Briard is known as a powerful and agile breed, it is a sheep dog that originates in France where it’s been used primarily for herding and protecting. This working dog breed is also noted as a fine watchdog because of its amazing sense of hearing and its wariness of strangers.
The broad-chested Briard is an ancient breed. It has been depicted in tapestries and paintings dating back to the 8th century. During that time, these robust, brave dogs were used as protection against wolves and poachers. Later, their duties incorporated herding as well. The breed was also used by the French Army to run messages, detect mines, find wounded soldiers, and run food and ammunition to the front lines. Thomas Jefferson is said to have helped bring the Briard to America. Napoleon and Lafayette also are believed to have owned Briards.
These dogs require activity; therefore, they do not make the best apartment dwellers. Because of their working breed heritage, Briards need sufficient daily exercise. This includes very long walks, jogs, hikes, or runs. These dogs also enjoy swimming. They do best in areas with large yards or at least a dog park available. This breed should be supervised when in the dog park and sufficiently trained for good manners around other dogs and people.
Because of their working dog heritage, Briards excel at herding events. These vigorous, strong dogs also perform well in search and rescue and as police and military dogs. They are a bit independent and therefore, somewhat stubborn, so early training with a significant serving of patience is required.
This breed has been part of the American Kennel Club’s (AKC’s) Herding Group since 1928.
A dog with spirit, determination and a love of the outdoors, the Briard is considered fearless yet also gentle and obedient, especially when trained and socialized at an early age. Briards have a great memory, helping them perform their duties and activities with excellence. They are reserved with strangers but loving and loyal to their owners.
Briards stand 22 to 27 inches tall (56 to 69 cm) and weigh an average of 75 pounds (35 kg). They possess high-set ears, large eyes, and a wide muzzle with a large mustache and beard. Briards also have well-feathered tails with a crook near the end that resembles the letter J. their quick, yet light movements are almost cat-like.
These dogs have a double-coat. The hard, course outer coat falls naturally in long, wavy locks. A Briard’s coat requires daily brushing to prevent mats. Colors range from various shades of tawny or gray to black; white is not acceptable to the AKC. The ears should be cleaned and trimmed regularly as well.
A Briard lives 10 to 12 years. Although generally healthy, the breed is prone to hip dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), and cataracts.
The Briard is a dog breed from France with a long history and heritage for working with courage and distinction. It excels at a variety of jobs and activities and makes a faithful companion for an active person or family.