Showsight Presents The Briard

OVERVIEW OF BRIARD HISTORY by MARY LOU TINGLEY, TERRY MILLER & DOMINIQUE DUBE A s with many other breeds the origin of the Bri- ard is obscure. We can say with some certainty that it arose from the varied farm dogs of West- ern Europe. Dogs were developed into separate guarding dog against poachers and predators, the advent of farming found them proving to be a versatile all purpose farm dog, driving stock down the road to the graze and then keep- ing the stock within the graze’s boundaries, pulling a cart, guarding the farm and providing family companionship. In 1789 Thomas Jefferson imported to the United States a “chienne bergere big with pup” believed to be a Briard. So satisfied with the abilities of these dogs, and with the help of his friend Lafayette, Jefferson continued importing them through 1814, not only for his own farm but for friends and neighbors as well.

breeds as their basic function emerged. The modern expres- sion in dogs is that form follows function. It was truly borne out in the development of the early breeds as they were sepa- rated and segregated and labeled with a name. Some of the possible cousins of the Briard, once believed to have been closely related were the Beauceron, Berger de Picard and Berger des Pyrenees. The Briard and the Beauceron are the oldest of those breeds. Records show their first appearance in Paris at the Societe Imperialle d’Acclimatation , the premier dog exposition in 1863. The Briard was prized for his keen sense of hearing and acute awareness of his surroundings. Starting out as a

In 1896, Mr. E. Boulet created Le Club des Chiens de Berg- ers Francais in France. A standard for the Briard was adopted in France in 1897. In the United States the first Briard Stan- dard was adopted by the AKC in 1928 and the first Briard Champion of record in 1931.

“THE BRIARD WAS PRIZED FOR HIS KEEN SENSE OF HEARING AND ACUTE AWARENESS OF HIS SURROUNDINGS.”

During WWI and II many Briards were enlisted as mes- sengers, guards, carriers and what we now know as Search and Rescue. Not only were many dogs killed to near extinc- tion as a result of the Wars but many records were lost due to the bombings. Post war, the breed was held in little esteem among dog fanciers, whether due to the coat care, the cow hocks so prevalent in the breed, or the strong personality, is unknown. By the 1960s there were only three or four breeders in the US and of these, most were owners of one or two dogs. Few were shown. Briard National Specialties consisted of eight or ten dogs. The Briard had a bad reputation and were often unsocialized and unreliable. As the years progressed so did the popularity of the Briard; the stately carriage, and handsome coat attracted fanciers in the dog world. Coat care and socialization, so essential in all breeds, but even more so in the Briard, gave us a dog that is a contender in herding, tracking, Schutzhund, obedience, fly- ball, agility and conformation, to say nothing of being a great companion to those who live with him. The first Briard Champion was Regent de la Pommeraie. The first group winner in the US was Ch Phobe Chez Phydeau. The first Best In Show Briard was Ch Phydeaux Tambourine. There are probably 3000-4000 Briards in the US—much more than that worldwide. American National Specialties are now 100-200 Briards. Briards are much better citizens in the world due to better understandings of management, socialization and grooming.

226 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , A UGUST 2015

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