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  • Temperament: Friendly, Bright, Sweet-Natured
  • Height: 19-24.5 inches
  • Weight: 35-65 pounds
  • Life Expectancy: 12-14 years
  • Group: Miscellaneous Class

    The AKC has grouped all of the breeds that it registers into seven categories, or groups, roughly based on function and heritage. Breeds are grouped together because they share traits of form and function or a common heritage.

Breed Standard
Barbet lying in three-quarter view.
Courtesy of WilleeCole/Getty Images Plus via Getty Images
Barbet leaping through tall grass
Barbet in the woods in winter.
Courtesy of Stacy Able Photography
Two Barbets running in the snow.
Courtesy of Stacy Able Photography
Two Barbet dogs knee-deep in a body of water outdoors
Barbet standing outdoors by a lake.
Barbet sitting facing forward.
Courtesy of WilleeCole/Getty Images Plus via Getty Images
Barbet head portrait.
Barbet coat detail.
Courtesy of WilleeCole/Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

About the Barbet

The defining characteristic of this rustic, medium-sized bird dog is the dense curly coat that covers him from the top of his large, broad head to the tip of his curving tail. The coat comes in shades of black, gray, brown, or fawn, sometimes with white markings. The breed’s delightfully shaggy coat and amiable nature creates the impression of a Muppet come to life, but the Barbet is a strong, solidly-built dog bred for centuries to be a keen hunter and tireless swimmer. Barbets are very intelligent and learn new things quickly. They have a calm nature and are easy to live with as long as their exercise needs are being met.

National Breed Clubs and Rescue

Want to connect with other people who love the same breed as much as you do? We have plenty of opportunities to get involved in your local community, thanks to AKC Breed Clubs located in every state, and more than 450 AKC Rescue Network groups across the country. The Barbet Club of America has served as the AKC Parent Club to represent the Barbet since December 2015.
Barbet puppy lying down in three-quarter view.

Find a Puppy: Barbet

AKC Marketplace | PuppyFinder

AKC Marketplace is the only site to exclusively list 100% AKC puppies from AKC-Registered litters and the breeders who have cared for and raised these puppies are required to follow rules and regulations established by the AKC.



The Barbet should do well on a high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior). Typically not voracious eaters, Barbets can benefit from oil supplementation during drier months. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.


Grooming can be a wonderful bonding experience for you and your dog. The proper grooming of a Barbet starts with a full brush-out, a comb through to the skin, and a good bath. An after-bath blow drying will straighten the hair and make a fluff ball ready for a scissor trim. An all-over trim to approximately 3 to 5 inches in length to show the shape of the body is preferred, while the head, ears and tail remain longer. For the purpose of showing, the hair on the head must reach the muzzle. After the trim, the Barbet must be wet down and left to air-dry to regain his natural curls.

A Barbet’s strong, fast-growing nails should be trimmed regularly with a nail clipper or grinder to avoid overgrowth, splitting and cracking. Ears should be checked regularly to avoid a buildup of wax and debris, which can result in infection. Teeth should be brushed regularly.

Grooming Frequency

Occasional Bath/Brush
Weekly Brushing




Bred as a marsh/swamp game retriever, the Barbet is an agile athlete and loyal partner in any activity, especially if it involves water. He actually has webbed paws specifically for swimming. Besides swimming, other options for exercise include play time in the backyard, preferably fenced, or taken for walks several times a day. Exercise can also come in the form of indoor activities, like hide-and-seek, chasing a ball rolled along the floor, or teaching them new tricks. The Barbet enjoys plenty of playtime with dogs and people, but is then content to lounge nearby indoors. He is happiest when well socialized and prefers not to spend too many hours alone.

Energy Level

Couch Potato
Needs Lots of Activity
Regular Exercise


Positive interactions and and upbeat training environment are needed for a Barbet, as the breed has a sensitive, but even, temperament. Training should be a relatively easy task, as Barbets are friendly, responsive, and agreeable. Agility, rally, dock diving, and lure coursing are all dog sports that Barbets have participated in, and make for great exercise and mental stimulation.


May be Stubborn
Eager to Please




The Barbet is solidly built with adequate bone to perform his tasks as a true sporting dog, and as such is sturdy, with a moderately sized and constructed frame.

Given the small genetic pool from which the Barbet draws, it is a surprisingly healthy breed thanks to wise, cautious selection by breeders. Responsible breeders screen for health conditions such as as hip and elbo dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), seizure disorders and allergies.

Recommended Health Tests From Parent Club

  • Hips
  • Elbows
  • Dilution factor
Barbet head and shoulders in three-quarter view.
Barbet illustration leaping into water next to water fowl.
Barbet illustration.
Illustration of a standing Barbet in profile.


The Barbet is more than a versatile gun dog. It is a joyful, smart, loving, and devoted breed. The Barbet was originally a water dog and was primarily used in France for hunting water game, as mentioned in 16th century scripts. Other references to the breed are throughout history, doing various jobs with historical lineage, always referenced with respect and admiration.

