The Briard, also known as the Berger Briard, the Chien Berger de Brie (Shepherd Dog of Brie) and the Berger de Brie, is an old herding breed that has been working in the French countryside for centuries. It was depicted in tapestries as early as the eighth century and was accurately described in writing by the fourteenth century. This breed is known for its steadfast loyalty and its heart of gold. Some of the earliest Briards to come to the United States were imported by Thomas Jefferson to protect his sheep flock. The Briard was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1928 and is a member of its Herding Group.
The Briard is intelligent and independent, with a fearless personality and a strong need to have constant companionship to reach its full potential. Briards are brave, wise, watchful, faithful and obedient. However, they tend to be reserved with strangers and can be overprotective. Early, consistent and continual socialization, training and positive reinforcement are necessary to bring a Briard successfully into the canine community. These clownish “hearts wrapped in fur” are happiest at the side (or on the feet) of the people they love.
The average Briard stands from 22 to 27 inches at the withers and weighs between 65 and 100 pounds. Smaller dogs and bitches are disqualified. The Briard’s distinctive appearance includes prominent eyebrows, a moustache and a beard, giving it an almost comical expression. The double coat should be slightly wavy, of moderate length and rough enough that mud and dirt are naturally repelled. The Briard requires regular grooming to prevent matting. It should have two dewclaws on each rear foot, a trait shared by most of the French sheepdog breeds.