Berger Picard: 2024 Breed Information & Essentials

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Ever heard of a dog breed that seamlessly blends rustic allure with fierce intelligence? Ever wondered what breed that dog in “Because of Winn Dixie” was? Meet the Berger Picard, often celebrated as the Picardy Shepherd. Originating from the pastoral landscapes of Northern France, this French herding dog holds tales of loyalty and heritage in every strand of its coat.

Whether herding livestock through expansive meadows or being the affectionate companion by your side during a quiet evening, the Berger Picard promises unmatched devotion and versatility. Dive deeper into the rich tapestry of this unique breed and see why the Berger Picard might just be the companion you’ve been seeking.

At a Glance

Life Expectancy: 13 – 14 Years
Height at the Withers: 23.5″-25.5″ (male), 21.5″-23.5″ (female)
Weight: 50 – 70 lbs
Shedding: Seasonal
Grooming Needs: Low Maintenance
Pronunciation: bare-ZHAY-pee-CARR

Breed History

The Berger Picard, with its alluring eyes and distinctive coat, has a rich history that dates back to the captivating landscapes of northern France. These ancient herding dogs have roots that trace back to the second Celtic invasion of Gaul around 400 BC, silently narrating tales of ancient French pastures for generations. Their presence was first officially noted in a French dog show in 1863, but the journey to official recognition was long, culminating only in 1925 with the acknowledgment of the French Shepherd Club.

The Berger Picard is often believed to share a lineage with the Briard and Beauceron, other renowned French herding breeds. Even as they competed alongside these cousins in herding trials, the Picard’s unique character gained widespread acknowledgment. However, the challenges didn’t stop there. The devastations of the 20th-century World Wars almost wiped out the breed. Due to the adversities of warfare, limited rations, and unregulated breeding, the Berger Picard’s existence became critically endangered.

But the spirit and resilience of this breed could not be so easily vanquished. Despite the trials and tribulations, the Picard embarked on a steady journey towards resurgence. Today, they are still a rare gem, diligently serving their ancient role as guardians of sheep and cattle in France. Organizations like Les Amis du Berger Picard have been pivotal in the breed’s revival, continually evolving and refining the breed’s standards. This long journey of the Berger Picard was crowned with its recognition by the American Kennel Club in 2013, a testament to its enduring legacy and charm.

The Berger Picard Club of America

Dedicated to the celebration and protection of the Berger Picard, the Berger Picard Club of America stands as a beacon of hope for this distinctive breed. With unwavering commitment, the club works diligently to safeguard the health and vitality of these remarkable herding group dogs. Through rigorous health testing standards, they aim to guarantee that every Berger Picard thrives in good health and enjoys a fulfilling life.

Their advocacy isn’t just about numbers and data, but it’s deeply rooted in a profound love for the breed. The club’s mission reflects a heartfelt desire to see the Berger Picard flourish, ensuring its legacy remains untarnished for generations to come. Whether you’re a longtime admirer or new to the world of Berger Picards, the Berger Picard Club of America is an invaluable resource and a staunch ally in promoting the best interests of this enchanting breed.

The Distinguished Look of the Berger Picard Dog Breed

With its signature disheveled charm, the Berger Picard strikes a fine balance between ruggedness and grace. The Berger Picard is a medium-sized canine – its robust musculature is evident, yet its demeanor emanates a refined elegance. One can’t help but be drawn to its naturally upright ears and pronounced eyebrows, features that bestow upon the Picard a look of constant vigilance and regal presence. Complementing its expressive face is the tail, which arcs gracefully, mimicking the curve of a ‘J.’

Beyond its alluring silhouette, the Picard boasts a coat that’s as functional as it is aesthetically pleasing. Its weatherproof fur is crisp and coarse to the touch, ensuring the Picard is well-prepared for the elements. With a sparse undercoat, the coat maintains a practical length. And while it may not be a rainbow of colors, the Picard’s coat is distinguished in its own right, presented beautifully in shades of fawn and brindle.

Berger Picard Temperament

Stepping into the world of the Berger Picard, you’ll quickly discover a temperament that sets it apart. The Picard exudes a blend of devotion, sincerity, and a hint of comedy. With a heart gravitating towards humans, it establishes itself as a truly people-centric breed. Their loyalty is undeniable, and with thorough socialization, they morph into exceptional family companions.

Bright and spirited, the Picard radiates intelligence and showcases a sensitive and decisive nature. But, while generally, they sport a laid-back demeanor, it’s not uncommon to witness their stubborn streak, especially around unfamiliar faces. Potential Picard owners should be prepared: these canines possess a preference for forming a deep bond with a single owner.

A word to the wise – the Berger Picard isn’t a breed for every household. Their wary attitude towards strangers necessitates comprehensive socialization from a young age to foster a well-rounded and approachable temperament. 

