Known in its homeland as the Berger de Brie, this spectacular sheep-herder has been active in the French countryside for centuries. It is named after the district of Brie, famous for its cheese-making. In addition to herding sheep, the Briard is quite capable of defending its flock from attacks by predators. In modern times it has acted as a war dog (sentry, messenger and rescue dog), a guide dog for the blind, and a police dog.History
An ancient breed, it is thought to have arrived in France with invaders from the East at some point during the Middle Ages, There is a 14th-century legend about the Briard which depicts it in a movingly heroic role. A man known as Aubry of Mondidier was murdered, but his dog witnessed the killing and followed the assailant relentlessly until the king, hearing of the matter, ordered a trial by combat in which the faithful dog was pitted against his master’s murderer. Needless to say, the dog won the duel and avenged his masters death. It is argued that, because that particular sheepdog was known as "Aubry's Dog", its modern title "de Brie" is a play on "d'Aubry".
Napoleon loved this breed, as did Thomas Jefferson, who imported some into the United States at an early date. Its first breed standard appeared in 1897. In 1928 the Briard Club of America was founded, to promote and protect the breed in the New World. The dog did not arrive in Britain before the 1960s but then quickly gained an enthusiastic following.Appearance
Described as a giant teddy-bear of a dog, or a "heart wrapped in fur", it has a long, wavy coat, its most spectacular feature. Solid fawn, black or grey are the possible colours. Bicolours are not permitted. The face is adorned by a long beard and moustache. The ears used to be cropped to stand upright, but today they are preferred in their natural condition and hanging down. The spurious argument that cropping the ears improves the health of the dogs has long since been discredited.
An amazingly energetic dog, it is capable of covering up to 50 miles (80 km) a day. It is a close relative of the Beauceron and, like that breed, possesses the unusual feature of rear double-dewclaws.Temperament
Although the Briard may seem independent and self-assured to a strange eye, he is generally responsive to his family and willing to please. Devoted and watchful, he is a reliable companion in any adventure. He is often suspicious towards strangers and prefers to stay at home to ensure the safety of your property. Moreover, he may try to keep your kids at home as well.General care
Although the Braid’s needs can generally be met with a long walk on leash and a vigorous play, he also should have a chance to run and romp freely in the yard or park. To prevent matting, his coat should be brushed every other day.