The Briard is a popular French dog breed. It is recognized by the FCI and assigned to group 1 (herding and driving dogs). The breed is also known under the name Berger de Brie. The good-natured dogs are extremely talented shepherd dogs and have a variety of skills in this field. They have a strong protective instinct and make wonderful family dogs.
The spirited Briards are faithful companions of man. They absolutely want to be firmly integrated into the family.
The Briard belongs to the medium to large dog breeds. Adult animals reach an average height of about 60 to 64 cm. The weight of the dogs is similar. This is usually about 30 to 35 kg, which is very light for the size of the dogs.
Females are usually somewhat more petite in build than males. Nevertheless, they have an impressive appearance. The physique of the dogs is well proportioned. He appears muscular, exceedingly supple and is altogether very coherent.
Visually, there is a rare peculiarity in these animals. Today's breed standard is set to give the Briard a double dewclaw. The dewclaw is a claw that is placed above the paw of the dogs. It has no special function, it is rather a handicap to the animal than an asset.
Normally, dogs have a simple anal claw. This also serves no known purpose. Why the breeding standard requires this identifying feature is not known.
Probably the most striking feature of the Briard is its coat. This is very long, dense and slightly curled all over the body. Also on the head of the dogs, the coat has the same hair structure. Basically, the coat of the dogs is very dry. This can be guessed not only by touching it, but also by just looking at it. The undercoat of the coat is rather fine and comparatively little for the fullness of the top coat. The coat of the Briard protects the dog in wind and weather.
Since the animals at that time lived largely outside and were used for herding herds, this was an enormous advantage. Both storms and rain showers could be better endured by means of the dense coat. At the same time the luxuriant fur growth was a suitable protection against wolf attacks. The teeth of the wolves caught themselves in the emergency case fast in the fur of the dogs. Bad injuries could be prevented in this way.
However, an excessively strong hair growth on the head of the dogs can lead to any impairments. Especially the part around the eyes should always be kept short. The dogs must be able to perceive their surroundings at all times.
Disturbing fur near the eyes can not only hinder perception, but also lead to inflammation. Unfortunately, today's breeding standards are aimed at making the dogs' fur even longer and more luxuriant. However, this is done for the sake of the Briards.
The coat colors of the Briard can vary. The most common colors are black, fawn, blue and gray. However, there are also animals whose coat color is a mixture of fawn and black. Often the area of the muzzle or even the entire face of the dog is darker than the rest of the body.
The life expectancy of intelligent four-legged friends is on average about 12 years. This is quite a long life for dogs of comparable size. At best, the dogs enjoy good health even in old age. Thus, there are also specimens that can become much older.
The Briard is an old typical herding dog with a strong personality. This is partly reflected in its character. The dogs are considered to be particularly caring and protective. They are fearless and will do whatever is necessary to protect their families from attack. This trait is due to the dogs' history as guardians and herd leaders.
The Briard is extremely vigilant and always has an eye on his surroundings. He pays attention to his family, without being pushy. Also, the dogs usually do not try to take the lead. Instead, they reliably alert their owners to danger.
The four-legged friends are also considered particularly intelligent animals. They have a quick grasp and therefore learn particularly well. The agile dogs like to be on the move. They like to spend a lot of time in the great outdoors and need a lot of exercise to let off steam. Because of the dogs' low hunting instinct, they can also run around freely in nature without much worry.
The animals definitely want to be challenged and kept busy. They still count as true working animals and are happy to take on a task. Since the Briard is rarely used as a herding dog today, participation in dog sports offers a successful alternative. The Briard masters this with joy and great results. The four-legged friends are persistent, agile and nimble. They like challenges and are very skillful.
Towards strangers, the dogs often appear somewhat distant and cool. However, they do not show any aggressive behavior. The Briard is also sociable with other dogs. He appears confident, but is not a barker and does not push himself into the foreground. When dealing with children, however, the dogs are great comrades. They love children and like to romp around with them. Because of their body size, the animals are by no means squeamish, but very robust.
The Briard is a very patient dog. He is not easily ruffled and treats his family with gentleness. This is especially true for the children. These sensitive four-legged friends can and will actively participate in family life. They build a close bond with their owners and families. This forms the basic building block for a perfectly functioning coexistence.
The right food
The diet of the dogs is quite simple. Nutritious and varied meals form a solid basis. Treats and chewing bones can be added from time to time. The daily amount of food should depend on the size, weight and exercise of the animals.
For allergies, the dog breed is not particularly susceptible. However, it should be noted that the Briard eats little for its size. Compared to other large dog breeds, this is clearly noticeable. Nevertheless, care should be taken that the animals do not gulp down their food. This can lead to dangerous gastric torsion, which should be avoided at all costs.
The lovable four-legged friends are basically considered a robust and vital dog breed. For this reason, the animals can remain fit and healthy even in old age. However, there is a genetic predisposition that causes night blindness in many animals. Problems with the ureter are also unfortunately common among Briards. However, reputable breeders do their utmost to contain and eliminate these conditions.
Health & Care
The care of the Briard is basically uncomplicated. Even without a sound knowledge of dogs, the acquisition of such an animal is quite possible. The dogs can be trained very well and want to cooperate with their owners. They are open and eager to learn. A close emotional bond between dog and human is the basis. With the right amount of consistency, the education of the dogs usually succeeds without problems.
It is a good idea to do more advanced training with the animal. The dogs are excellent as therapy or rescue dogs and can benefit from such a task. This fills the animals and leads to a balanced, happy dog.
The coat care of the Briard, on the other hand, is somewhat more demanding. The lush coat must be brushed regularly. This is to remove impurities and prevent matting. Bathing or washing should also be avoided as far as possible.
Due to its size, the Briard should be kept in a house in the country. A garden is also advantageous for keeping dogs. Here there is enough space and the required exercise is guaranteed. Keeping in a small rented apartment, on the other hand, is not advisable. Already because of their body size and their characteristic as a herding dog, the animals do not feel particularly comfortable in a big city.
Otherwise, the Briard does not make great demands on its living space. He needs the integration into the household and is not suitable in any case for the kennel attitude. The friendly dogs need affection, so should definitely be kept indoors. If possible, one should make occasional excursions with the quadruped into the nature.
The dogs also need their own place of retreat in the house. Here, dog beds or dog baskets are particularly suitable. This should be placed so that the dog can rest, but still fulfill its duty as a protector. Animals like to have everything in sight. This should be taken into account when choosing a place to sleep.
Origin & History
The Briard is a very old breed of dog from the Brie region of France. This is also the origin of the breed's name. The first specimens of the Briard are said to have existed as early as the 1380s. Then, in 1809, the breed was named as such for the first time. For this reason, the Briard is one of the longest documented dog breeds in the world.
Very early the abilities of the dogs were recognized and used accordingly. The Briard has always been considered a popular herding dog. However, he was also popular for searching for injured people in rubble or avalanches. The versatility and amiable nature of the dogs impressed people even then. This ensured a growing popularity in society.
In 1896, the Briard was officially recognized as a breed. In Germany, however, the first breeding club was founded much later in 1975. Even today, the dog breed is not very widespread in our country and largely unknown. Many people have never heard of the Briard as a dog species. Nevertheless, there is a consolidated fan community of the Briard, which will hopefully continue to grow in the future.