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A French breed, the Barbet gained full recognition by the AKC in January 2020. Despite being introduced in the United States in 1994, this breed is anything but new. In fact, it dates back centuries. There are a few things you may not know about this friendly, versatile breed.

Barbet Club of America

1. The Barbet might be mistaken for a mixed-breed dog.

With its shaggy coat of dense, curly hair, the Barbet may bear a resemblance to some mixed-breed dogs. In fact, even their face is covered with shaggy bangs and a beard! And the Barbet is also considered a good dog for people with allergies.

2. Although new to the U.S., the Barbet is a very old breed.

In France, these dogs hunted waterfowl and, much like the Portuguese Water Dog, also worked alongside sailors. In fact, you could think of them as a French water dog. The first recorded mention of the Barbet came in 1387, and King Henry IV of France was said to be a fan of the breed.

Barbet hunting game.
Unknown/Courtesy of the AKC Library and Archives

3. Barbet are really good at their job.

Like other water dog breeds, Barbet are excellent at flushing and retrieving waterfowl. With webbed feet, a dense, water-repellant coat, and a strong prey drive, they’ll brave the iciest water or muckiest marsh to retrieve their prey.

4. The Barbet is an excellent family dog.

The Barbet makes for a joyful, playful, and loving companion. The breed is surprisingly calm, as long as their needs for physical and mental stimulation are met. They are known to be sociable, get along well with other dogs, and have an affinity for children.


5. The Barbet has contributed to the French language.

The name Barbet comes from “barbe,” the French word for “beard.” But the breed’s tendency to joyfully get into the muddiest and wettest of situations fostered a common French phrase: “Être crotté comme un Barbet.” When translated politely, that refers to being very muddy.  In fact, the breed’s nickname is “mud dog.”

6. With a Barbet, add “hairdresser” to your resume.

Your mud dog’s shaggy coat is pretty high-maintenance. Grooming is a multi-step process that includes brushing, a comb-out, bath, blow-drying, a trim and then wetting your dog down again and letting them air-dry to maintain their curly coat. You may want to find a good groomer.

7. Barbets are standouts in many sports!

Because they’re smart, versatile, and athletic, Barbet excel at dog sports. In France, the Barbet is rated among the top Agility dogs.

20524 Ginkgo De Cleo Ellis, Barbet, Handler: Lynn Parker
David Woo ©American Kennel Club

They do well in Agility, Lure Coursing, and Dock Diving. Furthermore, they’re always up for a game of Frisbee, a swim, or anything that keeps them in motion. And when you’re both worn out, they’ll be your best couch potato pal.


Related article: Meet the Newest AKC-Recognized Breed: Barbet
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