The origin of Briard is pretty mysterious, but it is believed, that the breed was developed in 8th century in France to guard and herd flocks of sheeps. Briard like dogs are depicted on tapesteries from 8th century. Because this is such an old breed, the ancestry is unknown, but we know that in 1800s, the Briard was crossbred with Beaucerons and Barbets to standardize its appearance.
2) Famous owners
Briards became favourite dogs of many famous people in history. It is believed that two well known French military leaders owned Briards. The first one is Napoleon and the second one is Lafayette. Also, Thomas Jefferson imported several Briards to look after his extensive flocks and it was most likely the first Briards imported to the USA. BTW, the Briard was recognized by the AKC in 1928.
3) Army dog
Not only, that the Briard was favourite dog of Napoleon and Lafayette and they most likely accompanied them on their military expeditions, the Briard was also used by French army in both world wars. The Briard was even the official dog of French Army. Most often, the Briards were used for carrying supplies to troops on the front lines of battle, which was extremely dangerous job. They were also used as patrol and sentry dogs or search dogs who were looking for wounded soldiers. As you can see, this is a very versatile and intelligent breed capable of working even in the hardest conditions.
Definitely the most unique part of the Briards body is their hind legs. It is because they usually have double dewclaws on their back legs. Of course, some of them can have single dew claw or no dew claw at all, but according to the official FCI breed standard, Single dewclaw or total absence of dewclaws on hindlegs is a dysqualifying fault.
The Briard has the perfect size and body type for their original purpose – herding. They are big and strong enough to protect the flock from predators, but athletic enough to not tire during herding. The average height is between 58-69 cm, which is 23-27 inch and weight is typically between 25-40 kg, which is 55-88 pounds. Females are naturally little bit smaller than males.
So you already know, that they Briard is a hardy, energetic, independent and versatile worker, but they can also make excellent family companion. They are devoted to its family and owner and they tend to create very strong bond with the family. They are great intelligent students, but because of their independent mind, they definitely need patient and firm trainer. The Briard also have extraordinary memory, which means they will remember both – good and bad – for a very long time. They are best suited for active people, who will deal with their higher energy level. BTW, the Briard is often times called as a heart of gold wrapped in fur.
Once the Briard bond with its family, they tend to be very protective over them. Overall, they are reserved and aloof with strangers, although this can be vastly influenced by early socialization. This dog can be easily trained to guard people or property from thieves or other animals
The Briard boasts a shaggy and long double coat, which is considered as a very low shedding. The outer coat is coarse, falling in long gentle waves and their long coats require extensive grooming. All uniform colors are allowable except white. These colors include black, gray and various shades of tawny.
9) Color change
It is normal for Briards, especially for the tawny ones, to change color during their life. They are born darker, and gradually go lighter until they are about two years of age.
The average Briards lifespan is between 10-13 years. The major health concerns include bloating, hip dysplasia and panosteitis, the minor health concerns include patellar luxation, cataracts and progressive retinal atrophy.