Briard

Table of Contents

briard portrait
Introducing the fabulous Briard, a fluffy and charismatic canine that's stealing hearts left and right! With their vivacious personality, remarkable intelligence, and irresistibly shaggy coat, it's no wonder these French herding dogs are so adored by their fans.

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 Briard is a great match for those who value an intelligent, energetic, and loyal companion. This French herding breed thrives with active individuals or families who love outdoor activities. If you’re seeking a protective friend with a gentle heart, a nimble gait, and a knack for training, the Briard could be your ideal partner!

Overview

OFFICIAL NAMEBriard
OTHER NAMESBerger de Brie
ORIGINFrance
BREED GROUPHerding Group
BREED SIZELarge
HEIGHT22-27 inches
WEIGHT55-100 lbs
LIFESPAN12 years
LIVING SPACELarge
SENSITIVITY TO COLD WEATHERLow
SENSITIVITY TO WARM WEATHERModerate
GROOMING NEEDSHigh
EXERCISE NEEDSVery High
TRAINABILITYHigh
BARKING TENDENCYModerate
BITING TENDENCYLow
DROOLING TENDENCYLow
SHEDDING LEVELModerate
POPULARITY RANK151st
briard standing on a pathway
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Appearance

The Briard boasts an impressive and distinctive appearance that sets them apart from other breeds. With a sturdy, well-built frame, these dogs are both elegant and athletic. Typically, male Briards stand between 23 to 27 inches tall at the shoulder, while females measure between 22 to 25.5 inches. Their weight ranges from 70 to 100 pounds for males and 55 to 85 pounds for females.

Briards have strong, muscular bodies with broad chests and well-sprung ribs, which contribute to their agility and endurance. Their backs are level and firm, and their loins are wide and powerful. These dogs also possess unique, double dewclaws on their hind legs, which are a breed standard requirement.

The tail is another distinctive feature, as it is long, well-feathered, and carried with a slight upward curve, often forming a characteristic “J” shape or “crook” at the tip. This elegant tail adds to their overall majestic appearance.

Their head is long and rectangular, with a slight stop and a strong, square muzzle. Their large, black or black-pigmented nose is prominent, while their expressive eyes are dark and set well apart. One of the breed’s most endearing traits is their natural “eyebrows” created by the longer hair above their eyes, which often partially covers them, giving them a thoughtful, almost human-like expression.

Their ears are high-set and can be cropped or left in their natural state. If left natural, they are medium-sized, covered in long hair, and fold close to the head, framing their face. If cropped, the ears stand erect and are triangular in shape.

One of the most notable features of the Briard is their long, luxurious coat. This double coat consists of a fine, dense undercoat and a coarse, wavy outer coat that can be as long as six inches. The coat is designed to protect them from harsh weather conditions, making them well-suited for outdoor work.

Briards come in a variety of solid colors, including black, gray, and various shades of fawn. They may also have white hairs scattered throughout the coat, giving them a charming, rustic appearance.

Overall, the Briard’s striking physical characteristics, combined with their lively expression and luxurious coat, make them an unforgettable and eye-catching breed that is sure to turn heads wherever they go.

briard's face up close
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Temperament

The Briard is an intriguing blend of contrasts that somehow come together to form a remarkably well-rounded breed. They’re fiercely loyal yet independent, incredibly intelligent yet playful, and protective yet affectionate.

Known for their bravery, Briards are like knights in fluffy armor. They’re protective without being overly aggressive, making them excellent guardians for your home. But don’t let their bravery fool you. Beneath that tough exterior lies a heart that’s capable of immense love and loyalty.

Briards share a special bond with their families. They enjoy being in the thick of family activities, always ready to join in on the fun. With their energy and playfulness, they can turn even the most mundane tasks into exciting adventures. If you have kids, a Briard will likely become their favorite playmate, always up for a game or a cuddle.

But it’s not all fun and games with these dogs. Briards boast a level of intelligence that often surprises people. They’re quick learners and problem-solvers, always keeping their owners on their toes. This intelligence, combined with a certain degree of independence, sometimes comes off as stubbornness. But isn’t life a little more interesting with a touch of sass?

