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 Working Dogs of the World 

This article is taken from Working Dogs of the World - 1947 with the kind permission of Mr. Clifford L. B. Hubbard. See peronal letter dated 9th of October 1998.


Capitaine, circa 1900France has many native breeds (certainly more Hounds and gundogs than any other country of her size) of which about half a dozen are Sheepdogs. Of the Sheepdogs the Briard or Chien de Berger de Brie is the best known in France and abroad. It is the oldest race to have been bred true to the ideals drawn up by discriminating sheep farmers long ago. The written records of the breed alone go back to the twelfth century, and it is claimed that Charlemagne gave braces of these dogs as presents to his friends. Napoleon was much attached to the Briard, had several of the breed with him when in Corsica, and took specimens with him on the expedition to Egypt, in this connection the dogs probably proved very useful for rounding up sheep for food supplies and in guarding the arsenals of his armies.

The Briard is sometimes also used with cattle and, more recently, has been trained for police and army work, at which it has shown great prowess. The breed would make an excellent all-rounder and for this reason is very popular on the smaller farms were it does the work of several dogs of other breeds. No Briards are in Britain just now, but in the U.S.A. the breed is well represented. It was introduced to the U.S.A. in 1927, and has long been officially recognised by the American Kennel Club (classified in the "Working Dog" group). It has a strong American following, supporting it through the Briard Club of America at Montville, New Jersey.

There are two varieties of the Briard: the Smooth-haired and the Woolly-haired. The Smooth-haired Briard has lost very considerable ground in France generally and although still preferred by many of the older farmers is gradually becoming extinct. The woolly Briard is certainly the most popular of all French breeds at the Dog Show held in France.

DESCRIPTION. The head is moderate in length, fairly wide across the skull, showing a defined "stop" half-way between the top of the skull and the nose. The eyes are medium in size, not prominent nor sunken, alive in expression, and dark in colour; the ears are set high, small to medium in size, and either cropped or left folded over to the side (the Smooth-haired Briards probably look better for being cropped, but the Woolly Briard is far better left uncropped,. and this custom is gradually dying out); the bearded and moustached muzzle is rather square and blunt, with a black nose, and powerful even teeth…. the tongue often lolls out like a piece of red flannel. The body is muscular and well knit together, with a broad and deep chest, only slightly lifted loins, and a firm fairly long back which arches very slightly over the croup. The legs are straight (the hind legs show the esteemed double dewclaws), of good bone and substance, with strong, rounded feet; the tail is set low, and is carried low, with the longer wool of the tip making a graceful flag to the final upward curl just above the hocks.

The coat is, as already stated, of two types. The Smooth coat is of medium length, lying flat to the skin showing a good gloss. The Woolly coat, i.e. popular type, is medium to long, slightly undulating but not curled into ringlets. The hair on the head cascades over the eyes in a forelock of long shaggy hair, and the muzzle is often bearded and moustached with similar locks. The colour is wide in its range, for any colour other than white is permitted, with the darker colours being preferred. The popular shades are all-black, black with grey tips to the hairs, dark grizzle and various browns; fawn, silver-fawn, and silver-grey Briards are appearing at the Dog Shows, and providing they are not self-marked with white are proving attractive. The height is 24-27 inches for dogs and 22-25 inches for the bitches.