Get to know the Briard
All you need to know about the breed
With French breeding behind them, the hardy Briard exhibits some of the best aspects of temperament: incredible intelligence, a fearless spirit, and great physical strength - not to mention style galore. That long coat is très chic!
Aaah, that coat. Splendid long flowing hair unmistakable to the breed. But hiding under the canine equivalent of a 60s mop lies keen instincts and a strong work ethic. Ever the protector, they are wary of any newcomers to their territory, even a new baby. Until the Briard deems it safe, they cannot have done their job to the best of their ability. In other words, their family is the flock that needs protecting and any outsiders are foreign entities.
Historically, the Briard dog has proven themselves to be indefatigable French sheepdogs, found in many parts of France dating from the 8th Century. His name though is derived from the region of Brie in the northeast of the country. Over centuries they were selectively bred for the guarding and driving of herds of sheep, developing into a very rugged and agile dog. Their large size made them capable of taking on predators, typically foxes and even wolves. To this day, the herding instinct is still strong, and if part of a family, your Briard may try to herd you!
The Briard’s behaviour is first-rate but they still need a firm, energetic owner. They are too intelligent to take commands mindlessly, and need to understand what’s being asked of them before taking on any task worth their salt. Training through force is a no-no, and has the potential to make them disobedient and worse, fearful. Positive reinforcement will be received well, and your Briard dog will give a lifetime of affection and loyalty in return.
The Briard dog breed is also endowed with an excellent memory and the ability for recall. They are thus used to showing a lot of initiative and finding solutions to any problem. They will consider, decide, then spring into action (something to think about if you’re able to take your dog to work!). As domesticated dogs however, socialising them early on brings out the best behaviour for the Briard, and means the family will have a best friend - and a guardian - for life.
2 facts about Briards
Things to look out for
From specific breed traits to a general health overview, here are some interesting facts about your Briard
Beware of (possible) blindness
Nocturnal blindness, also known as retinal dystrophy, is a disease that is mainly found in the Briard dog. The condition is hereditary, and both parents must carry the gene to pass it on to offspring. Using a reputable breeder can of course reassure any potential owner that a Briard doesn’t carry the gene. This condition is often diagnosed late, so get your puppy’s eyes tested as early as when they are four to six weeks of age with a simple blood or saliva sample.
Brush them at least once a week
Although they are known to be a low-shedding breed, because of their long shaggy double coats, Briard dogs will still need a good deal of regular grooming. The thicker coarser (think goat hair) outer coat typically grows about six inches long so it will need to be brushed at least a few times a week to remove dead hair and to prevent matting and tangles. Grooming your Briard daily will need to be a definite in the spring and autumn, the two times a year when shedding happens profusely as a natural course of the dog’s adjusting to a new season.
Training day comes early
Briards are very smart dogs, but you’ll need to get in there early to establish pack leadership. They were bred to be independent and one to make decisions on their own, so they’ll need committed training with positive reinforcement. Briard puppy training, then, cannot be emphasized enough. Encourage them to act in a friendly manner when strangers come into the mix; they’ll understand with repetition and your communicating that new people and animals are compatriots rather than adversaries.