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barbet dog portrait
Meet the Barbet, a charming, curly-coated canine companion that's stealing hearts left and right! This rare breed is known for its intelligence, versatility, and uncanny ability to make a splash - literally!

Join us in this comprehensive guide as we explore everything you need to know about this breed, including their appearance, temperament, ideal environment, grooming, exercise requirements, training tips, dietary needs, health concerns, history, and more.

Best For

The Barbet is perfect for those seeking a loving, intelligent, and active companion. With their friendly nature and affinity for water, they’re ideal for families, outdoor enthusiasts, and even allergy sufferers, thanks to their hypoallergenic coats.


OTHER NAMESFrench Water Dog
BREED GROUPSporting Group
HEIGHT19-25 inches
WEIGHT37-62 lbs
LIFESPAN12-14 years
barbet dog standing in a park
Photo: slowmotiongli/Getty Images


Step aside, supermodels – the Barbet is here to strut its stuff! With its unique appearance and undeniable charm, this dog is sure to turn heads wherever it goes. Let’s take a closer look at the captivating physical features of this fabulous furry friend.

Standing proud at a height of 21 to 25 inches for males and 19 to 24 inches for females, the Barbet boasts a sturdy, well-proportioned frame. Its weight ranges from 37 to 62 pounds, giving it a medium-sized build that’s perfect for cuddles and adventures alike.

The Barbet sports a strong, muscular frame that’s built for action. They have a deep chest, providing ample room for their lungs and heart – essential for an active dog that loves to play and swim. Their legs are straight and well-muscled, while their feet are round and webbed, perfect for making a splash in the water.

The tail is another eye-catching feature. Set high and reaching to the hock, it’s covered in dense curls that give it a plume-like appearance. When they’re happy or excited, you’ll see their tail wagging enthusiastically, showcasing their delightful, exuberant nature.

The Barbet’s head is a delightful mix of expressive features. Its rounded skull, wide-set eyes, and distinctive beard-like hair under the chin give it a wise yet playful expression. The eyes themselves are typically dark brown, sparkling with curiosity and intelligence.

As for their ears, they’re long, wide, and floppy, covered in the same curly coat as the rest of their body – adding an extra touch of adorableness to their overall appearance.

Speaking of coats, the Barbet’s crowning glory is undoubtedly its thick, curly locks. Soft and woolly, their coat is water-resistant and hypoallergenic, making it perfect for those who suffer from allergies.

The curls can vary from tight ringlets to looser waves, and they come in a range of colors, including black, gray, brown, fawn, and even pied (a mix of two colors). Bear in mind, though, that regular grooming is essential to keep them looking and feeling their best.

barbet dog standing on grass
Photo: slowmotiongli/Getty Images


Barbet’s beauty is more than just fur-deep. Beneath those adorable curls lies a heart of gold and a personality that’s sure to make anyone fall in love. Let’s dive into the wonderful world of the Barbet’s temperament and discover what makes them such an irresistible companion.

One word that perfectly captures the essence of the Barbet is “friendly.” These dogs are known for their sociable and good-natured disposition. They adore their human families and are eager to make new friends, both human and furry alike. With a Barbet by your side, you’ll never feel lonely – they’re always ready to shower you with affection and keep you company.

Their loving nature extends beyond just their immediate family. Barbets are generally great with children, making them an excellent choice for families with kids. Their gentle, patient demeanor means they often get along well with little ones, providing a furry playmate and loyal protector. However, as with any dog, it’s essential to teach children how to interact safely and respectfully with their canine pal.

Barbets are also known for their intelligence. These smart cookies love to learn and are quick to pick up on commands and cues. Their clever minds mean they’re always looking for ways to engage and entertain themselves, which can be a delight for their owners. Just be prepared for some creative antics from your curly-coated genius!

One of the most endearing aspects of the Barbet’s personality is their sense of humor. These dogs have a playful, almost clownish side that’s sure to keep you entertained. They love to romp around, chase toys, and engage in goofy antics, bringing laughter and joy wherever they go. If you’re looking for a dog that knows how to have fun, the Barbet is the perfect candidate.

