Berger Picard, also called Picardy shepherd, is one of the oldest and rarest French herding dogs. Famous for its unmatched intelligence, unbounded energy, sturdy build, and endearing expressions, this dog breed has earned millions of fans over the past few decades.
This rare breed, although, makes the perfect pet choice for all types of people, these are the athletic owners who’d love this Berger Picard the most. Since it’s a herding dog, its exercise needs are insane. So the more you’d keep it indulged in dog sports or activities, the better it is.
Trekking, camping, fetching, snuggling, hiking, swimming, or whatever adventure you are up to, this four-legged friend will be more than happy to accompany you everywhere.
However, despite having immense love and loyalty to give, there are surely some downsides of Berger Picard’s personality that you should know about.
So, Below, we’ve jotted down almost everything about Berger Picards (its history, personality, health, training, and grooming needs) in detail. Give it a read to conclude whether it could be an ideal companion for you, in the long run, or not!
About the Breed
Before we move to the more important aspects of these french shepherds, let me tell you that it’s pronounced bare zhay pee carr, since the french word could be quite tempting to pronounce for some of you.
Anyway, this high-energy breed has an intelligent personality and a bright temperament with whom no moment will be a dull moment.
Berger Picard, like other french herding dogs, was bred originally for herding livestock (sheep and other cattle). Having high instinctive skills, these dogs always want to join every situation as charge takers.
Whether they live on farms or in a general household, they like to control everyone around them, considering them a member of their herd. So one thing that’s clear about this dog breed is that it won’t accompany you as a subordinate but as an equal. You two have to work together as partners, or at least pretend so!
Considering this, you should be very conscious about your tone, while giving commands. Otherwise, he might get furious or depressed about your harsh & distant attitude. Under certain circumstances, Berger Picards might bother you with a long stubborn streak.
Even though it’s an independent thinker, early socialization and training can help a lot, in controlling its rebellious behavior. Still, you need to remember that after not getting enough exercise, mental stimulation, and the owner’s attention, Berger Picards may exhibit extremely destructive behavior.
Luckily, you don’t need to have a super large house to keep a Berger Picard. Since they are of medium size, they can play cheerily in all living conditions and limited areas (even in your small backyard). Just make sure your property is completely fenced.
On the other hand, if you meet all of his exercise needs by taking them on regular strolls, this dog will do everything to please you, including giving you relaxing cuddle therapy – just don’t expect this dog to behave like a couch potato and chill out with you, all the day long.
The best part is that Berger Picards can live cheerfully with young kids, other dogs, and pets in your family. Since they are super possessive about their family members, these canines may prove excellent watchdogs. Considering this, these dogs are well suited for the houses, having no near neighbors.
History of the Berger Picard
Although no one knows about the exact date of its origin, some believe that the roots of Berger Picard go to the middle ages. It got its name from its birthplace; the Picardy region of northern France, where these french sheepdogs used to work for the world-famous dairy and meat industries – herding their livestock.
The Berger Picard dog is also believed to originate from the dogs brought to France by the Celtic tribes. in 800 AD. Due to this very reason, these dogs possess a close resemblance to two most ancient and notable french dog breeds; Beauceron and briard.
In 1863, Berger Picard appeared in the dog show for the first time but unfortunately, they didn’t get famous enough, despite participating in multiple sports and trails. Finally, in 1925, the French shepherd club officially recognized this dog breed but still, the world outside was not aware of Berger Picard till then.
However, huge efforts were made to introduce Berger Picard in America, in the 19th century. After world war I and II, this breed nearly got extinct. Millions of Berger Picards were killed during these world wars but fortunately, the dog lovers of that time, put huge efforts into bringing this breed back to the world.
Even after its successful revival, the world knew nothing about this dog breed until the movie “Because of Winn Dixie” was released. Betsy Richard was the first person who decided to introduce this dog to America. For this, she tracked a reputable french breeder and booked her puppy.
In 2005, she got her first Berger Picard pup after which, she bought another one, and this way, Americans got to know about this amazing canine. Not only this but Betsy also founded the Berger Picard Club of America which soon, caught the attention of the national breed club.
Finally, in 2007, the American kennel club registered this breed and in 2015, the club officially recognized this breed as an integral member of its herding group.
