The Rugged and Rare: Berger Picard Dog Breed

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image of french berger picard sitting down

The Berger Picard and its enormous ears can be spotted a mile away! This dog not only has distinctive good looks, but also a rich history, and a book written about it to boot. If you are in the market for an observant, loyal and good-natured herding breed companion, then look no further than the extraordinary French Berger Picard!

The Interesting History of the Berger Picard aka Picardy Shepherd! 

The unique Berger Picard, also known as the Picardy Shepherd, hails from France where the breed was developed. The Picardy Shepherd is one of the oldest of the French sheepdog varieties. It’s believed that they were originally brought to France by central European Celts, although this is disputed by some.

Whatever the truth, there’s no doubt that the Berger Picard is an old and distinguished breed, with close ties to other French herders such as the Briard and the Beauceron.

The name of the Berger Picard comes from the area in which it is from, Picardy. Today this area makes up part of the Hauts-de-France region. The farmers and cattlemen of this strongly agricultural part of France took pride in their very own indigenous herding dog.

Bergers assisted them with sheep and cattle, exhibiting it in France’s very first dog show in 1863. By the end of the century breeders in the region were working to stabilize the standard of the breed.

While this ancient breed lived a serene sheep-filled life for many years, during World War I and World War II, this changed as the once peaceful fields of the Northern region of France became killing fields. The Berger Picard almost became extinct during this time. Thankfully while the breed remains rare, it is making a comeback in modern times.

Picardy Shepherds experienced a moment of fame that brought new attention to the breed when featured in the 2005 movie ‘Because of Winn-Dixie’ (based on the book of the same name). Despite the origins of this French dog originally making it considered mixed breed, the Berger Picard of America Club was founded and the breed was officially recognized by the American Kennel club in 2015.

The Appearance of These French Herding Dogs

The most distinguishing feature of these gorgeous ancient dogs has to be their tremendous ears! Standing erect and giving them an extra height boost, they are truly a special sight. Picardy Shepherds also feature wiry, coarse coats which protect them from harsh climates. They have rectangular heads and intelligent dark eyes.

In fact, Berger Picards have the unusual personality characteristic of holding eye contact for prolonged periods of time. This is a method they use for communication. Another classic appearance trait of these dogs is the long, j-shaped tail.

adult berger picard dog yawning

Their Average Size and Weight! 

These gentle giants are tall and slim. Males of the breed can grow to 26 inches in height, while females can reach 21 inches. Their weight generally runs between 51 to 71 pounds, owing to their slim yet athletic build.

Fluffy and Scruffy: Coats and Colors! 

As part of the beautiful herding breeds group, a Berger’s coat features a scruffy, wiry coat that not only gives it its distinct look but also protects it from the harsh cold of France’s northern region.

Their beautiful rough and tough coats come in a dashing fawn or bold brindle. Their coat is not hypoallergenic, but shedding is light.

Temperament and Personality: What to Expect From These French Sheepdogs!

Picards have oodles of personality and a great sense of humor, so if you’re someone who loves a unique dog, you may have met your match. Picardy Shepherds are true comic geniuses and will have you laughing for hours on end with their intelligent and hilarious antics.

They are born performers, so there will never be a dull moment when you’re around them. Picards are also highly observant dogs, extremely tuned in to the physical and emotional needs of their owners. This makes them excellent emotional support animals.

This is an intelligent breed that responds well to training, however, they can show stubbornness at times, requiring a firm owner to keep them on track. Picards can be sensitive to our tone of voice, so when training, a positive tone generally works far better than an angry, negative one.

These dogs get along well with children, making tolerant playmates, and amusing the family with their human-like expressions. Due to their herding background, Picardy shepherds are proud barkers. This is something to keep in mind if you have easily annoyed neighbors.

As with all dogs, socialization and obedience training is important in developing this French dog’s temperament. A final note on Berger Picards is it’s important to know that they can have a high prey drive. Keep an untrained Berger on a leash so that they don’t run off and chase small animals.

A Bored Berger is Not a Happy Berger! 

Bergers are working dogs. They need a high level of daily exercise to keep them happy and healthy. Don’t make the mistake of not exercising your Berger enough, as this can lead to them exhibiting destructive behavior due to boredom. Don’t underestimate the value of mental stimulation! 5-10 minutes of intensive training can wear them out as much as an hour-long hike would.

Are Bergers Good Family Dogs? 

Berger Picards make great family dogs, as they thrive on time spent with their people. They can also get along with other pets well when raised together with them.

Obedience training is important to teach them manners, including not jumping up on small children. These dogs like to give hugs! Picardys delight in accompanying the family on all sorts of activities, so they are certainly a great choice for a family dog.

adorable berger picard puppy lying on grass

The Lifespan of Berger Picard Dogs

If you’re thinking about owning a Berger, you’ll be happy to know that they enjoy a moderate to long life span. They can live to between 13-14 years. Daily exercise, a good diet and regular trips to the vet can help to give your Berger the longest life possible.

8 Potential Health Issues to Be Aware Of! 

Like all dogs, Bergers have health problems that affect them which owners need to be aware of. The most common health issues affecting Berger Picards are:

  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Elbow Dysplasia
  • Entropion
  • Ectropion
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
  • Cataracts
  • Retinal Dysplasia (RD)
  • Eye Infections

Berger Picard Puppies for Sale? They May Be Difficult to Find!   

If you’re in the market for a brand new Berger Picard puppy, you might be facing a challenge! This breed of dog is rather rare. You may have to travel to track down your new buddy.

Kennel clubs are a great help in finding a breeder of this rare dog. Try the American Kennel Club, the Canadian Kennel Club or the Berger Picard Breed Club to point you in the correct direction to find your new puppy.

Be Sure to Get Your Puppy from a Reputable Breeder! 

As with all purebred dogs, it is essential to obtain your puppy from a breeder with a sterling reputation. Because skeletal and visual problems are common in this breed, it is highly advisable for owners to have their pets tested by both the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) and the Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF).

The Berger Picard Club of America recommends that you verify whether health screens on the puppy or parents have been done and reported to the testing body, to avoid complex health issues.

Adopt, Don’t Shop! Consider Finding a Herding Breed Dog in a Shelter! 

Another option for adding a Berger Picard to your family is to adopt this unique dog. However, that can also be a challenge due to its rarity! The best way to find an adoptable Berger is to contact the breed club to see if there are any animals in need of re-homing.

Potential pet owners, you may have found the most charming canine on this earth – the Picard dog! This scruffy French dog is equal measures adorable and hilarious—as evidenced by its star turn in ‘Because of Winn-Dixie’.

If you want an entertaining and lovable family pet with a beguilingly human quality to its personality, then the Berger Picard is your best bet!

Common Questions on the Berger Picard

How long do Berger Picards live?

Is the coat of the Berger Picard hypoallergenic?

Is the Berger Picard good with kids?

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