Despite their lively nature, Barbets also have a sensitive side. They’re deeply attuned to the emotions of their human companions and are always eager to provide comfort and support when needed. Their empathetic nature makes them wonderful therapy dogs, as they’re able to connect with people on a profound level and offer solace during difficult times.

One thing to note about the Barbet’s temperament is that they can be prone to separation anxiety. These dogs form strong bonds with their families and can become distressed if left alone for extended periods. To keep your Barbet happy and healthy, it’s important to ensure they have plenty of companionship and mental stimulation throughout the day.

barbet dog with his tongue out
Photo: slowmotiongli/Getty Images

Ideal Environment

Creating a happy home for your Barbet starts with understanding their unique needs and preferences. These curly-coated canines are adaptable and versatile, but there are certain factors that can make their environment truly shine. Let’s explore the ideal surroundings for a Barbet to live its best life.

Physical Environment

As for the physical environment, Barbets are adaptable to various living situations. They can feel at home in both urban apartments and spacious country abodes, as long as they have enough room to stretch their legs and indulge in their favorite activities.

Keep in mind that these dogs love water, so access to a lake, pond, or beach is a huge bonus for your water-loving pooch.

Climate Adaptability

Climate-wise, the Barbet’s thick, curly coat offers some protection against colder temperatures. They generally fare well in cooler climates, but you should still take precautions during extreme cold snaps, such as providing a warm, cozy bed and limiting their exposure to frigid outdoor conditions.

On the flip side, their dense coat can make them more susceptible to overheating in hot climates. In warmer weather, be sure to provide ample shade, fresh water, and opportunities to cool off indoors. Avoid exercising your Barbet during the hottest parts of the day, and always be vigilant for signs of heatstroke.

Ideal Owner

First and foremost, the Barbet thrives on companionship. They’re well-suited to pet parents who can provide plenty of love, attention, and quality time. Whether you’re an individual, couple, or family with children, your Barbet will happily soak up all the affection you have to offer.

Keep in mind, though, that these sensitive souls may struggle with separation anxiety, so a household where someone is often at home will help keep them content.

Other Pets

When it comes to other pets, the Barbet’s friendly and sociable nature means they usually get along well with fellow furballs. They can coexist peacefully with other dogs and even cats, provided they’ve been properly socialized and introduced. Just be prepared for some fun-filled play sessions between your Barbet and their new furry friends!

barbet's face up close
Photo: Fotoeventis/Getty Images


When it comes to grooming, the Barbet requires a little extra TLC to keep them looking and feeling fabulous. Those stunning curls need consistent care and attention, but with some patience and the right tools, you’ll have a well-groomed companion that’s ready to shine. Let’s dive into the world of Barbet grooming and discover how to keep your curly-coated cutie in tip-top shape.

Coat Care

At the heart of Barbet grooming is their dense, curly coat. While it’s a striking feature, it also demands regular maintenance to prevent matting and keep your pup comfortable.

Ideally, you should brush your Barbet’s coat at least once or twice a week using a slicker brush and a metal comb. Start by gently working through any tangles with the slicker brush, followed by the comb to ensure all the knots are removed.

In addition to brushing, the Barbet’s coat will need the occasional trim. Depending on your dog’s activity level and lifestyle, you may need to trim their coat every 2 to 4 months. This can be done at home with a pair of grooming scissors or by a professional groomer.

Focus on areas that are prone to matting, like the ears, armpits, and behind the legs, as well as trimming around their eyes and mouth for hygiene and visibility.

Bathing your Barbet is another essential aspect of coat care. Aim to give them a bath every 4 to 6 weeks, using a gentle, hypoallergenic dog shampoo. Be sure to rinse their coat thoroughly to remove any residue, as this can cause skin irritation. After bathing, towel-dry your Barbet and use a hairdryer on a cool setting to dry their coat completely, as a damp coat can lead to matting.

