Berger Picard: Dog Breed Profile

Meet one of the oldest and rarest French sheepherding breeds

Berger Picard

 

ernstboese / Getty Images 

The Berger Picard (pronounced bare ZHAY pee CAR), also known as the Picardy Shepherd, is a rare French sheepdog. The Berger Picard has a medium-length, tousled, rustic-looking coat and large, triangular, upright ears. The Berger Picard is tall, sturdy and muscular, but never bulky. The bouncy Berger Picard exudes joy and seems to smile; the shaggy beard and eyebrows only add to its charming appearance. This breed has an impish, almost humorous way about him.

The Berger Picard is confident, even tempered, protective and affectionate with its family. This herding breed is extremely athletic and needs copious amounts of exercise, making them excellent companions for active, outdoor adventurers. Without enough exercise and mental stimulation, the Berger Picard may become destructive as it attempts to burn off excess energy and alleviate boredom. The Berger Picard gets along great with respectively children and can usually coexist peacefully with most other dogs, but cats and other small, furry creatures are off limits due to the breeds high prey drive (instinct to chase).

Breed Overview

Group: Herding

Height: 21½ to 25½ inches tall at the shoulder

Weight: About 50 to 70 pounds

Coat: Shaggy and rough outer coat with a soft, short, and dense undercoat

Coat Color: Fawn (tan) or brindle (light or dark base coat color with contrasting stripes)

Life Expectancy: 12 to 13 years

Characteristics of the Berger Picard

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 Low

History of the Berger Picard

The Berger Picard is an ancient breed that has existed in the Picardy region in northern France since the Middle Ages. Some people believe the Berger Picard is the oldest of the French sheepdogs. The Berger Picard is possibly related to two other French herding breeds: the Briard and the Beauceron. The Berger Picard nearly became extinct in the wake of World Wars I and II, but a handful of dedicated breeders made it their mission to resurrect the breed. The Berger Picard was officially recognized in France in the 1960s. The breed was almost unheard of in the United States until a Berger Picard was cast in the 2005 film Because of Winn-Dixie. The national parent club for the breed in the United States, the Berger Picard Club of America, formed in 2006. The Berger Picard achieved full recognition with the American Kennel Club in 2015, where it became part of the Herding Group.

Berger Picard
Stephanie Keith / Stringer​ / Getty Images
Berger Picard
The athletic Berger Picard excels at agility. Stephanie Keith / Stringer​ / Getty Images
Berger Picard
Stephanie Keith / Stringer​ / Getty Images

Berger Picard Dog Care

The Berger Picard’s double coat consists of an outer coat made up of medium-long, rough, wiry hairs and an undercoat that’s soft, short, and dense. The coat is low-maintenance, requiring no trimming or shaving. Brushing or combing a few times a month and the occasional bath keep the Berger Picard’s coat good condition. Despite its shaggy appearance, the Berger Picard sheds very little and the coat does not mat as long as it is kept clean and combed out. The coat naturally repels dirt and rarely has a doggie odor. Weekly, trim the nails and inspect the ears, cleaning them with a pet-safe ear cleaner if dirty.

The Berger Picard needs abundant socialization as puppy to help it grow into a confident dog. If not adequately socialized from a young age, the Berger Picard may be very aloof and possibly even skittish around new people and places. Start introducing your Berger Picard puppy to as many people, places, animals and things as you can in the first 100 days you have him home. Keep interactions positive, using lots of treats and stopping if your Berger Picard puppy seems overwhelmed.

Start training early, too, to help your Berger Picard puppy grow into a well-behaved adult. It can be hard to resist a Berger Picard’s adorable, pleading brown eyes, but don’t let your puppy get away with mischief. Keep the house rules consistent and practice the basics daily. The Berger Picard can be a bit stubborn and do not respond well to force or excessive repetition, so keep your training sessions positive and varied to motivate the dog.

Common Health Problems

Most purebred dogs are prone to developing certain hereditary conditions. A few known health concerns in the Berger Picard include hip dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA, a degenerative eye disease) and some other eye diseases. The Berger Picard Club of America collects breed data via surveys and shares anecdotal information on its website. According to the Berger Picard Club of America, there have been some anecdotally reported incidents of severe reactions to anesthesia in some Berger Picards. In general, though, the Berger Picard is healthy and long-lived.

Diet and Nutrition

Feed your Berger Picard measured meals using a cup or scale to weigh the food. Berger Picards are very active and athletic. Those getting a lot of daily exercise or competing in performance sports might require a higher-calorie food than less-active Picards. Ask your breeder or veterinarian for their advice about the best type of food to feed your Berger Picard.

Pros
  • Adventurous and athletic 

  • Devoted family companion

  • Clean, easy-care coat

Cons
  • Needs lots of exercise 

  • May be wary of strangers

  • Doesn’t do well when left alone

Where to Adopt or Buy

The Berger Picard is extremely rare, so it may be difficult to find a breeder who has Berger Picard puppies available. In North America, the Berger Picard Club of America maintains a list of active breeders on its website. Be prepared to get on a waiting list if you want a puppy. Occasionally, Berger Picards find their way into rescue—often because people were not prepared for how much exercise, training and human companionship they require. For those Picards that need rehoming, the Berger Picard Club of Americaoperates a rehoming team, which is also listed on the group’s website. 

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

If you like the Berger Picard, you might also like these breeds: 

Otherwise, check out all of our other dog breed articles to help you find the perfect dog for you and your family.