After the World Wars, the Barbet was nearly extinct, but through the efforts of a very devoted few, this old breed is slowly being reborn as a dog for the future. These loving canines, although rare and in small numbers, continue to delight and amaze people around the world. Keen intellect, propensity for water and versatile abilities make it an “all round” dog. With such an extensive historical lineage, the Barbet is a timeless and classic breed of canine.

Did You Know?

The Barbet has been assigned the Sporting Group designation.
The Barbet is non-allergenic and non-shedding.
This breed has contributed to the French language: "être crotté comme un Barbet" means to be very, very muddy.
His distinctive beard (barbé in French), gives the breed its name.
Their impishness entices them to muddy, swampy places, giving the breed the nickname of "Mud dog."
The Barbet is an ancestor of the Poodle, Bichon, Griffon, Otterhound, Newfoundland, Briard, and several others.
Henry IV, King of France between 1589 and 1610, enjoyed water fowling with his Barbets.
The Barbet has been recorded in the Foundation Stock Service since August 2007.
The Barbet has been approved to compete in AKC Companion Events since January 1, 2010.
The Barbet has been approved to compete in Retriever Hunting Tests Events since September 1, 2012.
The Barbet has been approved to compete in the Miscellaneous Class since January 1, 2017.

The Breed Standard

General Appearance

An archetypic water dog of France, the Barbet is a rustic breed of medium size and balanced proportions which appears in works as early as the 16th century. In profile, the Barbet is slightly rectangular with a substantial head and long, sweeping tail. He has a long, dense covering of curly hair and a distinctive beard (French barbe), which gives the breed its name. An agile athlete, the Barbet has been used primarily to locate, flush, and retrieve birds. He has a cheerful disposition; very social and loyal.

Size – Height at the withers: Dogs 21 to 24.5 inches, Bitches 19 to 22.5 inches. Weight in proportion to height. Proportions – Measured from point of shoulder to buttocks and withers to ground, the Barbet is slightly longer than tall. Exact proportion is not as important as balance. Substance – Neither coarse nor refined, the Barbet is solidly built with adequate bone to perform his tasks as a true sporting dog.


Of great importance, the head is strong, broad, and proportionally large. Expression is bright, engaging. Eyes of medium size, nearly round in shape, dark hazel to dark brown, harmonizing with the coat color. Eye rims are fully pigmented, corresponding to coat (black for black, black pied or gray dogs; brown for brown or brown pied dogs. Fawn dogs may have either black or brown pigmentation). Ears are wide and are set at eye level. Ear leather reaching at least to the corner of the mouth and fully covered with long hair. Skull is rounded and broad. Occiput is not prominent. Stop is defined, neither abrupt nor sloping. Head planes are nearly parallel. The muzzle is shorter than the skull and is quite square. Bridge of nose is broad. Lower jaw fairly square and strong. Jaws of equal length. The nose is large, with well opened nostrils, fully pigmented in harmony with coat color. Lips are thick, fully pigmented. Flews are tight. Scissorsbite, teeth large and strong.


Neck is strong, blending well into the body. Back is solid with well sustained level topline, loin is short and slightly arched, croup rounded. The tail is the natural extension of the topline, long and low set. When in motion the tail is carried above horizontal in a sweeping curve but does not curl onto the back. The tail is never docked. Body is athletic with substance, chest is broad, well-developed, deep, reaching the elbow; ribs rounded but not barrel- like, underline slightly inclined without tuck-up.


Emphasis is on balance. Shoulders are well laid back and approximately the same length as the upper arm, placing the front legs well under the chest with elbows close to the body. Legs are straight and strong; well boned. Pasterns are strong and flexible. Front dewclaws may be removed. Feet are round, and toes are tight, well-arched. Pads thick.


Angulation balances with forequarters. Upper thigh is well muscled, stifle well bent, second thigh is well developed, hocks well let-down, short and perpendicular to ground; without dewclaws. Feet same as front.


The coat of the Barbet is his defining characteristic. Profuse hair covers the whole body evenly with thick, natural curls that range from large and loose to tight, smaller curls. The hair on the top of the head reaches the bridge of the nose. He has a distinctive beard. Ears are covered in long hair. The coat is shown in as natural a state as possible; clean and free from mats. The hair is to retain curl. While scissoring is necessary to keep him neat, excessive sculpting and shaping is to be penalized. Color – All shades of black, gray, brown, fawn; with or without white markings. Pied (primarily white with all shades of black, gray, brown, fawn markings).

Illustration of a Barbet

Colors & Markings


Description Standard Colors Registration Code
Black Check Mark For Standard Color 007
Brown Check Mark For Standard Color 061
Fawn Check Mark For Standard Color 082
Gray Check Mark For Standard Color 100
White Check Mark For Standard Color 199


Description Standard Markings Registration Code
Black Markings Check Mark For Standard Mark 002
Brown Markings Check Mark For Standard Mark 022
Fawn Markings Check Mark For Standard Mark 008
Gray Markings Check Mark For Standard Mark 028
White Markings Check Mark For Standard Mark 014
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