Key Breed Facts
Intelligence / Trainability
Children and Other Pets
Caring for a Briard
Average Cost to keep/care for a Briard
Briards are very handsome dogs with their striking, long coats. They were originally bred as working dogs, herding flocks of sheep in France where they were highly valued for their alert, kind and loyal natures. A Briard would very rarely would a Briard show any sort of aggressive behaviour yet they are known for their courage. They are also loyal, real extroverts and playful loving nothing more than to feel they are part of a family which is why over the years the Briard has become such a popular pet with people all over the world outside of their native France.
With this said, Briards are not the best choice for first time owners because these dogs need a lot of looking after. They need to know their place in the pack and who is alpha dog in a household or they may start to show a more dominant side to their character. With this said, in the right hands and with the right sort of guidance, a Briard makes for a great companion and family pet for people who are familiar with the breed and this type of dog.
The origins of the Briard remain a bit of a mystery, but there are many legends about the breed. Very similar dogs first appeared in the Middle Ages when dogs that arrived in Europe from the Orient were crossed with local herding dogs. The goal, it is said, was to create a larger, more fearless dog that was capable of guarding and herding flocks of sheep and a dog that boasted enough courage to take on wolves and other large predators without hesitation.
It was the French who then developed the Briard and in ancient times, these dogs were highly prized for their intelligence, courage yet kind natures which led to many legends being told about them. They not only worked as herding and guard dogs, but the Briard also worked with the military. The breed is thought to be a descendant of Aubry's dog, and were given their name from the region of France known as Brie where they were developed.
Napoleon took Briards with his armies on his many campaigns. Thomas Jefferson was so impressed with the breed he took a number of them back to the States where they were to work with American farmers. Lafayette had some dogs sent to his estate and pretty soon they were to become highly prized not only in their native France, but in America too.
The Briard was so highly thought of, the breed was made the French army's official dog and during the wars they would carry supplies to soldiers on the front lines, they tracked wounded soldiers and even worked as sentries. On the battlefield, Briards appeared to know which wounded soldiers needed help and who were beyond help.
Today, these magnificent, large dogs are still highly prized in France, but they have become sought after in other parts of the world, including here in the UK thanks to their handsome looks and their kind, loyal natures.
Height at the withers: Males 61 - 69 cm, Females 58 - 65 cm
Average weight: Males 30 - 40 kg, Females 25 - 35 kg
These large dogs have an unusual physical trait in that they have double dewclaws on their back legs as well as single ones on their front ones. The Briard stands out in the crowd thanks to their long flowing coats, their charming moustaches, beards and bushy eyebrows. With this said, they are well-proportioned boasting a rugged, yet athletic and supple appearance. Their head is ever so slightly rounded with a nice square, strong looking muzzle and clearly defined stop. A Briard’s nose is always black regardless of the colour of their coat.
They boast large dark brown eyes with black rims that always have a very intelligent and gentle expression in them. Ears are covered in long hair and set high on a dog’s head which they carry slightly lifted when alert. The Briard has a very strong mouth with a perfect scissor bite where their upper teeth neatly overlap their lower ones all set on a nice, square jaw and their lips are always black in colour.
They have moderately long and well-muscled necks that dogs carry arched adding to their proud appearance. Shoulders are well laid back and set at a nice angle with dogs boasting strong, well-muscled front legs. Chests are broad with dogs having a strong, level back and medium spring ribcage that drops well down. These dogs boast a slight slope at their croup where their tail is set.
Hindquarters are well angulated with dogs boasting strong, well developed back legs and double dewclaws which are set low. Feet are strong and slightly round very reminiscent of a cat or hare’s foot. Nails are black with dogs having hard pads and well closed toes all of which are profusely covered in hair. The Briard has a long tail that’s covered in hair which dogs carry low but always in line with their backs.
When it comes to their coat, the Briard has a long and slightly wavy coat with a very fine and dense undercoat that covers their entire body. They have a moustache, beard and eyebrows that slightly veil their eyes. Accepted colours include the following:
Briards with fawn coloured coats can have darker markings on their muzzles, ears, backs and on their tails which is acceptable with the proviso that colours blend in nicely in with the rest of their coat colour.
The Briard is a highly intelligent dog and one that boasts having a tremendous amount of courage, yet they never show any signs of aggressive behaviour which are just some of the reasons why they are so highly thought of not only in their native France, but in other regions of the world too.
They are fun-loving, energetic dogs that adapt tremendously well to family life. They literally don't have a nasty bone in their body and adore taking part in any sort of interactive game. However, they do need to be kept busy and their education needs to start early for them to grow up to be well-rounded adult dogs. Briard puppies need to be well socialised from a young age which means introducing them to new situations, people and animals too.
Briards are not the best choice for first time owners because they need to be correctly handled and trained right from the word go. They are happy when they know their place in the pack and who is alpha dog in a household. Their training always has to be consistent and fair with dogs needing to be handled with a firm yet gentle hand. They also need to be given a ton of exercise on a daily basis which has to include lots of mental stimulation for them to be truly happy, obedient dogs.
