Berger Picard
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The Berger Picard is a large purebred sheepdog from France. It is an ancient breed believed to be the oldest French sheepdog around for centuries. As well as doing well at herding events it is also successful at agility trails, obedience, flyball, tracking, Schutzhund, lure coursing and showmanship. As a companion it is charming, funny, loyal, stubborn and goofy.

The Berger Picard at A Glance
Name Berger Picard
Other names Berger de Picardie, Picardy Shepherd
Nicknames Picard
Origin France
Average size Large
Average weight 50 to 70 pounds
Average height 22 to 26 inches
Life span 12 to 15 years
Coat type Dense, double, harsh, shaggy, short to long, wiry, soft
Hypoallergenic No
Color Grey, black/grey, red/grey, fawn, blue/grey, brindle, white
Popularity Somewhat popular – ranked 89th by the AKC
Intelligence Quite intelligent – certainly above average
Tolerance to heat Good – fine with warm to hot climates but nothing too hot or extreme
Tolerance to cold Very good – can live in cold climates just not extreme cold
Shedding Moderate - there will be some hair around the home
Drooling Low – not prone to slobber or drool
Obesity Average – can gain weight if allowed to over eat and not well exercised but not especially prone
Grooming/brushing Moderate maintenance – brush a couple of times a week
Barking Occasional – some barking but not constant
Exercise needs Very active – will need plenty of exercise each day
Trainability Moderate – can be stubborn
Friendliness Very good with socialization
Good first dog Very good as long as you are prepared for the stubborn moments
Good family pet Excellent with socialization
Good with children Excellent with socialization
Good with other dogs Good but needs socialization
Good with other pets Good but needs socialization
Good with strangers Moderate – socialization essential
Good apartment dog Good but best with a home that has a yard
Handles alone time well Good – can be left alone for short to moderate periods
Health issues Mostly a healthy breed but some issues include hip dysplasia and eye problems
Medical expenses $485 a year for basic care and pet insurance
Food expenses $270 a year for a good quality dry dog food and dog treats
Miscellaneous expenses $655 a year for miscellaneous items, basic training, toys, license and grooming
Average annual expenses $1410 as a starting figure
Cost to purchase $2,250
Rescue organizations Several including the Berger Picard Club of America
Biting Statistics None reported
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The Berger Picard's Beginnings

The Berger Picard, also known as the Picardy Shepherd, came to the Picardie region of north west France around 800 AD with the Celts and was developed there over many hundreds of years. It is from there that it gets its name. Thought to be the oldest French sheepdog you can find its ancestors on old tapestries, in wood engravings and woodcuts. As well as being used to herd sheep it was also used for smuggling matchsticks and tobacco! Goatskin pouches were attached to its scraggly coat so it did not stand out and contraband was smuggled across the Belgium/French border.

Some dog experts think it is related to the Beauceron and the Briard but others think it comes from the same ancestors the Belgian Shepherd and the Dutch Shepherds come from. The first French dog show was in 1863 and the Berger Picard made an appearance but it did not take off in popularity possibly because of its rustic appearance.

The breed faced great difficulty with the occurrence of both world wars when dog breeding struggled and a lot of breeds almost became extinct. In this dog's case the population of the breed was mostly in the North east of France where a lot of trench warfare occurred like the Battle of the Somme. This lead to the breed almost disappearing with numbers dangerously low.

New Lease on Life

Thankfully after the second world war there was an effort made to revive the breed and it was somewhat successful. While it is not a common breed still, it is not so rare as to be nearly extinct. In its native country of France there are around 3500 dogs. In Germany about 500. In the US and Canada combined there are around 400 dogs. The United Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1994. In 2006 the Berger Picard Club of America was started to try and promote and protect the breed in the US. But it was not recognized officially by the AKC until 2016 though it was entered as foundation stock in 2007. It is ranked 89th most popular registered purebred by the AKC.

The Dog You See Today

The Berger Picard is a large dog weighing 50 to 70 pounds and standing 22 to 26 inches tall. It is a muscled dog that is a little bit longer than it is tall. It has a tail that reaches to its hocks and it carries in so there is a curve at the tip. The coat is short and dense underneath and then the top coat is harsh, wiry, thick, tousled and around 21/2 inches all over. Common colors are grey, black/grey, red/grey, fawn, brindle or blue/grey. Sometimes they have a small white patch around the feet. Its ears are set high, wide and are erect. It has dark eyes and thick eyebrows but not to the point where they cover its eyes. They also often have a smile on their face.

The Inner Berger Picard

Temperament

Being alert this is a good dog of you want a watchdog that will let you know of any intruder. It has some protective instincts so some may act to defend you, the family and its home. This is a good dog for new owners, it is intelligent, loyal, playful and happy but it can have its stubborn moments so be ready for that. It is an energetic and lively breed, it has an occasional to frequent bark and can be very sensitive so avoid scolding and it would not be happy in homes full of contention. It needs owners who are balanced and calm and around, not ones that are absent a lot.

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It also needs to be in a home with firm owners in control and the clear pack leader. If its owner is too meek and not the clear boss it can become more stubborn and then have behavioral problems and be difficult. It is reserved around strangers so socialization is important to make sure that does not turn to aggression or fear. That said this is not an aggressive breed usually, it is quite laid back and will only become aggressive if there is genuine threat and danger.

