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Honest FAQ for Briards

By Michele Welton, Dog Trainer, Behavioral Consultant, Author of 15 Dog Books


The Briard's coarse, rustic coat is a magnet for all sorts of debris, from mud to leaves to snow, and will quickly become tangled and matted unless you commit to frequent brushing and combing. Or else clip the coat short several times per year... problem solved!

What kind of temperament and personality does the Briard have?

The most descriptive words that come to my mind regarding Briard temperament and behavior are:

Lively, athletic, loyal, watchful, aloof with strangers, sensitive, independent, strong chasing/poking instincts

I give you my honest opinions about Briard temperament and personality traits and characteristics – positives AND negatives – in my dog breed review, Briard Temperament and Personality Traits (What's Good About 'Em, What's Bad About 'Em).

How do you pronounce Briard?

BREE-ard. Brie  is a dairy region in France.

What were Briards used for?

Briards herded and guarded sheep in France. They also guarded the family farm and served as sentry dogs and cart pullers in World War I. In fact, they were named the official war dog of the French army.

What traits would help Briards accomplish their work? That's right... high energy, endurance, athleticism, toughness, independent thinking yet high trainability, and loyalty to their owner.

How big are Briards? Height and weight?

About 23-27 inches at the shoulder, and 55-100 pounds, which puts them in the LARGE category.

What colors do Briards come in?

Shades of tawny (from light wheaten to darker red), gray, or black.

Do Briards come in different "types"?

No. Briards are seldom used as working dogs today. If you want a Briard, you'll get the "show type" seen in the conformation ring.

How much exercise do Briards need?

A lot. Briards are energetic, athletic working dogs. They will never sit passively in your home and yard as "just a pet." If you don't provide enough exercise and challenging mental stimulation... well, expect lots of behavior issues.

Like all large working breeds, a Briard needs to be involved in activities such as herding, carting, advanced obedience, agility, jogging, hiking, tracking and scent work.... DO stuff with a Briard, or please get a different breed.

Do Briards need a fenced yard?

Yes. Why a fenced yard? and best and worst fences.

Are Briards easy to train?

Yes and no. If you are an assertive person who can "read" and respond to a strong-willed dog and establish a healthy leader-follower relationship, most Briards are willing to work with you.

Yes, they are stubborn and hard-headed at times, but if you stand your ground re: "I'm in charge and you must follow my rules", your Briard's behavior should be fine.

Just be aware that these dogs must have a competent leader who will structure their lives around activities that provide a suitable outlet for their energy and their internal drives to work.

Are Briards easy to housebreak?

They're average.

Are Briards friendly with people?

Most Briards are very loyal dogs, devoted to their family. With strangers, most Briards are standoffish and watchful. Unfortunately, some Briards have inherited temperament flaws such as indiscriminate suspiciousness or skittishness/spookiness. Be extra-careful that both parents of a Briard puppy have stable, confident temperaments.

Are Briards good with children?

Briards that are raised with children are usually gentle and tolerant. Otherwise, it really depends on the individual dog and the individual kids. This breed is sensitive and can be a bit high-strung around very young children. Be aware that Briards may try to "herd" or redirect running children by poking or nipping at them.

Are Briards good with other dogs?

Most Briards are fine with other dogs in their own family. But toward strange dogs... it varies. Briards can be territorial, but might be okay if the other dog is the opposite sex and has a naturally submissive personality.

Are Briards good with cats?

Briards are usually okay with cats in their own family, if they've been raised with cats. But like all herding breeds, they have strong chasing instincts, so...

How much do Briards shed?

Briards are average shedders. Their coarse coat sheds moderately in the spring and fall, and occasionally a bit of hair the rest of the year.

Are Briards hypoallergenic? Good for people with allergies?

If you're allergic to dog dander, no. If you're allergic to canine saliva, no. Briards are not hypoallergenic dogs.

How much grooming do Briards need?

If you leave the coat long, Briards need a great deal of grooming. Every other day, you should brush and comb out mats and tangles. Every month or so, trim/clip the hair around their private parts for sanitary toileting.

