OVERVIEW OF BRIARD HISTORY By Mary Lou Tingley, Terry Miller & Dominique Dube A s with many other breeds the origin of the Briard is obscure. We can say with some certainty that it arose from the varied farm dogs of Western In 1896, Mr. E. Boulet created Le Club des Chiens de Bergers Francais in France. A standard for the Briard was adopted in France in 1897.
Tambourine. Th ere 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, socializa- tion and grooming. B riards are a breed, for its numbers, with relatively low health issues. Average life span, when factoring in accidents and failing puppies is probably 8 or 9 years old; however, most Briard fanciers expect the breed to live easily to 11 and 12 remaining fairly vital and youthful for a good long time. It is not unusual for a Briard to live up into their teens at 13 and 14 years old. Routine screening should be per- formed on all breeding stock on hips and eyes. Hips are screened for dyspla- sia, most fanciers using the evaluating services of the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (www.O ff a.org). Eyes are screened for the routine opthalmic concerns by a Board Certified Opthal- mologist. A small sector of the breed carries the gene for Stationary Night Blindness of which there is a DNA test (www.Optigen.com). Th ere is of course cancer which is the most common fatal illness in Bri- ards as in all breeds. Th e cancers most common in Briards are Lymphoma and Hermangiosarcoma. Gastic Torsion Volvulus is another breed health issue. Also known as bloat, it can be fatal if not attended to quickly. It is unknown what the cause is, but is develops when the stomach fills with gas and twists, or torsions, cutting o ff blood supply to vital organs. Quick vet- erinary intervention can save a dog’s life which often requires surgery to do so. Briard Health Watch By Terry Miller
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. During WWI and II many Briards were enlisted as messengers, guards, carriers and what we now know as Search and Rescue. Not only were many dogs killed to near extinction 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 preva- lent in the breed, or the strong personal- ity, 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. Th e Briard had a bad reputation and were often unsocialized and unreliable. As the years progressed so did the pop- ularity 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 who is a con- tender in herding, tracking, Schutzhund, obedience, flyball, agility and conforma- tion, to say nothing of being a great com- panion to those who live with him. Th e first Briard Champion was Regent de la Pommeraie. Th e first group winner in the US was Ch Phobe Chez Phydeau. Th e first Best In Show Briard was Ch Phydeaux
Europe. Dogs were developed into separate breeds as their basic function emerged. Th e modern expression in dogs is that form fol- lows function. It was truly borne out in the development of the early breeds as they were separated 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. Th e 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. Th e Briard was prized for his keen sense of hearing and acute awareness of his sur- roundings. Starting out as a guarding dog against poachers and predators, the advent of farming found them proving to be a ver- satile all purpose farm dog, driving stock down the road to the graze and then keep- ing the stock within the graze’s boundar- ies, pulling a cart, guarding the farm and providing family companionship. In 1789 Th omas Je ff erson imported to the United States a “ chienne bergere big with pup” believed to be a Briard. So sat- isfied with the abilities of these dogs, and with the help of his friend Lafayette, Jef- ferson continued importing them through 1814, not only for his own farm but for friends and neighbors as well.
“Not only were many dogs killed to near extinction as a result of the Wars BUT MANY RECORDS WERE LOST DUE TO THE BOMBINGS.”
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