Briard: A Large, Boisterous Dog that Needs a Firm Hand

Bold and protective, but not aggressive, the Briard is an excellent family companion. In its native country, this French breed works as a herder of sheep


In its native country this large and lively French breed works as a herder and guarder of sheep. Bold and protective, but not aggressive, the Briard is an excellent family companion if given regular exercise and room to run and play. This is not a low-maintenance dog because the Briard’s long, thick coat needs a lot of grooming.

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Working Dogs

The list of jobs that humans ask dogs to perform is almost endless. In the thousands of years since dogs were domesticated, canine helpers have guarded homes, rescued people in danger, gone to war, and looked after the sick and disabled—to give only a few examples. In this book the working group is represented by breeds traditionally developed for pastoral work and guard duties.

Breed History

The first written records of this breed originated in the 12th century in France. Napoleon and Charlemagne are reported to have kept Briards. The first breed standard was laid out in 1897.

Often referred to as a “heart wrapped in fur”, both the Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson are credited with bringing the breed to America, and first AKC registrations occurred in 1922. UKC registration occurred in 1948.

Physical Characteristics

Height at Withers

Female 22-25.5” (56-65 cm), male 23 to 27” (58.5-68.5 cm).


Females 50-80 lb. (22.5-36.5 kg), males 60-100 lb. (27.5-45.5 kg).


The long (6”) wavy double coat is solid colored. All colors are accepted except white. Black, gray and shades of tawny are common. The coat requires frequent grooming; they are moderate shedders.


10-12 years.

Points of Conformation

The Briard is a large solidly built powerful dog, with distinctive eyebrows and beard. Their ears are high set and pendulous. Each rear limb carries double dewclaws. The tail has a distinctive tip called a crochet, which is a small hook.

The tail is carried low and reaches to the tarsus. Eyes are black or brown with dark palpebral margins; lips and nose are pigmented black.

Topline is slightly inclined down towards the croup. They have a deep thorax.

Breed Behavior and Traits