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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 standing sideways looking right outdoors in sunlight
Barbet Running in the Snow
Barbet looking forward standing sideways on stone path outdoors
Barbet leaping through tall grass
Barbet standing sideways looking left with wooded area in background
Two Barbet dogs knee-deep in a body of water outdoors
Barbet in the Grass
Barbet face
Barbet leaping over horizontal agility poles
Barbet in the Woods
Barbet Ginkgo de Isis Fiona

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.

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.

Find a Puppy: Barbet

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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 anad 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 standing sideways facing left, head turned forward, outdoors in sunlight


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.