Berger Picard is a loyal herding dog from the Picardy region. It is thought that this dog is the oldest of all French sheepdogs. Their hallmark is their 5-inch erect ears you can spot from a mile away. This is a high-energy dog, and they will fit perfectly into an active lifestyle. If you have one of these dogs, exercise is a must if you don't want them to develop behavioral problems or destructive behavior.
FUN FACT: These dogs were extremely popular, but the first and the second World Wars nearly eradicated the breed, and today they are a rare dog breed.
21-26 in (53-66 cm)
50-70 lb (23-32 kg)
Many people believe that this is the oldest French herding breed, but its origins are a mystery. It's not clear when the Berger Picard became a distinct breed, even though continental shepherds have used medium-sized dogs with long, rough coats for hundreds of years. The Briard and the Beauceron appear to be close relatives of the Berger Picard, based on their appearance. These breeds are thought to have originated in modern-day France with the Franks in the ninth century, and each has since evolved and been selectively bred to thrive in its specific environment.
These dogs were born and raised in the Picardy region north of Paris. They were given their first standard and official recognition there in the 1920s. In 1863, it was first shown competitively in France but was placed in the same category as the Briard and Beauceron.
Even in the early 1900s, Berger Picards were not kept in large numbers. The two World Wars had such a devastating effect on their native region that the breed was nearly extinct by the mid-twentieth century. Because of its status as a rare and endangered breed, the Picardy became a target for conservation efforts and breeding programs. While numbers have steadily increased since the 1940s, it is estimated that there are still no more than 4000 Berger Picards in France.
Dog Breed Characteristics
Medium-sized, with an elegant and sturdy build, the Berger Picard moves with aplomb and grace. It has a chiseled appearance, prominent brows, a mustache, and a beard. Its skull and muzzle are nearly identical in length, with the former appearing slightly concave and the latter running parallel to the former when seen from the side. A large black nose completes the muzzle, which tapers slightly but is not pointed. The lips are small and slender and run along the jaws, which are strong and muscular. They have dark oval-shaped eyes and wide, bat-like ears that they hold erectly at the base of their heads.
With a muscular, long back and broad chest, its frame is athletic and well-proportioned. This breed's tail is long, slender, and curved at the tip; the abdomen is folded inward a bit. The limbs are well-muscled without being bulky and flexible, with good reach in the forelimbs.
The Berger Picard's medium-length, coarse, and crisp coat is one of its most notable features. The undercoat of these dogs is soft and woolly. Their coat is typically seen in numerous shades of fawn and tan, including light fawn, dark fawn, and tan with black highlights.
When relaxed, the Picardy Sheepdog is a happy, easygoing dog with a taste for pranks. These dogs are described as "people-loving," which usually refers to their own families. Friends and family who come to visit should take their time before showing their affection for this irresistibly scruffy-looking breed, which is wary of strangers and can be easily spooked.
As a shepherd dog, the Picard is likely to form a close bond with one family member and remain close to them at all times. The breed is known for its gentle demeanor toward children, but its hunting instincts can put cats and other small animals at risk.
Despite being sturdy and active dogs that are used to working in tough conditions, the Berger Picard is still a dog that requires proper care. The best thing to do is talk to your vet and ask them for advice regarding this breed's care. Here are the most essential aspects of Berger Picard care.
Brushing Berger Picard regularly is essential if you want to keep their coat in good condition. They have a waterproof, wiry topcoat on a dense, soft undercoat. Your Picard needs to be brushed at least once a day during the shedding season to keep their coat healthy and your home clean. These dogs don't require the attention of a professional groomer, and they don't need to be bathed very often.
The dog’s nails should be clipped, but owners of Berger Picard should take special care because many of these dogs are wary of strangers touching their paws. Your dog's ears should be kept clean and inspected frequently. Use ear cleaners to prevent any ear problems from occurring.
Berger Picards are quick learners who can quickly understand what owners want from them during training. Always use reward-based training methods, such as praising and rewarding your dog. This breed is prone to shutting down and refusing to learn if harsh corrections are administered. In addition, try to keep your dog's interest in the training session by making it fun and varied. This breed has a tendency to become irritated by excessive repetition.
Your Berger Picard needs at least two hours of exercise every day. Exercising is a great way to get your dog to burn off excess energy. Another excellent way to provide mental and physical strain is through dog sports like herding and agility. Puzzle toys and other cognitive challenges can be beneficial for this breed. The more time you give your Berger Picard to run around and play, the less likely they will get into mischief.
The Berger Picard is a working breed, so socialization should be high on your list of priorities. These dogs are naturally suspicious of strangers and, without proper socialization, can become overprotective. As soon as your Berger Picard puppy comes to your home, you should get them accustomed to various situations. Introduce them to family members and friends, various sights and sounds, and introduce them to other dogs as soon as the puppy is vaccinated. It is the best way to ensure the puppy develops into a well-behaved and confident dog.
After getting to know their families, Berger Picards can be very laidback and easygoing. They are not like Newfoundlands, natural babysitters, but they'll have a great time playing with kids. The dog can be suspicious if the kids bring home new friends, so keep an eye on the first encounter.
Just because Berger Picards aren't particularly dog-aggressive doesn't mean they're a good choice for households with multiple pets. In order for them to get along with other animals, like cats, they must be raised alongside them. The good news is that they're more likely to herd them than attack, but that's not something your cat will enjoy. A careful introduction to pets such as gerbils, rabbits, or guinea pigs is necessary, just like it is with most dogs. The Berger Picards may view these small animals as potential prey.
The Berger Picard is a healthy dog with a lifespan of 12 to 13 years. Breeding difficulties, including a reluctance to mate and a high incidence of birthing problems, are some of the reasons why this is still a rare breed today. Many eye disorders affect sheepdogs, but veterinarian and owner observations have shown that these dogs are also at risk for the following conditions:
- Multiple retinopathy - Degenerative disease of the retinal nerve cells, which results in partial or total loss of vision in adult dogs.
- Hip dysplasia - Hip dysplasia is a congenital condition resulting in lameness in young dogs. Still, it is easily detectable through routine screening programs.
- Elbow dysplasia - The elbow joint has a deformity that usually goes undetected in puppies until they are at least a year old.
- Progressive retinal atrophy - Generalized retinal degeneration, which occurs in many herding breeds, is the primary cause of more severe vision loss.
- Lupoid onychodystrophy - Inflammation of the nail beds, resulting in brittle, fragile nails. Infection and nail breakage can occur because of this condition.
We already mentioned several times the Berger Picard is a rare breed. That means finding a breeder will be a problem. Most breeders are located in France, and some of the oldest Berger Picard breeding lines still reside there. However, if you are absolutely sure this is the right breed for you, you should contact a responsible Berger Picard breeder. They are aware these dogs are prone to various conditions, so they are cautious when breeding their dogs. It is the best way to ensure your puppy gets the best possible start in its life.
World Dog Finder team