On the other hand, Briards can be a bit choosy when it comes to making friends, especially with other dogs of the same sex. Their strong herding instincts might also make them less compatible with cats. However, every Briard is unique, and much depends on their individual personality, upbringing, socialization, and environment.

In a nutshell, owning a Briard is like embarking on a fascinating journey filled with love, laughter, and a few challenges along the way. They’re not just pets; they’re companions in the truest sense. With their intelligence, loyalty, and playful spirit, they add a whole new dimension to the phrase ‘man’s best friend’.

briard walking on snow
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Ideal Environment

Physical Environment

Briards can adapt well to both urban and rural settings as long as they have ample space to move around and explore. A home with a securely fenced yard is highly desirable, as it provides the Briard with a safe area to play, exercise, and indulge in their natural herding instincts.

Climate Adaptability

When it comes to climate adaptability, Briards are quite versatile. Their thick, double coat provides excellent insulation, making them well-suited for colder climates. In fact, they were originally bred to work outdoors in the harsh weather conditions of northern France. That being said, it’s essential to provide your Briard with a warm, dry shelter during extreme cold or wet weather.

In hot climates, Briards can also fare well, but owners must take precautions to keep them comfortable and safe. Ensure your Briard has access to shade, fresh water, and a cool place to rest during hot summer days. Avoid exercising them during the hottest parts of the day, and be vigilant for signs of heatstroke, such as excessive panting, drooling, or lethargy.

Ideal Owner

Briards are best suited to pet parents who are confident, experienced, and willing to invest the time and effort required to train, socialize, and engage with this intelligent and spirited breed. They need an owner who can provide consistent guidance, boundaries, and positive reinforcement, as well as someone who appreciates their unique personality and sense of humor.

Other Pets

In terms of other pets, Briards can generally coexist peacefully with cats and other dogs when raised together or introduced appropriately.

However, it’s essential to monitor their interactions, especially during the initial stages, to ensure they get along harmoniously and understand how to interact respectfully. Their herding instincts may compel them to chase or herd other pets, so supervision and training are crucial to prevent any undesirable behaviors.

briard lying in the meadow
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Grooming

The Briard, with its luxurious and distinctive coat, requires a significant amount of grooming to keep it looking its best and to maintain optimal health. Regular grooming not only helps your Briard look and feel good, but it also provides an opportunity to bond with your pet and check for any potential health issues.

Coat Care

One of the primary grooming needs of a Briard is regular brushing to prevent matting and tangles, as well as to remove loose hair and dirt. Ideally, you should brush your Briard’s coat at least two to three times a week using a slicker brush and a long-toothed metal comb.

Start by brushing the coat in sections, working from the skin outwards and paying particular attention to areas prone to matting, such as behind the ears, under the legs, and around the collar area. Be gentle when brushing to avoid causing discomfort or damaging the coat.

In addition to brushing, the Briard’s coat may require occasional trimming, especially around the feet, ears, and sanitary areas. This can be done using a pair of grooming shears or scissors. If you are unsure about how to trim your Briard’s coat, consider seeking the help of a professional groomer or attending a grooming workshop to learn the proper techniques.

Bathing your Briard is another essential aspect of their grooming routine, but it should be done as needed, usually every six to eight weeks, or when the coat becomes particularly dirty or smelly.

Use a mild, dog-approved shampoo and ensure that you rinse the coat thoroughly to remove all soap residue, as this can cause skin irritation. After bathing, towel-dry your Briard’s coat, and if necessary, use a hairdryer on a low heat setting to dry them completely.

Dental Care

Dental care is crucial for maintaining your Briard’s overall health. Ideally, you should brush their teeth daily using a soft-bristled toothbrush and dog-specific toothpaste to prevent plaque buildup, gum disease, and bad breath. In addition, providing your Briard with dental chews or toys can help keep their teeth clean and healthy.

Nail Trimming

Regular nail trimming is also an essential part of a Briard’s grooming routine, as long nails can cause discomfort and lead to various health issues. Trim your Briard’s nails every three to four weeks, using a pair of dog nail clippers or a nail grinder. Be cautious when trimming to avoid cutting the quick, which can be painful and cause bleeding.

