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Briard
History
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The Briard is a very old breed of French working dog. Depicted in 8th-century tapestries and mentioned in records of the 12th century; the breed is accurately described in the 14th and 16th centuries. In early times, Briards were used to defend their charges against wolves and poachers, but the dividing up of the land and the increase in population which followed the French Revolution gradually transformed their work into the more peaceful tasks of herding the flocks, keeping the sheep within the unfenced boundaries of the pastures, and guarding their masters' property.

The first known standard for the Briard was written in 1897 by a club of shepherd-dog breeders. Then, in 1909, a French society called Les Amis du Briard was founded. Although this club disbanded during World War I, it was formed again in 1923 and established a more precise standard for the Briard in 1925. This standard, with slight modification, was adopted by the Briard Club of America, founded in 1928.

The history of the Briard in the Americas is not well documented. Some credit the Marquis de Lafayette with the introduction of the breed to this country. However, writings of Thomas Jefferson indicate that he also brought representatives of the breed to this continent at about the same time. It was not until 1922 that a litter of Briards was registered with the American Kennel Club. Barbara Danielson of Groton, Massachusetts, was the breeder.

Distinctive in appearance, the Briard has eyebrows and beard, which give the typical expression of the breed and the tail has a small hook at the end, called a crochet. The correct coat is slightly wavy, of moderate length, and the texture is such that mud and dirt do not cling to it. Another distinctive characteristic is that two dewclaws are required on each rear foot, a traditional trait on most French sheepdogs.

Briards learn readily and training should begin at a young age. Although Briards have been used primarily as guarding and herding dogs, they are usually versatile. They also have served successfully as tracking and hunting dogs and they have a splendid record as war dogs. In this capacity, they served as sentries at advanced posts, where their acute hearing proved to be invaluable. They accompanied patrols, carried food, supplies, and even munitions to the front. Reports from the medical corps tell of the Briard's excellent ability to lead corpsmen to the wounded on the battlefield.

Admirable dog that he is, described as "a heart wrapped in fur," the Briard is not the ideal dog for every home. The remarkable character of the breed can only be developed by a willingness on the part of the owner to devote time and affection. He is by nature reserved with strangers. His coat requires regular grooming or the hair that is shed will cause matting, which is difficult to remove. But for those who have time and love to give, he is a loyal and unselfish friend who returns every kindness given to him many times over.





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