive “J”-shaped hook at the end, sometimes referred to as a “crook.” When the Briard is in motion or alert, the tail is lifted, showcasing its flowing and luxurious hair, but it doesn’t curl over the back. When relaxed, the tail hangs down.
The tail of the Briard is not docked, maintaining its natural length and shape. This long and expressive tail not only adds to the breed’s aesthetic appeal, it also provides balance and aids in communication, making it an essential aspect of the Briard’s anatomy and expression.
The Briard is more than just striking in appearance. Owning one of these distinctive dogs comes with the joy of sharing your life with a loyal and spirited companion. However, potential Briard owners should be aware of certain considerations to ensure they can provide the best home for this distinctive breed.
The Briard is typically a robust and healthy dog, blessed with a sturdy constitution. However, like all breeds and mixed breeds, the Briard can be susceptible to specific health conditions. Prospective owners should be aware of these potential issues and work closely with a trusted breeder and veterinarian to ensure the Briard maintains optimal health throughout its life.
The lifespan of a Briard is typically around 12 years, but with proper care, regular check-ups, and a balanced diet, many can thrive beyond this average.
While the Briard is generally hardy, no dog is entirely exempt from health concerns. Some of the common health risks associated with the Briard include:
Hip Dysplasia: This is a hereditary condition where the hip joint doesn’t fit into the hip socket properly. The condition can lead to arthritis or even lameness in severe cases.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): PRA is an eye disorder that eventually causes blindness due to the loss of photoreceptors at the back of the eye.
Hypothyroidism: A disorder of the thyroid gland, hypothyroidism can lead to obesity, lethargy, and skin conditions.
Bloat or Gastric Torsion: This is a life-threatening condition where the stomach twists on itself. Immediate medical attention is vital.
Congenital Stationary Night Blindness (CSNB): This is an inherited condition where affected dogs are born with an inability to see in low light or darkness. The condition remains stable throughout their lives and doesn’t progress to complete blindness.
Von Willebrand’s Disease: This is a blood-clotting disorder similar to hemophilia in humans. Dogs with this condition might bleed excessively after injuries or surgeries.
Cataracts: As in humans, this condition causes opacity on the lens of the eye, leading to decreased vision. It’s generally seen in older dogs, but it can also be congenital.
It’s essential for Briard owners to be vigilant and proactive. Regular veterinary check-ups can help in early detection and management of these and other potential health concerns.
When considering bringing a Briard into the home, it’s essential to understand the breed’s personality traits. The Briard is an intelligent and spirited breed, known for its loyalty and keen protective instincts.
For novice owners, the Briard can be a bit of a challenge due to its strong-willed nature. However, with consistent training and early socialization, these dogs can become obedient and well-adjusted family members. Their sensitivity level is relatively high; Briards often form deep bonds with their families and can be quite intuitive about their owner’s feelings and needs.
Being alone is not the Briard’s favorite pastime. Given the herding background of these dogs, they prefer to be involved in family activities and can become distressed if left isolated for extended periods. This also ties into their relationship with other dogs. Briards can get along well with other dogs, especially if they’ve been introduced and socialized from a young age.
Their protective instincts extend to their relationship with young children. Briards are generally patient and gentle with kids, making them suitable companions for families. However, due to their herding instincts, they might attempt to “herd” young children, so supervision is recommended during interactions.
When it comes to strangers, the Briard’s initial reaction might be one of caution. These herding dogs are naturally protective and may take some time to warm up to unfamiliar faces. But with proper introductions and positive experiences, they can be quite sociable.
Providing the right nutrition is paramount for the overall well-being and longevity of a Briard. Being an active and sizable breed, the dietary needs of this herder can be different from other dogs.
For Briard puppies, it’s essential to provide a balanced diet that supports their growth phase. Puppies have unique nutritional needs, and it’s crucial to choose a high-quality puppy food that ensures they get all the necessary vitamins and minerals for strong bone and muscle development. Typically, Briard puppies should be fed more frequently, about 3-4 times a day, transitioning to two times as they approach adulthood.
