Dog Breed Group: Pastoral Dog
Life Span: 10-12 years
Weight: Male: 25-45, Female: 24-43
Height: Male: 23-27, Female: 22-25
Origin of Name: The Briard or Berger de Brie is a French breed of large shepherd dog.
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In the dairy belt of northern France, the Briard, or Chien Berger de Brie, as the breed is known in its homeland, has been working pasture since the time of Charlemagne. The breed is named for the dairy-producing region of Brie, which is known for its gooey cheese of the same name.
French farmers, known for austerity, developed birds as two-in-one dogs: they are lambs famed for quick agility, and strict, adventurous capable of driving sheep-stealing hunters. Flocks are also protectors. Briard is a close relative of the smooth-coated Bussaron, another French pasture known for its dual shepherds and guarding ability. By the 1800s, the Briard was a cherished French institution - even Napoleon, who had a hatred for dogs, was said to be an admirer of the breed. Beard was proudly shown at the very first French Dog Show in Paris in 1865. By the time of World War I, the Briard was so much of a national character that it was named the official battle dog of the French Army, doing sentry duty, finding wounded soldiers, and pulling supply carts.
The original stories of the Briards in America feature two towering figures in the War of Independence. Thomas Jefferson recorded the story in 1789 at the end of his long tenure as US ambassador to France. Before he leaves for home, the future president acquires a pregnant brayard named Bergere (""pd. For chienne bergere with pup, 36 libre"", which he writes in his memoir book).
Burgess and his puppies proved to be fantastic shepherds and all Working Dogs in Jefferson's Virginia estate, Monticello. But, as one Monticello historian has written, ""Bergeres' employment was secondary to his role as the founder of the American branch of his family."" Indeed, Bergere and his brood, augmented by exports sent from France by Jefferson's old friend and revolutionary hero Marquis de Lafiet, are considered to be the foundations of the brayard in the United States.
Over the years, Beard owners around the world have echoed the words Jefferson wrote in praise of these remarkable dogs: ""Their extraordinary laxity makes them very valuable, able to teach almost any duty that they are capable of."" May be necessary for, and most concerned about. Performing that duty, who is the most attentive and faithful of all servants. ""