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When was the last time your dog made you laugh? I can tell you exactly when that was for me. This morning, Leroy decided to greet the hens by sticking his head right into the hen house – where he was promptly given the what-for by some indignant mothers on their nests. His confused and sad expression when he got loose (“I was only trying to say hello.”) cracked me up. And just the other day, both of my dogs got into something smelly, and the way they’d smell each other and then run away to scrub their noses on the ground also made me laugh.
Last update on 2018-11-18 at 10:45 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Dogs are pretty funny things most of the time. If you are the kind of person who enjoys a dog with a sense of humor, then you’ll love today’s breed spotlight. The Berger Picard, pronounced bare-ZHAY pee-CARR, is a total comedian. With his naturally goofy attitude and his big grin, combined with his sort of scruffy looks, he’s going to charm any dog lover right away. Here’s what you need to know about this interesting breed.
Interestingly enough, the Berger Picard wasn’t actually established in the United States until 2005. The breed originated in the 19th century in France, as an offshoot of one of the oldest sheepdog breeds in the region. While this specific breed didn’t come about till around the 1860s, the group of dogs that he originated from have been part of French history for many centuries. The dog was nearly pushed to extinction during the World Wars. In the 1950s, dog breeders in the French Shepherd Club worked to bring the dog back from the brink, but they never really gained any sort of popularity.
The Picard wasn’t really recognized by the French Shepherd Club till 1925, and the AKC didn’t recognize the breed till 2007 as a Stock dog, and 2015 as a Herding dog. So in reality, although their roots go deep, they are relatively new dogs on the scene. What was it that gave this dog a new life in the new millennia? That would be a woman named Betsy Richards, the president of America’s Berger Picard Club. She watched the movie “Because of Winn-Dixie”, which starred a Berger Picard in the leading role, and fell in love with the dog. She flew to France and bought two of them, and then began her campaign to help the breed gain some popularity here in the States. These dogs have also been featured in other movies, despite not being that popular of a breed overall. Their rather distinct looks and silly personality make them good choices for Hollywood.
Lanky legs, a sturdy body, and a scruffy coat make up the Berger Picard. But their most recognizable trait is their big ears that stick straight up. Their ears are four to five inches tall, and always erect. They also have a distinct J-shaped tail. Their shaggy coat includes bushy eyebrows, a beard, and a mustache, and they have very bright and alert eyes. Their expression has been called “human-like”, because their eyes sparkle with interest all the time. Overall, their appearance is both stately and a bit cartoonish, rolled into one big package. They grow to about 25 inches tall and weigh between 50 and 70 pounds when fully grown.
The Berger Picard coat is usually brindle or fawn, and they have big noses that match their large ears. They do have a dense undercoat, but their upper coat is coarse and crisp-feeling, never soft.
The personality of this breed can be summed up as “a character”. They are definite comedians that are always willing to perform if it makes you laugh. This means that they are always alert for opportunities to get involved with what’s going on. This alertness stems from being a herding dog – herds require a dog that is always noticing every detail to keep them safe. These dogs are extremely empathetic as well, understanding your mood and always looking for ways to boost your emotional state if you seem unhappy in anyway. They love to give hugs, and while their size can be a little intimidating, they also seem to know when to tone it down (such as for small children).
They can be trained to do just about anything with simple training techniques like clicker training. These dogs make great service dogs (such as alerting diabetic owners to blood sugar drops), and there is even a Berger Picard that is known for being a part of a church choir with a pretty harmonious howl. These dogs are definite talkers, loving to communicate through barks, howls, and various other noises. Some Picard owners refer to these dogs as canine antidepressants, because they are just so good at getting rid of your bad mood with their silly antics.
Despite being lively and confident around just about anyone, make no mistake that the Picard still has some protective instincts left over from his herding days. Strangers do still put the Picard on guard until they have a chance to warm up to the person – he’ll be watchful and a bit aloof until he is sure that this person is a friend. He’s the same around unfamiliar animals.
