Description & History

The Briard, or Chien de Berger de Brie, is an ancient French breed which originated in the region of Brie, near Paris.

The Briard differs from a number of ancient breeds in that its history can be traced back many centuries in paintings, tapestries and literature.

It is considered to be one of France's oldest true-bred sheepdogs. Its courage, intelligence and versatility were characteristics put to good use by many flockmasters and farmers. With little help from their masters, Briards were quite capable of gathering and driving large flocks either to fresh grazing or to market.

On the farms, not only did the Briard work hard to keep his master's stock confined within the unfenced farm boundaries, but also made an excellent watchdog, keeping wolves and any unwanted visitors at bay.

In the First World War the Briard played a number of important roles: it successfully carried messages, located the wounded and acted as a patrol dog. By the end to the war, the breed was almost extinct as, unfortunately, so many were killed in the hostilities. They also carried their trait for working to excess, and often died from exhaustion.

The Briard first went to America in the 1700's but was not established there in any numbers until after the First World War, when returning servicemen took a number of them home with them. The breed first came to Great Britain in 1966.

The Briard is a very adaptable breed, and is quite happy to live wherever its owner resides, either in a town or in the country. Being a working breed, a good daily walk will help to keep them in good condition.

Rosamund Walters.

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