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  • Herding breeds: Briard

    Briard photo The Briard (pronounced BREE-arrd) is a very old breed of French working dog. Depicted in 8th century tapestries and mentioned in records of the 12th century, the breed is perfectly portrayed in the 14th and 16th centuries. This was an "all around," a farm dog that had multiple tasks to accomplish. Originally, the Briard was used to protect sheep from wolves and poachers. After the French Revolution, the population soared, and so the land was divided up and the Briard became more of a herding dog. The Briard was a partner to the shepherd, relying on intelligence and its independent nature to get those tasks done. He was a family dog as well, going home at night to watch over the family and their household.
    The first standard was written in 1897 by a club of dog breeding shepherds. In 1925, the standard was refined, and it was this standard that the Briard Club of America adopted in 1928.
    Thomas Jefferson imported some of these fine dogs, and some believe he founded the breed in the United States. Others credit Marquis de Lafayette. In 1922, Barbara Danielson of Groton, Massachusetts, was the first to register her Briards with the American Kennel Club.

    General description
    Height: 22-27 inches
    Weight: 60-120 pounds
    Color: All uniform colors are permitted except white. The colors are black, various shades of gray, and various shades of tawny. The deeper shades of each color are preferred. Combinations of two of these colors are permitted, provided there are no marked spots and the transition from one color to another takes place gradually and symmetrically. The only permissible white: white hairs scattered throughout the coat and/or a white spot on the chest not to exceed one inch in diameter at the root of the hair.
    Grooming requirements
    General care and grooming requires regular brushing, ear cleaning, and nail trimming. It has been humorously noted that when the Briard blows coats, one can knit a complete set of hat, scarf and mittens. Regular bathing and brushing limits the shedding extremes. The Briard is one of the most complete works of grooming in the dog world. The brushing that is required is constant and long. You will need a slicker brush and a metal comb for this breed. Common areas for excessive matting are the neck, bib, hind quarters, and the ears. Bathing this dog takes an exceptional amount of time due to the long coat and the need to remove all shampoo from the body. This can be aided along with the help of conditioner. If shampoo is left in the coat, the skin will dry and rashes can occur. If you do not have hours to devote to brushing your dog every week, this is not the breed for you. Their grooming requirements are extreme, and should not be left unattended due to their ability to get rashes or worse if they are left to mat.

    Breed characteristics and personality
    The Briard retains a high degree of his ancestral instinct to guard home and master. Although he is reserved with strangers, he is loving and loyal to those he knows. Some will display a certain independence. He is not the dog for every home; his remarkable character can only be developed by an owner willing to devote time and affection.
    He is a dog at heart, with vitality and motivation, discerning and bold with no trace of fear. Astute, easily trained, devoted, gentle, and dutiful, the Briard possesses an excellent memory and an impassioned desire to please his owner.

    Briards were originally used to hold sheep in unfenced pastures in rural France. This style of herding is referred to as "boundary" herding. Today, the Briard has found his way into the hearts and homes of dog lovers around the world. Described as a "heart wrapped in fur," this dog is truly devoted to his master.
    Comments 1 Comment
    1. LPC's Avatar
      LPC -
      Aha, David! You nearly made me fall off my chair (LOL)! I have lived in France for many years, but hadn't ever heard of the Briard. Then I looked on Wikipedia France and found it. Although a French breed in origin, it is not called Briard in France. It is called "Berger de Brie" or "Shepherd of Brie", because it was used to herd animals in the Brie area (east of Paris).

      A lovely, affectionate and intelligent breed.
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