An adult Briard, depending on its weight and activity level, might require about 2.5 to 3 cups of high-quality dog food daily, split into two meals. It’s essential to note that the exact amount can vary based on individual metabolism, age, and exercise intensity. Overfeeding can lead to obesity, a growing concern among many dog owners. Hence, it’s advisable to monitor the Briard’s weight and adjust food portions accordingly.
When considering the type of food for a Briard, whether commercial or home-cooked, it’s important to be sure it is high in protein and contains balanced fats. Given the breed’s lush coat, foods rich in Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids can help to maintain its sheen and strength.
Always ensure fresh water is available for your Briard. And while treats can be a good training aid, remember to give them in moderation to prevent weight gain and potential nutritional imbalances.
Lastly, consulting with a veterinarian or a pet nutritionist can provide tailored advice, ensuring that the Briard’s dietary needs are adequately met throughout its life stages.
Training a Briard is a journey of understanding and cooperation. These dogs, with their sharp intelligence and eagerness to learn, can quickly grasp commands and tricks. This intelligence, however, has a flip side; they can easily get bored if not mentally stimulated. So, in addition to physical activities, it’s essential to engage them with puzzles and interactive toys to channel their intellectual energy positively.
Briards possess an independent nature owing to their herding background, which means they might occasionally test boundaries. It’s crucial to establish a bond of trust and leadership early on in their training. Positive reinforcement techniques work best with this breed, as the dog’s sensitive nature might not respond well to harsh methods.
A noteworthy trait of the Briard is its moderate tendency to bark. While these dogs aren’t excessive barkers by nature, they will vocalize if they sense something amiss in their surroundings. Through consistent training, they can be taught commands like “quiet” or “enough” to control their vocalizations.
The Briard’s herding lineage also brings with it certain behaviors, such as a potential to roam or chase. For instance, if a Briard senses something interesting beyond its usual territory, the dog might be inclined to investigate. A robust recall command and ensuring the immediate environment is secure can help to manage this wandering nature. Similarly, the breed’s instinct to chase, especially smaller animals or moving objects, can be redirected through training and early socialization.
Exercise plays a pivotal role in the life of a Briard. Originating as a herding dog, the breed is endowed with a significant amount of energy and stamina, requiring regular physical activity to keep these dogs happy and healthy. Without adequate exercise, this vibrant breed might resort to undesirable behaviors, often stemming from boredom or pent-up energy.
The Briard’s exercise needs are relatively high, reflecting their working background. A simple walk around the block might not suffice for these energetic dogs. They thrive on activities that engage both their minds and bodies. Hence, long walks, hikes, play sessions, and even Agility or Herding Trials can be beneficial and enjoyable for them.
In terms of energy level, the Briard is notably spirited. These dopgs possess an inherent drive to work and play, making them ideal companions for active families or individuals. Their enthusiasm, paired with their intelligence, also means they excel in dog sports and training sessions where they can channel their energy productively.
The Briard’s playfulness is evident in its interactions, be it with other dogs or with its human family members. These dogs love engaging in games of fetch, tug-of-war, or even interactive toys. However, it’s essential to ensure that play sessions are controlled, especially if there are smaller animals or young children around, due to the Briard’s herding instincts.
Intensity is another hallmark of the Briard’s exercise regimen. While these dogs are always up for rigorous activities, it’s crucial to monitor them, especially in extreme weather conditions, ensuring they don’t overexert themselves.
Grooming a Briard is an integral aspect of the dog’s care, especially given its luxurious, long double coat. This breed’s coat is not only a sight to behold but also a testament to its historical work in diverse terrains, providing adequate protection against harsh weather conditions.
The Briard’s coat, while beautiful, requires consistent maintenance to ensure it remains tangle-free and healthy. Regular brushing, at least a few times a week, is essential to prevent mats and knots from forming, particularly in areas prone to tangles such as behind the ears, under the legs, and around the collar area. These sessions can also serve as a bonding time between the dog and the owner, making it a pleasurable experience for both.
Shedding is a natural process, and while Briards are not heavy shedders, they do lose hair, especially during seasonal changes. Regular grooming can help with managing and reducing the amount of hair around the house.