You know this dog is smart because of the way the Picard is so easy to train and full of desire to please. However, smarts in a dog do mean that they get bored easily. You’ll want to mix it up for this breed as much as you can with games that stimulate the mind. They’ll enjoy treat-dispensing puzzle toys when you aren’t around to play interactive games.
The Berger Picard has a life expectancy of between 12 and 15 years and is fairly healthy compared to many other purebred dogs. They do have the potential to develop certain health concerns, but because the breed registry is so new, we don’t really have the most complete data on this breed’s health. Here are some of the things that the breed is known to have issues with:
These are the only two health issues that most Berger Picard breeders are concerned with right now. As the breed develops a longer history as an AKC-registered dog, there will likely be more data gathered on other concerns. Like all pure-bred dogs, these puppies should be tested for good hearing, good eyesight, good heart health, and so on, before being sold.
Because the Berger Picard can have a protective streak, it’s important that they are well socialized starting from a very early age. They need to be in doggie kindergarten, to have puppy playdates, and to be corrected should they start showing signs of territorial behavior. The good news is that they are very easy to train, so as long as you have patience and consistency, you should have no problem helping them overcome this behavior.
The rough coat of the Picard needs to be brushed bout once a week so that you can avoid dead hair getting matted into the coat. This can be pretty painful trying to brush out, so it’s important to do this. They do go through a big blow out twice a year, so be prepared for some shedding when the weather changes. You’ll want to use a rake to help strip the undercoat to keep the mess down. This dog does like to swim and dig, so you may need to give them baths as necessary – but if they aren’t dirty, frequent baths aren’t that necessary. Be sure to keep their nails trimmed and teeth brushed about once a week as well, and your Picard will be in great shape.
Like all dogs, the Berger Picard needs a high-quality dog food full of animal protein. They are very energetic dogs and need as much exercise as you can possibly give them. Several hours of exercise a day would be ideal, but at least make sure they get an hour (divided if you need to throughout the day) or so of hard playtime. A short walk won’t cut it with these dogs. Canine sports or playing a sport with you will be good ways to keep this dog occupied.
More than just exercise, what the Picard really needs is a job. This dog isn’t far enough removed from its original purpose of herding to be just a house pet. They need something to do, or they’ll get destructive. This may mean working with them on learning new tricks and mastering complex commands, or it may mean signing up for some sort of dog sporting or herding event. Or it could mean teaching your Picard actually to perform a job around your home. Maybe they could learn to pull the kiddo on a sled or to help you pull laundry baskets around. They’ll love the attention while they learn.
Berger Picards are wonderful with kids. Their strength does make them better for older children, but they do actually have a good reputation with younger children as well. Of course, you’ll want to supervise, especially around unfamiliar children, but expect the Picard to be excited to play with kids. They can be great with other pets as well, even cats, if they are raised around them or are well socialized. You’ll want to make sure that you take care to introduce your Berger Picard to cats and other dogs early on and keep them used to being around other animals.
If you love all the best things that make up dogs – goofy energy, loving empathy, loyalty for life – you’ll love the Berger Picard. Are you someone who:
If those things sound like you, then you’d probably be a great owner for this cool breed. They are so unique that you may have some issue finding a purebred – a good place to start is the Berger Picard Club of America, where you’ll find breeders that have been approved by a group of enthusiasts. Keep your eye on canine sporting events, as the Berger Picard gets more and more popular. You may also see this dog listed as the Picardy Shepherd, the English translation of the French name (Berger means Shepherd, and Picard is the region in France where this dog breed originates from).
Last update on 2018-11-18 at 10:45 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
I haven’t had the chance to meet one of these dogs yet myself, but I’m definitely keeping my eye out whenever I happen upon a dog event. I have a soft spot for dogs with a good sense of humor – it’s one of the reasons I love the Boxer breed, after all. If you have a chance to adopt this dog, you’ll have a goofy, loving, smart companion for life. They are definitely a dog breed for a unique person who wants a dog that they don’t see every day. Take a look around for a Berger Picard (or a Picardy Shepherd) and get ready for a lifetime of laughs and some seriously loyal companionship.