Examining thE Briard
By the Briard Club of America
Breed Education Committee
he Briard is handsome,
alert and powerful with-
out coarseness. He must
possess the structural
integrity and mental
versatility necessary to
accomplish his roles as a herding dog used
to keep his flock within the boundaries of
a designated graze and an all purpose farm
dog, serving the shepherd in diverse tasks.
These roles which keep him on the move
for long hours demand soundness, efficien-
cy and athleticism above all other things.
A hands-on examination and evaluation
of movement is necessary to determine the
details of the breed standard. Touching the
dog to verify what the coat covers is critical
to the evaluation of the Briard. Learning
to identify the landmarks under the coat
will assist the eye in scrutinizing the move-
ment which can be shrouded by the dense
Briard coat.
There is ample range allowed in size,
keeping in mind that undersize is a dis-
qualification. Dogs range from 23"-27",
bitches 22"-25½". The dog should appear
masculine and the bitch feminine, irre-
spective of size. It is perfectly possible
that there will be dogs in the ring that are
smaller than bitches. The acceptable size
range allows for dogs that might be shorter
in height than bitches, yet are well within
standard height.
Briard proportion can create some visual
confusion, primarily due to the illusion the
coat can create. The measuring points are
clearly defined by the standard. The Briard
is equal to or slightly longer than its height
at the withers, measured from the point of
shoulder to point of buttock. Bitches may
be a little longer, which is not a mandate
but rather a possibility. The word “slightly”
is defined as, “very small in size, degree,
amount or importance”. When explaining
the significance of “slightly”, in the breed
we often say that if one were to be at the
edge of the Grand Canyon, and you were
asked to step forward slightly, how far
forward would you go? It is indeed a very
small measurement. This image clarifies
the nuance of the word.
Being a coated and tailed breed calling
for a “moderately advanced breastbone”,
the Briard will appear off-square. As spe-
cifically stated in the AKC standard, “the
Briard is not cobby in build”. It is believed
that the word cobby was used in its literal
sense per its definition: “cobby, as that of
a Cobb horse, small, usually of stout build”,
referring to a type of body and not to describe
the length of back as the word is often used in
the dog world today. The “cobby” image calls
to mind a Briard that is heavy and inelegant,
like that of a draft horse.
The withers are prominent, the back
straight, the loin broad, with croup slight-
ly sloped. The ribs are moderately curved
in an inverted egg shape. The correlation
between the depth of chest, breastbone and
ribcage are important, as they enhance the
correct shape of the dog but most impor-
tantly of all, provide a body shape that pro-
motes lung and heart capacity, essential to
the ability to work a full day with endur-
ance and resistance to fatigue.
A Briard head gives the impression of
length and sufficient width, its length
being about 40% of the height of the dog
at the withers. Skull and muzzle are of
equal length, strong and cleanly sculptured
with the planes of the head being parallel.
The occiput is surprisingly prominent. The
nose is square and must be black, no matter
the color of the dog. Ears are to be set high,
and may either be cropped or left natural.
There is no preference given to either, but
the ears should be expressive and mobile,
but will not necessarily be in a constant
state of alert. The eyes are set well apart,
large, neither round nor almond with a
horizontal axis and the upper lid is some-
what arched. They are black or black-brown,
with a confident, questioning expression.
Pigmentation of the eye rims should be very
dark, sometimes extending beyond the rim
of the eye. The lips are black.
The neck is of good length, and is in
the shape of a truncated cone. “The head
joins the neck in a right angle and is
held proudly alert”, is a phrase which is
applied to the dog in stationery position.
Briard movEmEnt clEarly displays thE
BalancE, powEr, flExiBility and soundnEss
synonymous with its correct structure.”
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