Understanding Your Beautiful Briard Dog

To bring out the best, admirable qualities from your loving Briard puppy, you need to learn as much as you can about them. 

This old and regal breed is known as Chien Berger de Brie in their homeland, France. The Briards are hardworking family dogs.

Beautiful White Briard dog
A beautiful White Briard dog standing on the lawn

Their remarkable trainability and performance skills are displayed in sitcoms like “Married with Children.”

Where Does The Briard Dog Come From?

The Briard, the Shepherd of Brie, or the Berger de Brie originated in France’s northern dairy region. Others believe the breed was developed by Aubry de Montdidier, a famous french owner.

They also appear on antique tapestries next to Emperor Charlemagne, which date back to the 8th century.

They were originally guarding dogs who had to deter poachers and herding sheepdogs. Farmers use these dogs to create a boundary around their flock and protect them from predators. 

During World War I, the breed attained the French army’s official war dog’s title. Its duties included carrying supplies, guarding posts, and as a search dog for the wounded soldiers.

According to the official AKC standard and The Briard Club of America, the Briard dog breed falls under the Working and Herding groups.

Working dogs are bred for various jobs. Some working group dogs may not be for the first time dog owner as they, including the Briard, need proper attention, training, and grooming.

Most working dog breeds are athletic, intelligent, and headstrong. This active breed can be watchdogs, police dogs, sled dogs, and take part in search and rescue missions.

The Briard is also part of the herding breed. This working breed moves and protects farm animals. The Briard is one of four herding dogs from France, the Beauceron, Picardy, and the Pyrenean.

The herding types are known for their independent thinking and they’re trained to take on a lot of responsibility. 

Around 1860, the Briard made its way to Paris, France, where it was entered into dog shows. The French started to breed the Briard with the Beauceron for beauty, color, and more gentle temperament.

These mixes created the dog we know and love today. 

The dog’s unique look and flowing hair attracted owners like Napoleon and Thomas Jefferson.

After serving as ambassador to France for four years and being introduced to the breed by France’s Marquis de Lafayette, Jefferson brought the first Briard to the United States to procreate and work on his Virginian farm. 

Although impressive, the breed has never been trendy in America. These dogs remain the most popular sheepherders in their native France!

The AKC (American Kennel Club) recognized the Briard in 1928 as its 81st breed. 

What Does a Briard Look Like?

The AKC breed standard provides you with all the details regarding appearance.

The average Briard is sturdy and athletic with muscular legs. They’re vital and alert with robust bones and muscles. The dog has a muscular neck and broad chest.

Happy Briard dog
Image source

The Briard has double dewclaws on the forelegs. Double dewclaws are extra fingers that help them pivot fast when running around the park or your yard.

Their feet are big and oval-shaped to support and push their powerful hindquarters.

The dog has large eyes with a confident and curious expression. The Briard’s straight ears are covered with long hair, and when alert, the ears lift.

Size

The Briard dog is a giant breed. Males can grow from 23 to 27 inches, weigh 60 to 100lbs, and females from 22 to 25½ inches and weigh 50 to 80 lbs. The females may be longer than the males.

Coat / Hair

The Briards are famous for their elegant and long coats, and they have two! The outer coat is coarse and dry, lying down flat in long and wavy locks.

Briard dog with long coat
Image source

It can be six inches or more, and if in good health, it’ll have a sheen. The outer coat can get to a length of six inches or more.

The undercoat is shorter on the body and softer to the touch.

The dog’s head carries long topcoat hair that falls to form a natural part in the center so they can see. This beautiful look is what makes these dogs so photogenic and famous on the screen.

The Briard’s memorable coat was created by breeding with another large french sheepdog, the Beauceron. The Beauceron is often mistaken for a mixed breed of Rottweiler and German shepherd.

The Briard dog or puppy usually comes in these colors:

  • Black
  • Gray
  • Tawny

Or these color combinations:

  • Black & Gray
  • Black & Tawny
  • Tawny & Gray

You may be able to find a white Briard, but it’s scarce and not sought after. The typical white coloring in the coat is in the occasional marking.

Are Briards Family Dogs?

The Briard will make a loyal and loving companion for your family. They’re wary of those they don’t know, but always loyal and carry an independent initiative to take care of you and your family.

Today, the Briard works in entertainment, search and rescue missions, and as emotional support dogs for those with PTSD.

Most of these intelligent and fearless creatures have heaps of playful energy. They become very attached to their owners and may follow you from room to room.

They need enough exercise and mental stimulation, and as this dog breed considers itself your equal, you need to build respect and trust with your dog. 

Training your Briard dog
Pet owner trains her Briard dog

They are fantastic watch dogs, and nothing gets by them unnoticed. If Briards ever sense danger, their instincts will kick in, and they’ll defend. 

Briards are excellent with children when socialized at a young age. These are family dogs that can be overprotective of your kids.

Most are good-natured, but this dog doesn’t like taunting or disrespect. Be sure to teach your kids how to touch and approach them from the get-go.

Remember, this animal’s specialty is to keep other members of the flock in check. Your Briard may try to nudge or herd other animals like dogs and chase smaller animals like cats.

These dogs are creative and can socialize with other animals if they are trained early on.

For people who’ve owned and trained working dogs before, the Briard will be easy to train.

This dog breed has versatile trainability and can do all routine jobs like sit, fetch, potty training, and more critical tasks, such as guarding property, moving animals, and protecting people.

Briards are strategic, and you can almost see them thinking.

Because they see you as equal, there’ll be times when they don’t agree with your command or punishment.

It’s essential as the owner that you earn their respect and establish yourself as the leader through consistent obedience training. 

