The Briard is an old breed, depicted in tapestries as far back as the 8th century. Originally, the Briard was bred as a protector of his master’s home and flocks from predators like wolves and poachers. America's third president, Thomas Jefferson, favored the breed and is credited with bringing them to the United States from France, though they were not recognized by the American Kennel Club until 1922.
The Briard is an active dog and needs plenty of exercise. Like other sheepdogs, he is wary with strangers, but very loving, gentle and loyal to family members. Most Briards have held onto a bit of their guarding heritage, making them excellent protectors of their home and family. In the same vein, they have also held onto their independent thinking, which can make training a bit more challenging than your average dog. However, they do learn quickly and readily, so starting training early is advised. Care should be taken to groom the Briard’s coarse coat daily to prevent matting.
Despite their smarts, Briards are also known for being predisposed to hereditary and congenital conditions that can adversely affect their health – as well as your family’s finances. Some of the conditions and illnesses Briards are prone to include eye conditions such as corneal dystrophy and progressive retinal atrophy; stomach conditions such as gastric dilation-volvulus (GDV); blood disorders such as hyperlipoproteinemia; and joint conditions such as hip dysplasia.
Thankfully, Petplan pet insurance covers all hereditary and chronic conditions as standard. Which means if your Briard inherits anything more than a rough coat, you’re protected.