The Briard as a Family Dog: The French Sheepdog That Loves Kids

September 23, 2019
As a dog owner with over 25 years of experience, I can attest that having a dog is one of the most wonderful things that has ever happened in my life. The companionship and joy they bring is incomparable.

The Briard is a breed that can thrive on a farm or equally well as a family companion. If child and dog are raised together, things tend to turn out well.

The Briard (pronounced “BREE-ard”) is a very old breed. According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), the Briard dates back to at least the Middle Ages. Written records go back to the 12 century. In France, it is known as the Berger de Brie. It can be a fun-loving dog, but needs firm (not forceful) handling, structure, and exercise.

Breed Standard for the Briard

This breed belongs to the Herding Group. It was recognized in 1928. Males should be 23 to 27 inches at the withers. Females are 22 to 25 ½ inches. It should be “vigorous and alert,” and its structure reflecting strength of muscle and bone.

The head should be held alert and proud. The neck should be “strongly muscled” with a good length. Shoulders slope at a 45-degree angle supported by strong muscles. The hindquarters should be “powerful, providing flexible, almost tireless movement.”

Briard Characteristics

As a herding dog, the Briard likes to work. On the farm or ranch, they will herd all manner of animals, depending on the individual dog. Like most herding breeds, the individual herding instinct varies. In the family environment, this dog will herd family members and other pets, and will often place itself in strategic positions within the home to keep watch on its “flock.”

They can be wary of strangers, so puppy training and socialization is vital. It is a breed of great character, initiative, and curiosity. It will protect the family and responds well to proper obedience.

This dog has a lot of facial hair that forms itself into a nice chin beard. It grows hair over its eyes in a short period of time, and often looks as if it cannot see what is directly in front of it. It can also have the appearance of peering out of its mane, as if spying.

Care, Grooming and Health Concerns of the Briard

The dog needs regular brushing, but actually does not shed as much as some. It has been known to do a good job of self-cleaning, although due to the style of its coat, things tend to stick to the dog after it’s been outside. It should be given a good walk or run daily.

The Briard is famous in veterinary circles for getting bloat (the stomach distends with gas and fluid), a potentially life-threatening situation. It can also have, like most large breeds, hip dysplasia. Eye problems have been recorded as well.

Overall, the Briard is a wonderful bread that does well on the farm. It also serves parents and children well as an adaptable family dog.

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