Harnessing an innate drive to work and brimming with energy, these dogs crave regular physical activity paired with mental stimulation. Boredom is a Picard’s adversary, and they are happiest when tasked with a purpose, be it herding, agility, or other dog sports.

Berger Picard Training and Exercise Needs

Diving into the athletic world of the Berger Picard, it’s evident that this is a breed pulsating with energy and needs plenty of training and exercise. Fueled by an inherent drive to move, the Picard flourishes when regularly indulged in rigorous activities like swimming, extended runs, and adventurous walks. A short game of fetch won’t cut it! Their innate intelligence and keen sense of sensitivity mold them into top contenders for various dog sports.

However, there’s a caveat. A Berger Picard deprived of their much-needed physical regimen can divert their unspent energy into undesirable channels. Left unattended, these elegant canines might succumb to destructive behaviors or adopt habits less than ideal for household harmony. As such, potential Picard owners need to introspect: Are you ready to meet their vigorous mental and physical demands? If so, you’re on track to nurturing a well-rounded and content Berger Picard. If not, it might be wise to reconsider, ensuring both your happiness and that of the dog.

Grooming Needs

Contrary to many notions about dog grooming, the Berger Picard flips the script with its refreshingly low-maintenance grooming demands. A unique waterproof double coat that resists matting and the distinct lack of the typical “doggy” odor means fewer unscheduled baths and less daily fuss.

One can’t help but appreciate the self-maintaining qualities of the Picard’s coat. Shedding? It’s only a biannual affair. So, while regular brushing is recommended once a month, you’ll find yourself upping the ante during the spring and summer months to help your Picard shed that winter coat.

Trimming? A big no-no. The authentic beauty of the Berger Picard lies in its natural coat. Resist the temptation to shave or cut it. However, there’s an exception: the elongated fringes on their ears, which might require occasional hand stripping.

When it comes to the rare bath days, remember to use a shampoo specially formulated for coarse coats. And conditioners? It is best to leave them on the shelf; the Picard’s coat thrives without them.

But grooming isn’t just about the coat. Regular nail trimming, ear cleaning, and dental care are essential to ensure your Picard looks its best and feels its best. A word to the wise – while dental chews and raw marrow bones can be great for keeping those canine teeth sparkly, always supervise your dog during chew sessions to prevent accidents.

picardy shepherd in front of white background

Essential Grooming Tools for Berger Picard Owners

For a breed that boasts minimal grooming needs, the Berger Picard still requires a few essentials in your grooming toolkit to ensure it remains in top shape. Here’s a rundown of the necessary tools to keep your Picard looking its best:

  • Undercoat Rake: Given the Berger Picard sheds its undercoat twice a year, this tool is indispensable. It helps remove the loose undercoat easily and effectively, ensuring your dog’s top coat remains crisp and clean.
  • Dog Shampoo: While the Berger Picard doesn’t need frequent baths, it’s important to use a specialized shampoo when it comes. Look for a shampoo tailored for crisp and coarse coats, which will maintain the natural characteristics of the Picard’s fur.
  • Nail Clippers: Regular nail trimming is essential for preventing overgrowth and ensuring your dog’s comfort. Opt for a high-quality nail clipper that provides a clean cut without splitting the nails.
  • Ear Cleaning Solution and Cotton Pads: Given the Picard’s erect ears, they might be prone to accumulating debris. Regular cleaning with a gentle ear solution and soft cotton pads can help prevent potential infections.
  • Toothbrush and Dog Toothpaste: Even with the occasional dental chew, brushing your Picard’s teeth can help prevent tartar buildup and gum disease.
  • Brush: Though the undercoat rake is essential during shedding seasons, a regular brush benefits the in-between months. It helps distribute natural oils, keeping the coat healthy and shiny.

With these tools, you can ensure your Berger Picard remains a picture of health and elegance.

Berger Picard Health Concerns

The Berger Picard, like many purebred dogs, has specific health issues that potential owners should be aware of. Being informed about these health concerns can help in early detection and prevention. Here’s a deeper dive into some of the breed’s known health problems:

  • Hip Dysplasia: Common in many dog breeds, hip dysplasia is a genetic condition where the thigh bone doesn’t fit snugly into the hip joint. While it can occur without any clinical signs, some dogs might exhibit pain or lameness in one or both rear legs. Regular check-ups and maintaining a healthy weight can help manage this condition.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): This is a family of eye diseases that involves the gradual deterioration of the retina. Early in the disease, dogs become night-blind, with a loss of daytime vision occurring as the disease progresses. Regular eye check-ups can help in early detection.
  • Canine Multifocal Retinopathy: Another eye disorder, this condition causes multiple raised lesions to form on the retina. These lesions can sometimes resemble those seen in other more serious eye diseases. Regular eye examinations can help monitor and diagnose any issues.
  • Other Eye Disorders: As evident, the Berger Picard seems predisposed to several eye-related issues. Regular ophthalmologist visits are crucial to ensure the health of your dog’s eyes.
  • Anesthesia Sensitivity: Some Berger Picards might have a sensitivity or adverse reaction to surgical anesthesia. Always discuss any surgical procedures with a veterinarian, informing them of this potential sensitivity. They will take necessary precautions and may opt for alternative anesthesia methods.