Berger Picard Facts
- Speaking precisely of its name then it’s derived from one french word; Berger meaning shepherd. Whereas Picard denotes the Picardy region – the place where this dog breed is believed to originate.
- The life expectancy of Berger Picard is 12-13 years.
- Berger Picard is one of those few dog breeds which can stay in almost all sorts of climate conditions. However, they are more suited to cold climates.
- One female Berger Picard can deliver up to ten puppies in a litter.
- Berger Picard clubs have officially considered this breed as the rarest breed. In France, only 3500 dogs of this breed are present. Whereas in Canada and America, only 400 Berger Picards are there.
- Unlike other dogs, Berger Picard communicates through eyes – by maintaining deep eye contact with both, the owner and strangers.
- These dogs are blessed with the amazing memory that even a one-time interaction with a person will be enough for these canines to identify him.
- Generally, Berger Picards possess low tendencies to drool but they can be slobbery under unusual conditions such as after playtime or while suffering from an upset stomach.
- A Berger Picard, named Floyd, saved the life of his owner by assisting in the timely diagnosis of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, forming and growing in his armpit.
- Some say that Berger Picards were used to smuggle matches and tobacco across Belgium and french borders.
Berger Picard’s Appearance
The most distinctive feature of this scruffy, well-muscled, four-legged animal is its erect ears which may be 4-5 inches tall. These long, triangular, and pointy ears don’t only grab the attention of every passerby but also enhance their auditory powers.
Besides ears, Berger Picards have a humanlike gaze, (screaming I love you all the time), a j-shaped tail with a slightly rounded tip, oval-shaped eyes, sturdy lions, and bony hindquarters.
As mentioned before, Berger Picard is a medium-sized dog that may grow up to 21.5-25.5 inches tall. Males are taller than females as they can grow up to 26 inches whereas females can reach only 24 inches maximumly.
Depending upon its size, an averagely tall Berger Picard may weigh 23-32 kgs. Generally, the weight of a six-month-old Berger Picard puppy could be 17lbs whereas that of a fully grown-up 18-month-old dog could be 51 lbs. Also, males weigh heavier than females.
Berger Picards features a medium-length, double coat, comprising a smooth & dense undercoat and a rough outer coat. Luckily, this wiry coat is waterproof which means you can take your dog out for his daily exercise, even when it’s raining outside.
Likewise, the hair on the inner coat is straight whereas that of the outer coat is slightly curly and fuzzy. Although this double hairy protection saves your dog greatly from weather extremes, don’t forget to opt for the necessary protection.
Speaking of coat color, you’d get to see two color options; brindle and fawn. Berger Picards having brindle coats mostly possess sandy, light grey, and black shades. In addition to these shades, you may also get Berger Picards in various eye-pleasing combinations of fawn and brindle shades.
The eye color mostly matches the coat colors and may range from medium to light brown (can’t be hazel or lighter than that).
Berger Picard Temperament and Personality
The whole personality and temperament of Berger Picards can be summarized into one word; energy. They have plenty of it so they always seek ways to dissipate it somehow. Due to this very reason, they won’t get tired, or at least look tired, after hours of work.
In other words, if you want to see your Berger Picard happy and content, find a suitable task or job for him. This job could be anything like the herd, fetch, snuggle, dig, or swim. Remember that, although these dogs make an excellent choice for a family pet, Berger Picards are not meant to stay inside the house.
The more time they spend outside, the more lively they feel. From the term working dogs, one might assume them as some serious or grumpy sorts of canines but that’s not the case. Besides their work-loving natures, another major aspect of their personalities is their great sense of humor.
And the best part is that they don’t have to do any big thing to make you laugh since their hilarious expressions and laughable gaze is enough to make you LOL.
On the other hand, like all the other herding dogs, this one is highly protective and observant. Even when they are busy being a comedian for their owner, they will keep an eye on all the suspicious activities and people, passing by.
Due to their reservation towards strangers, it’s better to start training Berger Picards early, for socialization and good manners. Let them mix with your close friends and family since Berger Picards need some time to decide whether they like a person or not.
If raised with other animals and young kids, they also don’t come out to be a threat to them – the biggest feature that makes them excellent family pets. However, it’s better to supervise the whole interaction of your Berger Picard with your toddlers since these dogs love giving hugs.
