Berger Picard: Dog Breed Characteristics & Care

History, Care Tips, and Helpful Information for Pet Owners

Berger Picard outside

 

ernstboese / Getty Images 

The Berger Picard is a medium-size herding dog breed from France that has a medium-length, wiry coat that forms its trademark shaggy beard, eyebrows, and mustache. Its erect ears are notably large and taper from a broad base to a slightly rounded tip. And its tail has a slight curve at the end. Overall, the breed is sturdy and muscular but not overly bulky. This allows it to move with agility and endurance in fields herding livestock. 

Breed Overview

Group: Herding

Height: 21.5 to 23.5 inches (female), 23.5 to 25.5 inches (male)

Weight: 50 to 70 pounds

Coat: Medium-length, wiry double coat

Coat Color: Brindle or fawn with/without white markings

Life Span: 12 to 13 years

Temperament: Energetic, alert, intelligent

Hypoallergenic: No

Origin: France

Characteristics of the Berger Picard

The Berger Picard generally has a bright and energetic temperament. This dog does best in an active household that will provide it with plenty of exercise and mental stimulation. High intelligence and trainability also shape the breed’s personality, though it can be stubborn about following commands at times. 

Affection Level Medium 
Friendliness Medium
Kid-Friendly Medium
Pet-Friendly Medium 
Exercise Needs High
Playfulness High
Energy Level High
Trainability High
Intelligence High
Tendency to Bark Low
Amount of Shedding Medium

History of the Berger Picard

The Berger Picard (pronounced: bare ZHAY pee CARR) is an ancient breed, and its origin is murky. Its ancestors are thought to have existed in France since the Middle Ages. And it might be a descendant of dogs brought to France by Central European Celts. It’s also a close relative of other French herding dogs, including the Briard and Beauceron, though it’s thought to be the oldest of these herders. 

These dogs call the agricultural Picardy region of France home, where they were valued for their stamina and determination when herding. They were entered in France’s first dog show in 1863 in the same class as the Briard and Beauceron. It wasn’t until 1925 that the Berger Picard was recognized as a distinct breed in France.

World War I and II caused the breed’s numbers to dwindle, and it almost went extinct. Breeders have kept it alive, though it’s still rare. The American Kennel Club first recognized the Berger Picard in 2015. And the breed even got a popularity boost as the star of the 2005 movie "Because of Winn-Dixie."

Berger Picard at a dog show
Stephanie Keith / Stringer​ / Getty Images
Berger Picard in an agility competition
Stephanie Keith / Stringer​ / Getty Images
Berger Picard at a dog show
Stephanie Keith / Stringer​ / Getty Images

Berger Picard Care

Plan to spend ample time exercising your Berger Picard. Fortunately, this breed has fairly low-maintenance grooming needs. But it should receive consistent training and socialization starting from a young age.

Exercise

Aim for at least two hours of exercise per day for your Berger Picard. Ideal activities include long walks, games of fetch, running, cycling, swimming, and hiking. Dog sports, including herding and agility, also are great ways to provide mental and physical challenges. And puzzle toys can give your dog some mental stimulation.

A bored Berger Picard that doesn’t have an outlet for its energy might become destructive, so make sure you’re able to dedicate enough time each day to exercise your dog.

Grooming

The Berger Picard has a soft, insulating undercoat paired with a waterproof, wiry outer coat. It doesn’t need trimming, as this can damage the coat’s texture. And you typically only have to brush a few times a month to remove any loose fur and dirt. The coat is not prone to matting. However, expect periods of higher shedding often in the spring and fall, during which you should brush at least a few times per week to keep up with the loose fur. 

The coat also stays relatively clean on its own, so in general you’ll only need to bathe your dog when it gets dirty. But check your dog’s ears at least weekly for wax buildup, dirt, and other abnormalities. Plus, trim its nails roughly once a month, and aim to brush its teeth every day.

Training

Berger Picards are smart and can pick up on training commands relatively quickly. Start training and socializing ideally when your dog is a puppy to instill good manners and prevent bad habits. 

Always use positive-reinforcement training methods, such as praise and treats. This breed can be sensitive to harsh corrections, shutting down and refusing to learn. Also, aim to keep your training sessions fun and varied to hold your dog’s interest. The breed does have a stubborn streak and can get bored with excessive repetition. 

Furthermore, if not adequately socialized from a young age, some Berger Picards might be skittish around new people and places. So start introducing your dog to different people, other dogs, and various locations as early and often as possible. Keep interactions positive using treats and praise, and stop if your dog seems overwhelmed. 

Common Health Problems

The Berger Picard is typically a very healthy dog breed throughout its life. But it can be prone to some hereditary health issues, including:

Diet and Nutrition

Fresh water should always be available for your dog. And feed it a quality, nutritionally balanced diet, typically via two measured meals per day. Run both the type of food and the amount by your vet to ensure that you’re meeting your dog’s individual needs. For instance, if your Berger Picard lives a very active lifestyle, its nutrition needs might be higher. But be mindful of treats and other extra food to avoid overfeeding.

Where to Adopt or Buy a Berger Picard

The Berger Picard is extremely rare, so it might be difficult to find at both rescue groups and breeders. But it's still worth checking animal shelters and rescues to see whether there's a dog in need of a home. Get your name on a breed wait list if possible. For breeders, you might have to wait some time and travel a great distance to find a puppy. Expect to pay around $2,000 to $3,000 on average for a puppy from a responsible breeder.

For further information to connect you with a Berger Picard, check out:

Berger Picard Overview

Pros
  • Adventurous and athletic 

  • Typically a healthy breed

  • Easy-care coat

Cons
  • Needs lots of exercise 

  • Can be stubborn about training

  • Might be destructive when bored

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

Do thorough research before bringing home a Berger Picard to make sure the breed is right for your lifestyle. Talk to Berger Picard owners, rescue groups, reputable breeders, and veterinary professionals. Spend some time around Berger Picards too if possible.

If you’re interested in similar breeds, check out:

There’s a whole world of potential dog breeds out there—with a little research, you can find the right one to bring home!

FAQ
  • Are Berger Picards good family dogs?

    Well-trained and socialized Berger Picards are moderately tolerant of kids in general. They can be a good fit for older children, but they might be too energetic around young kids.

  • Are Berger Picards aggressive?

    Berger Picards generally are friendly and devoted to their family. They can be wary of strangers. But with proper training and socialization, this typically does not translate into aggression.

  • Are Berger Picards good apartment dogs?

    Berger Picards do best in a home with a secure yard in which they can run freely. They often are too active for apartment living and might become destructive if they don’t have an outlet for their energy.

Article Sources
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  1. Berger Picard. American Kennel Club.

  2. Berger Picard Puppies For Sale. American Kennel Club.