Deriving its name from the French province of Brie, not necessarily its place of origin, the Briard falls within the 'pastoral' branch of canines, utilised in various services over the centuries of its existence. Serving in WWI as a fearless supply dog, the Briard gained a reputation as a versatile and trainable service dog, capable of learning quickly and picking up trails thanks to its acute senses; for this reason the Briard was often employed in accompanying the sentries, discerning scents in the search for wounded soldiers. In ancient combat, the Briard found itself running messages, supporting military action, transporting ammunition and food, and detecting mines. Because of its dogged working nature, the Briard was the breed choice of many notable figures, including Napoleon.
A rare breed today, the Briard is distinctive in appearance, possessing a wide muzzle, a feathered low-set tail, strong limbs, black nails and a dense double coat, common in colour variations of grey, black and tawny. Due to the coat's shaggy appearance, regular grooming is necessary in order to maintain its condition. The unique features of the Briard are often mistaken for that of the Beauceron, its cousin, despite the Beauceron boasting a short, smooth coat. Boisterous by nature, the Briard requires consistent training from an early age.
In line with its heritage, the breed maintains strong guarding instincts and is particularly devoted to children. Easily house-trained, it is the ideal breed choice for the domestic setting, with a sweet-natured temperament that is independent and willing to please. On average, a healthy Briard will weigh 35-40 kg, with a life expectancy of 12 years when cared for accordingly.
Typically healthy and long-lived, the Briard is subject to few genetic complaints. It is, however, susceptible to eye disorders such as cataracts, and hip dysplasia. More seriously, as with any large-chested breed, the Briard may experience bloat and stomach tortion, a potentially fatal condition if left untreated.