briard Q&A WITH ANNE BIXLER, PAT HASTINGS, JOE HOLAVA, BRIAN & CINDY MEYER, LINDA ROBEY, STANLEY SALTZMAN & WALTER SOMMERFELT
1. Describe the breed in three words. AB: Independent, staunch and loyal.
PH: Hairy, herding and dewclaws. (I have been told that to describe a dog in three words it must be a description that anyone would recognize the breed and that breed alone from those three words alone. Easier said than done in many breeds.) JH: If limited to only three words to describe the Briard, the words loyal, athletic and eye-catching come first to mind. B&CM: Quicksilver, hairy and intelligent.
“THEIR TEMPERAMENTS ARE GREATLY IMPROVED AS THERE USED TO BE MANY VERY SPOOKY AND SHY BRIARDS. THERE IS MUCH MORE CONSISTENCY IN THE MAKE, SHAPE AND THE OVERALL
LR: Elegant, athletic and alert. SS: Balanced, elegant and alert. WS: The Briard is alert, powerful and agile.
2. Are there any traits in this breed you fear are becoming exaggerated? AB: No. PH: I don’t think so. This is a breed that has improved greatly and consistently over the last 40 years. JH: For an exaggerated trait seen too often, I will go right back to the proportions characteristic. Far too many are overly long compared to their height. I feel this is an issue in several breeds, not just Briards. B&CM: No, not at this time. LR: No traits; the breeders are doing a good job of keeping their dogs pretty consistent. SS: I notice occasionally too much coat and more frequently low and long. WS: As with many coated breeds now, they have become over groomed and trimmed to either hide various prob- lems or to shape a different appearance than what is actually under the coat. That is why it is very important to thoroughly examine the breed under the coat. 3. Do you think the dogs you see in this breed are better now than they were when you first started? AB: Grooming and conditioning have improved and the breed has become more numerous so there’s more oppor- tunity to see better Briards in the ring. But the Briard is a breed that has really changed very little over the years and hasn’t needed to change. They’re wonderful just the way they are. PH: Much, much better. Their temperaments are greatly improved as there used to be many very spooky and shy Briards. There is much more consistency in the make, shape and the overall quality is as good as the best out there. It shows in the fact of how many Briards are con- sistently placed in the groups and how many different Briards have won BIS. JH: In my opinion, I do believe that Briards in general today are overall better than their predecessors of past years. I believe soundness of mind and body has improved the most. However, with that said, many of the very good ones of the past would still be very competi- tive and be successful winners in the ring today. The across the board gains can be attributed to the breed’s small pool of breeders striving for improvement. Unfor- tunately, there just aren’t that many people that want to take on a breed that presents a grooming challenge,
QUALITY IS AS GOOD AS THE BEST OUT THERE.”
consequently folks end up missing so many other won- derful virtues of the Briard. B&CM: We feel that there are several dogs currently being shown that are very nice and representative of the standard, but the overall quality of class dogs can be disappointing. SS: Today at most shows the overall quality of the dogs is considerably better than years ago. Much of this is largely due to some very knowledgeable and successful breeders whose breeding programs over the years have contrib- uted greatly to this overall improvement. 4. What do you think new judges misunderstand about the breed? AB: I steward frequently and get to watch a lot of judging. It’s not unusual to see a judge forget to check the hind legs for double dew claws or check one leg, assuming the other will be the same. Not necessarily. New judges sometimes approach the breed from the front and imme- diately reach for the head, not a good idea. PH: I do not see a problem with newer judges in this breed as they have a pretty good standard that is easy to inter- pret and many good breeders that are very helpful.
336 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , S EPTEMBER 2018
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