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The Briard is a large size utility and hunting dog which originates from France. This breed or a breed similar to is was written about in 14th century text in France and it was also widely used as a service dig in World War I.
The Briard is an ancient breed of dog which has allegedly, been owned by Kings and Queens through the ages in France. Another illustrious owner of the Briard is said to have included Napoleon. Also called the 'Sheepdog of Brie', this dog was bred to work, hunt and guard and with the size of this dog came the strength to fight large predators and the intelligence to be used as service dogs during World War I. Sadly, during this Great War, the Briard was also most lost to extinction due to casualties in service. The Briard has always been fiercely prized as a breed in France and exports of this dog were not common until recently. It popularity grew and in the 1960's the first Briards were shown at Crufts.
Average height to withers: Males and females up to 27 inches.
Average weight: Males have been known to weigh up to 65 kg, but usually weigh up to 50kg, with females slightly less.
This French Sheepdog is large, rugged and strong with a long wavy coat which comes in either black, fawn or grey. The coat has a fine but dense undercoat and the abundant hair should be at least 2.5 inches long all over the body with a beard and a 'veil' covering the eyes. The rounded head houses dark and intelligent eyes, with black rims, a black nose and ears which are placed high and flat onto the head and covered with long hair. Overall, the body is longer than the dog is tall, and the chest is deep and ribs well sprung. The tail is well covered with an upwards 'hook' at the end. Another point to note is that the dew claws on the hind legs are often set very low. This widens the foot considerably and as a result the Briard is capable of turning and pivoting rapidly on one foot to change direction.
Often described as a 'heart wrapped up in a fur coat', the Briard is just that - loving, faithful, protective and happy. This can make them an excellent choice for families who are active and want to have a dog in their life that they can share experiences with. While they are intelligent but can also be a rather boisterous breed, the size of this dog can inadvertently cause accidents in the home, but this is purely down to clumsiness rather than any ill temper. Because of this, firm and consistent training is required to make sure the Briard is well rounded, although most retain a degree of 'puppy' behaviour through their entire adult lives. Often cited as being slow to learn, the Briard is in fact a very intelligent dog and once something is learnt, it will always be remembered - sometimes for somewhat 'cheeky' gains! This ability to learn and think for itself helped the Briard excel at the jobs for which it was bred and the independence of thought, which can sometimes be interpreted as stubborn, made them an ideal choice for the sometime lonely work of herding and guarding. This dog is best suited to an active lifestyle, as due to its working heritage it has retained a high energy drive and is suited to many canine sports.
There is very little fact known about any specific ailments and illnesses which affect this breed on a regular basis, but they are thought to be a reasonably healthy breed with few hereditary illnesses. On average, they can live up to 14 years old in good health.
The long coat of the Briard is quite labour intensive for the owner to keep in good condition and as such regular grooming is essential, as is ear inspections. This is a dog that will always benefit from frequent attention from a professional groomer. As an n active dog, the Briard optimally needs two good, long walks a day to keep the mind focussed and boredom at bay.