barbet breed information


The Barbet, or French Water Dog, is an ancient breed, with earliest references dating back to the 14th century. His name comes from the French word “barbe”, which means beard, and indeed he does sport a wiry beard. Like the Portuguese Water Dog, he was bred to hunt wild fowl and serve as a sailor's helper, and is known for his intelligence as well as his fearlessness in very cold water. He has been the companion of kings, including Henry IV of France, and Napoleon brought a Barbet named Moustache with him everywhere (even into battle!). The Barbet has even contributed to the French language: “être crotté comme un Barbet” is a common phrase that means “muddy as a Barbet” (or very, very muddy).

Many breeds were developed from the Barbet, including the Briard and the Newfoundland. But despite his long history, the Barbet itself was almost wiped out after World War II, and he is still extremely rare.

A larger dog, ranging in weight from 35-60 lbs., the Barbet has a woolly, curly coat that can be black and white or solid black, brown, gray, white or fawn-colored. His coat, which protects him from the elements, grows long and must be groomed regularly to avoid matting. The Barbet is never happier than when he is swimming, and will brave even the coldest water to show off his hunting and retrieving abilities. He needs daily mental and physical exercise to keep him happy, and does well in agility competitions. In addition to being athletic, he is a bright and friendly dog who loves to be with his family, provided they can provide gentle but firm obedience training and structure throughout his life.

Despite his storied ancestry, the Barbet is still prone to a number of hereditary and congenital conditions that can adversely affect his health – and your budget. Some of the conditions and illnesses the Barbet is prone to include hip problems such as hip dysplasia; eye conditions such as ectropion and entropion; neurological problems such as epilepsy; and ear infections.

Thankfully, Petplan pet insurance covers all hereditary and chronic conditions as standard. Which means if your Barbet has the misfortune of inheriting his dad’s bad hips or mom’s poor eyes, you’re protected.

Common health issues

Use the condition checker tool to learn what common conditions your pet may have.

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