Animal stories: briards

Briards are attractive dogs with distinctive long coats. Their muscular necks carry their heads with pride. In spite of all the hair they have around their eyes, they are very keen sighted. Their eyes are dark brown and large with intelligent and gentle expression. Their ears are set on high and covered with long hair. Their body is very slightly longer than their height at the shoulders.

The feet are strong and mid-way between cat-like and hare-like, toes close together with firm and hard pads and well-covered in hair. The long tail is well-covered with hair with an upward hook and carried low.

Briards have an exceptional hearing ability and are basically kind, but with a strong protective instinct. Being protective by nature, Briards make good family dogs. They are tough, alert and brave dogs and can be slightly aggressive with other dogs if not handled correctly. They will accept other household pets if introduced properly. They are lively dogs that love to engage in games, which can turn rough but never nasty. Therefore care should be taken if there are younger children in the household. If they are allowed to play roughly at an early age, they will expect to play the same way in their adulthood too. They view strangers as suspicious and can be a bit dog aggressive, but with the right handler they could make a right pet.

Average size

Briards are 22-27 inches tall and weigh about 35 kg.

Coat colour

Briards are generally black, gray, or tawny. The tawny puppy coat turns to a lighter yearling coat. Then the coat deepens in color again to a richer adult coat.


Adolescent Briards can be rather dominant and so it is imperative that training is started as early as possible. They must be socialised as pups, the younger the better, to ensure they grow up pliable and obedient. The combination of consistency, patience, love and a firm hand will all help achieve success.


They live for about 10-12 years.

Pet grooming

Their coarse double coat needs plenty of brushing and combing to keep the coat clean and tangle-free. Line-brushing (the technique of brushing upwards layer by layer) down to the skin is recommended as this will assist in the prevention of dermatitis and other skin problems.

The inside of the ears must be kept cleaned and any excessive hair removed. The excess hair

between the pads of their feet must be trimmed regularly.

Country of origin

France: The Briard’s exact origin is riddled with uncertainty but legend has it that they were established in Europe in the Middle Ages stemming from Oriental sheep-herding dogs with crosses to local guarding breeds, giving them their size and aggression. One version of an ancient tale states that Aubry of Montdidier was murdered with the only witness being his dog. The dog followed the killer constantly and the King was made aware of the situation and ordered a dual between the killer and the dog (a common occurrence in the Middle Ages). The dog won. The Briard is named either for Aubry of Montdidier, a man who was supposed to have owned an early Briard, or for the French province of Brie, although the dog probably does not originate in that locale. The Briard has been known for some centuries. Charlemagne, Napoleon, Thomas Jefferson, and Lafayette all owned Briards. This ancient sheep guard and herder has also been used by the French Army as a sentry, messenger, and to search for wounded soldiers because of its fine sense of hearing.

It became popular only after the Paris dog show of 1863 - in large part due to the improvement of the dog’s looks achieved by crosses with the Beauceron and the Barbet. Some of the Briards talents are search and rescue, police work, military work, herding and guarding.