The Briard is the oldest sheepdog of France, going back to the twelfth century. He was then a fearless fighter and defender of his family and the farm animals against wolves and robbers. The breed is named after the district of Brie, famous for its cheese-making. Only two or three of these energetic dogs are needed to deal with a flock of up to 700 sheep. An amazingly athletic dog, the Briard is capable of covering up to 50 miles a day.
In addition to herding and guarding, Briards are successfully used as rescue dogs, guide dogs for the blind and police dogs. The Briard is fearless and never timid, hardy and alert and possesses acute hearing. These attributes led the breed to gain a reputation as noteworthy dog in combat, and be named the official dog of the French Army. During the World War I Briards carried supplies to the front lines, served as sentries and found the wounded.
Strong, athletic and very energetic, Briards are not for everyone: they can be aggressive toward people and dogs of the same sex and have a strong protective instinct. The Briard is a slow learner, but a very hard and very serious worker. He is quite placid, but should not be provoked, for he will fight to death.
Briards are generally good with children and other animals if raised with them and well trained.
Other Names: Berger de Brie, Chien Berger de Brie, Shepherd Dog of Brie, Chien d'Aubry
Country of Origin: France
FCI Classification: Group 1: Sheepdogs and Cattle Dogs (except Swiss Cattle Dogs);
Section 1: Sheepdogs (with working trial); AKC Classification: Herding Group
Photo courtesy of "Les Briards des Pierrailles"
Size: Large (23-27 inches at shoulders)
Coat and Colors: The outer coat is long, hard and dry. It lies down flat, falling naturally in long, slightly waving flocks. On the shoulders the length of hair is 6 inches or more. The undercoat is fine, soft and tight on all the body and is about 3-5 inches long. The coat doesn't require trimming. Solid black, fawn or gray colors; bicolors are not permitted.
Litter Size: 8-10
Life Span: 10-12 years
Grooming Requirements: Weekly thorough brushing will help to avoid matting and tangles. Between the ages of 9 and 18 months it may even be necessary to groom the dog daily with a wire pin brush.
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Shedding: The outer coat does not shed and grows more slowly than the undercoat. The undercoat is shed periodically and tends to cling to the outercoat instead of dropping off. For this reason it's important to groom the dog regularly to prevent matting or even felting (one solid mat).
Personality: Highly intelligent, protective, placid, of balanced temperament, neither aggressive or shy, tends to bond closely with one member of the family.
Social skills: Puppies should be socialized early. Adult Briards see other animals as part of their flock. Some can be aggressive towards other dogs, some are jealous and must learn their place in the pack.
Suitability for Children: Good with children if raised with them. They still retain a strong drover instinct and will bump children along.
Exercise Needs: Long daily walks in the park or running free in a large fenced yard will keep your Briard in good shape.
Train Ability: The Briard is, without any special training, a natural guard dog. This is a thinking breed that is not blindly obedient and responds well to gentle training methods.
Health & Behavioral Issues: Hip dysplasia, corneal distrophy, PRA