The Barbet is a medium sized, sturdy, intelligent, independant dog. With approximately 300 dogs in the world, the Barbet remains today an extremely rare breed. Almost unknown outside his native France, the breed is promoted by a few enthusiasts at home.
The breed was developed centuries ago to point, flush and retrieve waterfowl. This is the original water dog of Europe, known since the Middle Ages which is considered to be the ancestor of many other breeds, including the Poodle, the Irish Water Spaniel, the Newfoundland, and the Briard.
This water dog uses his webbed feet to advantage, never tiring after long hours of swimming. His shaggy, curly coat protects him from icy water into which he has to plunge to retrieve downed waterfowl. The coat is thick, long, curly or wavy. Working Barbets are usually unclipped, but show dogs are sometimes given the "lion clip." It forms a beard (French barbe) on the chin, which gave the breed its name (Barbet).
His cheerful, obedient and highly intelligent personality make him a good family dog. However, despite his good qualities, during the 19th century the breed was almost lost and was replaced by his direct descendant, the Poodle. Barbets have several strong points for which some breeders begin to prefer them to standard poodles: they are not nuisance barkers and will bark only for a reason. Besides, they are not high-strung outdoors and have fewer health problems.
Barbet Breed Outline
Other Names: Griffon d'Arrêt à Poil Laineux, French Water Dog
Country of Origin: France
Utilization: Water dog used for hunting wildfowl
FCI Classification: Group 8 - Retrievers, Flushing Dogs, Water Dogs; Water Dogs (with working trial); United Kennel Club (UKC), Canadian Kennel Club (CKC)
Photo courtesy of "Barbet en Bresse"
Size: Medium (21-25.5 inches at shoulders with a tolerance of +/- 1/4 inch)
Colors: Black, chestnut, fawn, gray, with or without white markings, white. All shades of red-fawn and pale fawn are permitted.
Litter Size: 5-8
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Grooming Requirements: The coat requires regular grooming. Weekly brushing will keep the coat clean from debris and mud and prevent matting. Special attention should be given to his ears - the hair inside the ears should be removed. Remove excess hair from the pads. The coat also needs to be trimmed down twice a year especially before the hot summer months.
Personality: Faithful, obedient, intelligent, with a passion for water work.
Social skills: Barbets are very friendly and very sociable. They get along with other household pets and never show aggression towards other animals, dogs or people.
Suitability for Children: Because of his cheerful and gentle nature, this breed has gained the reputation of a good family dog that is exceptionally good with children.
Exercise Needs: Although the perfect living conditions for Barbet are those with an opportunity to swim and run free, long daily walks will be equally acceptable.
Train Ability: Barbets are always eager to please and learn new things. They do well in obedience and agility.
Health & Behavioral Issues: Hip dysplasia, cataracts, and skin allergies have been seen in some bloodlines.