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The French dog breed Briard belongs to the herding dogs and cattle dogs in the FCI standard no. 113 in group 1. There he is one of the shepherd dogs in section 1 and is declared as a herding dog.

Briard Dog Breed Information

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Size: Males: 62-69 cm, females: 56-64 cm
Weight: Males: 27-41 kg, females: 23-34 kg
FCI group: 1: herding dogs and cattle dogs
Section: 1: German Shepherds
Country of origin: France
Colors: black, grey, white, black-tan, black-grey, tan
Life expectancy: 10-12 years
Suitable as: shepherd, guard, family, therapy, and rescue dog
Sports: agility, drift ball
Character: Intelligent, Obedient, Loyal, Fearless, Caring
Exercise requirements: rather high
Low drool potential
The thickness of hair low
Maintenance effort: high
Coat Structure: Twisted, long, dry, and light undercoat
Child friendly: yes
Family dog: rather yes
Social: yes

Origin and breed history

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The Briard was created as a cross between the French water dog Barbet and the Berger de Picardie, the Picard. Some sources name the Beauceron as an origin in addition to the Barbet. The Briard is the typical farm and farm dog in the northern French plains. His job in France was to guard and protect sheep.

The breed was first mentioned as Chien de Berger de Brie in 1758 by George-Louis Leclerc de Buffon. Until then, he is also known as Chien de berger français de plaine, French Lowland Sheepdog. The description of a long-haired herding dog already exists in 1387 in a hunting textbook by Count Gaston Phoebus de Foix. The Briard has been recognized as a separate breed since 1896 and the breed standards were established in 1897.

The French army used the Briard during the world wars as a medical service dog and as a reporting and patrol dog. To this day, the breed is found among police, rescue, and therapy dogs.

Nature and temperament of the Briard

The Briard is characterized by many positive characteristics. He is:

  • clingy
  • faithful
  • intelligent
  • fond of children
  • patiently
  • spirited
  • eager to learn
  • friendly
  • good-natured
  • adaptable

Typical of the herding dog is its special protective instinct. He is very vigilant and anxious to keep his pack together at all times. For him, the pack also includes family and cats as well as other pets. Despite the age of the breed and the numerous breeds associated with it, the dogs were able to retain their character. When a briard encounters a flock of sheep, it remembers its original task and wants to guard it.

The friendly dog loves to romp and play, occasionally getting a little cocky but never malicious. Briards don’t like to be alone. Ideally, they should always be in contact with a family member. The Briard gets along with other dogs and pets as long as they don’t pose a threat to his pack. This also means that he is not always friendly to strange dogs. He tends to be suspicious of strangers and initially ignores them.

Is the Briard a family dog?

The Briard is the ideal family dog and does not like to be left alone. He gets along with children, other dogs in his pack, and other pets.

The appearance of the Briard

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Visually, the Briard is a strikingly beautiful dog. At first glance, he appears as a large tuft of fur. The dense, slightly wavy fur is long-haired and forms fine strands. It is very dry and goat-like with a little undercoat. On the head, the dog has a distinctive mustache and goatee as well as bushy eyebrows. His head hair tends to grow over his eyes. The colors of the fur are:

  • Black
  • Fauve (Medium Brown Blonde)
  • Fauve with black tips (charcoal plating)
  • Gray
  • Blue (deep dark grey)

Light-coated Briards may have a black mask. The lop ears are short, set high and also covered with long fur. The Briard has dark, wide-open eyes and an alert gaze.

His build is well proportioned and muscular with a straight back and straight, strong legs. In its movements, the Briard looks very elegant with its springy gait. The tail joins the back straight and with a pronounced flag of fur. It reaches to the hock and when moving usually forms a straight line with the back. It is slightly curved at the top.

A distinctive feature of the breed are the double wolf claws or dewclaws. They are located above the paws on the hind legs. These are two closely spaced claws. They have no ground contact and no function. Rather, they are a relic of ancient times. Originally, all vertebrates had five limbs on their hands and feet. Since many animals do not need the thumb or big toe, it has degenerated. The fifth segment is only still present in dog breeds with a wolf’s claw.

