The Briard originated in France and is believed to be centuries old, dating back to at least the 8th century. The early Briards were working dogs that defended the stock from wolves and poachers.
They later transitioned into sheep herders and guardians of farms and families.
A rare breed today, the Briard is distinctive in appearance, possessing a wide muzzle, a feathered low-set tail, strong limbs, black nails and a dense double coat, common in colour variations of grey, black and tawny.
Due to the coat's shaggy appearance, regular grooming is necessary in order to maintain its condition. The unique features of the Briard are often mistaken for that of the Beauceron, its cousin, despite the Beauceron boasting a short, smooth coat. Boisterous by nature, the Briard requires consistent training from an early age.
In line with its heritage, the breed maintains strong guarding instincts and is particularly devoted to children. Easily house-trained, it is the ideal breed choice for the domestic setting, with a sweet-natured temperament that is independent and willing to please. On average, a healthy Briard will weigh 35-40 kg, with a life expectancy of 12 years when cared for accordingly.
The Briard is known as the “heart wrapped in fur” dog. The Briard is affectionate, loving and highly people oriented. Although large, the Briard is by no means an outdoor dog. The Briard adores their family and wants to be with them, in the home, as much as possible. They will follow their family members from room to room to soak up as much attention as possible. Briards can develop separation anxiety if left alone for too long.
The Briard is intelligent, but stubborn and wants to be the dominant member of the household. The Briard needs a firm, consistent handler and responds especially well to rewards like treats.
With the right handler, the Briard can be easily trained and go on to compete in agility, obedience, herding, flyball and conformation.
The Briard needs lots of exercise and activity to be happy. The Briard is athletic and agile, making them good jogging and hiking partners.
Typically healthy and long-lived, the Briard is subject to few genetic complaints. It is, however, susceptible to eye disorders such as cataracts, and hip dysplasia. More seriously, as with any large-chested breed, the Briard may experience bloat and stomach tortion, a potentially fatal condition if left untreated.