The Berger Picard is a herding dog breed that originated in France. The breed is most notable for its rarity, which came as a result of almost being extinct when its country and region of origin was devastating by World War I and World War II. Because the Berger Picard is rare, it is considered a sought-after breed by dog lovers and trainers. To know more as to why it became a rare breed, we are going to provide a brief history of the Berger Picard. Also included in this article are the breed’s characteristics, as well as how to take care of it properly.
Origins of the Berger Picard
The Berger Picard is believed by historians to be the oldest breed in the family of French sheepdogs, although there are some who proposed that the breed came from an unknown European herding dog that also gave birth to other herding dog breeds, and three of those breeds are the German Shepherd, the Cane Paratore, and the Bergamasco Sheperd.
Furthermore, the Berger Picard is said to have been brought to the northern region of France in 400 BC, which was the period where the Celtic invasion of Gaul occurred. From then on, dogs that resemble the appearance and characteristics of the Berger Picard breed were often seen in French painting, wood sculptures, and tapestries as it continues to become a popular breed in France. The second name of the breed, Picard, is derived from its region of origin, Picardy. However, as previously mentioned, the Berger Picard did not actually come from Picardy, but the said region is the one that popularized the breed.
During the two World Wars, specifically World War I and World War II, the breeding stocks of the Berger Picard in Picardy were devastated, as trench warfare was occurring in the region during those periods. Besides being destroyed, the breeding areas for Berger Picard dogs were also having a hard time taking care of the dogs who survived since there were not enough food rations to give to large-sized dogs.
As the Berger Picard is believed to have been extinct after World War II, the elite group of dog breeders called Bouvier des Flanders tried to revive the said breed. The group searched for surviving dogs that have similar characteristics to the Berger Picard around Picardy, and fortunately, they were able to find a male and female that would eventually become the ancestors for the revived Berger Picard breed.
The Berger Picard remains to be a rare breed until today, as breeding it is proven to be difficult, and one dog would often not produce many offspring. It is approximated that there are only 3,500 Berger Picard dogs in France, although there were about 1,000 that are living in other countries like Germany, Canada, and the United States.
Characteristics of the Berger Picard
Height: 22-26 inches
Weight: 51-71 pounds
Life Expectancy: 12-14 years
The Berger Picard is a medium-sized dog breed that has the same height as a Belgian Malinois, although it slightly longer and is less muscular. The ears of the breed are innately erect and are quite high. Their fur is also relatively long and thick, and even though its eyebrows are long as well, it does not hinder their eyesight since it slopes down diagonally rather than vertically. In addition, their thick fur is weather-proof, which means that it can withstand various weather conditions like rain and light snow. The breed has a medium-sized tail that often curves at the end to make it look like the letter J. The pure breed Berger Picard only has two colors, with the one is fawn or brown while the other is brindle or blonde.
Berger Picard dogs are mostly known for their bright smiles that are accompanied by their energetic personality. The breed is also quite intelligent and obedient, making them very easy to train. They often form a bond with their owners quickly, although they are very shy towards strangers. Since they are herding dogs, they usually work best at farms, but most Berger Picard dogs usually adjust to city life easily.
Caring for the Berger Picard
In terms of grooming, the Berger Picard is a low maintenance dog that doesn’t need a lot of grooming. Its thick coat helps the breed withstand dirt and grime, although it would often mat if it is not brushed at least once a week or twice a month. Moreover, its fur doesn’t produce excessive amounts of out, which makes it one of the best pets for dog lovers with a sensitive nose. Unfortunately, the Berger Picard is not hypoallergenic, so they are not suitable for those with nasal allergies.
Since they are originally farm dogs, they often enjoy being outdoors, so regular walks are needed in order for the Berger Picard to be happy. In addition, they are typically very loyal dogs, so they would often suffer from separation anxiety whenever they are left alone in the house. If you are planning on owning a Berger Picard, make sure that the dog always has a companion so that it won’t feel lonely.