While the coat is a primary focus in grooming, other aspects of Briard care should not be overlooked. The ears should be checked and cleaned regularly to prevent infections, and the nails should be trimmed to avoid overgrowth that can cause discomfort or lead to injuries. Dental hygiene is also paramount; brushing the Briard’s teeth or providing dental chews can help with keeping oral issues at bay.
Briards are known for their “griffon-like” beard, which can sometimes get messy, especially after meals. A quick wipe or occasional wash can help to keep this area of the coat clean.
Bathing a Briard doesn’t need to be a frequent affair; doing so when they get particularly dirty or start to have an odor is usually sufficient. However, post-bath, it’s vital to dry the coat thoroughly to prevent any moisture-related skin issues.
Living with a Briard is a rewarding experience that comes with its own set of considerations due to the breed’s distinctive traits. As a herding breed with a rich history, the Briard brings a mix of energy, intelligence, and affection into a household.
For urban dwellers considering a Briard, it’s crucial to understand that while these dogs can adapt to apartment living, they require ample space every day to move and play. The dog’s size and energy level make a spacious environment more conducive to its well-being. If living in a confined space, it becomes even more critical to ensure the Briard gets its daily dose of exercise and mental stimulation.
Climate can play a role in the comfort of a Briard. With its thick double coat, these dogs are naturally well-equipped for colder weather. They can frolic in the snow and handle lower temperatures quite well. However, the same coat can make them more sensitive to extreme heat. During hotter months, it’s important to provide them with a cool, shaded environment and avoid intense physical activity during peak hours of sunshine.
While Briards are loyal and protective, making them excellent watchdogs, their herding instincts might sometimes manifest in the home environment. They could attempt to “herd” family members, especially young children, by nipping at their heels or circling around them. It’s essential to train them early on to manage these instincts and to always ensure safe interactions.
Socialization is paramount for a Briard. Introducing this breed to various environments, people, and other animals from a young age can help in molding a well-rounded and confident adult dog. The breed’s protective nature means these dogs can be wary of strangers, so positive experiences with various individuals can help with curbing any undue apprehension.
The introduction of a Briard puppy into a household is a moment filled with excitement and anticipation. These little bundles of energy bring immense joy and, with their curious eyes and playful antics, can quickly become the center of attention. However, caring for a Briard puppy, as with any young dog, demands dedication, understanding, and a commitment to their well-being.
From the moment a Briard puppy steps into its new home, it’s vital to create an environment conducive to its growth and development. Establishing a routine early on helps the puppy adjust and understand what’s expected. This includes regular feeding times, potty breaks, and play sessions.
Nutrition plays a pivotal role during this growth phase. A balanced diet, specially formulated for puppies, provides them with the essential nutrients required for their development. Consulting with a veterinarian can help to guide the right dietary choices and quantities, ensuring the puppy thrives and builds a strong foundation for adulthood.
Socialization, as with adult Briards, is paramount during the puppy phase. Exposing puppies to various sounds, sights, people, and other animals helps in building confidence and reduces the chances of them becoming overly cautious or aggressive in unfamiliar situations.
Training should begin early, capitalizing on the breed’s keen intelligence and eagerness to learn. Simple commands, housebreaking, and leash training are some of the basics to start with. Given their herding instincts, early training can also help to curb behaviors like nipping or excessive chasing.
Physical health is crucial, of course, but so is mental well-being. Briard puppies are curious and eager to explore, so providing them with toys, puzzles, and interactive games can help to stimulate their minds. Puppies that are actively engaged are less likely to develop undesirable behaviors out of boredom.
Lastly, while Briard puppies are naturally playful and energetic, it’s essential to be certain they don’t overexert themselves. Their bones and joints are still developing, and excessive or rough play can lead to injuries.
The Briard’s rich heritage as a working and herding breed means that they’re not just content lounging around. They have a deep-seated need for activity, both mentally and physically. As such, these dogs thrive in environments where they can channel their energy and intelligence into constructive outlets.