The Briard has excellent hearing, and memory.¨He can understand verbal commands, tone changes, and body language.

Consistent and gentle discipline with a lot of praise and reward is the route to having an obedient dog.

Early socialization is as crucial as basic obedience training.

Take your dog to different places to meet different people from an early age, expose them to various sounds, and encourage them to interact with other animals.

How to Take Care of Your Briard

Keeping Up With Your Energized Briard

Briard running in the park

The Briard has vital exercise needs and requires daily exercise to keep them happy and vibrant. Their zest for action makes them fantastic companions for joggers, bicycle riders, and hikers.

They don’t make good kennel dogs because of their high energy levels.

Grooming: Is it Difficult to Maintain Those Locks?

 Begin grooming your Briard puppy from a young age, as this will prepare your baby for the frequent grooming appointments when they are older. 

If you’re considering becoming an owner of a Briard, you‘ll need to be committed to the effort it takes to keep this beautiful breed attractive, healthy, and comfortable.

The dog’s thick double coat will need to be brushed several times a week with a good-quality grooming brush. Also, using an undercoat rake can help eliminate dead hair and keep shedding low.

A quick daily brushing can keep the coat from becoming a matted mess. It is an active dog that enjoys running through mud, leaves, and water. 

You can have the coat cut shorter by a groomer to make it easier to maintain. A groomer can also assist with bathing your Briard, if the dog’s size makes it difficult to do it at home.

Bathe your dog with a high-quality dog shampoo, when they need it. Washing too often or using incorrect hair products can damage the natural oils needed to keep its coat spectacular.

The Briard isn’t hypoallergenic but doesn’t shed as much as other long hair breeds. 

Feeding your Briard

 Your companion will need 3-5 cups of high-quality, manufactured, or home-prepared dog food. It should come in two meals throughout the day to ease digestion.

The exact amount of food depends on the dog’s size, metabolism, activity level, age, health, and build.

Clean, fresh water should be always available.

Do Briards Have A Lot of Health Problems?

 The Briard is a healthy breed, but they can be prone to certain health conditions like most purebreds. To be a responsible owner, you will need to have a vet check your dog for:

  • Congenital stationary night blindness or PRA – An inherited retinal disorder that prevents dogs from seeing during the day and the night. 
  • Cancers.
  • Hip dysplasia – A common skeletal condition where the hip joint deteriorates over time, causing pain and overall function loss.
  • Cataracts.
  • Bloat or Gastric Torsion – This life-threatening condition occurs in large dogs, and it causes the stomach to distend and twist, cutting off the blood supply and filling it with air.
  • Kidney disease.
  • Hypothyroidism – This common health condition happens when your Briard is not releasing enough hormones. 
  • Progressive retinal atrophy – This may eventually cause blindness. 

It’s essential to be aware of Gastric Torsion. Signs include a swollen abdomen, excessive salivation, and retching. Go to the veterinarian if you suspect bloat.

A healthy, comfortable, and well taken care of Briard will have a lifespan of about 10 to 12 years! 

Can I Afford a Briard?

If you’re going to buy from a good breeder, a quality Briard puppy will cost around $1100. For a show dog, you’ll have to pay more.

A smiling Briard puppy
Image source

If you want to adopt from a rescue center, the price will be around $200-$400.

These prices do not include accessories and medical procedures. 

 Briard Breeders

 A few reminders of what makes a responsible breeder:

  • They should know the AKC breed standard.
  • Breeds to improve the dog breed.
  • Honest and fair with dogs and people.
  • They breed dogs of good temperament and health.
  • Test for genetic defects.
  • Tests should be available upon your request.
  • They provide you with complete information on how to care for your Briard.
  • Will screen you and your home for compatibility with the dog breed.
  • They advertise truthfully and ethically.
  • Never sells to commercial businesses or Puppy Mills.

Some Briard breeders:

Briard Rescue / Adoption

You’ll most likely find adults, and some may have medical issues or special care instructions. Adopting or rescuing an older Briard is an excellent option if you want a less active dog.

Here are some rescue centers to check out: 

Curious About Briard Mixes?

 There are three popular Briard mixes:

Afaird

The Afaird is a mix between the Afghan Hound and the Briard. The Afaird is protective and fun-loving, and it’s ideal for active families who are willing to take care of their grooming requirements.

Bridoodle

Briard Poodle mix dog
Meet the adorable Bridoodle dog – Image source

You guessed it! The mix between the Briard and the poodle turns out to be sweet-natured and intelligent. This cute mix does well with kids and other pets and is a faithful watchdog.

Briard Bearded Collie mix

The Briard and the Bearded Collie combines the excellent sheep herding skills of the two dogs and the attractive traits of a loyal family dog.

Should I Get a Briard?

Briard dog enjoying outdoor
Image source

Pros:

  • They’re smart.
  • They’re easy to train.
  • They’re one of the best watchdogs.
  • They love kids.

Cons:

  • This breed needs a lot of maintenance to stay gorgeous.
  • They’re not suited for an apartment lifestyle.
  • They don’t do well when left alone for a time.
  • They’re not good dogs for first time dog owners because of their independent personalities.

Similar Breeds to Briards

The Bearded Collie is a bouncy, charismatic purebred herding dog from Scotland.

The Polish Lowland Sheepdog is a compact, beloved purebred herding dog from Poland.

The Belgian Sheepdog is a purebred herding dog from Belgium that looks like the famous collie, Lassie.

Final Thoughts

 Briards are a fantastic pet for experienced dog owners. They are good watchdogs, are full of playful energy, and an excellent companion for active families.

Before you run out and get a Briard, make sure that you have enough space for a large dog, or, if you live in an apartment, that you have enough time to exercise a dog every day.

 

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