Honestly, I recommend shortening the whole coat a LOT so that your brushing and combing needs are minimal. The shorter the coat, the cleaner and neater it remains.

What's a good training schedule for training Briard puppies?

Here's the puppy training schedule I use for Briards: Puppy Training Schedule.

What behavior problems do Briards tend to have?

The worst problems occur during adolescence (8-24 months) when the hormones are building. During this stage, most commonly I see reactivity toward other animals, jumping and other rambunctiousness, and destructive chewing.

During the adolescent stage is also when you're likely to see inherited temperament flaws appear. For example, spooky or fearful behavior toward strangers, or hyper-reactivity toward harmless things such as mailboxes or loud sounds.

This critical adolescent period is when you must teach calmness, establish the right leader/follower relationship, and respond properly to behavior problems.

The most common behavior issue I see in adult Briards is the typical herding dog's instincts to poke and push, even nip, children and other pets in an attempt to move them along or gather them together.

What health problems might Briards have?

As purebreds go, the Briard is a fairly healthy breed. The most concerning health problem is cancer. Loose hip joints can cause lameness and crippling arthritic pain. Eye diseases can lead to blindness. And gastric torsion (bloat) is always a worry in large dogs with deep chests, like Briards.

What breeds are similar to the Briard?

Ancestry-wise, the Beauceron (BO-ser-on) is a very close cousin of the Briard. The Beauceron hails from the French region of Beauce, while the Briard hails from the region of Brie.

The breeds look very different, but they're both energetic, strong-willed, loyal herding breeds who need things to do.

Appearance-wise, the Bouvier des Flandres is a shaggy, stern-minded, faithful herding breed from neighboring Belgium.

Where can I buy a Briard puppy?

From a show breeder. Read my article.

Where can I adopt an older Briard?

Rescue group or humane society/shelter? Not many Briards are turned over to Rescue groups or animal shelters, because not many people own them in the first place. Read my article.

I just got a new Briard. Which pages should I read first?

  • Briard Health, which includes my advice on feeding, vaccinations, and daily health care. These pages are very important, because if you start your Briard puppy off on the wrong foot, he will probably experience health problems later on. Starting off right is essential.
  • Training Briards, which includes my advice on respect training, housebreaking, and socialization. Again, you must start your Briard puppy off on the right foot by teaching him what he needs to know, and you must avoid doing the wrong things with him so that he doesn't develop bad habits that will be much harder to fix later on.

Do male dogs or female dogs make better pets?

Ah, let the debate begin! Honestly, male Briards have pros and cons, and female Briards have pros and cons. Visit Male Dogs versus Female Dogs

There's an adorable Briard puppy at the pet shop. The store manager assures me they only buy from responsible breeders. Could this be true?

No responsible Briard breeder would ever place one of their Briard puppies in a pet shop for resale. To find out more about pet shop puppies, visit Pet Shop Puppies: Buying a Puppy From a Pet Store.

How do I pick the best Briard puppy from a litter?

You can do puppy personality tests. Visit How To Choose a Good Puppy.

What's the best dog food for Briards?

3 Best Ways To Feed Your Dog Healthy Food.

I have to take my Briard to the vet soon for shots. Which vaccinations does he really need?

The schedule of vaccinations that dogs really need has changed dramatically – but unfortunately most vets are not telling you this, because a good chunk of their income depends on frequent vaccinations. Please don't get any more shots for your Briard until you've read my article on Puppy Shots and Dog Vaccinations.

What are the pros and cons of spaying and neutering my Briard, and when should it be done?

Spaying and neutering are often recommended too early, which can lead to health problems later in life. Visit Spaying Your Female Dog or Neutering Your Male Dog for the straight scoop on the safest (and riskiest) times to spay or neuter.

I have a question about Briards that I don't see answered on your web site.

It's probably answered in one of my free online books.

Michele Welton with BuffyAbout the author: Michele Welton has over 40 years of experience as a Dog Trainer, Dog Breed Consultant, and founder of three Dog Training Centers. An expert researcher and author of 15 books about dogs, she loves helping people choose, train, and care for their dogs.

My best-selling books – now available  FREE  on my website

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