Living with the briard - what you need to know


Briards are people dogs.. Briards left in a backyard with only occasional attention can become nervous, shy, or aggressive. Briards that are members of the family will shine.

Big or small, the Briard always believes it is a lap dog. Human contact is essential, and they will follow you from room to room. You never have to worry about where your Briard is. You just have to be sure you don't trip over him!

Raised properly, most do very well with children, although some are too high energy and exuberant for young kids. Their protective nature can take odd twists - they have been known to herd boisterous kids into a bedroom, and keep them there. 

It doesn’t matter if you have acres of land, they will only use it if you are with them. Otherwise, they will usually sit by the door, asking to come in and be with you.

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Grooming is a big part of owning a Briard. Depending on the quality of the coat and the age of the dog, it can take from a few hours a week to a couple of hours a month.  It is not difficult to learn, consisting mostly of brushing and combing through the coat, to the skin.

The coat has several stages, and a puppy blowing it's first or second coat can mat in what seems like hours. The correct coat is harsh, and easy to groom once past the puppy stage, usually taking less than an hour a week. A soft “cotton” coat  takes much longer to care for.

Some pet owners choose to clip or shave their Briard, and retired show dogs are often shaved down for comfort and ease of care. A show coat can take considerably more effort to maintain, and needs experience or a good teacher.


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Yes, they do shed! Not like a Labrador or German Shepherd, which blow coat all at once, and spread hair far and wide. The Briard coat change is less obvious. Most of the hair being shed is the soft undercoat, and it will stick in the outer coat and cause mats, unless removed through regular grooming. Even with regular grooming, the home of a Briard can often be spotted by the clumps of hair that appear out of nowhere, and collect in the corners.

As for allergies, Show More... the Briard does seem to be less provoking than some other breeds of dogs, but is not in the same hypoallergenic class as the Poodle or Portuguese Water Dog. Before getting a Briard with the assumption that allergies will be okay, spend some serious time with one. Contact a breeder anywhere in the country and they will help you find an owner local to you to visit....Show Less


Briards come with many different personalities, but some traits of the Briard are common to all. They will always be near their people. They are very alert to their surroundings, and no one sneaks up to the front door. They think things through, and can come up with a different answer than their owners.

The AKC Standard uses the words "spirit and initiative, wise and fearless with no trace of timidity. Intelligent, easily trained, faithful, gentle, and obedient...". Much as I love them, I could add manipulative, pushy, dominant, selective, stubborn, and independent as a few additional descriptive words for some Briards. I'd also include entertaining and funny . The most descriptive word?  “Devoted”.

The Briard is lovely, elegant, and striking, and most people are first interested because of those good looks. Anyone thinking of living with a Briard has to remember that they were bred to work and think, often independently.

They were bred to be strong dogs, capable of controlling and protecting large flocks of sheep. That traditional strong personality still is present in many Briards. Others have been bred to have softer personalities. Some are sweet couch potatoes, and some clearly show that they would happily spend all day tending a flock of sheep with little or no human direction. Some have a strong desire to control their human "flock". Others strive desperately to please their owners.

When looking for a Briard, it’s important to know what traits will best fit your home. An experienced breeder will make this a priority in choosing the right pup for a home.

Breeders know their lines, and can give an honest assessment of what to expect in a puppy, based on parents and watching a litter grow. Genetics is only a part of temperament, the work put into raising a Briard by both the breeder and owner is just as important.

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While there are some "couch potato" Briards out there, the Briard is primarily an athlete. They are quick, agile, and can be very high energy. Remember, this is a dog that was bred to herd sheep all day. While they will relax with you for hours, they are always up and ready to go at the least sign of encouragement. 

Most Briards need daily exercise, and if kept in a small house must be walked, and a safe place to run and romp will make for a happier dog. Can they be kept in small apartments, or in houses without fenced yards? Absolutely, but it takes a commitment of time and energy. Neither owner or dog will be happy if a Briard is not given adequate exercise.

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Wet beards are the norm for a Briard. Show More...They drink a tremendous amount of water, and seem to take a special delight in draping their head over your lap right after a trip to the water bowl. This can be especially jolting when you are wearing shorts, are half asleep, or are wearing good clothes! ...Show Less

The Briard is not suited to households where dripping water is a major tragedy. Show More...You need a sense of humor when that wet beard travels across your just washed floor, or your in-laws lap. Many Briard homes have small towels near any water dish, and do a lot of wiping....Show Less

The Briard loves water. Show More...A Briard can make a small puddle go a long way, and a lake, ocean, or pool is even better. Of course, that doesn't mean they will step outside when it rains! ...Show Less

The Briard is a busybody. Show More...He thinks everything is his business, from the leaf falling off the tree across the street, to the refrigerator door opening. No one using the street or sidewalk goes unnoticed, and rarely do they go unannounced. ...Show Less

Briards seem to use their feet more than other breeds of dogs. Show More...There are Briards who can pick up a ball with one front foot. They also can paw and poke at you, which is a good reason to keep nails short and blunt! Ouch! ...Show Less

The normal Briard  life-span is about 10-12 years. A lucky few owners have Briards that live happy, healthy lives up to 15 years and older.