Centuries-old Briard is the oldest of France’s four native sheepdogs. (The others are Beauceron, Great Pyrenees, and Picardy).
Briard is a busy bee that loves to protect his flock. And if he doesn’t have a flock to look after, he’ll be pleased watching over your family.
Finally, they are quite happy to move from the countryside to a house. This breed is a challenging and cheerful companion for people and they do ‘work like a dog’.
He uses his tricks to outsmart and he will love you with his whole heart, right from the start.
Briard Breed Characteristics Sheet
- Origin: France
- Size: Large
- Dog Breed Group: Working / Herding /Pastoral Group
- Purebred: Yes
- Lifespan:10-12 years
- Height: Male – 23-27 inches (58-69 cm), Female – 22-26 inches (56-65 cm)
- Weight: Males – 27- 41 Kg(59-90 lbs) and Females – 23-34 Kg (50-75 lbs)
- Coat Appearance: Double coat
- Coat Colors: Black, Fawn, Slate Grey
- Temperament: Affectionate, Alert, Cheerful, Courageous, Energetic, Friendly, Independent, Intelligent, Lively, Loyal, Outgoing, Protective, Responsive, Social, Territorial
- Good With Children: Yes
- Intelligence Level: High
- Good With Pets: Yes under supervision
- Hypoallergenic: No
- Grooming: High
- Shedding: High (seasonal)
- Suitable For Apartments: Low
- Need For Exercise: High
- Easy To Train: No
- Good For First Time Owners: Moderate
- Health Issues: Allergies, Hip Dysplasia, Panosteitis, Auto-Immune Disease, Bloat/Gastric Torsion, And Some Eye Problems
- Litter Size: 8-10 puppies, average-6
- Average Price: $1000 – $1200 USD (US), £919 for KC Registered, £750 for Non-KC Registered (UK)
The most descriptive word for Briards would be ‘Loyal’. It has evolved through the centuries for its herding and guarding abilities.
Most of the early history of the breed is unwritten. 8th-century tapestries show Emperor Charlemagne had large Briard-like dogs. There are stone chiselings which depict the shaggy dogs and several folk songs in praise of them.
In the early days, people used Briards to guard families, property, and livestock.
They worked during the war times as a rescue dog to find wounded soldiers and served as pack animals. Finally, it became the French army’s official dog.
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Briard Size And Lifespan
Height – Male – 23-27 inches (58-69 cm), Female – 22-26 inches (56-65 cm)
Weight – Males – 27- 41 Kg(59-90 lbs) and Females – 23-34 Kg (50-75 lbs)
The average Briard life-span is about 10-12 years. A lucky few owners have Briards that live hale and hearty lives up to 15 years.
Briard Coat Color And Appearance
- Fawn – all shades
- Slate Grey
The accepted color for Kennel Club registration is black, fawn and slate grey and not white. Fawn colored Briards may have darker markings on their muzzles, ears, backs and on their tails.
The Briard is a breed whose external appearance does not quite give the right impression of the dog. When it comes to their coat, the Briard boasts a shaggy and long double coat.
The outer coat is long, wavy, coarse. The goat-like hair makes a rasping sound when rubbed between the fingers. The undercoat is plush, dense and tight which covers the entire body. It acts almost as thermal underwear.
They may look like fluffy teddy bears but, the Briards are sturdy and brawny herding dogs. They are built for working in wet, wintry, less than ideal conditions for long periods of time.
These are some of the recognized hybrid breeds
Briard x Poodle – Bridoodle
Afghan Hound x Briard mix – Afaird
Briard x Bearded Collie – bricollie (dear me! I just named it)
Briard x Border Collie – you can try this one
Briards come with different personalities. Yet, some traits of the are common to all Briards.
- Briards are alert and especially affectionate. Some of them will keep their puppy instinct throughout adulthood.
- They don’t have a lazy bone in their body and they are energetic by nature. They also adapt tremendously well to family life.
- Briards own an ancestral guarding instinct. This becomes evident at around 12 months of age and it is particularly devoted to its family
- Large or small, the Briard always believes it is a lap dog. Human contact is essential, and they will follow you wherever you go. You don’t need to worry about where your Briard is. You have to be sure you don’t stumble over him!
- It doesn’t matter if you have hectares of land, they will only use it if you are with them. Otherwise, they will usually sit beside the door, looking for you and to be with you.
