Briard

The Briard is a large breed of ancient herding dog heritage. Read on for further information on this canine’s personality and history.

Portrait of nice briard

Height: Male 23-27 inches, female 22-26 inches
Weight: Male 27-41 kilos, female 23-34 kilos
Lifespan: 10-12 years
Pedigree? (registered with the KC?): Yes, this breed is registered with the Kennel Club

Positives and Negatives

Read the below pros and cons of the Briard:

Pros:

  • Highly intelligent
  • Family-friendly dog
  • Excellent watchdog
  • Low drooler

Cons:

  • Stubborn, not ideal for first-time owners
  • High grooming needs
  • Not recommended for apartment living
  • Doesn’t like to be left alone

Overview

Briards are recognized by their shaggy looking coat. A feature designed to protect them from the cold and harsh weather when herding and protecting their flock. Their ability to undertake multiple working jobs made them ideal for many farmers across France.

Adaptable to different lifestyles, the Briard can easily adapt to life as a family pet or working dog. City and rural living are both suitable for this breed, but they should have access to a garden due to their large size. These independent doggies will need high fences to prevent them from wandering off.

Briard standind on grass

Nowadays, the threat of predators and thieves isn’t as high, so the Briard is naturally more peaceful and calm. However, this pooch will still go to great lengths to protect their family and flock. The Briard dog breed will always be alert making an excellent watchdog.

Although this canine is friendly, they can be aggressive to other dogs they don’t know. Socialization will be needed to prevent this from becoming the norm. Puppy dog classes are a great idea, this way the Briard dog can get used to new humans and pooches whilst learning commands.

History

The French Briard dog is an ancient breed of herding dog that originated in France. They were bred to protect livestock, particularly sheep often being left alone on the job. At night they would become guard and watchdogs, protecting their livestock from predators and thieves.

Briards are thought to date back to the 1300s, possibly even before this time. Napoleon, Thomas Jefferson, Lafayette, and Charles the Great were all proud owners of Briards. They came from Northern France, an area known as ‘the Dairy Belt’. Their name in France is ‘Chien Berger de Brie’ which translates wonderfully to ‘Sheepdog Brie’.

Briards would guide the sheep across the grazing fields, preventing them from eating crops whilst moving them along. The breed was mostly used on French farms and still works to this day. Briards are very popular in America and were introduced to the country by the third US president Thomas Jefferson before he took his position in office.

In the first World War Briards almost became extinct. Their exceptional work saw them become the National Dog of the French Army. Briards would be messengers, guards, supply carriers, and would search for wounded soldiers. To this day Briards may still be seen as army, police, and search and rescue dogs.

Related: Get to know more about the Dogo Argentino breed here in this guide.

Personality

A Briard puppy is excitable and energetic but this should tone down as they begin to enter adulthood. They’re independent and can happily look after a flock, but they are known to wander off exploring. This breed doesn’t like being alone or consistently away from their owners.

Positivity is the only way forward with a Briard. Harsh training techniques or commands will not be listened to by this dog. Briards do have good guard dog potential and can make excellent watchdogs. Their adaptability makes them ideal for both farmers and families.

Are Briards Good With Strangers?

As guard and watchdogs, the Briard will become alert and suspicious of strangers. Socialization will be needed so they can help distinguish threats from strangers. Family dogs are more reserved and wary, but shouldn’t react aggressively, provided they have received the right training.

Portrait of nice briard

Are Briards Good With Children?

Yes, the Briard makes a great family dog and enjoys playing with children. Briards are natural protectors and will defend a child just as they would their owner. Some canines can be boisterous so be careful they don’t accidentally injure smaller children due to their size. Dogs should always be supervised around kids.

Are Briards Ok With Other Dogs?

Briards can be aggressive towards dogs they don’t know. As natural defenders, unknown canines can instantly be determined as a threat. Socialization will be needed to help prevent aggression. The French Briard will need to be raised as a puppy with other dogs and household pets.

Exercise

Briards should receive an hour to an hour and a half worth of exercise each day. Set aside at least 3o minutes for strenuous activities. Briard puppies will need the same amount of time, split into multiple walks each day. If exercise isn’t kept up with, expect a destructive Briard in response.

Boisterous and energetic when outdoors, the Briard loves playtime and interactive games. They also have the stamina to make an ideal jogging or hiking partner. Briards are known to jump rather high so do make sure your fences are tall enough to keep them in.

Briard dog running

Briards can live in rural areas as well as the city, yet they need to have access to a garden. They are natural herders and will excel in dog sports, especially herding trials! Stick to a routine but keep the environments and activities different.

Recommended: Learn about the iconic English Foxhound next.

Health

Find out the breed-related health issues of the Briard below:

  • Bloat- A condition that causes the stomach to twist, trapping gasses and food contents inside. Potentially fatal, immediate veterinary attention required.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy- A degenerative condition affecting the photoreceptor cells of the eyes. Blindness will occur as the cells continue to break down.
  • Hip Dysplasia- Poor development of the hip joint leads to pain, lameness, inflammation, and swelling. Arthritis may follow.
  • Congenital Stationary Night Blindness- An inherited disease causing visual impairment at night. Could be developmental or degenerative.
  • Ectopic Ureter- The abnormal development of the ureter causes incontinence which is mostly noticeable in female dogs.
  • Hypothyroidism- An underactive thyroid will cause hair loss, weight gain, a dull coat, and a lack of tolerance to cold weather.
  • Von Willebrands Disease- This disorder affects the clotting of the blood causing excessive bleeding.

Intelligence & Training

Briards are known to be highly intelligent and easy to train, provided they have a firm and consistent owner. Their stubbornness can be a hurdle for some, which is why they aren’t recommended for first-time owners. Yet this large breed is still gentle enough to be ideal for elderly owners.

Positivity will help your pooch concentrate on their training. This breed loves to be around their owners, so spend time making these sessions enjoyable but not too long. Housetraining, recall, and commands are often picked up on quickly, thanks to their intelligence. Factor some dog sports into your training such as agility.

Briards were bred to be herding dogs so mental stimulation is important. If this, along with your dog’s activity needs aren’t met, chewing, barking, digging, and other bad behaviors will quickly follow. A frustrated, bored dog will spiral into disaster. As a large breed, this can be even more difficult to control.

This canine isn’t as active as it once was, and because of this obesity can be an issue. When training, keep an eye on the amount of food treats you give them. Affection rewards will work just as well. Briards love to please their owners! Obesity can quickly lead to joint and other health issues so keep an eye on calorie intake.

Recommended: Are Airedale Terriers good with children and other dogs? Check out our guide to find out.

Grooming

It is important you introduce grooming to your pooch as early as possible. Some dogs need time to get used to certain grooming techniques. Briards have high grooming needs and will need to be brushed multiple times a week. Their shaggy coat will require a pin brush, slicker brush, and a strong comb.

Some Briards have a denser coat than others and may require more attention. A Briard should be washed every two months. A working dog may need to be bathed more frequently. Give them a brush before they get into the bath. Mats and tangles are difficult to remove once wet. Thoroughly remove the shampoo to prevent it from staying on the skin.

Portrait of nice briard

Along with regular brushing, the natural oils will help to protect their coat. The more you keep up with their maintenance, the easier grooming will be. Excessive washing will make the Briards coat fluffy, a complete nightmare for brushing!

Check your dog’s ears weekly and clean away any debris. Pluck any excess fur that could prevent airflow to the canal. Nails need to be filed and trimmed every 3-4 weeks and teeth should be brushed multiple times a week. Vets do, however, recommend this is done daily.

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