Dental Care

Just like humans, Barbets need regular dental care to maintain a healthy mouth and prevent dental issues. Aim to brush your dog’s teeth daily or at least a few times a week using a soft-bristled toothbrush and dog-specific toothpaste. Introducing this routine early in your Barbet’s life will make the process easier for both of you.

In addition to brushing, providing dental chews and toys can help keep your Barbet’s teeth clean and reduce plaque buildup. Regular checkups with your veterinarian will also ensure any dental concerns are addressed promptly.

Nail Trimming

A Barbet’s nails should be trimmed every 3 to 4 weeks to prevent overgrowth and maintain their comfort. You can use either a guillotine-style or scissor-style nail trimmer designed for dogs. Be cautious not to cut the quick, as this can cause pain and bleeding. If you’re unsure about trimming your Barbet’s nails yourself, a professional groomer or veterinarian can assist.

Ears and Eyes

Regularly check your Barbet’s ears for signs of infection or irritation, such as redness, swelling, or foul odor. Gently clean their ears with a dog-friendly ear cleaner and cotton balls, being careful not to insert anything into the ear canal. For their eyes, use a soft, damp cloth to gently wipe away any discharge or debris.

barbet dog lying on the floor
Photo: ysbrandcosijn/Getty Images


Exercise Amount & Types

The Barbet demands an exercise routine that keeps them both physically and mentally stimulated. To keep your Barbet happy and healthy, you should aim for at least 60 minutes of exercise per day, divided into two or more sessions. This can include a combination of different activities that cater to their natural instincts and abilities.

Daily walks are essential for your Barbet, providing not only physical exercise but also mental stimulation as they explore new scents and sights. If you’re looking for something more adventurous, consider taking your furry friend on hikes or nature trails where they can enjoy the great outdoors and expend some energy.

Playing fetch is another excellent way to engage your Barbet’s natural affinity for retrieving and water activities. You can use a tennis ball, frisbee, or even a floating toy if you have access to a body of water. Swimming offers a low-impact, full-body workout that your Barbet will undoubtedly love.

Agility and obedience training are perfect for the intelligent and eager-to-please Barbet. These activities not only provide physical exercise but also challenge your dog’s mind and strengthen the bond between the two of you. Setting up a small agility course in your backyard or attending local training classes can be great ways to get started.

Dog Sports

For those interested in taking their Barbet’s exercise routine to the next level, participating in dog sports and competitions can be an exciting and rewarding experience.

Activities such as flyball, dock diving, and scent work are great options that cater to the Barbet’s natural abilities. Local clubs and organizations often hold events where you and your dog can train, compete, and socialize with other dog enthusiasts.

barbet dog at a dog show
Photo: itchySan/Getty Images Signature


Training a Barbet can be a joyful and rewarding experience thanks to their intelligence, eagerness to please, and friendly nature. This highly trainable breed offers endless opportunities for teaching new commands, tricks, and even participating in dog sports. With their quick learning abilities, Barbets can become well-behaved pets and loving companions.

Basic Obedience

Starting with basic obedience is essential for any dog breed, and Barbets are no exception. Teach your furry friend commands like sit, stay, come, and heel early on in their life. Consistency and positive reinforcement, such as praise, treats, and playtime, will encourage desired behaviors and create an enjoyable learning environment for your Barbet.


Socialization plays a crucial role in your Barbet’s training, helping them develop into confident and well-rounded dogs. From a young age, expose them to various environments, people, and other animals. Regular visits to dog parks, puppy classes, or arranging playdates with other dogs can contribute significantly to their social development.

Mental Stimulation

Mental stimulation is another vital aspect of training your Barbet. These intelligent dogs require activities that challenge their minds to prevent boredom and keep them engaged. Incorporate puzzle toys, scent work, and interactive games into their daily routine. Teaching your Barbet new tricks and commands also stimulates their brain and reinforces the bond between you both.

barbet dog running at a park
Photo: slowmotiongli/Getty Images

Diet & Nutrition 

Feeding your Barbet the right diet is essential for their overall health and well-being. Providing a balanced and nutritious meal plan will keep your furry friend happy, energetic, and thriving. Let’s explore the various aspects of a Barbet’s diet and nutrition, from food choices to feeding schedules.

