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The American Kennel Club calls a Briard a friendly dog with a good heart, intelligence, gentleness, and obedient. This furry gentle companion was first known to be herding and guarding flocks in France. The first record of them appears on 8th century tapestries, so they have been around for a very long time.
These dogs played great and heroic roles during the First World War when they were used to look for wounded soldiers, relay messages between camps and far-away bases and even pull objects like carts and wagons. They were also guard dogs for listening posts, and this is how they eventually gained popularity, due to the soldiers’ great stories about them. They have been found to also make excellent therapy dogs.
First recognized in 1928 by the AKC, this rare breed has a most recent popularity rank of 125th out of 167 breeds.
A Briard is considered by many groups and breeders as a strong, flexible and agile breed that is always up for any herding challenge with its alert mind and body. It is considered a rare breed because of its fur and coat colors. The standard colors allow any solid color except white, plus shades of black, red-gold or gray. Most red-gold or tawny-colored Briards have darker faces and tails, and puppies start off having dark shades of red (or even black) which eventually lightens as it matures into a tawny-colored adult. However, tawny-colored Briards are more popular, followed by black ones, and then gray ones (which are considered rare in America).
The famous coat of a Briard is one of its most striking features, resembling the coat of a goat. The coat is unusually dry which keeps dirt and other particles from easily sticking to it, making it easyr to brush it and groom it. Briards shed a bit, but they can mat heavily if they are not groomed regularly. One to two hours every week is the norm for grooming an adult Briard. Their coat can grow to a length that almost reaches the ground. Most Briards have hair that covers their eyes, just as most popular media depicts them, so it is a good practice to hold it back or trim it a bit so that your dog can see properly.
In some places like the US and France, Briard ears are cropped by surgical means (during their young age) which erects their ears and enhances their ability to hear sensitive sounds. It can also prevent many ear infections and add an ‘alert’ factor to your Briard. However, some countries like England do not allow cropping, so Briards from these countries have natural ears. Having cropped, erect ears adds points if the dog is a show competitor.
Male Briards stand around 23 to 27 inches and weigh 65 to 100 pounds, while female ones stand around 22 to 25 ½ inches and weigh 50 to 70 pounds. Their normal lifespan is about 13 to 14 years. They should be checked by a vet for hip dysplasia, especially if they are going to be working dogs.