Berger means shepherd in French
Berger Picard Scientific Classification
- Scientific Name
- Canis lupus
Berger Picard Locations
Berger Picard Facts
Berger Picard as a Pet:
- General Health
- Energy Level
- Tendency to Chew
- Family and kid friendliness
- Yappiness / Barking
- Separation Anxiety
- Preferred Temperature
- Average climate
- Exercise Needs
- Friendly With Other Dogs
- Pure bred cost to own
- $2,000 or more
- Dog group
- Male weight
- 50-70 lbs
- Female weight
- 50-70 lbs
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The Berger Picard, also known as the Picardy Shepherd, is a lanky herding dog with a big, generous spirit. It hails from the region of Picardy in northern France, where the dog plied its trade helping the French farmers and cattlemen to herd and guard their livestock. Some of its history is still shrouded in mystery, but it’s thought that this breed descended from the stock of deep antiquity, perhaps brought to the region by the Celts of central Europe thousands of years ago. Some people place its origins even later in the 9th century AD.
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By the turn of the 20th century, as the tranquil plains of Picardy became the site of the most ferocious fighting of World War I, this breed was nearly driven to extinction. But thanks to the valiant effort of dedicated breeders, it made a swift comeback in its native France. While less well-known in the United States, the American Kennel Club finally awarded it full recognition in 2015.
The Berger Picard is one of the more distinctive bearded scruffy dog breeds. It’s characterized by long, slender legs, erect ears, a long snout, and curled tail. The harsh waterproof coat, which features a very short but dense undercoat, comes in fawn and brindle colors. Brindle means it has dark streaks or flecks all over its body.
3 pros and cons of owning a Berger Picard
|Easy-going and Mellow
The Berger is good-natured no matter what happens.
The Berger will demand a lot of your time and effort.
|Energetic and Hard-working
Give this breed a task and it will perform it with gusto.
|Grows Bored Easily
If it has nothing to do, this breed may turn destructive.
|Watchful and Protective
This breed is a fine watchdog.
While they’re very trainable, the Berger does require patience and calm.
Berger Picard Size and Weight
The Berger Picard is a medium-sized, muscular dog with an elegant frame. Males tend to be slightly larger than females.
|23.5 to 25.5 inches
|21.5 to 23.5 inches
|50 to 70 pounds
|50 to 70 pounds
The clue to its origins lies in its name which describes its role in the past and the region from which it hailed. That’s right, the Berger Picard, or Picardy Shepherd, once roamed the pastures of northern France keeping flocks of sheep and herds of cattle in check on behalf of shepherds and cowherds.
Health and Entertainment for your Berger Picard
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The seemingly unlikely relative to the German Shepherd, also put in time as a contraband smuggler, ferrying taxable goods across borders in plain sight of officials who had no idea what those canines were carrying in pouches disguised to blend in with their fur.
The breed did experience a severe decline in its fortunes along with its home region as a result of World Wars I and II. However, thanks to the robust support of canine enthusiasts, things soon picked up again and less than two decades after the second war, the Berger Picard, was recognized by the French Kennel Club.
Berger Picard Common Health Issues
Perhaps on account of its herding origins, the Berger Picard is a very healthy breed with a lifespan of 12 to 13 years. It is prone to several diseases, including progressive retinal atrophy, cancer, and a developmental disorder known as hip dysplasia, in which the joint fits poorly in its socket, causing lameness and pain. In order to maintain the health of this line, trusted and reputable breeders will have their dogs certified by hip and eye specialists to prove they’re free of some inheritable issues.
Owners will also need to schedule regular vet visits throughout the entire dog’s lifetime, particularly as it grows older. In summation, these are the most common health problems with the Berger Picard:
- Progressive retinal atrophy
- Hip dysplasia
Berger Picard Temperament
The Berger Picard has a well-balanced personality. It is simultaneously lively but serious, assertive but obedient, alert but easy-going. They bond deeply with family and like to spend a lot of time with people, though they are wary of strangers. They also like to vocalize and bark but not excessively so. Keep in mind this is a working dog, not a toy or lap dog.
Owners will need to provide this energetic and intelligent breed with plenty of mental and physical activities throughout the entire day. If they grow bored, then they might engage in destructive behavior, turning your home into a playground.
How to Take Care of the Berger Picard
The Berger Picard is probably not a good choice for casual or inexperienced owners. It will require patient training, lots of activity, and devoted attention. While it was originally bred to work in outdoor rural environments, this breed can do surprisingly well in smaller urban homes, provided it receives enough exercise every day.
The Best Dog Food for Berger Picard Dogs
The Berger Picard will need around 2 to 3 cups of high-quality dog food every day. Whether homemade or commercially available, make sure the food has enough calories and nutrition to support the dog’s active lifestyle. Both age and size should factor into its diet as well.
At A-Z Animals, our choice of the best dog food for the Berger Picard is Stella & Chewy’s Wild Red Classic Kibble Dry Dog Food.
With turkey, chicken, and duck, this recipe delivers ample glucosamine and chondroitin for strong, mobile joints. This food is high-protein for dogs that don’t quit. Also, it includes taurine, which contributes to healthier eyes.
Here’s where to find Stella and Chewy’s Wild Red Classic Kibble on Chewy and Amazon.
- Packed full of protein with beef, pork, and lamb
- Crafted without legumes or poultry
- 81% of protein is from actual animal sources
- "Whole prey” ingredients including muscle meat, organ meat, and cartilage
- No fillers, artificial colors, artificial flavors, or preservatives.