Herding Trials: Given their historical role as herders, Briards excel in Herding Trials. These events simulate the tasks a herding dog would typically undertake, requiring them to move livestock in specific patterns or within specified areas. A Briard’s natural instincts, combined with training, make this breed a formidable competitor in these trials.
Agility: Agility Trials, filled with jumps, tunnels, and weave poles, provide an excellent platform for Briards to showcase their dexterity and intelligence. Training for Agility strengthens their problem-solving skills and offers a robust physical workout.
Obedience: The breed’s keen intelligence and desire to please their owners make Briards strong contenders in Obedience Trials. These events test a dog’s discipline and training, requiring them to follow specific commands and perform certain tasks alongside their human partners.
Rally: Rally offers a mix of Obedience and Agility. In this low-pressure sport, dogs and their handlers navigate a course with different stations, each requiring a specific task or command. The continuous flow and varied directives cater to the Briard’s intelligence and adaptability.
Tracking: Tapping into their innate sense of smell and focus, Tracking events require Briards to follow a scent trail and locate specific items or individuals. The breed’s determination and concentration shine in these activities.
Flyball: This relay race activity witnesses teams of dogs racing against each other, jumping over hurdles and triggering a spring-loaded mechanism to release a tennis ball. The Briard’s energy and enthusiasm make Flyball a thrilling sport for these dogs.
Disc Dog: In Disc Dog, competitors are judged on their ability to catch a thrown disc at various distances. Briards, with their agility and keen eye, can excel at this sport, making it a fun and interactive event for both dog and owner.
Conformation Shows: A staple in the world of purebred dogs, Conformation Shows assess a dog’s physical attributes and temperament against its Breed Standard. Briards, with their majestic coats and striking appearance, often make a mark in these high-stakes events.
The Briard is a versatile breed, making it suitable for a wide range of activities. Engaging the Briard in these activities not only showcases its many talents, it also provides the mental stimulation and physical exercise that this breed craves.
The Briard is a breed steeped in history, tracing its origin to the French countryside. Renowned for its impeccable herding and guarding abilities, the breed has been present in the region for centuries, serving as a loyal companion to the shepherds.
Many tales and lore surround the Briard, each contributing to its rich historical tapestry. There’s even mention of the breed in literature from the 8th century, underlining its longstanding presence in France. Emperor Charlemagne, as well as Napoleon, are believed to have had Briards.
Primarily used for guarding and herding sheep, the Briard’s keen senses, intelligence, and undying loyalty made it an invaluable asset. Their unique ability to herd and protect livestock from predators, particularly wolves, established them as a staple in French pastoral life.
The breed’s role underwent a transformation during the World Wars. Owing to their intelligence, determination, and acute sense of hearing, Briards were employed by the military for various tasks, such as detecting wounded soldiers and carrying supplies. This service further underscored their adaptability and valor.
It was only in the late 19th and early 20th centuries that the Briard began to be recognized as more than just a working dog. They gained prominence in dog shows, and their impeccable characteristics started attracting the attention of enthusiasts outside France.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) officially recognized the Briard in 1928, further cementing its status as a breed of distinction. Subsequently, other major canine organizations, including the FCI and The Royal Kennel Club (UK), extended recognition, propelling the breed to global notoriety.
While today the Briard may not always be found working sheep in the French countryside, its herding instincts remain strong. Modern-day Briards serve as companions, show dogs, and even therapy dogs, proving that their versatility and charm transcend time and purpose.
Several dedicated organizations across the globe champion the Briard, offering invaluable resources, expertise, and community connections for those interested in learning more about the breed.
In the United States, the primary organization dedicated to the breed is the Briard Club of America (BCA). Established in 1928, the BCA has been a steadfast advocate for the Briard, working closely with the American Kennel Club. The club’s members are deeply involved in organizing events, producing educational resources and orchestrating rescue efforts for the breed.
In Canada, the Canadian Briard Club stands as a beacon for Briard enthusiasts. Collaborating with the Canadian Kennel Club, the CBC has made significant strides in promoting, protecting, and bettering the Briard, ensuring it continues to thrive in Canadian households and on Canadian farms.
