Intelligent, energetic, and devoted—the Briard is an affectionate family dog with a history that spans centuries. He is known for his quick-learning, hardworking nature and athleticism. His ability to tend a flock without the need for human intervention required a bold, independent personality—and this assuredness has persisted through centuries. A confident owner is necessary, otherwise it will be the Briard training the person. Though many Briards are goofy and playful, some may be sensitive or timid. Early, continued socialization is necessary to prevent suspicious or fearful behaviors. Because this long-haired, bearded breed may be difficult to find, ensure the Briard is a good match for your lifestyle before bringing one home.
The Briard is also called Chien Berger de Brie.
The Briard's double coat consists of a coarse outer coat that grows long and is slightly wavy, and a short undercoat. The coat may be any color except white.
Average Height: 22-27 inches
Average Weight: 55-100 pounds
Breed Standard & History
The Briard appears strong and powerful. The length of the body should be equal to or slightly longer than the height at the withers. The wide head should be carried proudly, with a confident gaze. High-set, hair-covered ears lift slightly when the dog is alert, and are otherwise straight. The muzzle presents a mustache and beard, and black lips. The body is strong, with a broad chest. The outer coat is coarse, long, and slightly wavy. The head should be covered with hair. Aside from white or spotted, any color coat is allowed. Double dewclaws are required on each rear leg. This is a 'dog of heart,' and should be loving and loyal to family. – AKC Breed Standards
The Briard, a herding dog from northern France, has a history that stretches at least as far back as Charlemagne. He was developed as an all-around herding and guard dog who could work independently. His duty was to round up the sheep, drive them out to graze, protect the herd during the day, then drive them home again. Fanciers of the breed claim that the Briard has turned more than one dog-averse historical figure to the canine side. Both Napoleon and Thomas Jefferson—said to dislike dogs—became fond of the breed after meeting a Briard.
Their hardworking nature and intelligence earned them many roles during World Wars I and II as messengers, for search and rescue, and to pull carts.
Thomas Jefferson may have been the first to bring the Briard to the United States when he received a pregnant Briard from Marquis de Lafayette.
The AKC recognized the Briard in 1928.
AKC Breed Category
The Briard is intelligent, quick to learn, and enthusiastic when motivated. Some Briards are serious while others are goofy and clownish. They're occasionally aloof with new people, but are affectionate and loving with people they know well. The Briard learns quickly thanks to his impressive memory, but this means scary experiences may stick with a Briard longer. If a slamming door startled him on the stairway, he may spook every time he needs to use that specific stairway. If someone has treated him unfairly, he's also likely to hold a grudge. This lively breed appreciates an active lifestyle and plenty of mental stimulation.
Are Briards Good with Kids? The Briard can be a good choice for a family—he gets along well with older kids and can live with toddlers and babies if properly socialized. Though the breed is large and sturdy, children should never be allowed to climb or ride on a Briard or any other breed, as it may injure the dog or instigate a bite.
Are Briards Good with Other Pets? The Briard may try to assert dominance over other dogs, but they are usually able to live with other dogs with early socialization. They are likely to chase cats, rodents, rabbits, and other small animals and are not a match for homes with small pets.
This herding breed was expected to protect the flock during the day and to watch over the homestead by night. The Briard makes a good guard dog, but socialization is required to prevent his natural ability as a watchdog from turning to aggression toward strangers. Socialization can help him distinguish friend from foe.
The Briard has a near-endless supply of energy that will likely outlast your own.
- The Briard is a take-charge dog who benefits from a confident owner.
- Though intelligent, he may be stubborn due to his independent nature.
- This herding breed is likely to bump or nudge adults, children, and other animals in an attempt to herd them.
- A high energy level demands an active lifestyle or a job to perform.
- Briards may be aggressive or territorial with other dogs if not properly socialized.
- His protective nature may turn to excessive suspiciousness or timidness without socialization.
- This is a hard-to-find breed.
Briards are calm and relaxed indoors, with enough time to run and play outside. They can be couch potatoes but are usually ready to go the moment they hear the word 'walk.' Without enough exercise, they may become destructive or bark excessively. The Briard is an adaptable breed that may be able to adjust to life in an apartment if there is a suitable location for daily romps outdoors.