Maintenance and Grooming
The Berger Picard will need to be brushed maybe once a month – more often, perhaps every day or two, in the shedding season – with a rake and slicker brush. Some attention should be paid to the bearded face as well. This should remove most dead and loose hair before it gets on the furniture, clothing, and the floor.
The coat is fairly weatherproof and needs to be bathed only rarely with a special shampoo formulated for coats of this kind. No trimming is necessary, but the long fur on the ears should be hand stripped from time to time. In addition, owners should never neglect other aspects of its care. Brush its teeth often with specially formulated toothpaste. Check the ears every few weeks for signs of infections and wax buildup. Finally, trim the nails regularly so they don’t split or crack easily.
The Berger Picard has a very intelligent and eager nature, making it a highly trainable breed. While it may frustrate trainers a little with its stubborn and independent streak, this breed does respond very well to praise and affection, though slightly less well to food inducements. Keep the dog motivated with consistent but creative training and it will reward you many times over.
The Berger Picard is a gifted athlete with immense reserves of stamina and drive. It probably needs at least 45 minutes of exercise every day. Long walks should satisfy many of its exercise needs. It also enjoys accompanying its owner on hikes and bike rides, as well as swimming, fetching, tracking, agility trials, flyball, and obedience challenges.
Berger puppies will need to begin training and socialization as early as possible. Because of their natural wariness of strangers, these puppies will benefit from classes and daycare to help put them at ease around all kinds of unfamiliar people and pets. There is also plenty you can do on your own to socialize your dog, including parks, play dates, and other opportunities.
Crate training, while not mandatory, can help your dog deal with housebreaking and behavioral issues. Keep in mind this is a herding dog; it has strong herding instincts that may be managed with proper training but never entirely eliminated.
The Berger Picard gets along fairly well with children of all ages. It has a lively, affectionate, and playful temperament with a well-developed sense of humor and personality. However, because of its strong herding instinct, it may have a tendency to start herding kids. This breed should do best if it’s raised with children from an early age and properly trained to behave well around them.
Dogs Similar to the Berger Picard
The Berger Picard resembles many smooth-haired or scruffy dog breeds from the same region.
- Beauceron: This medium-sized herding dog from central France is athletic, calm, gentle, intelligent, and fearless. It is characterized by a dense, smooth double coat of black and tan, occasionally blue mottled fur.
- Briard: This large shaggy and bearded shepherd dog, which originated from the Brie region of northern France, shares many similarities with the Berger and other scruffy dog breeds. It is friendly, gentle, but hard-working and determined. This breed has a long, slightly wavy coat of black, fawn, gray, or blue colors.
- Pyrenean Sheepdog: This medium-sized herder and livestock guardian hails from the mountainous region of southern France, along the border with Spain. It comes in three coat types: long-haired, goat-haired, and smooth-faced. Fawn, brindle, black, and blue are the most commonly accepted colors.
Famous Berger Picard Dogs
The Berger Picard is not very well-known outside of France, but it has appeared in a number of smaller films. The most notable appearance was probably the 2005 film “Because of Winn-Dixie,” starring Anna Sophia Robb and Jeff Daniels. Two dogs named Lyco and Scott took turns playing the role of the main character Winn-Dixie. Another Berger named Beegee won the Best in Show and herding group awards at the 2020 American Kennel Club National Owner-Handled Series.
Popular Names for the Berger Picard
If you haven’t yet settled on a good name for your new dog, then you might want to consider one of the following options, many of them French-inspired:
Berger Picard FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
How much does a Berger Picard cost?
The price of a new puppy will depend on the quality of the breeder, the pedigree and heritage of the dog, and the overall availability of the breed. For a typical household pet without any particularly special pedigree, you should probably expect to pay somewhere in the range of $2,000, perhaps more, from a high-quality breeder who really has the health and well-being of the dog in mind.
If you cannot afford this price, then there are still some good options available to you. What you should never do is settle for a dog raised by a puppy mill or untrustworthy breeder. While it might be cheaper upfront, you’re definitely rolling the dice in terms of health issues and breed standards. Instead, you should consider dog adoption. The price is generally reasonable, and these dogs are in need of a good loving home. To help guide you through the process, there are a few good breed-specific organizations willing to assist with rescue and adoptions. For instance, the Berger Picard Club of America offers a service to rehabilitate and rehome rescue dogs.
Do Berger Picards shed?
Yes, given its long coat, the Berger Picard does a fair amount of shedding. It loses the entire coat at least once a year in the spring and summer. Regular grooming will be required to remove loose and dead hairs from the coat.
How big does a Berger Picard get?
This breed can easily grow up to 25.5 inches at shoulder height and weigh up to 70 pounds.
How many Berger Picards are there in North America?
It is estimated that there are no more than few hundred Berger Picards across all of the United States and Canada. Since this is a rare breed, don’t expect to just stroll into a kennel and pick one up for adoption. It will require doing some homework, as well as time and patience. Getting in touch with a breed-specific rescue organization is probably your best bet. You can also find a registered list of breeders from a Berger club or other kennel club like the AKC.
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- American Kennel Club, Available here: https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/berger-picard/
- American Kennel Club, Available here: https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/sports/berger-picard-beegee-nohs-best-in-show/
- Dog Lime, Available here: https://doglime.com/berger-picard-behavior/
- Berger Picard Club of America, Available here: https://picards.us/meet-picard/