Briards were originally bred to herd as well as guard flocks of sheep and they were often left to their own devices in order to accomplish their assigned tasks. They were used in all types of herding situations, having the ability to learn many commands and fulfill the jobs expected of them. The Briard was most commonly used as a farm dog in the more crowded farming valleys of France, where row crops were grown. Sheep were allowed to graze the grass strips between crops and Briards were responsible for keeping the sheep moving along these strips, and preventing the sheep from eating the crops. The Briard moved the sheep daily from the farm to the graze areas and back again at night. At the farm, the Briard was the shepherd’s partner, helping with livestock chores. At night, they were alert and vigilant watchdogs, protecting the shepherds and flock from wolves and thieves. 1.

There is a misconception that they can be used as both a herding dog and a flock guardian. The Briard can definitely guard, but ONLY in the company of the shepherd where they would be expected to warn with a bark. They became guardians of the home at night and were generally either inside with the family or on the doormat. 2.

Historically they have also been used as Police dogs, search and rescue dogs and were once the official dog of the French Army. In the 1st World War the Briard was used extensively in the trenches as a messenger dog, First Aid Dog and Army dog. It was said that if a Briard passed a wounded soldier by, he could not be saved. 2.


Rugged appearance; supple, muscular and well proportioned. 3.

Nose, and all pigment is BLACK, regardless of coat colour. The eyes should be dark brown, almost black in colour and should be separated by a well defined stop. Lighter eye colours are not acceptable. 2.

The Briard gait is generally described as ‘quicksilver’, agile and supple and able to twist and turn ‘on a dime.’ 2.
Correct colour descriptions in the Dogs Australia standard are grey, fawn and black. 2.

The coat should be long (not less than 7 cms on body, which is slightly wavy and very dry with a fine dense undercoat required all over body. The head carries hair which forms a moustache, beard and eyebrows, lightly veiling eyes. Colours are all black, with white hairs scattered through black coat and fawn in all its shades, but darker shades preferred. Fawns may have dark shadings on ears, muzzle, back and tail, but these shadings must blend gradually into the rest of coat since any demarcation line denotes a bi-colour, which is not permissible. Another colour could be slate grey. 3.

Height: Dogs 61 - 69 cms at withers. Bitches 58 - 65 cms at withers.
Slight undersize before 18 months, or slight oversize in maturity permissible. 3.

Temperament & Suitability

Fearless, with no trace of timidity or aggressiveness. 3.

The Briard packs so much loyalty, love and spirit into its ample frame that it’s often described as a “heart wrapped in fur.” Briards are burly and rugged, possessing traits common to many other herders: trainability, brains, a protective eye toward family (especially children, whom they regard as their flock), and wariness with outsiders. These are large, tireless dogs’ it is said that just two or three Briards can handle 700 head of sheep’ and novice owners might be overwhelmed by their work drive and zest for life. 4.

In their home country of France they were often called ‘the babysitter dog’ or the ‘doormat dog’. They a family dog first and foremost and like to be included in everything the family does. They are also known as the clowns of the dog world. The Briard is a wonderful house dog; as long as he has the company of his family, he is happy. He has none of the business of some other large herding breeds and will quite happily settle at your feet so you will never be alone again. 2.

The Briard requires a job to be happy. Hopefully his job will be one that gives him a lot of exercise, as this is a breed that craves action. Their zest for life makes them great companions for hikers, bicyclers, and joggers. They need a large, securely fenced area where they can run free. Chasing a tennis ball thrown by his owner can help a Briard work off excess energy as well as giving him the human companionship he loves. 4.

The Briard has a very good memory. Once a lesson is learned, good or bad, the knowledge will be retained for a long time to come. Sometimes they may appear to be strong minded and stubborn, but these are a few of the Briard’s characteristics. They were bred for centuries to think for themselves and to act upon their conclusions, sometimes to the point of thinking what the “flock” will do ahead of time. 1.

They are eager to please and when training methods are positive, and the sessions kept lively, energetic, and interesting, the Briard’s natural intelligence will have him at the top of the class. Briards learn quickly and excel at almost any canine role or sport, from catching discs to search-and-rescue, to obedience and agility. Socialisation should begin early and continue throughout the Briard’s life. 4.

Begin grooming your Briard puppy long before he really needs grooming. Make sure that you make grooming time a happy period he will look forward to in the years when grooming is a necessity and can take a long time. A Briard should be brushed several times a week, completely to the skin, using a good-quality pin brush. Using an undercoat rake can help eliminate a lot of dead hair and lessen shedding. The number of baths a Briard will need depends entirely on his lifestyle and the jobs he is doing. Frequency may range from weekly to monthly, to even less. 4


The Briard is overall a healthy breed, and responsible breeders screen their stock for health conditions such as hip dysplasia, congenital stationary night blindness, cataracts, corneal dystrophy, retinal folds, hypothyroidism, immune diseases, exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, and kidney disease. Discuss any questions or concerns with your breeder and veterinarian so you can make educated decisions regarding your dog’s health.

Screening is not possible for cancer. Most breeders do hips, elbows, Full DNA panel including CSNB, and heart clearances.
Other health issues in the breed are bloat (Gastric Torsion) and Ectopic Ureter. 2.

References: 1.  2. Anne Mitchell  3. Dogs Australia  4. American Kennel Club

In Conclusion

Now you know a little about the Briard you may have think that this is the dog for you. Before you make a decision, please make contact with the breed club or your State controlling body for purebred dogs. They will be able to give you information about available puppies and also suggest dog shows where you can see the breed and speak to breeders. In this way you will gain a better perspective of the Briard and its needs and whether this breed would suit your lifestyle.



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