- Briard is a canine aquaphile. He can make a small spill go a long way. When he sees a pool or lake, he will be a with two tails but that doesn’t mean they will step outside when it rains!
- While there is some dawdler Briards out there, in general, they are agile and athletic. Keep in mind; this is a dog that was bred to herd sheep all day. Don’t let the sleeping dogs lie and don’t think twice about waking him up. Most of them are always up and ready to go at the least sign of support.
- The Briard is really going about his job, one crackerjack of a worker and a regular go-getter.
- He thinks everything is his own business from opening the refrigerator door to the leaf falling off the tree across the street. No one using the sidewalk or street goes unnoticed, but they never bark up the wrong tree.
Taking Care Of Your Briard At Home
Briards, being so large and exuberant. Hence, they need to have enough space to express themselves. They are well suited to large households with fenced back gardens where he can let off steam.
Briard is not the best choice for condominium and apartment-dwellers. They can adapt to apartment-living if they get adequate exercise. But, they are not suited for life in a kennel.
It is possible that briards can learn how to share a house with a cat. Briards can collaborate with other Briards or other dog breeds, by working in a group.
As such, care must always be taken about where and when a Briard can run off the lead. Be always cautious especially if there is any wildlife or livestock, round the corner. But, the right handler can blossom his Briard into a first-class pet that can coexist with other pets.
Much of what you can do to keep your briard happy and healthy is pure common sense like it is for dogs. Watch his diet and make sure he gets plenty of exercises. Brush his teeth and coat, and make sure to adhere to the schedule of vaccinations and pet visits.
Another very important step in caring for your dog is signing up for pet health insurance. There will be medical tests and procedures he will need throughout his life. Pet health insurance will help you cover those costs.
For people who lead active, outdoor lives, they are the best. They are also suited to those who like to have an intelligent and large canine companion at their side.
Beardies have low- boredom threshold. They need regular exercises to vent their energy and mental stimulation to do interesting things. Else, they will become bored, which they may express by destructive chewing.
They do not suffer from separation anxiety provided they are never left to their own for too long.
This is not a breed for everyone. It is a loyal dog that shows affection only for its owner, a true “one-man” or “one-family” “dog. The right amount of care and affection is enough to get into the good books of your briard.
He is as an independent thinker and much devoted to his owner. He will not sway from his devotion at any cost and will protect his owners with his life, if necessary.
Briard Grooming And Shedding
The very coat that attracts us to this beautiful breed can also be a challenge for many Briard owners. The reason is, they are of high maintenance on the grooming front.
Briards will undergo few coat changing phases from puppy-hood through adulthood. The hair texture is not the same on each dog.
The ideal texture of the coat is generally described as a “goat’s coat” which is easy to care for.
The primary source of coat texture is hereditary. Some Briard Veterans claim, handling the black coats is easier if your dog’s coat is of good texture.
But, if you have a dog that has a softer coat and carries more undercoat your job may be more of a challenge.
This requires more time and care. Regardless of the coat texture, if kept clean and not allowed to get matted, then grooming will not be a big chore.
Their coats need to be brushed regularly to avoid the formation of any knots or tangles. Tangles may lead to painful skin infections called hot spots on the dog’s skin.
It’s also very important to check between a dog’s toes often to see any debris. This could lead to an infection flaring up.
Regularly check the Briard’s ears for too much hair and pluck out the dead or excess hair. Check the tooth regularly to prevent bad breath. Brushing using good toothpaste will keep teeth and gums healthy.
Briard’s face and rear end must be washed more often because their long hair can trap debris.
Basic Thumb Rules For Grooming
- The first rule for successful grooming is regularity
- Teach the dogs to enjoy grooming and brushing.
- Make your puppy used to standing or lying on a table. Start with the feet. Brush the coat a small section at a time. Keep working on that section until there are no knots or tangles.
- Continue up to the body taking a section at a time making sure you are brushing down to the skin. Do not skim over the top
- For dogs lying on its side, it is best to continue to work on the side along with his body towards his front
Most of the hair that is shed will be the soft undercoat. They usually shed more during the spring and then again in the fall.
Train Your Briard
Before starting the training, you need to acquaint with the unique ‘Briard temperament’. Only then, the Briard training sessions will be easier for you. Briards are natural ‘Alpha’ and he wants to get the best of everything.