Ear Care

Lastly, don’t forget to check your Briard’s ears for signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, or foul odor. Clean their ears as needed, using a dog-approved ear cleaner and a cotton ball or soft cloth. Avoid using cotton swabs, as they can damage the delicate structures of the ear.

briard standing in a lawn
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Exercise

The Briard is an energetic and athletic breed that thrives on regular exercise and mental stimulation. As a working breed with strong herding instincts, they require a significant amount of physical activity to keep them happy, healthy, and well-behaved. Failing to meet their exercise needs can lead to boredom, restlessness, and the development of undesirable behaviors.

Exercise Amount & Types

A Briard should ideally receive at least one to two hours of exercise daily. This can include a combination of activities such as brisk walks, jogs, or hikes, as well as off-leash playtime in a securely fenced area where they can run, explore, and indulge in their natural instincts.

Keep in mind that Briards are highly intelligent dogs, so incorporating mental stimulation into their exercise routine is equally important. Interactive games, such as fetch, tug-of-war, or hide-and-seek, can provide both physical and mental engagement.

Socialization is another essential aspect of a Briard’s exercise routine. Regular interaction with other dogs, people, and various environments helps them develop into well-rounded, confident, and well-behaved pets. Dog parks, group walks, or playdates with other dogs can provide valuable socialization opportunities, as well as additional physical exercise.

Dog Sports

In addition to daily exercise, consider enrolling your Briard in dog sports or competitions that cater to their natural abilities and instincts.

Activities such as herding trials, agility, obedience, or rally competitions can provide an excellent outlet for their energy and intelligence, while also strengthening the bond between you and your dog. Training for these events can be a fun and rewarding experience for both you and your Briard.

Exercise Precautions

When exercising your Briard, it’s essential to be mindful of their physical limitations and the weather conditions. In hot climates, avoid exercising during the hottest parts of the day, and ensure they have access to shade and fresh water to prevent heatstroke. In colder weather, be attentive to icy surfaces that may cause injury or discomfort and provide a warm, dry shelter for them to rest in after exercise.

briard playing in water
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Training

Training a Briard can be an enjoyable and rewarding experience, as they are highly intelligent, eager to learn, and possess exceptional memories. However, their strong-willed and independent nature can also make them a challenge for inexperienced or timid trainers. Knowing what to expect when training a Briard and employing the right techniques are crucial for success.

Positive Reinforcement

Briards are quick learners and can grasp new commands or tasks with just a few repetitions. Their remarkable ability to remember lessons makes them highly trainable and responsive to consistent, positive reinforcement-based training methods. Using rewards such as treats, praise, or playtime can motivate your Briard to engage in the training process and reinforce desired behaviors.

Patience & Consistency

Despite their intelligence, Briards can also be stubborn at times, which may require patience and persistence from their trainers. Establishing yourself as a confident and consistent leader is essential to gain their respect and ensure they follow your guidance. Be prepared to invest time and effort into training sessions, and always maintain a calm, patient demeanor when working with your Briard.

Socialization

Early socialization is a vital aspect of training for this breed. Exposing your Briard to various people, animals, and environments from a young age will help them develop into well-rounded and confident adults. Enrolling your Briard in puppy socialization classes or taking them to dog-friendly venues can provide valuable learning experiences and build a solid foundation for future training endeavors.

Basic Obedience

Given their herding instincts, it’s important to teach your Briard basic obedience commands such as “sit,” “stay,” “come,” and “leave it” to ensure they can respond appropriately in different situations. Additionally, providing mental stimulation through puzzle toys, interactive games, or advanced training exercises can keep their minds sharp and prevent boredom-related behavior issues.

Incorporating your Briard’s natural abilities and instincts into their training can also be highly beneficial. Activities such as herding trials, agility, or obedience competitions can challenge their intelligence and athleticism while strengthening the bond between you and your dog.

briard sitting in cornfield
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Diet & Nutrition 

What to Feed & How Much

When selecting food for your Briard, it’s crucial to choose a high-quality product that meets the nutritional guidelines established by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). These guidelines ensure that the food contains the appropriate balance of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals required for optimal health.

