The Shepherd of Briard is a French breed, also known as briard (in English) or Berger de Brie, that shares lineage with shepherd of Beauce, or Beauceron. Its good-natured character has made them the quintessential companion dog. In Petlifey, we explain everything about the Briard shepherd .
Briard Shepherd Characteristics
The Briard Shepherd is a breed of French origin. It is a robust, cheerful, active dog, full of initiatives, easy to train and endowed with a fine sense of humour. It is ideal for dynamic families, who find in it the perfect companion for games and excursions.
We are going to know in more detail its physical characteristics and its behavior :
Briard Shepherd Character
The Briard Shepherd is a dog with a balanced, confident and intrepid temperament. Cheerful and alert, it is not usually aggressive or shy. It has a very good character, which makes it ideal for a multitude of facets.
Good companion dog, the briard loves to spend time with members of its family. With a pleasant and playful character, it especially enjoys family activities outdoors, although it is also very homey.
It is especially affectionate with children and the elderly. There have even been cases of specimens that have confronted their owners when they have scolded the children, taking the side of the little ones.
Also due to its natural watchdog and herding instinct, the briard is wary of strangers. This character trait can be tempered or accentuated with training, something that every Briard pastor should receive during the period of their physical and mental development.
- Energy: High level. It needs regular and intense exercise, as is usual for shepherd dogs.
- Temperament: Balanced and courageous, never shy or insecure. Very intelligent, it is easy to train.
- Adaptability: High. It can live in an urban environment, but prefers open spaces and the outdoors, as it is used to working in the fields.
- Sociability: High. Very attached to its master, it lives with the people of the family in full harmony and is especially affectionate with the elderly. Be suspicious of strangers.
- Health: Very good. It is not prone to inherited diseases.
- Longevity: Low. You can live up to 10 years with proper care and good health. You can see our article how long dogs live.
- Utility: Very versatile. Above all herding and guarding, but also detection of missing persons or rescue in catastrophes Excellent athlete in agility, flyball, obedience or ring.
- Movement: The Briard Shepherd has a long trot, with good reach and great thrust from behind. Its movement is regular, agile and harmonious, allowing them to cover the ground well and perform its work with a minimum of effort and fatigue.
But even though it has this marvellous physique and is quite a canine athlete, deep down what it wants is to be a pet dog. For them, the quintessence of happiness is spending the day lying next to its master.
Although it loves living outdoors, enjoying long walks and running in the park or in the field accompanying its masters, it also enjoys any time inside the house, is aware of the movements of the members of its “pack” and is shows willing to participate in all activities.
Its shepherd instincts and balanced temperament make them an ideal family dog, as well as an extraordinary house keeper. Affable and jovial, throughout its life it maintains a puppy attitude, always ready to play and give all its devotion to the family that welcomes them.
If you want a guard dog, it will be enough to feed its natural instincts so that it maintains that suspicion towards everything that invades its territory. But if you are only looking for a companion dog, then it is necessary to accustom it from a puppy to the presence of strangers, to allow itself to be manipulated by them and even to be guided on a leash by strangers.
In this way, you will extend your natural kindness to all the people with whom you come in contact, beyond those who make up your family group.
Briard physical characteristics
- General appearance: The Briard Shepherd is an animal with a rectangular body, of medium structure, rustic, flexible, muscular and very well proportioned. The Briard Shepherd is endowed with very powerful muscles that make them an agile, strong and flexible dog, thanks to which it can excel in sports competitions such as agility or flyball.
- Size: Large.
- Height at the withers: 62-68 cm (Male) and 56-64 cm (Female).
- Weight: 35-40 Kg Male) and 30-36 Kg (Female).
- Body: It is a dog with a rectangular body structure, since the length of the body is somewhat greater than its height at the withers (in males it is about 65 cm and in females, about 60 cm). Well proportioned, rustic and well muscled. Seen in profile, the dog’s back is straight, short and firm. Its back is slightly sloping and slightly rounded. The chest is broad and long, the ribs are well sprung.
- Head: The head of the Briard Shepherd is strong, long (more than a third of the height of the withers) and covered with hair. This one forms a beard, moustaches and eyebrows that slightly cover its eyes. The skull and muzzle usually measure the same.
- Skull: Strong and round in appearance when viewed in profile. Its width is slightly less than half the length of the head.
- Muzzle: Strong and quite wide, it ends square, not pointed, with a straight nose and tight lips.
- Nose: Strong and with well-open nostrils, it is black , except for the blue specimens, which are equally blue or bluish.