Breeding and husbandry of the Briard – This is important to note

The Berger de Brie is not a city apartment dog. He loves to exercise outside and should therefore have his place in a house with a garden. A rural setting is ideal. Since the animal is very affectionate, a family member should be with him at all times. If it is unavoidable to leave the dog alone for hours, this must be trained slowly and in small steps. Although Briards are originally herding and livestock guardian dogs, they are not suitable for being kept in a kennel. Since they guard and protect the family, their place is in the home. The family dog ​​needs to be close to its people. If he is well brought up, he accompanies him everywhere without attracting negative attention.

The upbringing takes place with patience, love and empathy as well as the right dose of consistency. In a good mutual trust relationship, the willing dog is easy to train. The intensive bond with the dog is an important first step in training. At the same time, the breed is prone to a certain stubbornness. Loving consistency is therefore an important prerequisite for harmonious coexistence. Briards are sensitive and don’t like rough handling. Loud insults or even hits do not correspond to animal welfare. They damage the dog and make training almost impossible.

Like most herding dogs, the Berger de Brie needs tasks to keep busy and balanced. If he is bored, he will look for his own occupation. This is then not always in the interests of the owner. Daily extensive walks, educational games and dog sports are absolutely necessary for the species-appropriate keeping of this breed. Briards complete training as therapy or rescue dogs with flying colors. There are thus many opportunities for an intensive study of the committed Frenchman.

Due to its stubbornness, the Briard is not considered a beginner dog. Experience in dog training is recommended for people who want to live with this friendly, spirited and somewhat idiosyncratic fellow. Attending a dog school is advisable even as a puppy. There the dog learns socialization among conspecifics. Its owner learns which tasks he has to fulfill for pleasant coexistence.

How much does a Briard cost?

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A Briard is rarely a gift. This tends to happen in absolute emergencies, for example when an older animal loses its owner. Adult animals usually cost $800 or more.

Diet of the Briard

Measured against its size, a Briard eats rather little. Therefore, a balanced feed is all the more important. Because the breed is very lively and agile, it needs a lot of protein. Minerals and vitamins make up a small part of the feed requirement. About 70 percent of the feed should consist of high-quality meat. About ten percent grain is enough. Vegetables should be included in the feed composition with a share of 20 percent. In principle, dry and wet food are suitable for feeding. If the dog is to be fed with raw meat, i.e. bared, feed additives are necessary. These are offered by pet shops and special shops for BARF food.

Feeding dogs only dry food is easy and uncomplicated, especially for their owners. Nevertheless, it should be borne in mind that this form does not correspond to the natural dog diet. In practice, a mixture of dry and wet food proves to be beneficial for the dog. Feeding with fresh ingredients is ideal. When selecting the vegetable portion in particular, however, it is important to ensure that the varieties are dog-friendly. The following foods can be toxic to dogs:

  • chocolate and foods containing cocoa
  • grapes and raisins
  • avocado
  • stone fruit
  • raw potatoes
  • tomatoes
  • eggplants
  • rhubarb
  • leeks and onions
  • legumes
  • raw pork
  • sugar
  • nuts and chestnuts
  • raw elderberries

Dog treats such as dried meat, cooked meatballs, or boiled ham are suitable as a small reward for in between meals. Rawhide chews and similar products are good for the teeth and keep the dog busy.

Puppies require a different diet than adult dogs. In the early days, puppies should be fed the same food as the breeder. With growth, there is a slow adaptation to later feeding.

Dogs need adequate amounts of drinking water at all times. Water bowls should be placed in the house and garden. While puppies need food several times a day, feeding once or twice a day is sufficient for an adult dog. After feeding, Briards need rest to avoid gastric torsion.

Health – life expectancy & common diseases

The Briard has so far been spared from being a fashion dog. Overbreeding is therefore not to be feared as much as with widespread dog breeds. The life expectancy of this large dog is about twelve years. In good health, he can live up to 14 years.

A disease typical of the breed is hip dysplasia (HD), which is common in all large dogs. For this reason, the dog should not run on stairs as often as possible, especially during the growth phase. Running on the bike in puppy age should also be avoided at all costs.

Briards are also prone to eye disorders such as congenital stationary night blindness (CNSB). This retinal disease, like the retinal diseases PRA and CEA, can lead to complete blindness in the dog. There may also be an MDR1 defect. This leads to intolerance to various medications. Regular veterinary check-ups are a good idea to rule out your dog getting sick.

