Temperament:Works HardHas Your BackConfident
Briards are best for active, experienced pet parents who enjoy spending their free time with their Briard as much as their Briard enjoys spending time with them—which is a lot. Bonus points if you have kids around.
What makes the Briard a Briard? Let's find out how they stack up.
“A heart wrapped in fur.” That’s how many fans of this breed would describe Briards. They are affectionate, bond deeply with their people and make great family dogs. In fact, Briards get along especially well with kids. Fiercely loyal to their family, the breed sees kids as part of their flock and may devote themselves to their safety and ensuring their needs are met.
Herding and hunting is built into their DNA, but despite that, Briards don’t have a strong prey drive and are able to bond well with other animals, too. They will, however, nip at ankles when they want you or children somewhere else. You can help curb this type of behavior with proper training and ensuring they get enough exercise every day.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) classifies Briards in the Herding group, because they were original bred to herd livestock. But Briards love nothing more than having a job to do, whether that’s fetching a ball, working through a puzzle or running an agility course. But their most important job (at least in their minds) is guarding their family, and they take their work seriously. That means you’ll need to be cautious around strangers. No, Briards won’t bite your boss the first time they come over for dinner, but they’re certainly not going to offer them a handshake, either. And if you’re throwing a dinner party, and your guests have the audacity to mingle in different rooms, don’t be surprised if your Briard tries to herd everyone back together.
Briards are smart dogs who need regular exercise to keep them in top form mentally and physically. Without it, they’ll look for other ways to work through their inquisitive, intelligent and high-energy nature, even if that means destructive behaviors like chewing, digging or chasing.
How to Care for a Briard
The sheer, impressive size of a Briard is a great visual reminder of the amount of time and energy that goes into parenting the breed. In this case, “large dog” equals “large amounts of care,” from daily grooming to a rigorous exercise schedule. But every second you spend on your Briard will be paid back in unwavering devotion (and unchewed shoes).
A Briard’s lifespan is on average 12 years, but they do have some health problems to look out for. Keeping an eye out for these common health issues can help you keep your dog in good health for longer.
- Congenital Stationary Night Blindness: This inherited eye disease causes the progressive degeneration of the retina, leading to vision loss. It can begin in Briard puppies as early as 6 weeks of age but is not detected on eye exams until at least 2 years of age. Currently, there is no treatment, but it isn’t painful for your pup. Briards with it must be accommodated by keeping lights on at night and not rearranging furniture or making other significant changes to the home to prevent them from running into things they can’t see.
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy: PRA is an inherited degenerative retinal disease leading to vision loss. Like congenital stationary night blindness, there is no treatment, but it’s not painful for your dog and can be accommodated by managing your Briard’s environment (keeping lights on at night and avoiding making changes to your home’s layout).
- Osteoarthritis: Large-breed dogs are prone to osteoarthritis, a chronic disease that can cause pain in the hips, knees and other joints. It is manageable with regular joint supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin, good weight management and annual hip evaluations.
To avoid these conditions, potential Briard parents should meet with breeders first to discuss any known conditions found in the breed line. If the pet is already home, a veterinary ophthalmologist can perform an eye screening exam to rule out any potential eye issues.
Pop quiz! Which of the world’s most popular cheeses is the Briard named after?
If you guessed Brie, then you’re right—well, sort of. (It was a bit of a trick question.) The Briard isn’t named after the cheese itself, but they’re named after the dairy belt region in northern France known for producing the rich, buttery cheese.
This breed has been cherished by the French for centuries. Briards were depicted in tapestries from the 8th century with Emperor Charlemagne. Charles the Great, as he’s also called, was also good at bringing things together. He “herded” western and central Europe together in the Middle Ages. This might be what drew him to the Briard.
Due to their confidence and athletic and agile nature, these dogs were bred by French farmers for herding and guarding sheep. They eventually used those same skill sets to aid the French army as its official war dog during World War I. They took supplies to the front lines, worked as guard dogs and helped locate wounded soldiers.
This popular French breed first came to notice in America when future President Thomas Jefferson was the ambassador to France. When his tenure ended, he left with a pregnant Briard named Bergère. She and her pups worked Jefferson’s land, and to this day are believed to be some of the first Briard dogs to enter the United States. (Others were brought by his friend, Marquis de Lafayette.) The American Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1928 as its 81st breed.
Are you looking to add a Briard to your family? Briard puppies can be found through reputable breeders listed by the AKC. The average cost for a puppy is $1,500. But for that price, you’re getting a puppy who’s been screened for health and temperament issues and may come with pedigree papers. You may also seek out local Briard rescue organizations to find a dog to adopt or search for Briards at your local animal shelter.
Do Briards shed?
Briards do shed, but they’re not excessive shedders despite their flowing locks. They need daily brushing, and it’s recommended they see a groomer every four to six weeks to keep their coat healthy, which further reduces shedding.
How long do Briards live?
The Briard lifespan about 12 years. With their high energy and devotion to their loved ones, they pack several lifetimes of fun and loyalty into that time.
Is a Briard a good family dog?
Yes, Briards are great family dogs! Family is a Briard’s top priority, and they deeply bond with their people. They were bred to herd and protect and have enough energy to keep up with the kids all day long. But though they love their family, they’re hesitant with outsiders and need to be managed in unfamiliar settings.
Are Briards aggressive?
No, Briards are not aggressive, but they are environmentally sensitive, always watching out for their family. They may nip ankles when their herding instinct kicks in. Early socialization is key to help the Briard navigate the world.
Are Briards smart dogs?
Yes, Briards are smart dogs. They are also very independent, so they need a confident pup parent who will be consistent and patient with their training.
Briards are incredibly intelligent and highly active. They need space and plenty of opportunities to work out both their brains and bodies. Early training is the key to a successful future in your family. Meeting their physical and mental needs, as well as daily grooming, will result in a fiercely loyal companion for you and your family.