A Dog Whose Heart is as Big as Its Hair: The Briard

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full grown briard dog lying on grass

A French sheepdog once owned by the great Napoléon Bonaparte. The Briard is an ancient dog breed which has become well-known for their bravery and good looks. Strong-willed, incredibly loyal, and intelligent, the Briard is easily considered one of the most cherished dog breeds today.

A Brief History of the Briard Dog Breed!

The Briard is an ancient dog breed that originated in the beautiful country of France. Dog breeders aren’t exactly sure as to when this beautiful dog breed came into this world; however, historians believe that Charlemagne once owned a Briard. This would mean that the Briard dates back to the years c.742-814 AD.

This dog breed is a national treasure of France. They were initially bred to be herding dogs for farmers. Briards performed tasks that involved guarding flocks and fighting off predators.

No one is exactly sure as to how this mighty pooch received its name. The French have nicknamed them  “Chien Berger De Brie” or “Sheepdog of Brie”, as they had originated from the region of Brie.

5 Fun Facts About These Pups!

  1. This French sheepdog is often nicknamed “heard wrapped in fur,” due to its incredibly loyal personality. However, in ancient times, these dog breeds were actually called Chien d’Aubry.
  2. Historians believe that Charles the Great (Charlemagne) and Napoléon Bonaparte, both kept Briards as pets.
  3. Thomas Jefferson and Marquis de Lafayette were responsible for bringing this exceptional herding dog into the United States.
  4. These furry friends weren’t just used for herding livestock! They also worked as both guard and hunting dogs for farmers.
  5. Although a rare breed, today these doggos can be found assisting those in need. They have been known to take on roles as both emotional support animals and service dogs for people with autism.

The Appearance of These Fabulous French Briard Dogs

The American Kennel Club defines the Briard as a powerfully built dog breed. These herding dogs aren’t cobby, rather they stand tall and strong. Briards have a distinctively broad and deep chest.

This gives the dog its proud and fierce appearance. Their skull is full, while their muzzle appears to be quite long. Briards will have a distinctive mustache and beard around their muzzle. They have well-set eyes, that are neither slanted nor narrowed. Their large eyes can only come in a deep amber color.

Briards have naturally floppy ears. Although their ears may flop down, they should sit high and at equal length to the top of the skull. Some owners may choose to crop their dog’s ears. If cropped, the Briards ears should sit wide at the base, while tapering off gently.

adorable briard puppy running in snow

Their Average Size and Weight!

Nothing best describes this herding dog as powerful and fearless. Briard dogs are a large to medium-sized dog that can stand anywhere between 22 to 27 inches in height.

At their whithers, females stand between 22 to 25.5 inches, while males can go up to 27 inches. You can consider the Briard to be a large breed, as they generally weigh between 60 to 100 lbs.

So. Much. Fluff: Coats and Colors!

Undoubtedly, one of the most distinctive features seen in this herding dog is its dense coat. The Briard has a long and thick coat that may be up to 6 inches in length.

Their coat is dense, wavy, and double-coated. Coat color may vary depending on your dog’s genetics. However, the most common colors seen in this dog breed include black, a caramelized tawny, and grey-blue.

Maintenance Alert: Best Get a Good Dog Brush!

The Briard is not a hypoallergenic dog, and they shed a lot. So, if you aren’t a fan of ritual grooming, then this companion dog may not be right for you.

This dog will require grooming every 4 weeks. Ideally, owners should brush their dog’s coat once every few days to detangle knots and mats. Sometimes, their hair will begin to grow over their paw pads, ears, and eyes. In such cases, owners will need to trim the fur around these areas.

Finally, it is crucial to know that this dog breed tends to get hot very quickly. This is simply due to their dense fur coat! So, if you live in a warmer climate, you will need to consider grooming your dog entirely to prevent them from overheating.

French Herding and Guard Dogs Per Excellence: Temperament and Personality

In the early days, this elegant French sheepdog was used as both a herding and guard dog. Although many years have now since passed, many Briards still retain a temperament and personality classic to a herding breed.

Like other herding dog breeds such as the German Shepherd, the Briard is an intelligent pooch with a strong sense of loyalty to its owner.

Many owners will notice their french pupper attempting to herd all the other animals. In fact, they may even try to herd young children!

When around strangers, they may take on a more protective nature. It is the Briard’s instinct to protect their home and owner, so it is very common for them to be cautious and wary of strangers.

Now, this dog breed can have a high prey drive, and at times they can be aggressive to other people and pets. To prevent such temperament from flourishing, trainers will recommend early socialization with other pets and children to ensure you have a family safe pooch.

large chien berger de brie next to young child

Are Briards Good Dogs for Families with Small Children?

As these dogs have an instinctually kind and loyal nature, they can make excellent family members.

Adaptability: How Much Space and Sunlight Do These Doggos Need?

The Briard is an active and energetic large dog. They aren’t couch potatoes, so they are not suited to owners who live a more sedentary life.

They were initially bred to be working dogs, which means they are mostly full of energy. Most Briards tend to be quite energetic and lively. They are people pleasers, and so they thrive in an environment where they can assist their owners.

In addition, Briards are incredibly intelligent dogs. They are quick learners and can often have a bit of a stubborn personality.

As these dogs are very active, veterinarians recommend a minimum of 4 to 5 hours of daily physical activity. While most large dogs can get their regular exercise from walking, the Briard, on the other hand, will require runs or jogs.

Now, it is important to note that sometimes runs and jobs alone will not satisfy your dog’s innate behavioral needs. If left home alone for too long, these dogs can suffer from anxieties; and often this may translate into destructive behavior.

So, for dogs such as these, we highly recommend enrolling your dog in obedience training as this can prove to be an excellent source of mental stimulation. Other activities that can mentally stimulate your pooch can include swimming, hikes, time at the dog park, and herding-like activities.

How Long Does This Breed Live?

The average Briard can live anywhere between 10 to 12 years. So if well cared for, your Briard can live a long and healthy life. However, people interested in adopting such a breed, need to be aware of common breed disorders.

3 Potential Health Issues to Be Aware Of!

  1. Hip dysplasia: This is a polygenetic linked disease that results in the progressive loss of hip function.
  2. Congenital Stationary Night Blindness: Night blindness is an autosomal recessive disorder that causes a dog to experience vision loss at night and occasionally at day time.
  3. Central Progressive Retinal Atrophy: Central Progressive Retinal Atrophy is yet another eye disorder common in these French sheepdog breeds. It is an autosomal recessive disorder that is often caused by impaired vitamin E metabolism.

Briard Puppies for Sale Near Me? They May Be Difficult to Find!

If you are looking to adopt a Briard, then you will have to do a lot of searching! Briards are incredibly rare dogs, so it is often hard to come by reputable breeders.

sheepdog of brie with her briard puppies

Be Sure to Get Your Briard Puppy from a Reputable Breeder!

If you’re lucky enough to find yourself a reputable dog breeder, then you will need to consider your price point next. A healthy Briard of a strong bloodline can cost anywhere between $2500 and $5000 per puppy. It is (and should be) very rare to find a Briard puppy that is less than $2000.

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

Now, if you’re absolutely in love with this breed, but don’t want to break the bank for one then consider adopting a Briard or other herding breed! Many private rescues across North America specializes in rehoming Briards. In the United States, rescues such as the Briard Trust Rescue will help you find a furry friend.

Common Questions on the Briard

Do Briard dogs shed?

How much do Briard puppies cost?

Where did this breed originate?

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