Out of love, they might hug your kid way too tight that it could nearly suffocate him – even some adults happened to get floored by the hug impact.
Generally, Berger Picards are good with other animals but still, they have a high prey drive, based on the temperament of their parents. Therefore, it’s important to observe your dog’s behavior towards other pets for some time, especially cats.
Lastly, Berger Picard is not an excessive barker under normal circumstances but still, they could bark excessively to alert you or in the presence of strangers. In addition to this, these dogs may also bark or dig around your yard when bored so make sure to keep them occupied.
Berger Picard Health and Care
Being a purebred breed, Berger Picards are healthy dogs and are not much prone to suffer from genetic disorders. Still, there are some health issues that a Berger Picard might develop such as follows;
The most common eye problem Berger Picard is more likely to develop is progressive retinal atrophy. In this condition, a dog loses his sight gradually until he turns completely blind. In addition to this, Berger Picard also comes with a great risk of developing canine multifocal retinopathy which also ends in complete blindness.
Hip dysplasia is one of the most common health problems, developed by over-energetic dogs. In this condition, the hip bones and joints get displaced, leading to decreased or ceased immobility. Besides hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia is also common in Berger Picards.
If not taken care of properly, this healthy breed may also develop severe dental conditions. Most of these conditions result from excessive tarter buildup which in turn causes severe tooth and gums infections.
Remember that Berger Picard is a low-maintenance breed which means you don’t need to go the extra mile to keep your pup healthy. To burn excessive body fat, consider taking your dog on long walks, for at least 2-3 hours a day.
When at home, you can keep your Berger busy with interactive toys, puzzles, agility games, and other sports that require decision-making skills. Such activities will satisfy his needs for mental stimulation and challenges.
Speaking of grooming, their double coats don’t need to be trimmed or scissored as they are already not too long. Also, trimming might ruin the entire texture of both the under and outer coat, making your dog prone to environmental damage.
The only thing you need to do to care for Berger Picard’s coat is to brush, a few times a month. The coat might shed way too much than usual, during the shedding season so make sure to brush it out, almost every day to remove dead hair and dirt.
To prevent obesity, keep a check on your dog’s food and treats consumption. Also, make sure you are feeding only high-quality dog food to your Berger Picard. To maintain your dog’s hygiene, brush his teeth regularly, trim his nails twice a month, and clean his ears regularly to remove dirt and wax buildup.
Since the coat is waterproof, you don’t need to clean it too often. Consider giving fresh water baths to your furry friend, once a month and that would be sufficient.
Berger Picard Training
Since Berger Picards are super intelligent, they can pick up your commands quite quickly. So you better not wait for your pup to grow up and start his training from the very first day Early training not only prevents bad habits but also saves you from the hassle of controlling a headstrong canine.
However, keep in mind that you should never go for harsh or negative reinforcement methods. Remember that these dogs are sensitive to harsh behaviors and might end up getting depressed or completely shutting off.
Therefore, it’s advised to keep the training sessions fun – reward-based training proves more efficient. Besides agility and obedience training, you may even socialize your canine when he is 12-14 weeks old. However, if you are thinking of enrolling your pup in kindergarten class, make sure to get his vaccination completed.
And as mentioned before, a Berger Picard may show a stubborn streak which might make the training difficult. Unfortunately, there’s nothing you can do to open your pup for training in such situations. Therefore, it’s better not to force him either.
Instead, be patient and reward him for good behaviors and ignore the bad ones. Remember that most of the destructive behaviors result from boredom or lack of activity so give your Berger Picard a job, toy, or plenty of exercise to suppress his negative behaviors.
Purchasing a Berger Picard may cost about $2100 so you better adopt them from rescue groups or shelter homes. On the other hand, if you want to buy a new pup, make sure to purchase it from reputable breeders.
Such breeders breed only the fittest dogs so no genetic disorder is passed to the next generation. Also, proper genetic screening and appropriate breeding practices are employed to discard complications.
Therefore, you should ask for the health certificates and results of screening tests before bringing a pup to your home. However, if he develops some health issue afterward, seek help from a qualified vet who has a good grasp of the field of veterinary medicine!