There are various types of dog food available, including dry kibble, wet food, and raw food diets. Each option has its benefits and drawbacks, so it’s essential to consider your Briard’s specific needs, preferences, and any dietary restrictions when making a decision. Consulting with your veterinarian can provide valuable guidance on choosing the most suitable diet for your Briard.

The amount of food your Briard requires will depend on their age, size, activity level, and individual metabolism. As a general guideline, adult Briards typically consume between 3 to 4 cups of dry food per day, divided into two meals. Puppies, on the other hand, have higher energy requirements and should be fed smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day.

It’s important to monitor your Briard’s weight and adjust their food intake accordingly to prevent overfeeding and obesity, which can lead to various health issues.

Treats

When it comes to treats, opt for healthy and low-calorie options that can be used as rewards during training sessions or as an occasional indulgence. Be mindful of the number of treats you provide, as excessive treats can contribute to weight gain and an unbalanced diet. As a rule of thumb, treats should not make up more than 10% of your Briard’s daily caloric intake.

Water

Fresh water is another vital aspect of your Briard’s diet and should be available at all times. Ensure that your dog has access to clean and fresh water throughout the day, and make it a habit to clean their water bowl regularly to prevent bacterial growth.

briard running over the pasture
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Health

The Briard is generally considered to be a healthy and robust breed, with a life expectancy of around 12 years. However, like all breeds, they may be predisposed to certain health issues. Regular veterinary check-ups, a balanced diet, and proper exercise can help maintain your Briard’s overall health and well-being.

Here are common health issues associated with the Briard:

Hip Dysplasia: This genetic condition occurs when the hip joint doesn’t develop properly, leading to arthritis and pain in the affected joint. To reduce the risk of hip dysplasia, ensure your Briard maintains a healthy weight and receives regular exercise. Breeders should also screen their breeding dogs for hip dysplasia to prevent passing on the condition to future generations.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): PRA is an inherited eye disorder that causes gradual degeneration of the retina, eventually leading to blindness. Responsible breeders should screen their breeding dogs for this condition, as there is no cure for PRA. However, affected dogs can still lead happy and fulfilling lives with the appropriate accommodations and care.

Hypothyroidism: This hormonal disorder occurs when the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone, leading to symptoms such as weight gain, lethargy, skin issues, and hair loss. Hypothyroidism can be managed with medication and regular monitoring by your veterinarian.

Bloat (Gastric Torsion): This life-threatening condition occurs when the stomach fills with gas and twists on itself, cutting off blood flow to the digestive system. Large, deep-chested breeds like the Briard are at a higher risk for bloat. To minimize the risk, feed your Briard smaller, more frequent meals and avoid vigorous exercise immediately before or after eating.

Von Willebrand’s Disease: This is a bleeding disorder caused by a deficiency in the clotting factor von Willebrand Factor (vWF). Affected dogs may experience prolonged bleeding after injury or surgery. There is no cure for von Willebrand’s Disease, but it can be managed with appropriate care and precautions.

briard lying on green grass
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History

The Briard has a rich and storied history, dating back over a thousand years. This ancient French breed was originally developed as a working dog, primarily used for herding and guarding livestock. Their keen intelligence, agility, and tireless work ethic made them highly valued by farmers and herdsmen, who relied on their skills to protect their flocks from predators and keep them within designated boundaries.

The exact origin of the Briard remains a subject of debate among historians. Some believe that the breed descended from dogs brought to Europe by the Celts, while others suggest that they may have been developed from Oriental herding breeds introduced during the Roman Empire.

Regardless of their precise origins, the Briard has been a fixture in French culture for centuries, with references to the breed appearing in various historical documents, artwork, and literature.

One of the earliest known mentions of the Briard dates back to the 12th century when a French abbot named Aubry de Montdidier wrote about the breed’s loyalty and bravery. The breed’s popularity continued to grow over the centuries, with notable figures such as Charlemagne, Napoleon Bonaparte, and Thomas Jefferson reportedly owning and appreciating Briards for their herding and protective abilities.

