The Briard, also known as the Berger de Brie, is a huge French shepherd dog that has traditionally been employed for both herding and defending sheep. It debuted at the first Paris dog show in 1863, and Sans Gêne was the first Briard to be recorded in the Livre des Origines Françaises, the national studbook, in 1885. It was also known as the Chien de Berger Français de Plaine in the past.
The Briard has traditionally been used as a good herding dog. Due to this, Briard likes to keep itself engaged with work. Whether on a farm or a ranch, they try to herd all sorts of animals.
Its instincts are usually good, and it has a pronounced sense of hearing. A classic working dog, the Briard can also pack in a punch. It can fight off wolves, as well as other predators that are larger than it.
The Briard is for you in case you are looking for a dog that has an independent streak. Of course, it may occasionally question or even refuse the owner’s commands. The respect of the dog has to be earned through consistent obedience training.[wpdatatable id=85]
History of Briard
The Briard is a breed that hails from France. It is reported that the Briard is visible from the tapestries as old as the eighth century AD, during the time of Charlemagne. The name may take its origin from the ancient region of Brie, in the neighborhood of Paris. The Briard was also known to have been a favorite of Napoleon. There is, of course, also the curious legend associated with Sir Aubry de Montdidier. It is recounted that Sir Aubry was murdered, and his dog pursued the killer to such lengths that the French monarch eventually ordered a duel between the dog and the killer. The dog won, and the briard breed derives its name from this context.
French farmers have traditionally bred briards to herd sheep and guard them. It is believed that the Briard was outstanding at this job and so skilled was the breed that it required just a couple of them to watch over hundreds of sheep simultaneously.
Because of their sharp sense of hearing, and natural intelligence, they were also used during the First World War. They were either used as sentry dogs to carry food and rations to the frontiers or as red cross dogs to guide medics to the injured soldiers.
The Briard was introduced in the United States of America only as late as the 1960s. The breed eventually multiplied and went on to win some prestigious championship shows.
More About Briard
The Briard is sometimes described as a “heart wrapped in fur” because it packs so much loyalty, love, and energy into its large form.
These muscular Frenchman’s stunning good looks exude a particular aura of Gallic romance and grace. Briards are herders with wavy grey, tawny, or black coats with a magnificent head topped by a peek-a-boo hair parted naturally in the middle. A thick beard and brows complement a ‘honest and inquiring’ expression. Briards are muscular and sturdy, standing between 22 and 27 inches at the shoulder and moving with a nimble-footed pace.
The Briard is usually on the larger side. It looks rugged – along with being muscular and well-proportioned. Its appearance is further accentuated because of the dense coat. The skull, as well as the muzzle of the dog, are covered by a lot of dense growth of hair.
The head is composed of two parallel rectangles, and the nose is large and square. The eyes have an intelligent expression, and they seem to peer out from behind the hair as if spying. It has strong teeth with an almost perfect bite. The neck is of proper length and muscular, and the shoulders are at a sloping angle.
Yet another distinctive feature of the Briard is its tail, with its unique tail in the form of a hook. While it is in motion, only the top line of the tail should be visible. The texture of the tail is feathery. A characteristic of this breed is that it has double dewclaws on its rear feet, which are actual bony appendages.
The Briard is a large dog breed that weighs 70 to 90 pounds (32 to 41 kg) and stands 22 to 27 inches (56 to 69 cm) tall at the shoulder. They have a long, shaggy coat with a strong, muscular body that needs frequent cleaning to keep its texture and health. Briards are noted for their athleticism and agility despite their size, which makes them great working dogs for jobs like guarding and herding. Briards need regular exercise and a vast living space to thrive because of their size and high levels of energy.
Personality and Temperament
The usual temperament of the Briard is fearless – it does not show any signs of timidity. It also has an intelligent demeanor and is very lively throughout. It is loving and affectionate to those with whom it is familiar but reserved around unfamiliar people. It has an independent mind and does not view itself as a servant to its owner. Moreover, the Briard does not seek constant validation or attention, unlike other breeds.
While the Briard can be expected to see a life expectancy of 12 years, it may also suffer from some regular health problems. It would help to be on the watch out for some of these common afflictions.
Demodex is a mite that is responsible for causing this disease. They reside in the hair follicles, and they are usually kept in check by the immune system of the dog. However, certain species might be more prone to having an overabundance of mites and thus suffer a lot of hair loss.
Hypothyroidism is a glandular problem where there is not adequate secretion of thyroid hormones. The symptoms of this would include the coat drying up, loss of hair in patches, the onset of other skin diseases, weight gain, behavioral changes, etc. The deficiency must be compensated for through replacement hormones in the administered pill.
The Briard is slightly more prone to cancer from an earlier stage. The cancers would require chemotherapy or surgical treatment. The most common form of cancer that affects herding dogs like the Briard is lymphosarcoma. Lymphocytes are formed at an abnormal level. Of course, this is easily treatable, although treatment requires a lifelong commitment from the stage of diagnosis.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy
This affliction is hereditary, and briards are more prone than other dogs to have this disease, where they go blind. The retina starts decomposing – while this is not painful, there is also no cure. Early symptoms can begin from three to five years, including night blindness or dilated pupils.
