The Briard is a large dog with a muscular frame and a long and luxurious coat. The coat comes in any solid color, except white, and is usually seen in gray, black, or tawny. The outer coat is dry, hard, and coarse, and it lies flat or in long waves. The undercoat is tight and fine. Briards have large, dark-colored eyes and a square, black nose. Their neck is strongly muscled, and their tail is J-shaped. These dogs have double dewclaws on their hind legs, and they feature a beard and prominent eyebrows. Briards measure 22 to 27 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh 65 to 80 pounds.
Although they love adventure and are always in the mood for a hike with their human family, these dogs prefer to spend most of their time hanging out at home.
Powerful and agile animals, Briards are herding dogs with an acute sense of hearing. They are now used primarily as show dogs or companion animals, and they make a great addition to active households with children. Briards are very social and affectionate.
Briards are a favorite television breed. These dogs have made appearances on the TV shows "Married with Children and "All My Children," as well in the movies "Dennis the Menace" and "Top Dog."
Devoted, faithful, and loving, Briards make excellent companion animals for most families. They are adaptable and affectionate, and they make great choices for homes with children. They also get along decently with cats and other dogs, especially if they are raised together. Briards are intelligent dogs that are playful when the mood strikes them. They need a lot of love, activity, and attention every day.
These independent dogs like to be busy and active. They enjoy long walks and jogs, and they need daily play sessions to burn off excess energy and provide mental and physical stimulation. Although they love adventure and are always in the mood for a hike with their human family, these dogs prefer to spend most of their time hanging out at home.
Briards are protective and territorial, and they are typically very reserved with strangers. These dogs are also very sensitive to the feelings of their human family members, and they'll quickly offer affection or a cuddle if their loved ones are down or angry.
Briards are prone to a number of health conditions that may affect quality or length of life. Night blindness, congenital hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism, and certain heart problems are more common in these dogs than in some other breeds. Briards are also prone to progressive retinal atrophy and certain other eye conditions. Additionally, these dogs may develop Von Willebrand disease, a blood disease that causes insufficient clotting.
Feeding these dogs smaller meals can reduce the risk of bloat and gastric torsion, which are potentially fatal conditions that affect Briards. Other health problems known to affect the breed include hemangiosarcoma and cutaneous lymphoma, which is a type of lymphoma that affects the skin, foot pads, and oral cavities. Panosteitis, a self-limiting, inflammatory condition that affects the long bones in the legs and causes pain, limping, and lameness, is also seen in Briards.
With routine veterinary care, timely vaccinations, proper nutrition, and regular exercise, Briards generally live an active life of 10 to 12 years.
Briards are eager to please and usually enjoy training. Because they are independent thinkers, a patient approach to training is necessary. These dogs have excellent memories and bore easily. They respond best to short and fun training sessions and plenty of positive reinforcement.
Although these dogs are not known for being the easiest animals to live with, early training and socialization can help turn them into the calm and good-natured dogs seen at shows. Socialization is also necessary to keep these dogs from becoming overly suspicious. Briards benefit from puppy kindergarten and should be exposed to a variety of people, sights, and sounds early in life.
Without regular exercise, Briards become hyperactive and unmanageable. They need regular playtime, as well as plenty of structured activity. These dogs should not be left outside for prolonged periods, and they should not be chained. Doing so can lead to aggressive and destructive behavior.
The Briard's long coat needs combing and brushing about every other day to keep mats away. These dogs have a shaggy coat that sheds little, although shedding may be more significant in some dogs and in some climates. Grooming takes only a few hours each week if done consistently. If mats and tangles are allowed to develop, it may be necessary to devote many hours to combing the coat out.
These dogs have a beard that tends to become dirtied with food. It may also become wet after drinking. Cleaning and drying the beard after every meal may be necessary. If the Briard is intended to be shown, bathing every few days is necessary to improve the appearance of the coat. If not, bathing is only necessary to remove excessive dirt or sticky or harmful substances from the coat.
The nails should be trimmed a tiny bit at a time, as needed to remove length. Unlike most other dog breeds, Briards have black nails. This makes it impossible to see the quick. Professional clippings will prevent accidents. The teeth should be brushed regularly to ensure dental health, and the ears should be cleaned and checked for infection at least once each week. It's a good idea to start grooming Briards when they are still puppies. This will make them much more responsive and cooperative to grooming later in life.
Briards are native to France, where the breed has been beloved since the Middle Ages. These dogs were depicted in tapestries dating back to the 8th century and in records dating back to 12th century. They were used originally to defend against poachers and wolves.
Following the French Revolution, Briards were tasked with herding flocks and acting as guard dogs. They've also been used as pack dogs and as sentinels in wartime.
Records of how the breed came to the United States are unclear. Some credit the Marquis de Lafayette with introducing these dogs to America, but records also show that Thomas Jefferson brought Briards to the US. Today, these dogs are primarily kept as companion animals or are found in shows.
In 1928, the American Kennel Club officially recognized the Briard.