The Briard has a strong desire to be near his 'flock,' and prefers to live indoors with his people. He thoroughly enjoys time spent outdoors, as long as his people are with him—he should be supervised due to his tendency to wander or chase small animals.
Briards need an hour of exercise per day—without enough opportunity to burn energy through running, play, and training, destructive behaviors or excessive barking may develop.
The hardworking Briard was developed for the endurance necessary to herd and guard his flock all day. He has plenty of stamina and appreciates an active lifestyle.
Activity distance rating
- Running Miles: A Briard may accompany you on a run for up to five miles if properly conditioned and in good health.
- Hiking Miles: Many Briards would be thrilled to join you for a full day on the trail, but leashes may be necessary due to the breed's tendency to chase.
Three to four cups of high-quality dog food, split between two meals, is recommended for the Briard. This amount is based on average weight and activity level. Because the breed may suffer from bloat, raising the food bowl and limiting activity after meals is recommended.
Briards do not tend to guard their food more than other breeds, but children should never be allowed to touch or remove food while any dog is eating.
The people-loving Briard prefers to have his family nearby as much as possible. While many may be able to spend a few hours home alone during the day, some Briards may develop separation anxiety. Without enough exercise, Briards may become destructive. Crate training may be necessary for this breed.
Health and Grooming
Briards have long, water-trapping beards that will collect bits of food and leave a trail of water from the bowl to the sofa. Keep towels handy to clean up the inevitable messes that come with this shaggy dog. Though the Briard has long hair, it is a low-shedding breed. Daily brushing is recommended to prevent matting and to remove debris from the coat, and baths should be given as necessary. Trimming nails regularly will help prevent painful splitting, cracking, or breaking a nail.
Common Health Issues
Though Briards are generally healthy, they may be prone to breed-specific health concerns, including:
- Hip and elbow dysplasia
- Congenital stationary night blindness
- Eye concerns
- Von Willebrand disease
You can minimize serious health concerns in a Briard by purchasing him from a reputable breeder who engages in responsible breeding practices, and through screening for common diseases and conditions.
Basic obedience training is often easy for intelligent, quick-learning Briards—but they may try to assert dominance or decide your requests don't warrant their attention. Because the Briard was expected to herd without the need for human guidance, the breed has an independent streak. Concentrate on socializing with people and other dogs from an early age, and provide plenty of positive reinforcement while teaching basic manners to get a Briard off to a good start.
Advanced tricks or obedience training are great ways to keep the Briard's mind active, and many Briards do well at agility, flyball, disc dog, or cart pulling. Natural herding instincts may present if you live near farm animals, and participating in herding trials is a good outlet for this shepherding breed.
Briards may do well as service dogs, therapy dogs, for search and rescue, or in another working dog role.
Sporting Dog Training
This isn't a typical hunting breed, but with patience and training, the Briard may do well as a sporting dog. Briards often have a strong attraction to water and are thrilled to join their people on adventures. Briards may do well at tracking or nosework. Training techniques that work for a Lab may not work for the Briard, but if you learn the Briard's training sweet spot you may discover a devoted companion for the field.
Briards are not hypoallergenic, but they do tend to shed less than other breeds.
Some Briard breeders may crop a puppy's ears in a round crop, then glue them together so they stand up. The ears will eventually stand erect on their own. It is usually done for cosmetic reasons, and may also help prevent ear infections. Briards may also have uncropped, or natural ears.
Briards may present a condition called congenital stationary night blindness. This genetic disease causes varying degrees of vision loss and night blindness. Affected dogs may experience minor night blindness or some vision loss and have a normal quality of life, while others may lose vision entirely. In order for puppies to inherit the recessive linked condition, both parents must be carriers of the disease.
A DNA test is available to determine whether a dog carries the gene for CSNB—they may test as clear, carrier, or affected. Carriers, or those with affected results should not be bred, but dogs who test clear will not develop or pass CSNB to offspring.
Double dewclaws are found in a handful of breeds, most of them herding dogs. The Briard's double dewclaws may aid in sharp turns and quick stops, but it isn't entirely clear why this trait has developed in the breed. Double dewclaws are required for show in the Briard's breed standard, but they may be removed if your vet recommends it and you do not plan to show your dog.