What to Feed & How Much

When selecting food for your Barbet, consider options like dry kibble, wet food, or raw diets that follow the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) guidelines. These guidelines ensure that the food meets the necessary nutritional requirements for your dog’s age, size, and activity level. Consulting with your veterinarian can help determine the best diet plan tailored to your Barbet’s specific needs.

The amount and frequency of feeding depend on your dog’s age, weight, and activity level. Puppies generally require more frequent meals, typically three to four times per day. As they mature, the number of daily meals can be reduced to two.

Be mindful of portion sizes to prevent overfeeding and maintain a healthy weight for your Barbet. A measuring cup or a kitchen scale can help ensure consistent and accurate portions.


Treats are a great way to reward your Barbet during training and reinforce positive behavior. However, moderation is key, as treats should not exceed 10% of your dog’s daily caloric intake. Opt for healthy, low-calorie options, such as lean meats, fruits, and vegetables, or specially formulated dog treats to avoid weight gain or other health issues.


Water plays a vital role in your Barbet’s health, ensuring proper digestion, temperature regulation, and overall well-being. Make sure your dog has access to fresh, clean water at all times. Monitor their water intake and encourage hydration, particularly during hot weather or after physical activities.

barbet dog drinking water at the lake
Photo: Cornutus/Getty Images


The Barbet is generally known for its good health and robustness. With a life expectancy of 12 to 14 years, these charming dogs can be wonderful companions for many years. However, like any breed, Barbets can still be prone to certain health issues. By being aware of potential problems and taking preventative measures, you can help your furry friend lead a happy and healthy life.

Here are common health issues associated with the Barbet:

Hip Dysplasia: This genetic condition occurs when the hip joint doesn’t develop properly, leading to arthritis and discomfort. Regular check-ups, maintaining a healthy weight, and providing joint supplements can help manage this condition.

Ear Infections: Barbets have long, floppy ears, which can sometimes trap moisture and create an environment for infections. Cleaning your dog’s ears regularly and keeping them dry can help prevent this issue.

Allergies: Some Barbets may suffer from allergies, causing skin irritation and itching. Identifying and removing allergens from their environment, along with providing appropriate medication, can alleviate symptoms.

Eye Problems: Barbets can be prone to eye conditions such as entropion, where the eyelid rolls inward, causing irritation. Regular eye examinations and prompt treatment can help maintain your dog’s eye health.

Obesity: As with any dog breed, Barbets can be susceptible to obesity if not fed a proper diet and given sufficient exercise. Monitoring their weight and ensuring a balanced diet can help prevent obesity-related health issues.

To keep your Barbet in tip-top shape, consider the following recommendations. Provide a healthy diet by choosing high-quality food that meets your dog’s nutritional needs and follows the AAFCO guidelines. Consult with your veterinarian to determine the best diet plan for your Barbet.

Schedule regular veterinary check-ups to monitor your dog’s overall health and catch any potential issues early on. Ensure your Barbet receives all necessary vaccinations to protect them from common canine diseases.

barbet dog standing on grass
Photo: slowmotiongli/Getty Images


The Barbet boasts a rich history with its origins tracing back to the 16th century in France. These charming, curly-haired dogs were initially bred as waterfowl retrievers, assisting hunters by fetching game from the water. The Barbet’s name is derived from the French word “barbe,” which means beard, a fitting descriptor for their distinctive facial hair.

Throughout history, the Barbet has been admired not only for its hunting prowess but also for its friendly and intelligent demeanor. Their strong swimming abilities and waterproof coats made them ideal companions for hunters navigating marshes and wetlands.

In addition to their hunting skills, Barbets have also served as companions to sailors and even contributed to the development of other breeds like the Poodle and Bichon Frise.

Despite their historical significance, the Barbet breed faced near extinction during the 20th century, primarily due to the two World Wars. Thankfully, dedicated breeders and enthusiasts worked diligently to revive the breed, ensuring its survival and continued presence today.

