The Briard's rustic look is reminiscent of his Provencal French homeland. He has a look that's all his own, but he is also a smart, brave and very independent. These are large dogs — males weigh up to 90 pounds and stand over 2 feet tall. Briards are intelligent, thoughtful companions who will work vigorously to win the affection of their owners. Their effortless movements and abundant coats make them impressive to watch. With consistent, challenging training they will make amusing family pets.
He prefers to be around those he loves, but he is also a robust worker who loves to romp outdoors. Briards are calm and affectionate indoors, but outdoors, they are vigorous workers who will appreciate the opportunity for athletic play each day. These dogs are kind and sensitive to the needs of their family. They will bond quickly, but they can occasionally be protective of their people and overly suspicious of strangers. Socializing Briards early will prevent any over-protective tendencies and help them learn not to herd all the strangers and children they meet.
Briards' movements are so smooth and flexible that they often give the appearance of gliding. They have long, hooked claw-like nails on the backs of their legs that help them grip the ground and pivot back and forth around their herding targets. They can turn abruptly and stop suddenly, which makes them such effective herders. These dogs are smart and have an excellent memory, which makes training somewhat effortless for Briards whose owners establish themselves as the Alpha dogs immediately. Briards can be stubborn if they become bored, and they will resort to destructive behaviors if they feel neglected.
Although he is distinguished for his skilled herding ability, the Briard's coat is visually striking. The double coat provided the Briard with protection from harsh weather in the mountainous climates in his homeland. The outer coat is coarse and dry, which makes it virtually waterproof if it is properly maintained. This coat gives the Briard's coat its volume. The under coat is fine and tight to the body. At its longest, the coat is about 6 inches long.
The Briard's unique facial furnishings help him look confident and friendly. Their long, floppy eyebrows and beards frame their expressive faces. Briards either have flop ears or pricked ears, covered in hair that gives the Briard a floppy, Muppet-like appearance. Their facial furnishings and muzzles are usually black. The rest of their bodies are usually a shade of tawny brown, fawn or tan.
For pet Briards, the coat requires up to 2 or 3 hours a week of grooming. The coat needs to be brushed and combed with a large metal comb to stay healthy and weather-resistant.
Briards get dirty easily. They will require a bath more frequently than other, less abundantly coated breeds. Bathe them about every 6 weeks to remove the debris that their fluffy coats collect.
Altering the Briard's coat is frowned upon in the show ring because it is such a characteristic part of his appearance and is seen as part of his humorous, pleasant carriage. Many owners also trim and thin the hair over the Briard's ears and eyes to help them see and prevent infection.
Many dog owners are apprehensive about trimming their dog’s nails because they are nervous about cutting into the quick. But with the right conditioning and careful cutting, nail clipping can be a simple, stress-free activity for you and your dog.
Provide your dog with plenty of positive reinforcement and even treats to help associate nail clipping with a positive experience. As you start to clip, gently press on your dog’s paws to help him become accustomed to the feeling of having his nails clipped. Then, work gradually, shaving down just a thin portion of the nail at first to make sure you don’t reach the quick. Clip one nail, reward your dog with a treat, and stop to give him some positive reinforcement before moving on. Gradually increase the number of nails you clip in one sitting to help your dog get used to the process. Never trim extremely long nails down to a short nail in one sitting, because this is an excellent way to accidently quick the dog’s nail. Instead, work gradually, shaving small portions of your dog’s nails off each time.
You can tell if you’re getting close to the quick by the texture of your dog’s nail. The nail is hard closer to the surface and becomes softer as you get closer to the quick. If your dog’s nail starts to feel softer, that’s a good indication that you’re getting close to the quick.
Many owners also trim and thin the hair over the Briard's ears and eyes to help them see and prevent infection.
Many owners do not realize how important it is to brush your pet’s teeth on a regular basis. Some dogs are prone to dental problems and sensitive teeth, especially small dogs with tiny teeth and dogs with special diets. These problems can be easily combatted with frequent brushing.
Cavities are rare with dogs but gum disease caused by tartar buildup is not, which is why they require regular brushing with toothpaste and a toothbrush formulated specifically for dogs. While daily brushing is ideal, doing so on a weekly basis will be a big help in avoiding the need to bring your dog to a veterinarian for a cleaning, which usually has to be done under sedation.