Briards are old french herding dogs from around 1800. Their courageous nature and endless loyalty has even made them appreciated by the likes of Napoleon, as they have a "heart wrapped in fur". Briards are very intelligent dogs and are said to understand a large range of cues, some even knowing more than 200 words.
Average lifespann: 10-12 years
Looks and characteristics:
They are flexible rustic dogs with powerful bodies, described as "radiating an aura of Gallic romance and elegance". Briards have double coats and their outer coat has wavy and long fur; thick like that of a goat, it shouldn't be less than 7cm or 2.7 inches. The undercoat - in contrast to the coarse goat-like outer coat - is fine and tight on the body. On their heads their quirky hairdo parts in the middle which complements their expressive eyebrows and mustaches. An unusual characteristic of these dogs is the double declaw you can find on their back legs.
It is recommended to groom briards every week thouroughly, giving them a proper combing, which normally takes some time.
Black, black & gray, gray, tawny, tawny & gray, white, black & tawny.
History and origins:
Briards originated around 1800 in the north-central region of France, called Brie, which is also where their name comes from. These dogs where not only used as herding dogs but also defended their cattle against predators, thus requiring their bigger and muscular physique.
You can find Briards depicted on 8th century tapestries from around Charlemagne's reign but more famously - Napoleon himself is said to have owned several Briards.
During the first and second world war, briards was used by the french army, even getting recognized as the official dog of the french army. They provided great Help carrying supplies to the front line, searching wounded soldiers, alarming of enemy soldiers but it came at a great cost. Many briards perished during the battles which is why they are relatively uncommon today. In todays society briards are great all around working dogs - service dogs, protective dogs, used in most competitive dog sports. They are also still used in their original purpose of herding and protecting cattle in their home country.
These dogs possess all the common traits for Shepherds: tirelessness, protectiveness, the ability to herd as well as having their courageous spirit needed when defending against dangerous predators. These dogs are loyal and intelligent and tend to mature a bit later in life. It is therefore important to be a bit stubborn and patient when you live with one of these dogs. But it's worthwhile for the loyal and loving soul you get in return. It's also worth mentioning that they are not couch potatoes and really have a big daily need of exercise and mental stimuli.
Briards are considering healthy dogs but there are some recommended health tests from the National Breed Club which includes: