The Briard dog breed is a very old breed of large herding dogs, originally from France. Historically, they were used to herd and protect flocks of sheep. The breed's origins go back to the 8th century, and it was recognized in the 19th century. Briards played an active role during both World Wars, being used by the French army as sentinels, ammunition carriers, and search and rescue dogs.
The Briard is a generally healthy breed, but can suffer from hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism, exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, immune diseases, and kidney disease. Like many other breeds, they may be affected by hyperuricosuria and degenerative myelopathy. They can also be prone to eye disorders such as corneal dystrophy, retinal folds, cataracts. A specific eye condition for which this breed should be tested is congenital stationary night blindness (CSNB), which can lead to night vision loss. Eye exams are an important part of a regular wellness program for this breed. As for all breeds, genetic screening is recommended to assist veterinarians with diagnosis and proactive care, as well as help breeders identify affected and carrier dogs.
Briards are intelligent, energetic, and protective dogs, known for their loyalty and protective nature. They are highly trainable and have a strong work ethic. Their heritage as a herding dog means they are also very alert and aware of their surroundings. Briards can be aloof with strangers but are usually loving with their family and those they know well.
However, due to their protective nature, they require careful socialization from a young age to prevent over-protectiveness. They are active dogs and need regular exercise to keep them healthy and happy. As a breed, Briards are known for their independent thinking, which can sometimes be misinterpreted as stubbornness.
Because of their thick coats, Briards require regular grooming to prevent matting and to keep their skin healthy.
Named Chien Berger de Brie in France, the breed is named after the dairy-producing region of Brie that exports its well-known cheese of the same name.
Briards are a very old French working dog breed that was originally used to defend againsts wolves and poachers. However, over time, they developed into the more peacful herding dogs we know today.
The endearing temperament of the Briard has earned it the description of a "heart wrapped in fur".
Out of the four main French sheepdog breeds, which also includes the Beauceron, Picardy, and the Pyrenean, Briards are the oldest.