There are also social climber dogs. They always look for means to get to control the family. This dominant nature may cause trouble to a normal family that’s not aware of this dog’s original set instincts.
He needs a few tutorings on how to be a subordinate, not an equal place as leaders of the family.
Teach your dog that he is a dog, not a ‘canine titan’. Let him learn his position within the home, pack hierarchy or family order.
Besides all this, remember, he has a playful nature. Find new games for him to play. Fetch or frisbee catching, Hide & Seek or other appropriate games will be appropriate. Make sure you should be the one who starts and ends the game – not your Briard!
Once you inculcate all this in your initial training, there are only 2 possibilities
- You may succeed!!! (Trumpets please!)
- In case your Briard fails, review the situation. Re-examine and/or change your training.
After successful initial training, your dog must look up to you for permissions and orders. He’ll show a keenness to please you and will show his inherent devotion.
Watch how your dog approaches and greets you and other members of your family. Does he come to you ‘high and mighty’, with his head and ears held high and erect?
It may look impressive and inspiring but you still have problems! You should take him back through another tour of basic training with support from the rest of the family.
Don’t hesitate to consult with a qualified Professional Dog Trainer or behaviorists. This is vital before starting the training and exercises. Contact your Vet or your country Kennel Clubs for a list of obedience training clubs in your area.
Remember these 5 Golden Rules To Building A Relationship With Your Briard:
- Spend a lot of quality time together; Take him out and experience life together.
- Never rebuke your Briard if he fails at something. It’s not his fault. It’s you have failed as a trainer!
- Increase two-way communication and to understand each other’s needs.
- Establish and promote a level of mutual trust and respect.
- Follow the rule of the 3 P’s – patience, persistence, praise.
Briards are very energetic and industrious dogs. You need to take this activity level into consideration when determining the calories. Briard needs more calories if he is doing any work or training, such as herding or agility.
If you get a Briard puppy from a breeder, he will give you a feeding schedule. It is important to stick to the same routine. If you want to change a puppy’s diet, you have to do it very gradually. Make sure that they don’t develop any digestive upsets.
Rough Feeding guide for a Briard:
Briard puppies need to be fed a good quality, highly nutritious diet for them to develop and grow as they should. As a rough guide, a Briard puppy should be fed with their meals is evenly spread out throughout the day. It’s best to feed 3 or 4 times a day.
Foods Briard Can Eat
Foods Briard Should Avoid
Interesting Facts On Briard
- They are Originally from France and were held in high esteem. They are often seen depicted on tapestries in the French castles and paintings.
- There are stories that Emperor Napoleon, who had an aversion to dogs, owned 2 Briards. They are too hard to resist even for the emperor.
- Until around 1809, they were known as “Chien d’Montargis”, “Chien d’Aubry”, “Chien de Brie” or Chien Berger de Brie”.
- Aubry de Montdidier, a French courier to King Charles V, was murdered in 1371 by Richard de Macaire. Montdidier’s beloved Briard was the only witness. It didn’t let the murderer sleep in peace. When the king heard the suspect was Macaire, he established a fight between the dog and Macaire.
- This duel was held at Notre Dame, Paris and Macaire were killed by the dog though it is one version. But, the loyal dog avenged his master’s murder.
- The Briard and the Beauceron are look-alikes French sheepdogs. Priest Abbe Rozier wrote a record about the difference between the two dogs in 1809.
- During the Paris canine Exhibition, a first-ever French dog show was held in May 1863. Charmante, a female Briard got the first place among all the shepherd dogs.
- They served as guards, messengers, and as locators of wounded soldiers for the French Army during the World Wars I and II. French military believed that if a Briard leaves an injured soldier on the battleground, then the soldier must not be fit for any help.
- They have a very keen earshot and this was an extra asset in guarding duties. And also their search duty through the bodies on the battlefield to look for the wounded.
- They have appeared in many TV series and movies, and enjoy a presence on the internet and social media. A few of the TV series that have featured Briards are: “Dennis the Menace” (Ruff), “Get Smart” (Fang), My Three Sons” (Tramp), “Married With Children” (Buck), “The Addams Family” (Them) etc.
- 17 is the biggest recorded litter size of a briard.
- AKC recognized the breed in 1928. Briard enjoys only modest popularity in the United States, listed 125th out of the AKC’s 167 breeds.
- A Briard called “Desamee Mitzi Moffat” was the first British Briard Club Champion at the Crufts.