It's essential for a Briard's training and education to start as early as possible or these lovely dogs might start to show a more dominant side to their characters. Puppies, as previously mentioned, need to be well socialised from a young age so they grow up to be receptive and obedient adult dogs. In the right hands, with the correct amount of positive reinforcement training, a Briard is a joy to be with, but their education and training has to be consistent and owners need to show a lot of patience towards them.
These dogs need to handled firmly yet gently to achieve the right sort of results. They do not respond well to harsh correction or training which could end up doing more harm than good. Briards tend to form a very strong bond with one member of the family, but they are always loving towards everyone in a household. They are known to be wary and suspicious of people they don't know, but would rarely show any sort of aggression towards them.
Briards are known to be a great choice as family pets because they are so protective by nature. However, they can become over protective of children which is something parents need to watch out for and gently correct when necessary. As with any other large dog, any interaction between a Briard and the kids has to be well supervised by an adult to make sure play time does not get too boisterous.
Briards are generally good around other dogs although they can show a more dominant side to their nature if they have not been correctly trained and handled when young. If these dogs are carefully and properly introduced to other pets and animals in a household they will usually accept and tolerate being around them.
For further advice please read our article on Keeping Children Safe around Dogs.
The average life expectancy of a Briard is between 11 and 15 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.
Briards are known to be one of the healthier pedigree dogs around and although the breed was known to suffer from hip dysplasia, thanks to careful and selective breeding fewer cases are now reported. With this said, if you are hoping to share a home with a Briard, there are a few health concerns worth knowing about which includes the following:
As with any other breed, Briards need to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in top condition. They also need to be given regular daily exercise to ensure they remain fit and healthy. On top of this, they need to be fed good quality food that meets all their nutritional needs throughout their lives.
Briards are high maintenance on the grooming front because their coats need to be brushed daily to avoid any knots or tangles from forming. Their coats also need to be regularly trimmed which is best left up to a professional dog groomer. Because Briards boast coarse double coats, they do tend to shed quite a bit and more especially during the Spring and then again in the Autumn which is when more frequent brushing would be necessary.
It's also essential to regularly check a Briard's ears because if there is too much hair in them this needs to be removed. If left, a dog is more at risk of developing an ear infection and these can be notoriously hard to treat once they flare up. The hair that grows between a dog's pads also needs to be regularly trimmed to avoid it balling up which could make walking uncomfortable for dogs especially during the winter months.
Briards are very intelligent and energetic dogs and as such they need to be given a heap of exercise and mental stimulation every day. This means a good walk in the morning and then a longer, more interesting one in the afternoon. Ideally, Briards need 2 hours exercise a day so they can expend all that pent up energy.
These dogs also benefit from being able to run around a back garden as often as they can so they can really let off steam. However, the fencing the garden has to be high and very secure to keep these high energy dogs in. Briards also love to swim which means care has to be taken when walking them anywhere near water where they can safely be off their leads because they might just decide to jump in.
If you get a Briard puppy from a breeder, they would give you a feeding schedule and it's important to stick to the same routine, feeding the same puppy food to avoid any tummy upsets. You can change a puppy's diet, but this needs to be done very gradually always making sure they don't develop any digestive upsets and if they do, it's best to put them back on their original diet and to discuss things with the vet before attempting to change it again.
Older dogs are not known to be fussy or finicky eaters, but this does not mean you can feed them a lower quality diet. It's best to feed a mature Briard twice a day, once in the morning and then again in the evening, making sure it's good quality food that meets all their nutritional requirements. It's also important that dogs be given the right amount of exercise so they burn off any excess calories or they might gain too much weight which can lead to all sorts of health issues. Obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years so it's important to keep an eye on their waistline from the word go.
One of the more serious health concerns with Briards is the fact they are prone to suffer from bloat (gastric torsion) and as such care has to be taken when they are fed. It's best for these dogs to be fed twice a day rather than giving them one meal a day. It's also important not to feed a Briard just before or just when they come back from a walk because by doing so, dogs are put at greater risk of developing bloat.
If you are looking to buy a Briard, you would need to pay anything from £600 to over £1000 for a well-bred pedigree puppy. However, only very few puppies were registered with the Kennel Club over the last two years which means finding one could be a problem and if you do, you may have to go on a long waiting list. The cost of insuring a male 3-year-old Briard in northern England would be £21.20 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £82.02 a month (quote as of March 2016). When insurance companies calculate a pet's premium, they factor in several things which includes where you live in the UK and a dog's age and whether or not they have been neutered or spayed.
When it comes to food costs, you need to buy the best quality food whether wet or dry, to feed your dog throughout their lives making sure it suits the different stages of their lives. This would set you back between £50 - £60 a month. On top of all of this, you would need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with a Briard and this includes their initial vaccinations, their annual boosters, the cost of neutering or spaying your dog when the time is right and then their yearly health checks, all of which quickly adds up to over a £1000 a year.
As a rough guide, the average cost to keep and care for a Briard would be between £100 to £160 a month depending on the level of insurance cover you opt to buy for your dog, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a pedigree puppy.
Click 'Like' if you love Briards.