berger picard breed information
common health issues
The Berger Picard, or Picardy Shepherd, was likely descended from dogs brought to France by Central European Celts around 400 B.C., making him one of the oldest of the French herding breeds. Sheepdogs resembling Berger Picards have been depicted in tapestries and engravings dating back to the Middle Ages. His name indicates both his homeland and the work he did there — “berger” is a French word for shepherd, and Picardy is a region of northern France. According to legend, in addition to his herding duties, he was used to smuggle tobacco across the Franco-Belgian border. The tobacco was packed in a goatskin pouch and tied to his back, where it would blend perfectly with his wiry coat.
Although the Berger Picard has been a French native for centuries, his rustic appearance did not make him a popular show dog, and he was not officially recognized as a breed in France until 1925. Like many European dog breeds, the population of Berger Picards was deeply impacted by the World Wars, and the breed almost became extinct. Luckily, his easy care and happy, mischievous personality has the breed back on the road to recovery, and as of January 2013, he became a recognized member of the American Kennel Club.
The Picard has a distinctive, somewhat comical face, with a shaggy beard, bright eyes and a wide smile, and large, pricked ears. His double coat may be gray or fawn-colored, and features a long, rough outer layer that can give him an unkempt appearance. His coat needs monthly brushing and regular bathing to avoid mats.
A true herding dog who still works in that capacity in his native France, the Berger Picard can adapt well to city life. He is intelligent, hardworking, loyal and happiest when he has a job to do. Although he has a stubborn streak, he responds well to obedience training and can make a good family companion if properly socialized early in his life. He craves human companionship, and is protective of his family and patient with children.
Despite his ancient heritage, the Berger Picard is still prone to a number of hereditary and congenital conditions that can adversely affect his health and your family’s budget. Some of the conditions and illnesses Berger Picards are prone to include eye conditions such as progressive retinal atrophy and retinal dysplasia; hip problems such as hip dysplasia; and gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV or bloat).
Thankfully, Petplan pet insurance covers all hereditary and chronic conditions as standard. Which means if your Berger Picard inherits his father’s bad eyes or his mother’s bad hips, you’re protected.