The Briard is a large French herding breed. Many call this breed “a heart wrapped in fur,” but don’t take the fluffy faces lightly. Briards are dedicated and formidable herding and guard dogs.
Dating back to the early Middle Ages, 3 yards were developed as cattle herders and guardians, as well as all around farm hands. The breed endured across history and time. Great French rules like Charlemange and Napoleon Boneparte are linked to the dogs in art and legend.
By World War I the Briard was named the official for dog of the French army an assisted in the war effort greatly. Thomas Jefferson is said to have brought the breed to the United States, where they are valued today for their versatility, kindness, and fidelity.
BRIARD BREED CHARACTERISTICS
The Briard is a most distinctive looking character, and there is plenty to love and admire about these dogs.
Briards are quite large, typically weighing between 70 and 90 pounds. Males measure around 23 to 27 inches tall of the shoulder while females measure 22 to 25.
Covered in a long flowing slightly shaggy coat, the Briard can be found in a variety of colors. They are usually tan, gray or black, but the coat can be any combination of these.
While the Briard does not shed, it does have a double coat that requires significant upkeep and grooming. Their locks are very prone to matting and collecting debris and mud.
The Briard is tall with an upright posture. High-set ears, which may be either natural and flopped or cropped and standing upright, top their large, rectangular heads. Their front legs are straight and well muscled, while their back legs slope gently backward, giving them a quite forward and alert appearance.
Temperament and Personality
The Briard has the reputation for being a dedicated pet and an independent worker. They’re loyal and kind, and especially friendly to their owners. Protective to the end, Briards are known to be quite standoffish with strangers.
They love small children and enjoy spending their time playing and “taking care” of them. Always make sure to supervise children around any dog, teaching them to be respectful and careful with approaching and interacting.
If they’re raised with other dogs, the Briard will generally get along with them well. They are not known to be particularly friendly with unfamiliar dogs. Also care should be taken around cast and other small pets. The Briard has a farily strong prey drive and they will chase. Be sure to keep your Briard leashed in any unstructured, public area.
With their deep roots as a herding and guard dog, the Briard is naturally protective. Early socialization of your puppy is vital to be sure that their desire to be protective doesn’t turn into aggression. Frequent trips to public places including dog-friendly stores and dog parks, as well as enrolling in puppy preschool class can help your Briard grow up most successfully.
Despite their work ethic Briards need to spend quite a lot of time with their family. They are not dogs that do well when left on their own. In fact they pretty much prefer to be a housedog! They do need regular, vigorous exercise but beyond that, are happy to lounge and be part of the family’s daily life.
CARING FOR YOUR BRIARD
Briards require a bit more care and maintenance than many other dog breeds, but with the right knowledge you can easily take care of yours!
Due to their large size, your Briard will eat quite a bit of dry dog food everyday. Divided between two meals they can easily consume 3 to 4 cups daily. As your dog grows up, their nutritional needs will change. Begin with feeding them a high-quality puppy food, then a food tailored to larger breeds in his adulthood, and transitioning to a senior food in their old age.
As with any dog, individual nutritional needs are different. Active younger dogs require more food each day the quiet older dog. Work with your veterinarian to design the best nutritional plan for your pet.
Briards are intense, high energy dogs who need a physical outlet to stay happy. They love to have a job to do, especially if they get to work alongside their owners. They are great partners for running, hiking, and even biking.
As herding dogs, Briards love to chase. They may enjoy fetch, and their owners (who will certainly tire out before the dog will) will appreciate an automatic fetch machine! They will be very successful in doggy sports like herding and agility. Briards respond well to competition and working toward a goal.
With their independent spirit, bred to work alone guarding their flocks, Briards can be somewhat stubborn and challenging to train. Experienced, confident owners will be most successful with them.
That being said, they are also highly intelligent dogs and learn new things quickly. Briards excel when they are given new behaviors to learn and things to accomplish. They love to feel useful, often performing at the tops of their classes in obedience, herding and search-and-rescue jobs.
Briards have a tendency to roam and wander if not properly secured in a backyard with a sturdy fence or electric fencing system. Many will also be quite successfully crate trained, another way to keep them safe while their owners are away.
To keep a Briard healthy, it is important to begin with routine basic grooming, whether at home or at a professional dog groomer. Their long coats and dense undercoats need to be brushed at least several times a week, followed frequently by shampooing and a thorough drying. This will help to keep them protected from skin infections and painful matting.
Overall, the Briard dog is healthy and robust. Like any breed, though, they are predisposed to some health conditions. Eye conditions like stationary night blindness, cataracts, retinal folding and corneal dystrophy are common.
Briards should also be screened and monitored by your veterinarian for a variety of endocrine deficiencies at well. Thyroid and pancreatic ailments can occur. In addition, cancers can develop as the dogs age.
Like many other large breeds, due to their size the Briard can be prone to other medical conditions as well. Gastric Torsion, or bloat, is an emergency in which the dog’s stomach twists, cutting off the circulation of blood throughout their bodies and drducing the dog’s ability to breathe. Veterinary care is required immediately if you suspect bloat. Signs include a swollen abdomen combined with excessive salivation and retching without actually vomiting.