AKC Herding Group
Called the Berger Picard (pronounced “bare ZHAY pee CARR”) because it is a herding dog (berger means shepherd) from the Picardy region of France, the dog is beloved in Europe for its funny face, comical antics, and strong herding abilities. First introduced to northern France in the ninth century, this lively, shaggy working dog is considered one of the original French herding breeds. It was used to drive and protect cattle and sheep for centuries.
The French didn’t recognize the Berger Picard as an official breed until 1925 (it had been shown in the same class as Beaucerons and Briards since 1863). The breed nearly became extinct during World War II, due to heavy trench warfare in the region, but a few dedicated breeders worked to rebuild the breed during the late 1940s. Today the Berger Picard, while still very rare, is growing in popularity in both Europe and the United States, as it is considered an excellent family dog and watchdog.
One curious historical note: Numerous sources note that smugglers used Berger Picards to sneak tobacco and matches across France’s borders because the dog’s shaggy fur hid the contraband goods from a distance, especially at night.
The AKC accepted the Berger Picard into its Foundation Stock Service in 2007. The breed entered the AKC Miscellaneous Class in January 2013 and the AKC Herding Group in July 2015. In recent years, the Picard has appeared in three American movies: Because of Winn Dixie, Daniel and the Superdogs, and Are We Done Yet?
The Berger Picard is a medium to large, well-muscled dog with a harsh crisp coat, a generally rugged appearance, and a lively, pleasant expression. The body should be slightly longer than it is tall; females tend to be slightly longer than males. Skull and muzzle are the same length. The head is chiseled but not pointed, with a slightly defined stop. The lips are thin and tight. The breed sports distinct eyebrows that do not cover the eyes, beard, and moustaches. The nostrils should be black and well opened. The jaws are powerful, with a scissors bite. The medium-sized dark eyes are oval in shape. The ears are wide set and erect, with slightly rounded tips.
The body is solid and lean, with a strong, level back and strong loin. The underline has a slight tuck-up. The tail is long. When it’s at rest, it should reach the hock and have a slight curve at the tip. When the dog is moving, he might carry the tail higher, but not over the back. The shoulders are long and sloping; the forearm is vertical and well muscled. The feet are rounded and compact and the hock has a moderate bend. Dewclaws can be left on or taken off on forelegs but need to be removed from the hind legs. Nails should be dark.
The Berger Picard’s gait is supple and free, giving the appearance of effortlessness. The coat is two to three inches long over the whole dog, with a fine, thick undercoat and a slight ruff on the front and sides of the neck. The coat is not shaped or trimmed in any way. Coat color can be fawn, fawn with a dark trim and gray underlay on the head and body, fawn brindle, or gray. Slight white patches on the chest or tips of paws are allowed.
- Height: 23.5 to 25.5 in. (female); 21.5 to 23.5 in. (male)
- Size: Large
- Weight: 50 to 75 lbs.
- Availability: Difficult to find
- Talents: Tracking, herding, search and rescue, watchdog, agility, obedience, Schutzhund, performing tricks
The Berger Picard might suffer from separation anxiety if away from its owner for long periods of time. Hip dysplasia and progressive retinal atrophy are beginning to show up in this breed. A working dog with a lot of stamina, the Berger Picard needs plenty of exercise and stimulation, and a leader who is kind, firm, and able to withstand the temptation to pamper this super cute dog. The ears can be trimmed or stripped regularly to keep them looking tidy.
Loyal, amiable, smart, and blessed with a natural smile, the Berger Picard can make an excellent family pet if properly socialized in puppyhood. Positive training methods, plus lots of opportunities to work and play with their owners (think swimming, running, agility, obedience, herding, tracking, and hiking), keep these dogs engaged and happy. As herders, they are also excellent watchdogs. They can be reserved with strangers, but they generally follow the lead of their owners when introduced to new people—they shouldn’t seem timid, nervous, or aggressive. The number one fault of the dog, breeders say, is that he’s so cute, owners forget to discipline him. Firm pack leaders who have lots of time to devote to the dog’s mental and physical needs are best suited for the breed. Berger Picards are generally good with children when raised with them from puppyhood. Because some have a strong prey drive, they need to be taught that other pets are members of the family, not prey. The rough, shaggy coat requires only several brushings per month to avoid matting and only the rare bath.
- Children: Good with children only when raised with them from puppyhood
- Friendliness: Moderately protective
- Trainability: Can be slightly difficult to train
- Independence: Moderately dependent on people
- Dominance: Moderate
- Other Pets: Good with pets if raised with them from puppyhood
- Combativeness: Friendly with other dogs
- Noise: Average barker
- Grooming: Very little grooming needed
- Trimming and Stripping: Some trimming or stripping of the coat needed
- Coat: Wiry
- Shedding: Average shedder
- Exercise: Needs lots of exercise
- Jogging: A good jogging companion
- Indoors: Relatively inactive indoors
- Apartments: Will be OK in an apartment if sufficiently exercised
- Outdoor Space: OK without a yard
- Climate: Does well in most climates
- Owner: Not recommended for novice owners
- Longevity: Moderately long-lived (12 to 15 years)