Teeth abnormalities are caused due to genetic inheritances. The Briard can have a case of overbite, underbite, or misaligned teeth. There can be tartar buildup on the undersides of the teeth, which goes on to infect the gums and roots of the teeth. This can go as far as to cause damage to the liver, kidneys, or heart.
Briards have double dew claws on their rear legs and single dew claws on their front legs. These need to be clipped at regular intervals with the help of dog nail clippers. The dew claws are black, and they may become difficult to handle. It is recommended that you visit your veterinarian for this.
Shampooing of the dog should also be started from the outset, as the puppy would be less hostile. While shampooing, the head may not be wetted, while the ears may be covered with cotton. You need to wet the whole body of the puppy, shampoo it, and then rinse it downwards.
Ears should be cleaned weekly. The beard tends to have food or water clogged up, hence requires frequent cleaning.
The diet of the Briard needs to be optimum during its growing stage. When it is a puppy, it requires as much as four bowls a week.
The standard diet of 3 to 4 cups of high-quality feed may be given during the adult phase. The meals should be given twice daily instead of leaving the food in the bowl throughout the day.
The unique feature of the Briard is its coat. It is visibly long and extends to at least six inches over the shoulder. It can reach from twelve to eighteen inches. The advantage is that the coat does not molt.
The texture is plush and wavy. The colors can range from black to gray to even white or tawny. A fine, dense undercoat stretches all over the body. The coat can be considered to extend over the head, too, with the hair forming a mustache and a beard and covering a veil over the eyes.
Since the Briard has a dense coat, it may require brushing daily to prevent matting and reduce the hair that falls on the ground.
In case you are adopting a Briard, you must have it used to be brushed from the day that it arrives. Regular brushing should start no later than when the puppy is 8 to 10 weeks old. Please start at the feet, and examine them closely to see whether there are lumps of soil, grass, etc.
Grooming around the face can be very uncomfortable. You need to hold the puppy by the beard and brush the hair down from the sides.
Children And Other Pets
In case Briard is raised along with a child, the situation will usually be favorable. The dog considers the child to be a member of its flock. They are naturally protective of children and can act quite responsibly regarding the overseeing of little children. Examples have also been cited of briards resisting parental spanking of children! Of course, they can tend to overstep, as in nipping kids to control them, but this can be trained out of them.
Initially, the Briard can be aggressive towards other animals. Although, if it is properly socialized with them, the dog can learn to live with other dogs and cats. Other pets, such as rodents, birds, or reptiles, must be kept away. This is because the dog might not take well to them and will always see them as unfamiliar breeds. The dog has a strong prey drive and should be on a leash when taken out.
If the Briard is good-natured by disposition, it will usually be easy to train. Of course, they tend to be suspicious of strangers – consequently, training and socialization as a puppy are required. It usually demonstrates a lot of initiative.
The Briard is enthusiastic and eager to please its master; however, the owner must be firm in his training. Without the leadership of the owner, the dog might become unfriendly and reserved. However, this is not usually the case with proper training. Heavy punishment is not recommended for this breed since the dog might tend to snap back. However, the dog usually respects an authoritative figure.
After socialization has been done thoroughly, the dog will be well in sync with the feelings of its family. The Briard also requires a lot of mental and physical activity. Because of their genetic disposition towards herding, the Briard can quickly become destructive. Hence, they need to be kept occupied with physical exercise.
The dog needs to be taken out on long walks each day, or it can be taken on jogging jaunts. While indoors, the dog will tend to be active, and its exercise needs must be met. The Briard is also good at swimming, provided the temperature outside is cool. Swimming at too hot temperatures may cause them to fall sick due to the double overcoat.
The dog becomes mature enough at around 18 months and hence needs to be gently initiated into exercising at this stage so that it does not end up hurting its bones. A young Briard can walk in a very disjointed manner: its legs will be all over the place, and the back end may overtake the front, causing the dog to trip over itself.
In this article, we have comprehensively discussed the various dimensions of a classic herding dog, which is the Briard. If you wish to raise an intelligent dog that has fantastic protective instincts and is always on the prowl for exercise, you have indeed made the correct choice!
While Briards do shed, they are not heavy shedders as a first glance at their coat would suggest. It is recommended that their coats be brushed daily.
On average, the cost of rearing your Briard could range from 400 to 800 dollars for food and treats, professional care, domestic toys, crate, leash, etc.
No. From a medical perspective, it is not appropriate to remove well-developed rear dewclaws. If they are floppy, they may be removed since they can get injured more easily.
Yes, the adult Briard has a gait that is supple and springy.
In case the Briard suddenly refuses to take meals, it can be due to either digestive or behavioral reasons; for instance, it may have worm infestations or urinary tract problems, or it may have stress, depression, or separation anxiety.
Hi, I’m Walter,
I live in Oklahoma City, USA, and have extensive dog caring and grooming expertise. In addition, I provide dog training tips and tricks through my blogs in Canine Weekly. I have a Dog Behavior and Training diploma and have previously worked as a Dog Trainer at ROC Animal Training and Behavior and Tip Top K9 of OKC Dog Training.
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