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A French breed, the Barbet gained full recognition from 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 Barbet facts you may not know about this friendly, versatile breed.

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. This Breed Is Very Old

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. They became popular, and centuries later, King Henry IV of France was said to be a fan of the breed.

Barbet standing in the snow.
©Stacy Able Photography

3. Barbets Are Great at Their Jobs

Like other water dog breeds, Barbets 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 a liking for children.

5. They’ve 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.”

Barbet head portrait outdoors.

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, comb-out, bath, blow-drying, and trim. Then, you’ll need to wet your dog down again and let 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, Barbets excel at dog sports. In France, the Barbet is rated among the top agility dogs.

They also do well in Lure Coursing and Diving Dogs. Furthermore, they’re always up to play with a flying disc, go for a swim, or try 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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