Showsight Presents The Briard

A BREED Q&A: THE BRIARD

JANINA LAURIN 1. Where do you live? What do you do outside of dogs? I live in Connecticut. When I’m not participating in the sport through competition (all kinds), judging or chair- ing events, I’m content to spend time with my close and extended family. Most of those events will revolve around the dogs anyway… hiking, walking, swimming and the like. The few non-dog events are usually spent at the theatre, reading or catching up with “non-doggy” friends at dinner, traveling to sun-drenched beaches with my husband or other far-flung places to re-charge. 2. Number of years owning, showing and/or judging dogs? A lifetime—I’m second generation, in fact! I’ve been showing dogs since before I was a junior handler and still enjoy showing at Specialties, supported entries and handling our class animals when we have youngsters just starting out. Occasionally, I’m drafted to show my own special, but generally leave that to “younger legs” these days. I bred my first litter as a teenager and have a few more litters left to fulfill certain goals. I’ve been judging since 1999, initially my own breed and now judge the Herding group, BIS and the Newfoundland. Hopefully, I’ll finish the Working Group and a few other breeds I enjoy before I’m elderly. 3. Describe your breed in three words: The Belgian Tervuren is an intelligent, devoted and clever breed. They aren’t much different in that respect than the Briard, which I also consider to be intelligent, devoted and clever. 4. What traits, if any, are becoming exaggerated? I’ve been judging Briards only since 2010. One aspect to guard against is the tendency towards long and low with a loss of that magnificent head proportion. 5. What are your “must have” traits in this breed? What shortcomings are you willing to forgive? Majestic! Whether male or female, the Briard must be majestic; strong with a commanding presence while exhibiting the appropriate sex characteristics. I will for- give a “non showman” that is confident, of good size and proportion, in excellent condition and moves as a Briard should. Since they are an aloof breed, I don’t expect them to be dancing like foolish clowns, but it is a breed that

should always have a presence or air about them that draws you in to their beauty. 6. While judging, do you see any trends you’d like to see continued or stopped? We all enjoy a well-groomed and clean dog. The trend towards over grooming that borders on sculpting detracts from the essence of the Briard as a herding dog and distorts the natural harshness of the coat. Speed demon racing around the ring! A working dog would never be racing. It’s so impressive when you see them at a proper speed displaying their power and grace. 7. What, if any, are the traits breeders should focus on preserving? The Briard community seems to have a close watch on their breed. There seems to be a general cohesiveness on the strong characteristics of type. While there is some variance in terms of natural ears or not for example, I can’t say the breed overall displays a general strong weak- ness. I do like to see the Briard with the shepherd’s crook of a tail. It’s distinctly Briard for me. 8. Has the breed improved from when you started judging? For the most part they seem to be of good quality. Tem- peraments are good. There is a variance in movement within the breed between quicksilver, agile and supple and on occasion some cumbersomeness. I remember some of the early greats—the Tingleys and later the wonderful Flynn from Terry Miller—who showed dogs that just filled a ring and your eye. These were before my judging career commenced. When there are sizeable Briard entries at shows, you definitely find quality. 9. Are there aspects of the breed not in the standard that you nonetheless take into consideration because breeders consider them important? Any gross general structural weakness or obvious uncharacteristic weakness in temperament in a herding breed is taken into consideration. The Briard standard addresses that all quite nicely. 10. Can Judges Education on this breed be improved? I’ve attended at least two, if not three, judges education seminars and two National Specialties. The material is in depth and their Nationals are full of quality. Action videos and YouTube videos of excellent quality dogs over the course of time would be useful. For example, a time

S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , A UGUST 2015 • 227

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