Best Bully Sticks has seen some furry dogs, some fuzzy dogs, but today’s Breed Spotlight is all about a shaggy dog! BBS is talking about the Briard, a French herding dog with a lot of spunk and a lot of heart. Read more about this shaggy dog below!

History & Background: It seems the Briard has been a popular dog for many ages. The dog originated as a French herding dog, as a mix between the sleek Beauceron and the wooly Barbet.  During the Middle Ages, the Briard was a beloved dog that has been seen in tapestries and written records. The breed was used mostly as a livestock herder and guard that was more prone to bite a stranger in defense of its breed, but became a “softer” dog through selective breeding. The Briard was used in the French Revolution & WWI as a messenger, sentry and to search for wounded soldiers. However, they’re most commonly used as pastoral dogs and served as herders, watchdogs and guard dogs. It’s said that Charlemagne, Napoleon, Thomas Jefferson and the Marquis de Lafayette all owned Briards. The stories are conflicting about who, Jefferson or Lafayette, introduced the Briard to America.

Today, the Briard serves in many roles, such as police, military and search and rescue dogs. The Briard breed has also had a handful of on-screen roles that have included appearances on Dennis the Menace, My Three Sons, Get Smart, Married…with Children and Dharma & Greg.

Height: 23 – 27 inches (males); 22 – 25 ½ inches (females)

Weight: 66-88 pounds (males); 55-77 pounds (females)

Coat: The Briard’s coat is one if its most distinctive features, truly making it a shaggy dog. The long outer coat is dry and hard, so much so that it even makes a scratchy noise if strands of fur are rubbed together between fingers. Even though the coat is dry, a good coat will have sheen, denoting healthy hair. The hair falls flat on the body in long wavy locks, including the head. The head’s hair naturally lies flat and has a natural part down the middle, however the Briard’s long eyebrows do not lie flat and curve up and out to create a light cover over the eyes. The Briard also sports a mustache and beard. The undercoat is fine and tight against the whole body. As much hair as this dog has, it’s never so much that it covers up the dog’s shape or impedes vision. This dog needs steady grooming to look ideal and also be comfortable. An ungroomed Briard can develop matted fur.

Color: The AKC Standard for the Briard states that the all colors are “permissible” except white. A Briard can be black, tawny or gray, but usually deeper colors are preferred. Contrasting darker or lighter colors on the ears and face can be present as well. It’s said that the lighter colored Briards are often mistaken for haystacks when in a field.

Appearance: The overall appearance of a Briard is strength. This dog’s muscles, bone structure and its physicality are all strong and sturdy. The Briard is usually as long as it is tall making it a rectangular looking breed. This breed has a rectangular head as well, with ears sometimes cropped, and rectangular snout with open nostrils. The Briard’s tail is J-shaped and feathered.

Temperament: Often called “A heart of gold wrapped in fur,” the Briard is a highly loyal and protective dog. A Briard is very sensitive and loving, yet has a mind of its own. This dog is fiercely loyal to those he knows, but can be aloof with strangers. The breed is very intelligent so socialization and training are easy, but must happen early. Once a dog becomes attached to a family, the dog is highly protective and serves as a brave and fearless watchdog. Because of it’s background as a working dog, the Briard has a very strong pull to herd and a lot of energy to expend. This dog has to get a lot of exercise and physical stimulation to satiate this dog’s energy level. It’s said that when a Briard raised in the city with no opportunity to herd and then is given the chance to be out in the open, the natural herding instinct will take over.

Health: This dog is generally a very healthy breed but is prone to some common type ailments such as hip dysplasia, cataracts and because the dog has a deep chest: bloat and stomach torsion. The Briard usually lives 10-12 years.

Product Suggestions:  For a large dog in need of a chewing challenge, like the Briard, an Extra Large Marrow Bone just might do the trick. This bone is a yummy treat that still has the marrow intact! Of course, this treat comes from all-natural, grass-fed cattle. Because the Briard is a natural herder, a good toy suggestion is the Jolly Pets 12 Inch Jolly Egg Dog Toy.  This toy is hard egg to crack, litereally! With it unique shape and smooth texture, the Briard will have all its intellectual and herding needs met! 

Do you own or know a Briard? Tell us your favorite Briard story in the comments section!