What's Good About 'Em,
What's Bad About 'Em
Briard Temperament, Personality, Behavior, Traits, and Characteristics, by Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2016
Vigorous and spirited in body, independent and purposeful in mind, the Briard can be serious ("a reserved philosopher") or a humorous clown.
His light, supple gait, like that of a large feline, has been described as "quicksilver," permitting him to make the springing starts, abrupt turns, and sudden stops required of a shepherd dog.
Athletic and agile under that long coat, the Briard needs some hard exercise each day. Mental exercise (herding, agility, tracking) is just as important to this thinking breed.
Matching his stern appearance, he is aloof and discriminating with strangers, keen-eyed and watchful. Socialization must be early and frequent so that his watchfulness does not shade into aggression or shyness. Spookiness is unfortunately present in some lines.
Most Briards are territorial with other animals, but usually good with the pets in their own family, if raised with them.
You must discourage his habit of poking or pushing people and other pets with his huge, powerful head in an attempt to keep them within boundaries.
Briards like to control situations and require a confident, consistent owner who knows how to lead.
However, they are very sensitive (sometimes overly so) and must be treated with respect and a light hand. This breed has a long memory and doesn't easily forgive or forget harsh handling.
If you want a dog who...
- Is large and powerful -- yet also quick-moving and agile
- Has a shaggy, tousled, rustic coat
- Thrives on vigorous athletic activities
- Is watchful and aloof with strangers
A Briard may be right for you.
If you don't want to deal with...
- Vigorous exercise requirements
- Rowdiness and exuberant jumping, especially when young
- Destructiveness when bored or not exercised enough
- Suspiciousness or fearfulness when not socialized enough
- Potential aggression toward other animals
- Stubbornness (mind of his own)
- Chasing and nipping at things that move: children, joggers, other animals, bikes, cars
- Frequent brushing and combing -- or regularly trimming the coat short
- "Shaggy dog syndrome," i.e. debris clinging to the coat, water soaking into the beard and dripping on your floors
- Waiting lists and a high price tag
A Briard may not be right for you.
- choosing the RIGHT breeder and the RIGHT puppy
- or choosing an ADULT dog from your animal shelter or rescue group – a dog who has already proven that he doesn't have negative traits
- training your dog to respect you
- avoiding health problems by following my daily care program in 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy
More traits and characteristics of the Briard
If I was considering a Briard, I would be most concerned about...
- Providing enough exercise and mental stimulation. Briards MUST have regular opportunities to vent their energy and do interesting things. Otherwise they will become rambunctious and bored -- which they usually express by destructive chewing. Bored Briards can make a shambles of your house and yard.
- Providing enough socialization. Standoffish by nature, Briards need extensive exposure to people and to unusual sights and sounds. Otherwise their natural caution can become shyness or suspiciousness, which are difficult to live with and could even lead to defensive biting.
- Animal aggression. Some Briards are dominant or aggressive toward other dogs of the same sex. Some have strong instincts to chase and seize cats and other fleeing creatures.
- Stubbornness. Briards are not Golden Retrievers. The best Briards are versatile working dogs, capable of learning a great deal, but they can be stubborn and manipulative. You must show them, through absolute consistency, that you mean what you say. But Briards are also so sensitive that if you correct them too harshly, they may "shut down" and become even more resistant. It often takes an experienced trainer to bring out the best in this breed.
To teach your Briard to listen to you, "Respect Training" is mandatory. My Briard Training Page discusses the program you need.
- Grooming. Without frequent brushing, Briards become a matted mess. If you can't commit to the brushing, you have to commit to frequent trimming to keep the coat short, neat, and healthy.
- Shedding. Briards definitely shed, though some of the shed hair gets caught in the long wavy coat rather than ending up on your floor. Thus, frequent brushing is essential not only for keeping the coat mat-free, but for removing shed hair.
- "Shaggy dog syndrome." Like all shaggy dogs, the Briard is a messy dog. Leaves, mud, snow, fecal matter, and other debris cling to his rough coat and ends up all over your house. When he drinks, his beard absorbs water, which drips on your floors when he walks away. When he eats, his beard absorbs food so that when he sniffs your face or presses his head against your leg, YOU end up dirty, too. Big shaggy dogs are not suited to fastidious housekeepers.
- Finding one and paying the price. In the United States, less than 300 new Briard puppies are registered each year. (Compare that to over 60,000 new Golden Retriever puppies.) And many breeders are charging $1000 and up.
To learn more about training Briards to be calm and well-behaved, consider my dog training book, Teach Your Dog 100 English Words.
It's a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will make your Briard the smartest, most well-behaved companion you've ever had.
Teaches your dog to listen to you, to pay attention to you, and to do whatever you ask him to do.
My dog buying guide, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, will teach you everything you need to know about finding a healthy Briard. Health problems have become so widespread in dogs today that this book is required reading for ANYONE who is thinking of getting a purebred, crossbred, or mixed breed dog.
If you'd like to consult with me personally about whether the Briard might be a good dog breed for your family, I offer a Dog Breed Consulting Service.
Once you have your Briard home, you need to KEEP him healthy -- or if he's having any current health problems, you need to get him back on the road to good health.
My dog health care book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy is the book you need.
Raise your dog the right way and you will be helping him live a longer, healthier life while avoiding health problems and unnecessary veterinary expenses.
Please consider adopting an ADULT Briard...
When you're acquiring a Briard PUPPY, you're acquiring potential -- what he one day will be. So "typical breed characteristics" are very important.
But when you acquire an adult dog, you're acquiring what he already IS and you can decide whether he is the right dog for you based on that reality. There are plenty of adult Briards who have already proven themselves NOT to have negative characteristics that are "typical" for their breed. If you find such an adult dog, don't let "typical breed negatives" worry you. Just be happy that you found an atypical individual -- and enjoy!
Save a life. Adopt a dog.
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Copyright © 2000-2016 by Michele Welton. All rights reserved.
No part of this website may be copied, displayed on another website,
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