It’s pretty easy to see why the Briard breed of dogs has been used as a herding tool for so long. These animals possess the power, agility, and temperament needed to make the perfect herding dog. You can’t miss the strong chest of the Briard breed. The chest tapers to muscular shoulders and powerful legs, both front and back positioned perfectly for speed and stamina. Healthy Briard dogs have the look of lean, mean athletes without any hint of fat or being too thin.
Looking in the face of a Briard is quite an experience as well. These dogs hold their heads at a proud angle and don’t have any hanging skin from the jowl. No messy look for these fine animals. You will find some Briards with their ears clipped while other owners have opted to leave the dog’s natural beauty intact. These dogs look rather like fine old gentlemen with their longish beard and moustache.
Owners have a bit of freedom when it comes to the Briard’s coat. These double coated beauties can wear their coats long, up to 6 inches in adulthood, or short as the owner prefers for maintenance levels. When taken care of, the Briard coat very rarely sheds.
The soft, thick undercoat has to be taken care of otherwise it is prone to matting. As for the more coarse topcoat, easy brushing will take care of any grooming issues there.
The Briard breed coat can come in several different colors. Gray and black are common along with the possibility of tan or tawny. In some cases, Braird dogs with more than one color on their coat have been spotted.
It has already been mentioned that the Briard dog has worked as a herder for generations. Throughout its colorful history, it has been employed in the army and for its ability to deliver messages. Most experts contribute these jobs to the dog’s uncanny sense of hearing even in the dog world.
These breed is enjoying some popularity in the U.S. currently, but it is still most popular in its home country of France.
When you consider that the Briard dog is commonly used for herding there is no big surprise that the two most common personality traits these dogs have is protectiveness and loyalty. Anyone who is lucky enough to own one of these dogs will discover that they are very cautious about the safety of their loved ones. This protective nature sometimes shows up with their independent streak. As herders, these dogs feel they know best when it comes to the location of their loved ones and may use their skills to try to force their humans into the place the Briard feels they should go.
The Briard is a great dog for active families or individuals. However if you are planning to have one of these dogs with kids, make sure to raise the dog from a puppy. Otherwise, adults Briards may think it is their responsibility to herd and not be a part of the family.
Overall these dogs are very loving and learn quickly to fit into life with the right group or single people.
There are a few medical conditions that Briard dogs are prone to along with pretty much every other type of dog on the planet. Caring owners will be on the lookout for the common hip dysplasia problem as well as elbow dysplasia which seems to be a problem for many mid sized to large breeds. Epilepsy is another disorder which randomly seems to affect all kinds of dogs. Along with these common problems, the Briard can also be affected by progressive retinal atrophy and night blindness issues.
As for Briard breed specifically, they sometimes have problems with blood clotting, thyroid issues, both over and under active, and a specific cancer of the lymph system.
Making sure the animal is taken to the vet on a regular basis and well cared for will help to relieve some of the worry associated with these conditions.
When it comes to the Briard breed, these bathing beauties will need to have a bath about once a month. They have a relatively high maintenance coat that is going to take some work to keep in good condition. Brushing everyday is essential as the undercoat can become matted if not properly cared for. On the upside, if the coat is properly cared for, there is very little shedding with these dogs.
More specialized grooming is necessary for these dogs as well. They have a tendency to collect hair and debris in the eyes. To prevent infection, it is important to clean the area with a soft cloth and water every so often. The hair in the ears should be trimmed as well.
The last thing you want is for your Briard dog to become bored. In addition to normal walks and playing in the yard, these dogs will do very well with accompanying their owner on jogs, hikes, and swimming excursions. It’s not hard to find activities these dogs would enjoy.
It’s also important to keep their brains sharp with obstacle courses or specialized training just for the fun of it.
It’s a misconception that the smartest dogs are the easiest ones to train. In the case of the Briard, their headstrong and determined trait that makes them so good at herding is difficult for an untrained owner to overcome. It is recommended to take these dogs to professional trainers for the best results.
However training is to occur, it simply must happen early in the dog’s life. Socialization early on with people, places, and other animals is very important for the continued good behavior of the dog. If they aren’t introduced to new situations early enough, these rather sensitive dogs can become fearful or even a little aggressive when new things do happen.
Once you have the Briard calmed down and ready to learn, it’s a relief to know that they have incredible memories and the intelligence to employ what they know.