Briard Health Problems
Briards are one of the healthier pedigree dogs around. It is ranked as a Category 1 breed by the UK Kennel Club.
There are a few health concerns worth knowing about, which includes the following:
They may get affected by an abnormal hip developmental condition called hip dysplasia. This may lead to arthritis.
Panosteitis (Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy (HOD) or Pano)
It is a very painful orthopedic condition of the inflammation in the bone marrow. This condition in the limb bones with episodes of bone pain can be severe and lameness.
Bloat/Gastric torsion( Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus)
This gastric torsion or Bloat usually occurs in with deep-chested breeds. This means your Briard is more at risk than other breeds.
The stomach gets overstretched and rotated by excessive gas, fluid, froth or a mixture of them all.
Torsion (volvulus) is when the whole stomach twisted at either end. It gets closed off at both its entrance and its exit, just like the ends of sausage is twisted and closed at both ends.
Bloat can happen on its own or as a precursor to torsion. This is a life-threatening condition. If the dog is not brought for veterinary care and surgery on time, the dog will not survive.
Sometimes his kneecap (patella) may slip out of its normal anatomical position. This is patellar luxation.
Abnormal development of elbow joint causes damage to the cartilage surface. This process called osteochondrosis or OCD.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy
This inherited disease of the retina includes several different genetic diseases. This leads to the degeneration of the retina. Sadly, Briards are a bit more likely than other dogs to have this condition.
Cataracts – They are a common cause of blindness in older Briards.
Allergies – Food Allergies, Airborne pollens, Dust mites, Flea, and tick bites
Briard Price And Breeders
Average – $1000 – $1200 USD
This is the price you can expect to budget for a Briard with papers but without breeding rights or show quality. Expect to pay less for a puppy without papers, but, this is not recommended.
In recent times, Briards have found a fan base both in the US and elsewhere in the world. This means that well-bred puppies can often command a lot of money.
Finding well-bred Briard puppies can be challenging with long waiting lists. They can often charge a lot of money. Get started by searching for a good breeder on national kennel or breed clubs.
Start your search for a good breeder on the reputed website such as American Briard Club.
Choose a breeder who has agreed to abide by the club’s code of ethics. This prohibits the sale of puppies through backyard breeders or through pet stores.
Reputable breeders generally don’t advertise in papers. They may have a great waiting list for people to buy puppies even before the puppies are born.
2018 – Most reputable breeders of USA
- Aladax Briards Austin, Texas
- Briards de Bejaune, Yanceyville, North Carolina
- BriardAcres Adrian, Michigan
- Boyz Briards & Bulldogs Wayland, Michigan
- Briards of The CoastLine Bridgehampton, New York
- Coralberry Briards North Ridgeville, Ohio
- Dior Briards and Cotons Cape Coral, Florida
- Eiledon Briards Brookfield, Massachusetts
- Tintagel Briards Montague, Massachusetts
Adoption and Breed Clubs
Animal shelters and rescue organizations have a great selection of dogs.
Pets adopted from shelters and rescue organizations cost less than pets got from other sources. You add the cost of vaccinations, dewormer, spay/neuter, microchip, and other costs. You’ll be bowled over on the bargain an adopted pet really is!
This can save you some of the upfront costs of adding a new member to your family. The American Briard Club can help you and you can also search online for other Briard rescues in your area.
Here are some of the best animal shelters in America which are doing a great job
- Arizona Animal Welfare League – www.aawl.org
- Humane Society of Sarasota County – www.hssc.org
- Pet Haven of Minnesota – www.pethavenmn.org
- BARC Shelter, Newyork – www.barcshelter.org
- New York Bully Crew – www.nybullycrew.org
- Animal Humane Society – www.animalhumanesociety.org
- Bainbridge Humane Society – www.bainbridgehumanesociety.com
- Milton Animal League, Boston – www.miltonanimalleague.org
- Humane Society of Memphis – www.memphishumane.org
- Dane County Humane Society – www.giveshelter.org
- Austin Pets Alive! – www.austinpetsalive.org
- Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles (spcaLA) – www.spcala.com
- Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando – petallianceorlando.org
- Best Friends Animal Society – www.bestfriends.org
- Nevada Humane Society – www.nevadahumanesociety.org
- Humane Society of Silicon Valley – www.hssv.org
- Greenhill Humane Society – www.green-hill.org