In popular culture, the Barbet has appeared in various forms of art and literature over the centuries. From paintings by famous artists like Jean-Baptiste Oudry to mentions in literary works, the Barbet has left its mark on history. One notable depiction is the painting “Duck Hunters in a Marsh” by Alexandre-François Desportes, showcasing the Barbet in its natural habitat alongside its hunting companions.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) first recognized the Barbet breed in January 2020, adding it as a member of the Sporting Group. This recognition marks a significant milestone for the breed, which has come a long way since its near disappearance in the 20th century. The AKC recognition has helped to raise awareness and appreciation for the Barbet, contributing to its growing popularity in the United States.

Today, the Barbet is celebrated for its versatility, intelligence, and affectionate nature. While they may no longer serve as waterfowl retrievers for hunters, Barbets have found new roles as therapy dogs, search and rescue dogs, and, most importantly, loving family pets.

Parent Club

The parent club for the Barbet in the United States is called the Barbet Club of America (BCA). Founded in 2006, the BCA is dedicated to promoting and protecting the Barbet breed, providing education and resources for owners, breeders, and enthusiasts. Visit their website to learn more about the Barbet Club of America.

Breed Standard

A breed standard is a set of guidelines established by breed clubs or kennel organizations, defining the ideal appearance, temperament, and physical traits of a specific breed.

It serves as a reference for breeders, judges, and enthusiasts to evaluate and maintain a breed’s unique qualities. Covering aspects like size, appearance, and temperament, breed standards are used in dog shows and competitions to assess individual dogs against the ideal representation of their breed.

Check out the Barbet’s breed standard as set by the American Kennel Club (AKC).

barbet puppy sitting on grass
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Acquiring a Barbet can be an exciting and rewarding experience. Before bringing one home, prepare by researching the breed’s needs and temperament to ensure it’s a good fit for your lifestyle. Gather essential supplies like a crate, bed, leash, collar, food, and toys.

When looking to buy a Barbet, always choose a reputable breeder who follows ethical breeding practices and prioritizes the dogs’ health and well-being. However, consider rescuing a Barbet instead of purchasing one. Rescuing not only provides a loving home for a dog in need but also helps reduce the demand for unethical breeding.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) and the Barbet Club of America (BCA) are excellent resources for those interested in rescuing a Barbet. They can connect you with rescue organizations and provide guidance on adopting a Barbet in need of a forever home.


Is the Barbet a good family dog?

Yes, the Barbet is an excellent family dog. They are known for their friendly, affectionate, and gentle nature, making them great companions for families with children. Their intelligence and eagerness to please also make them relatively easy to train.

Is the Barbet a rare breed?

The Barbet is considered a rare breed, especially outside of France, where they originated. However, thanks to the efforts of dedicated breeders and enthusiasts, the Barbet’s popularity is gradually increasing in countries like the United States.

What breeds make a Barbet?

The exact origins of the Barbet breed are unknown, but it is believed to have developed from various ancient water dogs and herding breeds in France. The Barbet is also thought to have contributed to the development of other breeds, such as the Poodle and Bichon Frise.

Do Barbets bark a lot?

Barbets are not excessive barkers. While they will bark to alert their owners of strangers or unusual occurrences, they are generally quiet dogs. Proper training and socialization can help ensure appropriate barking behavior.

Are Barbets hypoallergenic?

Although no dog is truly hypoallergenic, the Barbet has a curly, wooly coat that produces minimal shedding, making them a better choice for those with allergies. Regular grooming can help reduce dander and allergens further.

How much exercise does a Barbet need?

Barbets are an active breed that requires regular exercise to maintain their physical and mental well-being. Aim for at least an hour of daily activity, which can include walks, swimming, or playtime in a fenced yard or dog park.

How easy is it to train a Barbet?

Barbets are intelligent dogs with a strong desire to please, making them relatively easy to train. Consistent, positive reinforcement training methods work best for this breed. Early socialization and obedience training are essential for a well-behaved Barbet.

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