Diary of our best friends on four paws

The Berger Picard – a presentation

Once a Picard, forever a Picard!

today: herding-, companion- and family dog
in the past: sheep herding – and protection dog

This is possibly the oldest of all the French shepherds, arriving in Picardy and the Pas de Calais with the Celts in AD 800. The Berger Picard is named for the Picardie region in northeastern France. Some experts insist that this breed is related to the more well-known Briard and Beauceron, while others believe it shares a common origin with Dutch and Belgian Shepherds. Although the Berger Picard made an appearance at the first French dog show in 1863, the breed’s rustic appearance did not lead to popularity as a show dog. The two World Wars nearly caused the extinction of the Berger Picard and it is still rare. In France there are approximately 3000 dogs and in Germany approximately 350 of this breed.

The Berger Picard is a medium-sized, well-muscled dog, slightly longer than tall. The natural tail normally reaches to the hock and is carried with a slight J-curve at the tip. The coat is harsh and crisp to the touch, and about 2-2.5 inches (5-6 cm.) long all over the body. The thick strong hair is not fluffy and light, therefore it does not fly around in the air. Coat colors include grey, grey-black, blue-grey, red-grey, and light or darker fawn. The ears are erect, high-set and quite wide at the base. The eyebrows are thick, but do not shield the eyes.

To bring up and prepare a Picard for its future life, it needs a well balanced owner who can give the dog reassurance in every day life along with daily pack walks. It has to be a member of the “pack,” not to be locked away in a kennel and not to be isolated from the family.
Intelligent, the Picard learns quickly but if the handler is not displaying a natural authority the dog will become stubborn and may not always want to learn. Meek or passive owners will most certainly run into behavior issues. It is a real task to train Picards for any kind of dog-sport. These dogs are very sensitive to the voice so being harsh with them is not necessary.
One needs to be patient, calm, but firm, confident and consistent. Making the rules clear and sticking to them. It needs to be well-socialized when it is still young with close contact to friends, children, and even strangers, to give it the best start possible for a good and long life in society. If raised with other animals such as cats, rabbit pets, & geese, there is usually no problem in keeping them together.
If well trained, the Picard usually will not hunt. In general it doesn’t even have a strong hunting instinct. Picards that do hunt use sight more than smell. However, some lines do have stronger hunting instincts.
Some like to bark and do so frequently unless the humans communicate to the dog that barking obsessively is an unwanted behavior. Without this proper communication between the human and the dog the barking can become a problem if you live surrounded by neighbors. Contact with other animals is not generally a problem. Energetic, alert, loyal and sweet-tempered with children. It is a fine sheep and cattle herder, and a good farm guard.

Living conditions:
The Berger Picard will do okay in an apartment if it is sufficiently exercised. It is not important how big the yard is, as long as the dog gets enough exercise during the day. However, the Picard always tries to stay close to its owner and family, so even if you have a big yard and give the dog the choice to pick where it wants to be, it will rather stay inside with you than alone outside. Inside the house the Picard is usually a very quiet dog, waiting for its time to go out to run, play and sniff around. If the dog is trained to stay on its own for some time during the day, it doesn’t cause problems (if you have two dogs it’s even easier). Some people take their Picards to work with them. They lay themselves down under a table near their owner and just wait to leave again or to go for a walk.

Quite some amount of exercise is required for this breed, including at least one long daily walk. It will enjoy swimming, running beside your bike, walking and hiking with you. The Berger Picard makes an excellent jogging companion. Generally they do not do very well in competition because they find it almost impossible to perform consistently.

Comb and brush the thick waterproof coat only about once or twice a month – or even less – if possible during the shedding season (spring and autumn) for a couple of days; don’t wash or trim the fur, just clean it off when dirty. This breed is a light shedder and has no doggie odor if the dog is not constantly wet.

Health problems:
Hip dysplasia is known, but not common because the dog is not super heavy. During the first year puppies sometimes get eye infections due to draught or dirt getting into the eye; after one year those problems usually don’t appear anymore. There are some hereditary eye problems such as the PRA and RD. All breeding dogs, males and females, should get checked for those diseases once a year or every two years. (PRA= Progressive Retina Atrophy, RD=Retina dysplasia)

Height, weight:
Height: 21.5-26 inches (55-66 cm.)
Weight: 50-77 pounds (23-35 kg.)

Life expectancy:
About 12-14 years.

FCI class 1 (Herding)