- Eyes: Oval, set horizontally. They are large and dark in color , although blue-coated dogs are lighter in color . Sometimes they are hidden by the long eyebrows.
- Nose-frontal depression: It is pronounced and is located at the same distance from the occiput as from the tip of the nose.
- Jaws: They are strong and with white teeth, The bite is scissors.
- Eyes: They are oval, well arranged horizontally, very large, open and black in color. In blue dogs they may be lighter in color.
- Ears : They are flat and covered with long hair. They are inserted high on the head, are not very close together and are usually short. In countries where clipping of the ears is permitted, the final appearance of the ears is erect.
- Neck: The Briard Shepherd’s neck is very muscular and quite detached from the scapulae or shoulder blades.
- Forelimbs : They are muscular, with strong and straight bones. Their shoulders are oblique and well angulated, they are moderately long and they are close to the ribs. The forearms and arms are straight, muscular and have the elbows in line with the body.
- Hind limbs: muscular, with strong and straight bones. The legs have muscular thighs. The hocks are not too low and well angulated, they are perfectly vertical when viewed from behind. It has double spurs , which form well separated fingers and with the nails relatively close to the foot.
- Feet: Rounded and strong, with well closed toes with thick pads. The nails are black, except in the blue specimens.
- Tail: It reaches the hock without deviations and then forms a slight hook. At rest, it falls, but in movement it rises as an extension of the upper line of the back. It is low bearing, without deviations, and forms a slight curvature at the end in the shape of a hook. When the animal is in motion, its tail is usually raised , as if it were an extension of its own back.
- Hair: The coat is rough in texture, like goat hair, dry, smooth, long and with a slight undercoat. It comes in black, fawn or fawn with a black cape , and with a blue or grey mask. Hair is one of the hallmarks of the breed. Briard Shepherd’s mantle is naturally designed to repel dirt and water, as well as to protect it from the elements. In slate or fawn grey, if its typical coat is not in good condition, the specimen is nothing more than a caricature of its own breed.
- Color: The Briard Shepherd can be presented under various colors of cloak; black, fawn or fawn with a black cape (ranging from mild to medium) and often with a gray or blue mask . Specimens with a warm tawny coat may show a lighter tone at the tips and sloping areas of the body (tawny tone marked with sand). Those with a black, gray or blue coat sometimes also have these areas lighter. And all color modalities may show different degrees of grey.
Briard Shepherd Education and Training
The Briard Shepherd is a suitable dog for all types of owners. The “novice” people, who have a dog for the first time, may need some more experienced help to tackle their training, but they will not find great difficulty in handling this true “canine clown”.
In fact, this may be the perfect breed to introduce anyone to the world of working with dogs.
The ideal owner of a briard should be an open-minded, sporty and sociable person , who likes to go out and share its free time and leisure activities with its dog.
But this can also be a very good alternative for older or sedentary people, who will find in their pet the perfect excuse to start moving more.
In any case, whoever the owner is, what it cannot be exempt from is the need to socialize its dog from an early age.
The socialization is the most important part of the training. It should begin as soon as possible, between five weeks and four or five months, when Briard pastor learns and assimilates most of its social behaviours, in what is known as the imprinting period .
At that age it does it naturally, effortlessly, and everything it learns is fixed in such a way that it will never forget it. This early learning is the best way to ensure that you will have a calm, well-disposed, and well-balanced specimen forever.
The qualities that adorn the temperament of this dog are many and to develop them properly, its owner must be willing to give it the necessary time and attention, apart from large doses of affection and patience.
Due to its great intelligence and excellent retention, it learns very quickly. In addition, its prodigious memory and its desire to please make that learning remain permeated in its character with great fixation, so it is essential to apply a rational and consistent methodology in training, have a pre-established plan and follow it strictly.
Another example of the extraordinary intelligence of this breed is its ability to understand a large number of different orders, which exponentially increases the possibilities of training.
Briard Shepherd is more of a companion than a companion dog. It never loses its personality and can show it with certain touches of independence, being at times more stubborn than necessary. But this only happens from time to time, because it is not a rebellious or difficult animal to handle.
As a good shepherd dog, it has been selected to be able to make decisions for themselves in certain situations, and continues to do so in any circumstance; thus it is not possible to make them see reason by force or coercion.
It is very important to bear in mind that punishments do not work with them; On the contrary, the specimens of this breed seek the complicity of their owners from the beginning, so, taking advantage of this circumstance, better results can be obtained just by granting them a little love and attention.
The positive reinforcement method and the use of intelligent training systems, which lead the briard to do things with the conviction that they are doing the right thing, will always be much more effective .
