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The Berger Picard: A Unique Breed of French Herding Dog

A berger picard dog in a scenic french countryside

The Berger Picard: A Unique Breed of French Herding Dog

The Berger Picard is a fascinating breed of herding dog that originated in France. This breed has a rich history and a unique set of characteristics that make it stand out among other herding dogs. In this article, we will explore the origins of the Berger Picard, its physical characteristics, personality and temperament, training and exercise needs, as well as its health and lifespan.

Understanding the Origins of the Berger Picard

The Berger Picard has a long history that dates back several centuries. This breed is believed to have originated from a group of herding dogs used by the Celts, who settled in France around 2000 BC. These dogs were highly valued for their herding abilities and were cherished among the shepherds in the Picardy region of France.

Over time, the Berger Picard faced extinction due to the decline in traditional herding practices and the impact of two World Wars. However, thanks to the dedicated efforts of a few passionate breeders, the Berger Picard made a remarkable comeback in the 20th century.

The Historical Significance of the Berger Picard

The Berger Picard played a crucial role in the lives of French shepherds, aiding them in their daily tasks of herding and protecting livestock. Their intelligence, loyalty, and natural instinct for herding made them invaluable companions for shepherds.

Interestingly, the Berger Picard was almost recognized as the official dog of France. During World War I, these dogs were utilized by the French army for various tasks, including search and rescue missions. Their impressive capabilities led to them being considered as an emblematic breed of the nation.

The Berger Picard in French Culture

The Berger Picard holds a special place in French culture and has been featured in several works of art, literature, and films. One notable example is the popular French film “The Artist,” in which the main character’s loyal sidekick is a Berger Picard named Uggie.

This breed’s distinctive appearance, with its shaggy coat and expressive eyes, has made it a sought-after subject for artists and photographers alike. The Berger Picard’s presence in French culture showcases its widespread recognition and affection among the people of France.

Physical Characteristics of the Berger Picard

When it comes to physical characteristics, the Berger Picard has a uniquely charming and rugged appearance. This medium-sized dog boasts a well-muscled body and a sturdy build, allowing it to excel in various physical tasks.

Size and Weight of the Berger Picard

The Berger Picard falls into the mid-size category, with males standing at around 21 to 25 inches (53 to 63 cm) at the shoulder, and females slightly smaller at 20 to 23.5 inches (51 to 60 cm). In terms of weight, males typically weigh between 50 to 70 pounds (23 to 32 kg), while females weigh between 40 to 60 pounds (18 to 27 kg).

Coat and Color Variations

One of the most striking features of the Berger Picard is its shaggy coat, which gives it a charmingly unkempt appearance. The double coat consists of a harsh and wiry outer layer and a dense, protective undercoat.

As for color, the Berger Picard can come in various shades, including fawn, brindle, and gray. The coat may have different types of markings, such as black masks, white patches, or a combination of both.

Personality and Temperament of the Berger Picard

The Berger Picard is known for its intelligent and independent nature, combined with a deep loyalty and devotion to its family. This breed thrives on having a close bond with its human companions and excels in activities that challenge its mental abilities.

The Berger Picard’s Working Dog Mentality

As a herding dog, the Berger Picard possesses a strong work ethic and an instinctual drive to fulfill its herding responsibilities. This breed is highly adaptable and excels in various dog sports and activities, such as obedience, agility, and rally.

It’s important to note that due to their strong working instincts, the Berger Picard may exhibit natural herding behaviors in everyday situations, such as nipping at the heels of running children or other animals. Proper training and socialization can help channel these instincts in a positive manner.

Social and Family Interactions

In addition to their working abilities, the Berger Picard is known for being a loving and playful family companion. They form strong bonds with their human families and typically get along well with children, making them excellent family pets.

While the Berger Picard can be reserved with strangers, they are generally not aggressive. Early socialization and exposure to various people, animals, and environments can help ensure a well-rounded and confident Berger Picard.

Training and Exercise Needs of the Berger Picard

Training and exercise are essential for the overall well-being of the Berger Picard. These dogs thrive on mental stimulation and physical activity, and without proper outlets for their energy, they may become bored or exhibit destructive behaviors.

Training Techniques for the Berger Picard

The Berger Picard is highly intelligent and eager to please, which makes them receptive to positive reinforcement training methods. Reward-based training techniques, such as using treats, praise, and play, are effective in motivating and shaping desired behaviors in this breed.

Consistency, patience, and fairness are key when training a Berger Picard. It’s important to establish clear boundaries and provide them with a structured training routine from an early age. Early socialization also plays a crucial role in ensuring the Berger Picard grows up to be a well-adjusted and obedient dog.

Exercise Requirements for a Healthy Berger Picard

Due to their herding background, the Berger Picard has high exercise needs and thrives in an active lifestyle. Daily walks, runs, and engaging play sessions are essential for keeping them physically and mentally stimulated.

Herding-related activities, such as agility or obedience trials, can be a great outlet for their energy and instincts. Providing them with challenging puzzle toys and interactive games can also help keep their minds sharp and prevent boredom.

Health and Lifespan of the Berger Picard

Like all dog breeds, the Berger Picard is susceptible to certain health issues. However, overall, they are a relatively healthy breed with a decent lifespan.

Common Health Issues in the Berger Picard

The Berger Picard is generally a sturdy and robust breed, but there are a few health conditions that potential owners should be aware of. Hip dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy, and elbow dysplasia are among the most common health issues seen in this breed.

Responsible breeders will conduct health screenings and genetic testing to minimize the risk of these conditions. Regular veterinary check-ups, a balanced diet, and regular exercise are also important factors in ensuring the overall health and well-being of the Berger Picard.

Lifespan and Aging in the Berger Picard

The average lifespan of a Berger Picard is around 12 to 14 years. However, with proper care, some individuals have been known to live even longer. As with any aging dog, regular veterinary check-ups, appropriate nutrition, and modifications to their exercise routine are important to ensure their comfort and well-being in their senior years.


The Berger Picard is truly a unique breed of French herding dog, combining a rich history, distinct physical characteristics, versatile personality, and a loyal and loving nature. Whether as a working companion, a family pet, or a loyal friend, the Berger Picard has a lot to offer to those fortunate enough to share their lives with these remarkable dogs.

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