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The Briard: A strong and gentle heart wrapped in fur "intelligent, easily trained, faithful, gentle, and obedient," (KC breed standard) I have three dogs, one of which is a border collie crossed with a Briard. I bred her myself from my Border Collie and my bosses Briard. All 7 of the puppies were quite different, some were more like their mum, and others more like their dad, but Widget (my dog) is probably the best mix of both. She has many characteristics of both the breeds, is loving, loyal, willing to please and very intelligent. Here then is a little about the Briard for anyone who might be considering it as the dog for them. HISTORY The Briard originates from France where he is also known as the ‘Chien Berger de Brie’. He is a natural descendant of the oldest domesticated dogs. The breed evolved over centuries by natural selection for its herding and guarding abilities. The Briard was used during World War I, to carry messages to the front line, search for wounded soldiers, pull carts and wagons, and to patrol at listening posts. By the time the war ended, there were so few Briards left due to war casualties, that is was feared the breed would disappear. Fortunately, French, English, and American soldiers returned home from the war with stories of the dogs' heroism, and there has been a keen interest in the breed ever since. PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS Height: Males should be 23-27 inches tall and weigh 65-100 pounds at maturity. Females are smaller at 22-25.5 inches and 50-75 pounds. Colour: Briards can be any solid colour except white, with black, grey, and tawny being most common. Many tawny Briards have a dark tail, ears, and face and may have dark hairs – known as an overlay- in the body coat. Coat: The Briard's double coat requires a fair amount of attention. It continues to grow throughout the dog’s life, becoming long, slightly wavy l ocks of over a foot in length. These dogs do not shed many hairs, but if not properly groomed on a regular basis, the coat will matt and may require clipping. The tail of the Briard is covered in long hair, and forms a crook or "J" at the end. The Briard’s head is large, rectangular, and well-covered with hair with a large, square black nose. The coat forms a long, full beard and moustache and grows over the eyes in an arch from the brow. Sometimes the hair over the eyes must be thinned or held back with a band so the dog can see properly. Ears: In France and America, the ears of most Briards are surgically cropped at five-to-six weeks of age, causing the ears to stand erect, thankfully, the breed standard also allows for a natural ear, which some people prefer. Since cropping is illegal in England and some Scandinavian countries, dogs imported from these countries also have natural ears. Briards have double dew claws (dewclaws are the higher up claws at the back of the legs.) TRAINING Like many dogs, the Briard needs plenty of socialisation with other dogs, people and places. The Briard can attempt to assert his authority from an early age, and it is important to curb this behaviour as quickly as possible. (My puppy tried it once at about 6 weeks old, but never did it again, and her dad is an absolute sweetie, with no domineering characters at all!) Briards learn quickly and have an excellent memory. They do well at almost any dog activity, from catching Frisbees to backpacking. They are often used for television, movie, and stage productions and in various forms of advertising because of their appeal and trainability. The Briard is often described as a "heart wrapped in fur,", a description that could have been written especially for my dog! It is said that the Briard will spend his lifetime trying to please his master, and if you could see my dog at obedience classes, you would a lso see just how true that is! It takes a big commitment to handle the grooming, socialization, and training of this breed, but your time and effort will be repaid day after day by your faithful companion.
The Briard is a very old breed of French working dog.