EXAMINING THE BRIARD
BY THE BRIARD CLUB OF AMERICA BREED EDUCATION COMMITTEE
T he Briard is handsome, alert and powerful without coarseness. He must possess the structural integrity and mental versatility necessary to accomplish his roles as a herding dog used to keep his flock within the boundaries of a designated graze, and an all-purpose farm dog that serves the shepherd in diverse tasks. These roles, which keep him on the move for long hours, demand soundness, efficiency, and athleticism above all other things. A hands-on examination and evaluation of movement is neces- sary to determine the details of the breed standard. Touching the dog to verify what the coat covers is critical to the evaluation of the Briard. Learning to identify the landmarks under the coat will assist the eye in scrutinizing the movement, which can be shrouded by the dense Briard coat. There is ample range allowed in size, keeping in mind that undersize is a disqualification. Dogs range from 23"-27" and bitch- es from 22"-25½". The dog should appear masculine and the bitch feminine, irrespective of size. It is perfectly possible that there will be dogs in the ring that are smaller than bitches. The acceptable size range allows for dogs that might be shorter in height than bitches, yet are well within standard height. Briard proportion can create some visual confusion, primarily due to the illusion the coat can create. The measuring points are clearly defined by the standard. The Briard is equal to or slightly longer than its height at the withers, measured from the point of shoulder to point of buttock. Bitches may be a little longer, which is not a mandate, but rather, a possibility. The word “slightly” is defined as “very small in size, degree, amount or importance.” When explaining the significance of “slightly” in the breed, we often say that if one were to be at the edge of the Grand Canyon, and you were asked to step forward—slightly—how far forward would you go? It is, indeed, a very small measurement. This image clarifies the nuance of the word. Being a coated and tailed breed that calls for a “moderately advanced breastbone,” the Briard will appear off-square. As spe- cifically stated in the AKC standard, “The Briard is not cobby in build.” It is believed that the word “cobby” was used in its literal sense, per its definition: “Cobby, as that of a Cobb horse, small, usually of stout build,” referring to a type of body and not to describe the length of back as the word is often used in the dog world today. The “cobby” image calls to mind a Briard that is heavy and inelegant, like that of a draft horse.
The withers are prominent, the back straight, the loin broad, with croup slightly sloped. The ribs are moderately curved in an inverted egg shape. The correlation between the depth of chest, breastbone, and ribcage are important as they enhance the correct shape of the dog, but most importantly of all, they provide a body shape that promotes lung and heart capacity, essential to the ability to work a full day with endurance and resistance to fatigue. A Briard head gives the impression of length and sufficient width, its length being about forty percent of the height of the dog at the withers. Skull and muzzle are of equal length, strong, and cleanly sculptured with the planes of the head being parallel. The occiput is surprisingly prominent. The nose is square and must be black, no matter the color of the dog. Ears are to be set high, and may be either cropped or left natural. There is no preference given to either, but the ears should be expressive and mobile—though
“A HANDS-ON EXAMINATION AND EVALUATION OF MOVEMENT IS NECESSARY TO DETERMINE THE DETAILS OF THE BREED STANDARD.”
234 | SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, SPRING EDITION
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