The Berger Picard is also known for its sense of humor, it can be quite comedic and entertaining but sometimes its antics may be frustrating too. Being a hard working dog when kept as a working dog, it needs plenty of mental and physical stimulation. It needs lots of company and likes to be a part of family activities and also enjoys family walks.

Living with a Berger Picard

What will training look like?

Berger Picards are moderately easy to train, it is intelligent and usually responsive to training but results are still gradual because it can be stubborn. Owners of this dog need to be firm and the clear pack leader, but since it is sensitive harshness and scolding are not the way to achieve it. Be fair, firm, consistent and positive. The rules need to be clear and enforced and training should include a command to control the barking when needed. Early socialization is important too, it will be better able to deal with different people and places, animals and children and it will be a more confident and happy dog.

How active is the Berger Picard?

The Berger Picard is a very active breed so it will need regular daily walks, is best in a home with a yard rather than an apartment, and also needs mental stimulation. It needs owners who are happy to be active, look forward to walking, running, swimming, hiking, jogging, cycling and so on. If there are more members to the family than just you it would also love it if some of the activity was done as a family. Inside it tends to be calm but it enjoys playing and running off leash and would love time to do so safely on land or in a dog park.

Caring for the Berger Picard

Grooming needs

The coat on this breed sheds a moderate amount so there will be some hair around, regular brushing will help with this, at least a couple of times a week. It will shed a heavier amount during the autumn and spring shedding season so more clean up will be needed at this time. Avoid bathing when not really needed, just keep it to when it is really dirty so that you do not damage the natural oils in its skin. This dog does not have a strong odor. Usually it does not need any trimming but some hand stripping at a groomers around the ears is needed occasionally.

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Its nails should be trimmed when they get too long if it does not wear them down naturally. Dog nails have nerves and blood vessels in them so should you cut too low down and nick those you can cause pain and bleeding. If you are not sure of what to do have your vet show you, or have the groomer do it for you. Its teeth should be brushed two to three times a week if not every day, and its ears need to be checked for infection and wiped clean once a week. Do not insert anything into the ears though, use a dog ear cleanser and cotton ball to wipe the outer sections or a damp cloth.

Feeding Time

Picards need 2 1/2 to 3 cups of a good quality dry dog food each day, split into at least two meals. How much it will need exactly will depend on its size, health, age, metabolism and activity level. Owners should be warned many dogs of this breed can be picky eaters so you may have to try several foods before you find a diet it is happy with.

How is the Berger Picard with children and other animals?

When with children the Berger Picard is lively, enjoys playing with them and getting up to antics together, and is also affectionate and loving towards them, particularly children it has been raised with. Socialization is still important as that will also help how it interacts with other pets, small animals and other dogs. Usually these dogs do not have a super high hunting instinct but some lines can so you may end up with a dog that wants to chase strange cats when out, you may not!

What Might Go Wrong?

Health Concerns

The Picard has a life span of 12 to 15 years and as it has not been over bred it is still quite a healthy breed. A couple of issues it might be prone to are eye problems such as retinal dysplasia and retina atrophy and hip dysplasia.

Biting Statistics

Records of dogs attacking people causing bodily harm in Canada and the US over the last 35 years do not mention the Berger Picard. It is a rare dog so that means there is less chance of it being an instigator, but it is also a dog very unlikely to be a problem. It is extremely unlikely to attack a person, but the fact is all dogs have it in them to have an off day. If mistreated, teased, not well exercised, socialized or trained those off days are a bit more likely.

Your Pup’s Price Tag

A Berger Picard puppy will cost about $2250 and that is just for a pet quality dog from a good breeder, for a show quality dog from a top breeder that amount could triple. The chances of finding one from a shelter or rescue are small but should you, it will be a lot cheaper, around $400, and it will have medical needs taken care of. It is a very good idea to look for decent breeders and get yourself on a waiting list rather than taking a risk with puppy mills, pet stores and back yard breeders.

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When a puppy or dog is found that you are ready to bring home you will need to take it to a vet for some tests. It should have a physical examination, be dewormed, spayed or neutered, micro chipped, have blood tests done and have its vaccinations up to date. These will cost about $300. A collar and leash, crate, bowls and other items will cost another $180.

Ongoing costs are to be considered too, food, medical needs, toys, training and such. For a good quality dry dog food and dog treats expect to pay around $270 a year. For miscellaneous items, training, license, grooming and toys expect about $655 a year. For basic medical care like flea and tick prevention, shots, check ups and medical insurance the yearly cost is about $485. This gives a yearly cost starting figure of $1410.

Names

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Male and Female Berger Picard Names

Berger Picards are not common so be prepared for a wait if you really feel this is the dog for you. If you are keeping it as a companion not a working dog make sure you are prepared for over an hour a day of activity and to offer it training and other opportunities for mental challenge. It gets on very well with children and other pets when raised with them so could be a great family dog or companion for an active single or couple. It does need lots of attention though, and its stubborn side means its is best with people who have dog ownership experience.

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