Height: 22-27 in
Weight: 70-100 lbs
Life Span: 10-12 yrs
Coloring: Single-colors; black, shades of gray, shades of tawny – white is not permitted
Area of Origin: France
Similar Breeds: Bearded Collie, Bouvier de Flanders, Belgian Shepherd, Pyrenean Shepherd
History and Origin:
With depictions of it on tapestries as ancient as Charlemagne in the 8th century, the Briard is an extremely old breed. Its purpose evolved through the ages as France developed from a monarchy to a republic; among its earliest jobs was the protection of its flock of sheep from wolves, thieves, and poachers. After the French Revolution of 1789 1799, relative peace in France changed the Briard’s focus from protection to herding, keeping its flocks contained on its owners land. Because of its exceptional sense of hearing, the Briard was used in World War I as a sentry at outposts, a companion to patrol units, and as a carrier of supplies and munitions to the front lines. It was also adept at leading medical officers to wounded soldiers on the battlefield.
Personality and Temperament:
Courageous, loyal, and good-natured, the Briard’s natural protective tendencies make it a breed that thrives being an active member of the family. Wary of strangers and frequently strong-willed, the Briard is best matched with an owner who can provide reassuring, consistent, and firm handling to encourage the breeds positive qualities. As a herding dog with strong instincts, it may attempt to herd people and other animals if left to its own devices. The Briard can be a challenge for the nervous or new dog owner, as it needs strong, confident leadership to settle down nicely as a family companion.
Exercise & Training:
A breed that thrives under consistent authority, the Briard’s intelligence makes it easy to train. It requires extensive and early socialization with other dogs, animals, and people; overall, while the Briard is extremely affectionate with its own family, it can be aloof and hostile with strangers. An understanding of dog behavior is necessary to ensure it is not mistreated in any way; the Briard does not respond well to a heavy hand. As a working breed, it needs long, daily walks, and is a perfect companion for joggers or hikers. A medium-sized yard is ideal. It has found decent success in defense dog and police dog trials, which combine athleticism, obedience, and a strong partnership.
Coarse and long, the Briard’s coat is resistant to dirt and water. The fur does tend to get matted, so regular grooming is needed to keep the dog healthy and comfortable. If properly maintained, the Briard will shed very little, however it is not known to be a hypoallergenic breed.
While the bloodlines of the Briard have been kept pure throughout its history, it shares many physical and instinctual qualities with other working dogs of France and the surrounding areas. Some notable breeds include the Bearded Collie, Bouvier de Flanders, and the Belgian Shepherd. The Briard also bears a striking resemblance to the smallest of the French herding dogs, the Pyrenean Shepherd.
Interesting Facts about the Briard:
1. The earliest known written records of the Briard are from the 12th century, and documents from the 14th to 16th centuries contain detailed descriptions of the breed as it is known today.
2. Thomas Jefferson is believed to have brought the first Briards from France to the United States.
3. Known by Briard lovers as a “heart wrapped in fur.”
4. The Briard was a favorite pet of both Charlemagne and Napoleon.
5. Interestingly, the Briard only appeared in the United Kingdom in the late 1960s.