11 Things To Consider Before Getting A Briard
The Briard is a hard-working and large herding dog native to France. It is best known for its shaggy appearance and protective personality. The Briard makes an excellent pet, and if you want to commit to this affectionate yet demanding breed, read the 11 things to consider before getting a Briard.
The Briard is a rather sizeable dog. To be more specific, it stands up to 22 to 27 inches tall at the withers and weighs between 70 and 1000 pounds. This size has limitations:
- Requires ample living space
- Can be intimidating for others
- Needs excellent leash control
- May not be fit for small kids
Another breed characteristic you should consider is the shaggy coat that needs plenty of grooming to stay healthy and free from mats and tangles.
The final characteristic worth consideration is the breed’s temperament. Namely, the Briard is generally intelligent, loyal, and protective, but it can also be stubborn and independent.
This makes training a more challenging and time-consuming process, especially if you are a first-time dog owner.
The Briard is unsuitable for small apartments and houses without fenced yards. This is because the breed has a go-all-day stamina and needs space exercise.
The ideal living situation for a Briard is a large house with access to a large and safely fenced yard, where the dog can burn off pent-up energy.
But what if I live in an apartment and want this breed?
Well, it is possible to keep a Briard in an apartment, but only if you can commit to an active and outdoorsy lifestyle - meaning going out with the Briard several times daily.
Even if you do this, it is better if the apartment is big. Although not active inside, the Briard is a large dog and needs ample space to feel comfortable.
The Briard is a spirited and highly energetic dog that needs to be exercised a lot. The breed enjoys a variety of activities, such as:
Depending on your Briard’s age, it is recommended to keep your dog active for an hour per day. However, some Briards need more exercise - up to two hours.
We should note that younger Briards can be exercised less until their bodies are fully grown and formed. Strenuous physical activity can result in bone deformities.
In addition to physical exercise, Briards need mental stimulation. To achieve this, provide them with interactive toys or spend time playing puzzle games.
Lack of physical activity and mental stimulation results in dog boredom and destructive behaviors. This has a negative impact on your mutual bond and Briard’s life quality.
The shaggy, thick, and double-layered coat of the Briard is high maintenance. Here is what to expect when it comes to grooming a member of this breed:
- Brushing: You must brush your Briard at least once a week, but preferably more often. It is advisable that you use a slicker brush and metal comb.
- Bathing: Bathing should be done on an as-needed basis, using shampoo and conditioner made specifically for dogs.
- Trimming: To prevent debris trapping and infections, trim the hair around the Briard’s eyes, ears, and paws.
- Deshedding: During shedding season, it is highly advised to use a special deshedding tool to manage loose hairs and speed up the process.
In addition to coat care, grooming entails additional aspects, such as:
- Ear cleaning
- Dental brushing
- Nail trimming
- Paw & pad care
Briards are intelligent but independent, meaning for successful training, they must be approached correctly. Training includes positive reinforcement, as well as patience and consistency.
Here is what training a Braird includes:
- Basic Obedience: The basic command (sit, stay, come, down) is a must for all breeds, including the sometimes stubborn Briard.
- Leash Training: Because of their size, Briards can be strong pullers. It is important to teach them how to walk safely on a leash.
- Socialization: This is vital for raising a well-rounded and behaved Briard. Lack of socialization results in behavioral issues, including aggression.
- Advanced Training: Once the previous steps are mastered, continue with advanced obedience, agility, tracking, etc.
The Briard’s average lifespan is 10 to 12 years. While generally a healthy breed, it is predisposed to several health conditions, such as:
- Hip Dysplasia: Incongruency between the ball and socket forming the hip joint, thus causing limited mobility, pain, and arthritis.
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): A genetic condition that affects the retina and can culminate in blindness.
- Hypothyroidism: Low production of thyroid hormones, which results in weight gain, skin problems, and pronounced lethargy.
- Bloat: Due to the deep chest, the Briard is prone to gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV) - a condition in which the stomach bloats and twists.
- Cancer: Lymphoma and osteosarcoma are the two most common types of cancer in this breed.
- Ear Infections: The Briard’s floppy and hair-covered ears trap debris and moisture, which increases the risk of ear infections.
As an extremely social dog, the Briard requires attention and interaction. It is also high-maintenance in terms of grooming and exercise.
Here are some of the most time-consuming aspects of owning a Briard:
- Exercise: To stay happy and healthy, the Briard requires one to two hours of daily physical exercise and mental stimulation.
- Grooming: The thick and shaggy double coat needs regular grooming. On occasion, you will also have to schedule professional grooming sessions.
- Training: Basic obedience training and socialization are necessary for your Briard, and they can take time.
- Health: For optimal health, this breed requires regular veterinary care and routine checkups.
- Attention: Briards thrive on human interaction. If unattended or left alone for a long time, they are prone to separation anxiety.
Overall, if you get a Briard, ensure you can spend between two and three hours per day with the dog.
Children & Other Pets
Generally speaking, the Briard is fond of children and gets along well with other pets. However, it can also be territorial and protective. Plus, due to its size, it can accidentally knock down small children.
Therefore, it is important to keep all interactions between Briard and kids or other pets supervised. This applies to both trained and untrained members of the breed.
Socialization plays a vital role in teaching a Briard to cohabitate with children and pets. Start socializing your dog as soon as possible - young Briards are easier to socialize than their older counterparts.
If you do not have time for training and socialization but you have kids or other pets in the house, the Briard might not be your best choice for a canine friend.
The Briard is a vocal dog, meaning it often barks a lot, especially if not trained. In some cases, the barking is justified, but in others, it seems like this dog barks simply because it likes it.
Here are some important factors affecting Briard’s barking tendency:
- Guarding Instincts: Bred to be livestock guardians, Briards bark to alert their owners of potential danger.
- Separation Anxiety: Briards are very attached to their owners and prone to separation anxiety if alone. Excessive barking is one of the symptoms of separation anxiety.
- Boredom: The Briard requires plenty of physical and mental stimulation. If these needs are not met, the dog becomes destructive and is likely to bark excessively.
- Environmental Factors: More often than not, Briards bark in response to sudden and loud noises, like sirens, fireworks, and thunders.
The Briard is a protective and loyal dog with extreme intelligence. Here is a close look at the breed’s key personality traits:
- Intelligence: One of the key temperament features of the Briard is its high intelligence. The dog is an independent and powerful thinker.
- Loyalty: The Briard is very loyal and protective of its human family.
- Energy: Members of the Briard breed are spirited and energetic. They love having a job to do and do not mind being physically active for long.
- Affection: Briards are very affectionate and thrive on human affection and frequent interaction.
- Sensitivity: Loud and chaotic living environments can make Briards very anxious, as these dogs thrive in calm homes.
- Dominance: Unless trained and socialized, the Briard will likely show territorial dominance toward other dogs.
Finally, before getting a Briard, spend some time searching for the right breeder. It is imperative that you get your dog from a reputable breeder that practices ethical breeding.
A trustworthy breeder will be transparent about its breeding practices and open to answering all of your questions. Ideally, you will also be allowed to meet the parents before making a decision.
A reputable breeder will also test both parents for genetic conditions and show you their health certificates. This will reduce your Briard puppy’s risk of developing health problems as it grows.
If interested in the Briard breed, you must consider several factors, including grooming needs, exercise levels, sensitivity, and a tendency for dominance. You must also find a reputable and ethical breeder to ensure your Briard is healthy.
If you are willing to meet these needs and invest some time and effort in raising and training, the loyal and loving Briard is your perfect canine companion.