AKC Herding Group
This ancient French sheep guard and herder also has been used by the French army as a sentry and messenger, and to search for wounded soldiers. The Briard is named either for Aubry of Montdidier, a man who was supposed to have owned an early Briard (Aubry’s dog is chien d’Aubry in French) or for the French province of Brie (though the dog probably does not originate in that locale). Charlemagne, Napoleon, Thomas Jefferson, and Lafayette all owned Briards. The Briard still serves as a herder and flock guardian today, but is also an esteemed companion dog.
The Briard is a large, muscular herding dog with a coarse, long, slightly wavy double coat in any color but white. The tawny puppy coat yields to a lighter yearling coat. Then the coat deepens in color again to the richer adult shade. The nose is black and the ears are generally cropped into a rounded shape so the hair cascades from them into the rest of the coat. The natural ear is pendant and lies away from the head. The Briard also has a shaggy beard, eyebrows, and mustache. The muzzle is square and long. The long, feathered tail has a crochet hook at the tip. Briards, like many French shepherds, have two dewclaws on each hind foot. The Briard’s elegant gait is floating and agile; the dog almost seems not to touch the ground.
- Height: 23 to 27 in. (male); 22 to 25 1/2 in. (female)
- Size: Large
- Weight: 80 to 90 lbs. (male); 60 to 70 lbs. (female)
- Availability: Difficult to find
- Talents: Herding, watchdog, guarding, drafting, police work, military work, and search and rescue
The Briard’s coat can become matted without regular attention. The undercoat sheds and must be brushed out. Needs about two hours per week of grooming. Might become restless unless sufficiently exercised. Can display nippy herding behavior. Requires regular training and attention. Novices who would like to raise a Briard should seek help and training from experienced people. As with any large dog, buyers should beware of hip dysplasia and PRA. Buy only from hip- and eye-certified stock.
Brave, loyal, fearless, with a sweet nature. Basically kind. Strong protective instinct and fine memory. Intelligent, with a lot of initiative. Playful. Can be headstrong and willful, but is also sensitive and trainable. Eager to please his master, but needs a firm owner able to show leadership. Socialize early, especially with children. Can adapt to children if not raised with them. Train the Briard early and treat him with affection and you will have a wonderful family dog.
- Children: Good when raised with children from puppyhood
- Friendliness: Reserved with strangers
- Trainability: Slightly difficult to train
- Independence: Fairly independent
- Dominance: Moderate
- Other Pets: Good with other pets if raised with them from puppyhood
- Combativeness: Can be a bit dog-aggressive
- Noise: Average barker
- Indoors: Moderately active indoors
- Owner: Not recommended for novice owners
- Grooming: Extensive grooming needed
- Trimming and Stripping: No trimming or stripping needed
- Coat: Long coat
- Shedding: Average shedder
- Docking: The ears are customarily cropped.
- Exercise: Vigorous daily exercise needed
- Jogging: An excellent jogging companion
- Apartments: Will be OK in an apartment if sufficiently exercised
- Outdoor Space: Best with at least an average-size yard
- Climate: Does well in most climates
- Longevity: Average (10 to 12 years)