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The Briard is a working dog of French origin dating back to the 12th century. The breed was first utilized as a guardian against predators and enemies but eventually became more of a herding dog as the need for protection subsided. In 1897, the first Briard standard was written by a group of herding dog breeders. The French club called Les Amis du Briard was formed in 1909, disbanded and was reinstated with a stricter standard in 1925. By 1928 the standard was accepted by the Briard Club of America. The first American Kennel Club (AKC) registration was in 1922 when a Briard litter belonging to Barbara Danielson of Massachusetts was registered.
Briards are definitely large dogs. Usually, the height and length of the dog is about the same. These dogs have muzzles that are wide and a distinctive bearded look. Their dark brown eyes are often covered by heavy brows. The ears are firm and high-set, with wavy cascading fur. When it comes to color, Briards can be various colors (except white) which include black, gray and tawny. Sometimes these dogs are multicolored. This double coated dog is shaggy and requires lots of grooming to keep fur from becoming tangled and matted. Many owners choose to have their Briard's fur clipped at the groomer's, especially during warm weather.
This dog breed has a reputation for being affectionate, loyal and loving. While these dogs are gentle by nature they are also protective of their loved ones. The Briard is intelligent, perhaps too intelligent because it can be hard to train due to an independent streak. Owners must be able to establish dominance and lead their Briard with firm but loving discipline in order to train this dog. Briards are great with children if properly socialized with them during the puppy months. However children should be taught how to properly interact with the dog and be supervised at all times, regardless of breed.
As purebred dogs go, the Briard is a pretty healthy breed. It can develop dysplasia of the hip and sometimes cataracts with age. Stomach torsion is an often fatal medical problem that can sometimes affect the Briard and other breeds with large chests. It can be treated if caught quickly enough. The Briard has a life span of about 11 years. Healthy, well cared for Briard dogs can live as long as 12 years or older. This breed should be walked daily as it requires regular exercise in order to stay healthy and happy. Also the Briard needs daily interaction with their human family, training and play as part of their routine.
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