Breed Organization Briard Club of America Website: http://www.briardclubofamerica.org Native Country France Other Names Briard, Brie Shepherd Life Expectancy Approximately 10-12 Years Litter Size Average 8-10 Puppies Breed Group AKC Herding
Breed Description Head: Strong and long. Pronounced stop.
Rectangular forehead. Squarish nose. Head covered in hairs forming a
beard and mustache with fall shading the eyes. Ears: Set on high. Preferably cropped and carried erect. Eyes: Set horizontally. Large and of dark color. Long fall
covering the eyes. Body: Solid, muscular, well constructed and of good length.
Broad, deep chest. Muscular loin. Slightly sloped croup. Straight
back. Tail: Not docked. Well-feathered, forming a hook at the tip.
Carried low, not falling to the right or left. Hair: Coarse, dry (goat hair), light undercoat no more than 7
cm long. (2.8 in). Coat: All uniform colors (except white), brown, mahogany, and
bi-color. Dark colors are preferred. Size: Dog: 62 to 68 cm. (24.4-26.8 in).Bitch: 56 to 64 cm.
(22-25 in). Weight: 30 to 40 kg. (66-88 lb).
History In 1863 a man named Pierre Megnin
differentiated two types of sheepdogs, one with a long coat, which
became known as the Briard, and the other with a short coat, which
became the Beauceron. to improve the dog's look. The Briard became
popular only after the Paris dog show of 1863. In 1897 the first
shepherd dog club was founded and both the Beauceron and the Briard
were accepted into it. Prior to 1889 the Beauceron and Briard had a
reputation of being a flock guard who was brave but one who was more
incline to snap and bite in defense of its flock. Both breed’s
temperaments were softened through selective breeding. Charlemagne,
Napoleon, Thomas Jefferson and Lafayette all owned Briards.
Centuries ago the Briard was used to defend its charges against
poachers and wolves and by the French army, ignoring exploding bombs
and artillery fire. The dogs were used to run messages, detect
mines, pick up trails, support commando actions, find the wounded,
and carry food and ammunition to the front lines. The Briard may
have been named after Aubry of Montdidier, who owned an early
Briard, or for the French province of Brie, although the dog
probably does not originate in that area. The Briard was recognized
by the AKC in 1928. The Briard still serves as a flock guardian and
They were originally bred to herd as well as guard flocks of sheep.
And they were often left to their own devices in order to accomplish
their assigned tasks. This makes the Briard different from those
breeds that only guard and those that only herd. The breeds that
just herd are often smaller in size, agile, and swift of foot. Those
breeds that just guard are usually larger and heavier. Briards were
used in all types of herding situations, having the ability to learn
many commands and fulfill the jobs expected of them. The Briard was
most commonly used as a farm dog in the more crowded farming valleys
of France, where row crops were grown. Sheep were allowed to graze
the grass strips between crops and Briards were responsible for
keeping the sheep moving along these strips, and preventing the
sheep from eating the crops. The Briard moved the sheep daily from
the farm to the graze areas and back again at night. At the farm,
the Briard was the shepherd’s partner, helping with livestock
chores. The Briard was also used to move large flocks of sheep in
areas of France that had wide grazing pastures and mountain pastures
in summer. Those flocks were moved on foot, to the grazing areas,
much like large sheep ranches do in the western United States and
Canada. The Briards were usually worked beside one or two other
breeds to keep the sheep from straying and herd the sheep to the
proper areas. At night, they were alert and vigilant watchdogs,
protecting the shepherds and flock from wolves and thieves.
Behavior The Briard is a very loyal and protective
breed, and is sometimes called "a heart of gold wrapped in fur".
Once they have bonded to their family members, they will be very
protective. They can be aloof with strangers - new introductions
should be on the dog's terms, including furniture or the addition of
a new baby into the household. They require showing that the new
intrusion is friendly and free of conflict. They must be taught that
it is a good thing and not harmful. They have proven to be a very
good breed to have around children of all ages. Indeed, these dogs
rapidly develop an affection to their owners. They are really
emotional, capable of crying for a long time after their owners'
departure and celebrate their return in a very enthusiastic way.
It is also important that the Briard be introduced to several
different individuals of all ages and in all types of situations.
Socialization starting at a very young age is mandatory. Briards
should be walked as often as possible, to many different places, and
they will develop into a well rounded animal. Pet stores, city parks
and malls are a good place to start.
The Briard has been bred for centuries to herd and to protect their
flocks. To domesticated briards, their family is the flock and all
strangers may appear to be predators. Letting them know that the
public in general are friendly and not harmful will help them
establish a lifelong socialization pattern which will result in an
outgoing and happy dog. This socialization with the public in
general will not diminish their capacity for protecting and guarding
The Briard has a very good memory. Once a
lesson is learned, good or bad, the knowledge will be retained for a
long time to come. Sometimes they may appear to be strong minded and
stubborn but these are a few of the Briard's characteristics. They
were bred for centuries to think for themselves and to act upon
their conclusions, sometimes to the point of thinking what the
"flock" will do ahead of time.
These are some of the traits that the Briard has retained throughout
history. Even if a Briard is a city dweller, they have a degree of
herding ability within them. If ever, during their lifetime, they
are introduced to sheep or cattle, they will automatically start
doing what they were bred to do, herding. They will even herd humans
by nibbling on their ankles or guiding with their heads and guide
them to his master if ordered.
Health Generally healthy, but some lines are prone to
PRA, cataracts and hip dysplasia. Briards, like other large-chested
breeds, can experience bloat and stomach torsion. The condition can
come on very fast and, if left untreated, is fatal.
Advice This robust, active, powerful dog needs lots of
space and exercise. He is usually not a city-dweller but can adapt.
His coat should be brushed and combed regularly to keep it mat-free:
two to three times per week if he in an outdoor dog; once per week
if he is an indoor dog.