It is worth paying the proper care and attention to Briard shepherd, as a well-groomed and well-educated specimen is a source of pride and presumption for the whole family, which it or she can accompany at any time and in any situation.
The basic function of the Briard shepherd has always been herding, but nowadays it is very difficult to find specimens that exercise this work. Its strong character, coupled with its large size, help them to easily prevail over the entire herd.
Briard Shepherd’s diet
Regarding food, a diet with a high content of high-quality protein should be chosen, in order to keep the muscular system of this very active animal in good condition.
The protein should come essentially meat, more than any other product. Regarding fats and fatty acids, their quality must also be controlled, since the condition of the skin and hair, and the proper functioning of some organs, depends largely on them.
Briard Shepherd Health
They are basically a healthy breed, like most working breeds. There are some diseases to which it is more prone, but a puppy raised responsibly and of known and controlled origins does not have to present major problems.
Then, the person in charge of keeping the animal in excellent health is its owner, and there are four fundamental aspects that must be monitored: feeding, exercise, veterinary control and hygiene .
Exercise is also essential, as a well-exercised briard is a much calmer and less destructive dog, and not as prone to antisocial behaviours.
Exercise needs vary depending on the activity that the animal is going to develop, and also on its particular and individual demands. The jogging, the agility or career can be very good choices.
During the physical development of the briard, which culminates around 18 or 20 months, exercise should be limited to what the dog wants to do when it is released, except for the required walks. Until muscle and bone formation is complete, it is best to avoid forced or directed exercise to avoid joint degeneration.
Regarding veterinary and hygiene care, in addition to regular vaccinations and deworming, you must take care of the mouth, the origin of a large number of diseases, the eyes and the ears.
The former, almost always covered by hair, can suffer irritations, and the latter, having a large amount of hair in the ear canal, become a source of infections and sources of dirt.
Every well-groomed and well-groomed Briard Shepherd will be a much happier dog, as will be the case if, for example, it is used to being caressed and pampered by many people since it was a puppy, since all this will positively influence its character and It will enhance those wonderful qualities that have led its fans to define the individuals of the race as “a heart covered with hair.”
Shepherd Briard Care
Despite its long and abundant coat, the briard does not require as much care as other breeds with the same characteristics, due to the rustic nature of its coat and the need to maintain its strong texture.
However, to avoid the appearance of knots and hair breakage, it is essential to observe a precise and specific routine.
The first step to hydrating the coat is giving the dog a deep bath with a shampoo with the correct pH.
The undercoat should be well soapy and free of knots. If any are found, it must be undone by applying a softener with the help of your hands or other specific tools.
The use of a conditioner or a specific mask is also very useful when it comes to preventing knots.
It is important to bear in mind that, when rinsing, the shampoo and conditioner must be completely eliminated, since the remains of these products can cause certain dermatitis and eczema , which, in the medium term, will lead to a poor local or general condition of the mantle.
Rinsing must be done thoroughly since, like all breeds that have a double coat, the undercoat can retain a lot of soap and water.
A metal spike comb is used to comb the hair on the head, ears, cheeks, eyebrows and beard. You have to brush firmly to work the hair in depth, but without pulling it out.
With the help of a metallic bristle brush, the body undercoat is combed first, helping with the free hand to open the hair. And thoroughly brush the area closest to the skin, in order to avoid the appearance of knots and eliminate those that already exist.
With a wide metal comb, the covering mantle is combed on the back and on the flanks, working from the transverse line, formed by the vertebral column, downwards. You have to work the hair to its entire length, without breaking it, and carefully undoing any possible tangles
Whether it is a specimen with cut ears or not, the ears are one of the breed’s weak points, so their care and cleaning should be a routine and essential part of the grooming.
With the help of thinning scissors, cutting blades or your fingers, you have to keep the ear canal clean of hairs. In addition, a liquid or powder cleaner can be used for the inside of the canal and special wipes for the outer part.
With a comb, the hair on the tail is worked until it is as loose and smooth as possible, and the fringes are shown in full extension.
Legs and feet
The legs and feet are combed with a metal card. First it is gently brushed upwards, contrary to natural hair growth. Thus, it is opened and aerated, mud, dirt or any foreign body is removed, and the presence of tangles and knots is detected.
Then you work downwards to give the whole shape and volume. If there are excess hairs that are too long, they can be trimmed using carefully scissors or thinning scissors, but without giving the final result an overly artificial appearance.
Long nails make it difficult for the animal to move and can snag and break. To cut them, use a suitable scissors or guillotine, cutting transversely and always taking care that the cut does not reach the fleshy part of the nail.