About briard

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Briard (Berger de Brie) is a French breed, that belongs to FCI's group 1 sheepdogs and cattle dogs. Briard is medium sized longhaired sheepdog.


Briard belongs to those longhaired sheepdogs that resemble each other and originally come from East. Dogs resembling briards were depicted with Charles the Great in tapestries from the 700th century. Also Napoleon has been told of having two briards. The Abbot  Rozier used the name Chien de Brie for the first time in 1809 in his Course of Agriculture. At the first  Paris dog show in 1863 briard Charmante was placed first over all the sheepdogs.  Pierre Mégnin separated in his publication the short and long haired French sheepdogs in 1888 and since 1893 briard and beauceron were distinguished in the catalog of the dogs. The Club Francais du Chien de Berger wrote first Standard for briard in 1897 and the more precise one was written year 1908. The first briard club of France was founded year 1909.


Originally briards were used moving and guarding sheep. The tendency to tend is still strong in the breed.  At First World War briards were used for carrying messages, tracking, pulling and searching for wounded.

Briard is capable of many tasks: sheepdog, guidedog, wardog,  police dog, guarddog, rescuedog. Briard likes to work and wants to be useful. Nowadays briard is above all a versatile companion for many interests and a faithful familydog.

In Finland briards have had the right to participate working dog trials since 1986.  Most common are tracking and  search trials. Also in messenger dog,  general, special tracking, search and rescue dog, water rescue dog and skijoring trials have been briards. Besides working dog trials obedience trials and agilty have been popular.


Briard is strong, supple and very well-proportioned dog, who's movements are lively and vivid. He is medium sized and weighs about 30 to 40 kg.  Dogs are between 62 - 68 cm high, bitches 56 - 64 cm. Briard has to be longer than his heigth (the body is often  3-5 cm longer than height at withers). Bitches are in relative longer than dogs.  The body must not be too long though, because then the back is easily soft. Briard cannot be square like, long footed and airy.

Briard's movements are those of shepards, easy, covering earth and steps are long. Briard's head is erect also in the movement, the neck is pushed little forward, back is stable and level and he carries his tail bellow topline.

Briard's head must be long enough and strong, it cannot be too short compared to the body. Looking from the side the upper line of the head (skull line) is parallel to the muzzle. Muzzle and skull parts are of equal length. The muzzle is full and strong. Lips are medium strong and tight. The pigment is black. In grey born (or blue) also grey nose is acceptable. Head reveals clearly the sex. Expression is wise, calm, friendly and trusting. The gaze of briard is straight and fearless. Eyes are big and open. The eye colour and pigmentation must be as dark as possible. Grey born briards can have greyblue eyes. Ears are set high and they reach to half way of the length of the head. Briard uses his ears a lot, they move and express the alertness of the dog. Wished bite is scissors bite and complete dentition, but also level bite is acceptable.

Briard's neck is relatively long and it joins smoothly the shoulders, then the position of the head is erect. The neck may not be cylindric, short or weak.

Frontquarters are straight looking from front, parallel and far enough from each other. The palm can be put between them. Shoulders are muscular, long and inclined. If the shoulder is upright (straight) and short, steps are often short. Briard's wrist bends slightly forward or the wristbone are slightly oblique.

Ribcage is spacious, strong and sturdy. Chest should also be deep reaching to the elbows. The cross-section of the ribcage is oval and spacious giving the lungs enough room. Briard's croup is slightly inclined, round and full.

Briard's legbone is long and hocks are close the ground. The leg below hock is almost vertical.

Briard's foot is oval, strong and tight. Also toes are tight and elastic. Nails are black, on grey born grey. Double dewclaws have complete bones and they are set as low as possible, near the ground supporting the step of the hindfeet.

The tip of briard's tail forms a clear J-hook. In the movement the tail is on the level of the topline or bellow it. The tail cannot be rolled over the back or point straight up. The tail must reach at least to the hocks.

Coat is harsh and dry, only light undercoat. The correct coat rattles when you rub it between your fingers. Colour are three: fawn, black and grey (blue). All colours have different shades. Blacks can be as adults black or black turned grey. Fawn colour is warm and deep. It can vary from orangeyellow to reddish. There can be colour differences in fawn and grey coat and many times the colour gets slightly paler from back to the feet. Fawn coat may have single black or grey hair. If grey or black colour form a robe on the back, it is a fault. Also very pale, almost white colour is faulty.  Fawn briards may have a dark mask. Black briards may have grey hairs already very young. Black individuals may also get entirely grey with age (colour ardoise), but they are registered as black. Grey (genetic blue) colour is more rare. The shade of grey varies from light silver to darker. The coat of a grey briard often grows more slowly than the coat of other colours. Grey briard may have eyes matching the coat and grey nails. Also the nose may be grey.



Briard's character is described by the words: ”sage” = wise, sensible, steady and ”hardi” = self-confident, brave, fearless. Briard should be temperament, active, incompliant, alert, open, unruly but considerate, observant, willing to defend, susceptible, easy to guide, gay, calm in calm conditions, balanced and steady. He can also be properly restricted towards strangers, if he gets relaxed when he notices the situation is neutral. Briard may not be reluctant, slow, soft, timid, fear biter, hectic, nervous or constantly barking.

Characteristic to briard is a strong personality and dignity, when treated unfair he becomes stubborn. Mainly briard has a strong will to fight. He is usually also little soft, which makes him easy to guide and quick to learn. Training a briard often needs patience and imagination. One must be very kind, gentle and friendly and talk to him a lot. Briard can without teaching guard his master, children, house and sheep, but he must understand clearly what is expected of him. Briards don't accept unfair punishment and want to be trusted. With kindness and nice and consistent orders you can make briard do all the extremely wise things he can do. There must be understanding, communion and oneness between a briard and his owner. Briards have a good visual and audial memory. If briard becomes acquainted with other animals and children as a puppy, he will be a patient playmate for the young ones as adult. Briard is calm at home, but is lively and active outdoors and when working.

The biggest problem of character is timidity and the second biggest antisocial/aggressive behaviour towards other dogs. More rare problems are aggressiviness towards people, nervousness, fear of shots, dominance and too strong guarding tendency.


Briard is on construction healthy breed that is there are no health problems which come from construction. Not even the double dewclaws cause problems, if they are correct. Of hereditary illnesses the worst situation is with the hip dysplasia. There can also be changes in the joints of elbows, knees, shoulders and hocks. Eye problems are not common. Briars may have HC (hereditary cataract), PRA (progressive retinal atrophy), CSNB (congenital stationary night blindness) and PHTVL/PHPV. Bloat is a serious and rather common problem in briards.


Updated 13.04.2009
@ Tuula Tanska