The Briard, also referred to as the Berger de Brie, is a French breed that was originally bred over 1,000 years ago as shepherd. They are a good sized dog that usually stands between 23 and 27 inches tall, and they usually weigh about 75 pounds. They have a long and wavy top coat that protects their dense undercoat. This breed can be found in shades of black and fawn.
To care for this breed you will need to brush its coat semi-daily. This will help to keep their hair free of tangles and matting, and it will help to distribute their natural oils which will protect their skin and hair from drying out. They do not need a lot of exercise, however, a gentle walk after dinner is always appreciated. This breed has a couple of health problems including hip dysplasia and progressive retinal atrophy.
Origin of the Briard
The Briard is a native of France. It is quite an old breed and it is beloved by the French people since the middle ages. The breed has been depicted in 8th-century tapestries and mentioned in records of the 12th century.
They were once used as protectors of their charges against wolves and poachers. Later on, the Briards’ work became more peaceful and they were used as flock herders and property guard dogs.
When and how it reached United States is still unknown but some credit the Marquis de Lafayette for introducing the breed. However, Thomas Jefferson also brought representatives of the breed to this continent.
Briard Appearance and Abilities
The Briard is a vigorous and alert dog. It is both powerful and agile. It has a handsome form. Concealed by its coat, it has strong bones and muscles, exhibiting the strength and agility required of the herding dog. The male’s height is about 23 to 27 inches at the withers; bitches 22 to 25½ inches at the withers.
The Briards have long and luxurious coats. They come in any solid colors except white; they are usually black, gray or tawny. The deeper shades of each color are preferred. Combination of two colors may be permitted; however, there should be no marked spots and the transition from one color to another takes place gradually and symmetrically.
As a working breed, it is commonly used as a herder because of its remarkable herding instincts. Amazingly and almost unnaturally, they have extremely acute sense of hearing.
The Briard’s gait is supple and light, almost cat-like. They possess amazing speed and agility in their movements, permitting them to make abrupt turns, springing starts and sudden stops required of the sheep herding dog.
Temperament and Tendencies of the Briard
Briards are tireless workers. They are happy to lead busy and active lives. They have independent minds so training may require more patience. They are very suspicious and wary towards strangers. This is brought about by their sheepdog instincts.
They are fearless and never timid. Briards have initiative as working dogs. They are highly intelligent and have a very good memory; therefore, they are easily trained. They are faithful and gentle to their families and they have the enthusiastic desire to please their masters.
Although the breed may display aloofness and is quite reserved to strangers, they are loving and loyal to those they know.
Training and Care of the Briard
They are very trainable and eager to please their master but they need a firm owner able to show leadership. With proper training, they are very sensitive to their families’ feelings and makes excellent house companions.
Briards may need a lot of physical and mental activity. They want to be entertained with play and training. As owners, you should do this regularly to make them grow as well-adjusted companion pets.
They should be socialized early especially with children. They are good-natured and very adaptable to living with children if they are raised together. Children must be taught to become pack leaders so Briards will know their places in the pack.
Grooming wise, the breeds coat needs brushing every day to prevent mats.