The history of the Briard can be traced back to the time of Emperor Charlemagne. This very old French-shepherd dog can be seen in eighth-century tapestries. Its great courage and loyalty are mentioned in records from the 12th century on. The French-shepherd dog, with the springy gait, is both a herder and a flock guardian. A club of fanciers was formed in France in 1897 and the breed’s fortunes followed the tides of war in the early 20th century. The introduction of the Briard to the United States is not well documented. It is thought that the Marquis de Lafayette may have brought some to his friend George Washington. It is known that it took until 1922 for a United States born litter of Briard puppies to be recorded.
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Briards as Watch Dogs?
During World Wars I and II, the French used briards as guard dogs and search-and-rescue dogs. The breed suffered with the deaths of many dogs in both wars. The first litter of briards registered with the American Kennel Club was in 1922.
Are Briards Aggressive?
Being protective by nature, Briards make good family dogs. They do tend to bond more closely with one family member and have been known to protect the children from parental correction! 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 happiest in the home as part of the family and will regard strangers suspiciously. They are gay, 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.
BackgroundThe Briard is referenced as far back as 8th century France where he was bred as a herding dog and guard dog. He protected his property and his livestock from wolves and poachers by keeping them within their pastures. He also accompanied hunters to track and hunt game, acted as a watchdog during war times, and was used to carry items as a pack dog. The Briard was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1928.
Family and Bonding
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Because the Briard is naturally suspicious of people outside his “flock,” it is important to encourage your Briard puppy to be friendly with strangers. If a Briard is not properly socialized and trained, it can lead to aggression toward people or animals he considers a threat.
Today, Briards are well ensconced in American life, though they haven’t left their herding heritage behind, as evidenced by their high trainability and protective natures.
Briards are intelligent and eager to learn, and they need patient and consistent training. Start as soon as you add your Briard to the family — because these dogs are so intelligent, they can get bored easily.
Briards as a Pack Animal
A loving and playful companion, the Briard makes an excellent family dog. He is protective of the children in his family, and has been known to “defend” them when parents discipline.
Briards are prone to a common condition called hypothyroidism in which the body doesn’t make enough thyroid hormone. Signs can include dry skin and coat, hair loss, susceptibility to other skin diseases, weight gain, fearfulness, aggression, or other behavioral changes. We’ll conduct a blood screening test annually to screen for the disease. Treatment is usually simple: replacement hormones given in the form of a pill.