Berger Picards charm with their scruffy good looks and engaging personalities. Among the oldest of France's herding breeds, they developed hundreds of years ago in the Picardy region north of Paris. Berger Picards are lanky and powerful, with a rustic, wiry coat and distinctive ears that stand tall and erect. Picards require gentle, consistent training to ensure their high energy doesn't lead to out-of-control behavior. The breed is wary and aloof with strangers, but will warm up when unfamiliar people are welcomed into their home. Picards are loving and playful with their families, and utterly devoted to their human pack.
Berger Picard is pronounced 'bare ZHAY pee-CARR.' The breed is also known as the Picardy Shepherd, Picard, and Berger de Picardie in French.
The Berger Picard's rough, shaggy coat is harsh and crisp to the touch. The outer coat is two to three inches long and has a slight wave. Picards have a look known as 'griffonage,' which is created by the longer—and somewhat unkempt—fur that frames the face and forms the eyebrows, beard, and mustache. The coat colors are fawn or brindle. The fawn color may be solid, or fawn with charcoal trim outlining the ears and a gray underlay.
Average Height: 21.5-25.5 inches
Average Weight: 50-70 pounds
Breed Standard & History
Rustic and sturdy, the Berger Picard is built for long days spent herding sheep and other livestock. They are strong and athletic, without any hint of stockiness that could impede their movements. Picards move with a fluid, easy gait atop long legs. The long tail hangs down when the dog is relaxed, and is carried straight behind them in line with the back when on the move. The Picard's disposition is alert, confident, and easygoing.
It is unknown when the ancestors of today's Picard first arrived in France, but the breed is considered one of the oldest French shepherds. Their close cousins include the Briard and Beauceron herding breeds. Picards are named for the historic Picardy region of France (known as Hauts-de-France today) where they were prized by farmers for their skill herding and guarding livestock. Like many European breeds, the Picard's population was decimated by World Wars I and II and the breed was almost lost. But the plucky Picard survived, and breeders have since carefully nurtured the historic herding dog back from the brink of extinction. Picards gained attention in the US after starring in the 2005 film Because of Winn Dixie. The scruffy, winsome purebred aced the performance of the title's lovable mutt. The American Kennel Club officially recognized the Berger Picard in 2015.
AKC Breed Category
Berger Picards are watchful, friendly, and loyal. They are an energetic and hardworking breed that loves to stay active, whether herding or playing. Picards are devoted to their family members and will protect them when they sense a threat. The breed is standoffish with strangers, and socialization is important so this natural wariness doesn't lead to bad behavior. Beaucerons are smart and have a stubborn streak that is manageable with consistent, gentle training.
Are Berger Picards Good with Kids? Berger Picards are devoted to the kids in their family when they are raised with them. They are a rambunctious breed, however, and may unintentionally hurt small children during high-spirited play.
(Note: Every dog has a unique personality and distinct life experiences that affect his disposition. As a rule, adults should always supervise playdates between kids and their four-legged friends.)
Are Berger Picards Good with Other Pets? Ideally, Picards are the only dog in the house. Socialization can help them mind their manners around other dogs in public, but they can be domineering and unfriendly around cats and other dogs in the home.
Berger Picards are protective of their people and watchful of their territory.
Are Berger Picards Good Guard Dogs? Berger Picards are alert watchdogs who will bark when visitors arrive at the house. They'll remain guarded until they are assured their family is glad the new arrivals are there.
Berger Picards are highly energetic. Giving them the physical activity and mental stimulation they need to stay content is a challenge.
- Require a great deal of exercise and mental stimulation
- Socialization is a must or they'll be skittish with strangers
- Prone to nuisance barking, digging, or running off when bored, so make sure they have a personalized collar with your phone number embroidered or printed on it
- Require owners with dog training experience
- May develop submissive or excited urination
- Wary of strangers
Berger Picards want to live indoors with their families where they enjoy being the center of attention. This zestful breed will demand play sessions inside the house, so keep breakables out of harm's way. Their coats shed lightly, so fur clean up is minimal.
Picards should spend the bulk of their day outside playing, hiking, or running—no matter the weather. An important part of owning a Picard is having the appropriate outerwear you need to head outdoors with them in any season.
A healthy, adult Berger Picard requires two to three hours of physical activity and training each day. They excel in most dog sports and agility training, as well as herding.
Berger Picards have the stamina for hours of play and vigorous exercise each day.
Activity distance rating
- Running Miles: Healthy, adult Berger Picards are excellent running partners who can stick with you for five miles and more.
- Hiking Miles: All day hikes are effortless for healthy Picards.
The food requirements of Berger Picards can vary significantly based upon their activity level. It's best to consult your veterinarian about the best type and quantity of food for your Picard.
Though it's not to their liking, Berger Picards can manage an hour or two alone. It's wise to crate train them so damage is kept to a minimum if they become bored the moment you walk out of the house.
Health and Grooming
Berger Picards require brushing only once a month, except during seasonal shedding, when they should be brushed daily. Pluck or strip the hair around your Picard's ears to keep it neat. Give him a bath every month or so. Wash his ears weekly with a gentle, dog-friendly cleanser to prevent dirt buildup that can cause infections. Brush your Picard's teeth several days a week, and trim his nails every month or so to prevent painful cracking.
Common Health Issues
Berger Picards may develop breed-specific health conditions, including:
- Hip dysplasia
- Eye conditions, including cataracts and progressive retinal atrophy
You can minimize serious health concerns in your Berger Picard by purchasing your dog from a reputable breeder who engages in responsible breeding practices, and through screening for common diseases and conditions.
Berger Picards are eager to learn, but also a bit stubborn and sensitive to unfair treatment. They learn quickly when training is firm, consistent, and respectful.
Berger Picards benefit from advanced obedience training and participation in dog sports. These activities enhance the bond between Picards and their owners, and help meet their extensive exercise needs. Picards are exceptional candidates for Treibball, a sport that allows dogs to use their herding skills by corralling giant balls.
Sporting Dog Training
Berger Picards are herders rather than hunters.
No. The Berger Picard's scruffy coat sheds throughout the year and, as a result, distributes pet dander through your home. Dander is the primary cause of pet related allergies.
For most breeds, eye contact is an act of aggression. But Berger Picards use eye contact to communicate. While this is a lovely trait for their owners, it can cause problems. People may mistake the eye contact for friendliness and get too close to a Picard before he's comfortable with them. Be sure to tell strangers your Picard needs time to warm up. Direct eye contact also makes many dogs feel threatened, even when they mean no harm. Early socialization is particularly important for this breed so they can learn to interact with other breeds.
Berger Picards can learn to swim and many enjoy splashing in water on a hot day. Always watch your dog closely in or near the water.