The Briard (sometimes called the “Berger Briard” or “Berger de Brie”) is among the oldest French herding breeds and features a shaggy black, gray or tawny coat that has often led to them being mistaken for a haystack. The breed first appeared in the 1300s, and was initially used for the chief function of guarding homes and sheep from intruders and predators.
Several of their more distinguishing characteristics are often seen in their fearless and protective temperament – which in essence make the Briard a suitable preference for a family guard dog, herding and guarding sheep, military or police work and search and rescue.
The Briard is known to have originated in France during the 1300s and was bred with the initial function of guarding homes and flocks of sheep from wolves and human intruders but later was primarily used for herding sheep. In World War I they were used for delivering messages and locating wounded soldiers, and during this time they nearly became extinct. They are said to be a descendant of the Berger Picard with later cross-breeding occurring with the Beauceron and Barbet.
Briards are classified as a large-sized breed. The recommended standard size for the Briard male is 23-27 inches tall from paw to shoulder and a weight of 75-100 pounds, whereas the suggested size for female Briards is 22-25.5 inches high from paw to shoulder with a weight of 50-65 pounds.
The Briard is famous for their protective, fearless and loyal personality. They are generally reserved with unfamiliar people, which often makes them highly suitable as a guard dog.
The Briard is also known to be quite intelligent – placing equal 30th compared to other dogs when considering their ability to be trained obedience commands. They are also known to be gentle with children but may try to herd them without proper training – making them fairly suitable as a family pet. The Briard is not always friendly with other dogs and may become aggressive due to their protective nature but when socialized properly they can learn to get along with other pets.
The Briard is happiest with at least an average-sized yard to provide them with enough space, but they are somewhat suitable for apartment life if they are taken for daily walks. They love the outdoors but feel most at home wherever their family is.
The Briard likes leisure activities that include agility, flyball, herding, tracking, swimming or going for a jog alongside a bicycle. They have a medium quantity of energy and need to be given exercise each day in the form of long walks or jogs to keep them in good physical and mental health.
The Briard can be the right dog for an active owner who will be their firm and confident leader. They are suitable for anyone who is willing to do a high amount of grooming and allocate time to give them early socialization with children or other pets and obedience training to establish leadership in addition to take them on long daily walks and grant a very high quantity of companionship and devotion – they thrive on human contact and do not like to be left alone all day. Though they may be to some extent inappropriate in many households, if you are able to meet their needs for firm guidance and attention then the Briard may perhaps make the perfect dog for you.