Since the Briard is not greedy by nature, it does not tend to become overweight if it is fed appropriately for its species.

With their long, dense fur, Briards are very robust and insensitive to cold and wet conditions. As with all dogs, activity should be limited on warm summer days. A cool spot in the shade is ideal. Since the breed loves to get in the water, a small paddling pool is helpful for cooling off.

When is a Briard fully grown?

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After about ten to twelve months, a Briard is fully grown.

Care of the Briard

With its long coat, the Briard is a high-maintenance dog. There is disagreement about the frequency of combing. Since the fur is very dry and somewhat harder, it does not tend to become matted as much. Nevertheless, it makes sense to comb the fur regularly at least every two to three days. Dirt and plant parts get caught in the long hair, which are removed by combing. Due to the size of the dog, grooming takes about an hour.

Grooming is just as stressful for the dog as it is for the owner. Therefore, many long-haired dogs try to avoid her. It is easier if the animal is already used to it when it is a puppy. A fixed care ritual is helpful. If the dog is always combed at the same time and in the same place, it will be easier for him to get used to it. Unnecessary pain caused by small tangles can be avoided if the hair is carefully combed through from the tips with a wide-toothed comb. If one hand holds the hair in tufts at the base, combing does not pull on the skin. The very hairy areas behind the ears, on the chest, on the face and between the toes require special attention. A few strokes in between help to relax. If the dog gets a reward after grooming, the procedure receives a positive reinforcement.

The Briard must not be washed with shampoo. The shampoo would make his fur soft and prone to matting.

If the hair grows too far into the eyes, it will affect the dog’s vision. This makes it difficult for him to communicate with other dogs. Eye infections can also be the result of excessive hair growth. It makes sense for the dog to have short hair around the eye area so that the eyes are clearly visible. If you don’t want to cut your hair, you should put it in a ponytail. Like most long-haired dogs, the Briard sheds minimally.

Can you shear the Briard?

In principle, it is possible to shear the Briard. Nevertheless, his long fur should be preserved. It protects him from cold and also insulates him from heat. If Briards are clipped too short, they can develop skin eczema.

Briard – activities, and training

Training and activities are especially important for this agile and hard-working dog. This includes long daily walks and games. The Briard also likes to be challenged cognitively. Therefore intelligence games belong to his preferred occupations. Catch-and-seek games and dog frisbee are some examples. Adult animals are suitable for running on a bicycle. Some owners use their dogs as draft animals in front of a sulky.

The Briard can be enthusiastic about all known dog sports. These include:

  • dog dancing
  • agility
  • protection dog training
  • mantrailing
  • tracking work
  • territories
  • obedience
  • hoopers
  • distance training

Good to know: special features of the Briard

Because of its attractive appearance, intelligence and endurance, the Briard is a popular film dog. For example, the film dog Michael portrayed the family dog Buck in the American series “A Terribly Nice Family”. A Briard also plays a part in the film “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang”. The dog Dex of the Geiss family also gained notoriety. He can be seen in many episodes of the series “The Geissens – a terribly glamorous family”.

In one of the most successful melodramas of the 19th century, a Berger de Brie played the title role in “The Hound of Aubry”.

Disadvantages of the Briard

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In principle, the Briard is not a dog with disadvantages. Regular grooming is a little difficult. His stubbornness poses a certain challenge to training, especially the consequences. It is difficult for some owners when the dog looks at him lovingly with his big eyes.

How much does a Briard puppy cost?

The price for a puppy starts at around $900. If the animals are offered at a lower price, there is a risk that they do not come from reliable breeding. The purchase costs for the puppies of award-winning parents are significantly higher.

Is the Briard right for me?

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The Briard is the ideal partner for sporty people. He happily accompanies them when hiking, jogging, and other outdoor activities. At the same time, this means that owners must offer their Berger de Brie plenty of exercise and exercise. If this does not happen, the dog is in real distress and can show behavioral problems. If you buy a Briard, you have to be sporty and active.

Since dogs of this breed do not like to be alone, they take up a lot of time. Because of their size, they also take up a lot of space. The apartment should therefore be big enough for a huge basket and the dog’s freedom of movement. With its weight and size, the Briard is not a lap dog. Nevertheless, he needs his daily cuddles. As a family dog, the Briard’s ideal place is in a home with children and lots of exercises.