During World War I, the Briard’s versatility and resilience were put to the test on the battlefield. They were employed as messenger dogs, search and rescue dogs, and even used to transport supplies and ammunition to the front lines. Their courage and determination in the face of danger earned them widespread admiration and further solidified their status as a beloved national symbol in France.

The Briard was first introduced to the United States in the late 19th century, where they quickly gained a following among dog enthusiasts and herding dog aficionados.

The breed was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1928, and the Briard Club of America was established shortly thereafter in 1929. Since then, the breed has enjoyed moderate popularity in the United States, with many owners appreciating their unique combination of intelligence, versatility, and loyalty.

In popular culture, the Briard has enjoyed a more modest presence compared to some other breeds. However, they have occasionally appeared in films and television shows, often showcasing their intelligence and distinctive appearance.

Notable examples include the 1974 film “Baxter!” and the popular 1980s TV series “Married… with Children,” which featured a Briard named Buck as the family pet.

Today, the Briard continues to be valued for their herding abilities, although they are also increasingly appreciated as devoted family pets and companions. With proper training, socialization, and care, the Briard can excel in a wide range of roles and environments, from working farms to suburban households, showcasing the enduring appeal of this ancient and versatile breed.

Parent Club

The official breed club for the Briard in the United States is the Briard Club of America (BCA). Founded in 1929, shortly after the American Kennel Club recognized the breed, the BCA is dedicated to promoting the health, welfare, and responsible breeding of Briards.

The club also serves as a valuable resource for information on the breed, training, events, and more. You can visit their website to learn more about the club and its activities.

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 Briard’s breed standard as set by the American Kennel Club (AKC).

briard puppy sitting on the snow
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Acquiring

Thinking of welcoming a Briard into your family? Begin by preparing a comfortable bed, balanced meals, stimulating toys, grooming tools for their long coat, and finding a good vet.

If buying is your choice, it’s vital to opt for a reputable breeder to ensure a healthy, well-socialized pup. But why not consider rescue? Many Briards in shelters are waiting to share their intelligent, energetic nature with a loving home. The American Kennel Club and the Briard Club of America can assist you in this rewarding journey.

Whether you adopt or buy, you’re inviting more than just a pet. You’re welcoming an active, loyal companion into your life. With a Briard, every day is an adventure filled with activity, companionship, and the joy of having a dog that’s as protective as it is loving!

FAQs

Are Briards good family dogs?

Yes, Briards can be excellent family dogs when properly socialized and trained. They are loyal, affectionate, and protective of their families, making them great companions for households with children. However, their herding instincts may lead them to “herd” young children, so supervision is recommended during interactions.

Are Briards aggressive?

Briards are not inherently aggressive, but they do possess strong protective instincts. Early socialization and consistent training are essential to ensure they develop into well-rounded and well-behaved pets. A well-socialized Briard should be confident and friendly towards people and other animals.

Do Briards bark a lot?

Briards may bark to alert their owners to potential threats or when they sense something is amiss. However, they are not known to be excessive barkers. Proper training and mental stimulation can help curb unwanted barking behaviors and ensure your Briard remains a well-mannered companion.

How big do Briards get?

Briards are a large dog breed, with males typically standing between 23 to 27 inches at the shoulder and weighing between 75 to 100 pounds. Females are slightly smaller, standing between 22 to 25.5 inches tall and weighing between 50 to 65 pounds.

Are Briards hypoallergenic?

While no dog breed is truly hypoallergenic, Briards have a long, wavy, and dense double coat that is less prone to shedding than many other breeds. This characteristic may make them a better option for individuals with mild allergies. However, it’s important to spend time around the breed before committing to ownership to ensure you don’t have an allergic reaction.

How much grooming do Briards require?

Briards require regular grooming to maintain their coat’s health and appearance. They should be brushed at least once or twice a week to prevent matting and remove loose hair. Additionally, they may need occasional baths, nail trims, and ear cleanings to keep them looking and feeling their best.

How much exercise do Briards need?

Briards are an energetic and athletic breed that requires at least one to two hours of exercise daily. This can include walks, hikes, playtime, and participation in dog sports such as herding trials, agility, or obedience competitions. Mental stimulation is also crucial for this intelligent breed, so incorporating interactive games and training exercises into their routine is essential.

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