In the United Kingdom, the Briard Association takes the helm in representing the breed. This esteemed organization holds a close association with The Royal Kennel Club and is integral in hosting breed-specific events, educational initiatives, and upholding the highest standards for the preservation of the Briard.
For those passionate about the Briard, getting involved with these organizations can prove immensely beneficial. They not only provide a gateway to understanding the breed deeper but also open doors to a community that shares an unwavering love for the Briard.
The commitment to ensuring every Briard has a loving home extends beyond breeders and enthusiasts. Rescue groups play a pivotal role in this endeavor, offering Briards that may have faced hardships or abandonment a second chance at a fulfilling life.
In the United States, there’s a concerted effort by organizations such as the Briard Rescue and Haven to rehabilitate and rehome Briards. They take in Briards in need, provide them with necessary medical care, training, and most importantly, love until they find their forever homes.
For those considering bringing a Briard into their lives, adopting from a rescue group can be a heartwarming option. Not only does it give a Briard another chance at happiness, but it also opens up a space for another dog in need. While breed-specific rescue groups are a wonderful resource, it’s also worth noting that many dog rescue organizations and local shelters could also have a Briard looking for a home.
Historical Significance: The Briard has been woven into French history for centuries, with images of the breed found on tapestries from the 8th century.
Presidential Preference: Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States, had a particular fondness for Briards. He is believed to have owned one, further showcasing the breed’s appeal.
Military Service: The Briard’s sharp senses and unwavering loyalty were put to the test during the World Wars, where they served as sentinels, messengers, and even search and rescue dogs.
Herding Instinct: The Briard’s herding instinct is so pronounced that they often display it even without training. This can be observed in household settings, where they might subtly try to “herd” their human family members or other pets.
Unique Footwear: One of the distinguishing features of the Briard is the breed’s “double dewclaws” on the hind legs. These extra toes are not just for show – historically, they provided better grip and stability on uneven terrain while herding.
Celebrity Status: The Briard has graced the silver screen on more than one occasion. The breed’s striking appearance and expressive demeanor have made this dog a favorite choice for movies and television shows.
Guardian by Nature: Even though they’re cherished as companion animals today, Briards have a deeply ingrained protective instinct. Their keen sense of hearing, coupled with a natural wariness of strangers, makes them effective watchdogs.
While no dog breed is truly hypoallergenic, Briards are often considered to be among the breeds that are less likely to trigger a person’s allergies. Their wavy coats can help to trap dander, preventing it from becoming airborne. However, to ensure there’s no reaction, individuals with severe allergies should spend time with a Briard before deciding to bring one home.
Briards shed, but their unique coat texture means that the hair often gets trapped within the surrounding hairs. As a result, they don’t typically shed all over the house like some breeds do. Regular grooming is essential to remove this trapped hair and to prevent matting.
Absolutely! Briards are known for their loyalty and deep attachment to their families. They are particularly gentle and protective of children, making them excellent family companions. Their herding instinct, however, might lead them to “herd” younger members of the family, so supervision is essential during interactions.
Briards make wonderful pets for those who understand and appreciate their unique characteristics. They are loyal, intelligent, and can be quite playful. However, they also require consistent training, socialization, and grooming to ensure they are well-behaved and comfortable in various situations.
Briards are not inherently aggressive. However, they do possess a strong protective instinct, which means they can be wary of strangers or when they find themselves in unfamiliar situations. Early socialization and consistent training are crucial to ensure that their protective nature doesn’t lead to unwanted aggressive behaviors.
Yes, Briards are highly intelligent dogs. Their herding background means they are quick thinkers, adept problem solvers, and very trainable. Their intelligence, paired with their desire to please their owners, makes them responsive to training, though they can have a stubborn streak at times.
The average lifespan of a Briard is around 12 years. With proper care, regular check-ups, and a balanced diet, many Briards can thrive and even surpass this age. As with all dogs, it’s important to be sure they lead a healthy lifestyle as this can significantly influence their longevity.
The Briard’s coat, much like human hair, continues to grow throughout its lifetime. This means regular grooming is essential to keep the coat at a manageable length and to prevent tangling and matting. Without proper grooming, the Briard’s magnificent coat can become overly long and difficult to manage.