As with all breeds, regular veterinary visits, a balanced diet, and a consistent exercise regimen can help mitigate some of these risks and ensure your Berger Picard lives a long and healthy life. Furthermore, it’s essential to consult with breeders who screen for health issues and are transparent about the lineage’s health history.

Essential Health Tests to Minimize Common Health Problems

The Berger Picard Club of America, in its mission to safeguard and uphold the breed’s well-being, underscores the importance of regular health testing. It’s through these tests that breeders can ensure they’re making the best decisions for the lineage, and owners can take preventative measures for potential health issues. Here are the recommended health tests:

PennHIP or OFA Testing for Hips

Both PennHIP and OFA are diagnostic methods to assess the quality of a dog’s hip joints. These tests can help identify dogs susceptible to developing hip dysplasia.

Why it’s essential: Early detection of loose hip joints can lead to preventative care, reducing the risk of arthritis or other hip-related issues in the future.

OFA Elbows

The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) also evaluates elbow joints to screen for elbow dysplasia, a common condition in many dog breeds.

Why it’s essential: Elbow dysplasia can lead to arthritis, affecting the dog’s mobility and quality of life. Early detection can help in managing and possibly preventing the disease’s progression.

Yearly Eye Exams

Given the breed’s predisposition to several eye-related issues, yearly comprehensive eye exams are crucial. These examinations can detect early signs of Progressive Retinal Atrophy, Canine Multifocal Retinopathy, and other eye disorders.

Why it’s essential: Regular eye check-ups can help in early detection and treatment, potentially preserving the dog’s vision.

OFA Thyroid Testing

This test checks for any thyroid gland abnormalities, which can indicate conditions like hypothyroidism.

Why it’s essential: Thyroid disorders can affect metabolism, energy levels, and skin and coat health. Detecting and managing thyroid issues can ensure the dog leads a healthy and energetic life.

By following these guidelines, breeders and owners can contribute to the Berger Picard’s health and longevity, ensuring the breed remains robust and thrives in the years to come.

Finding a Responsible Berger Picard Breeder

When seeking to add a Berger Picard to your family, finding a responsible breeder who prioritizes the breed’s health, well-being, and longevity is essential. Here’s how you can identify a trustworthy breeder:

  • Health Tests and Certifications: Reliable breeders will have proof that their dogs have been tested and cleared for common breed-specific health issues. The parents of any puppy should be listed on the OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) or CERF (Canine Eye Registration Foundation) databases. Furthermore, they should possess a CHIC (Canine Health Information Center) number, indicating they meet the breed’s health testing standards.
  • Breeding Age: Ethical breeders understand the importance of mature breeding. They will only breed dogs that are at least two years old, ensuring that the parents are of an appropriate age and maturity level.
  • Home Screening: Reputable breeders take extreme care in choosing where their puppies go. They will ask potential puppy owners various questions, sometimes even conducting home visits, to ensure that the puppy is going to a loving and suitable environment.
  • Lifelong Commitment: One of the hallmarks of a responsible breeder is their commitment to every dog they bring into the world. They stand by a policy to take back any dog they’ve bred, regardless of the reason or age, ensuring that none of their puppies ever end up in shelters or unfavorable situations.
  • Education and Support: A genuine breeder will always be there to provide advice, support, and resources throughout the dog’s life. They’re not just there for the sale but for the life journey of every puppy they breed.

Remember, adopting a dog is a lifelong commitment. Making sure you get your Berger Picard from a breeder who holds the same values ensures you start your journey together on the right foot. Not sure what to ask when searching for a reputable breeder? Check out these critical questions you should ask any breeder before purchasing.

Understanding the Price of a Berger Picard Puppy

The Berger Picard, with its rich history, unique appearance, and loyal temperament, is undoubtedly a coveted breed. When considering adding a Berger Picard to your family, understanding the puppy’s price is essential.

Price Range: Berger Picard puppies typically cost between $2000 to $2500. This price can vary based on the breeder’s reputation, the puppy’s lineage, geographical location, and other factors.

Factors Influencing the Price:

  1. Health Testing: Reputable breeders prioritize the health of their dogs. This means conducting extensive health testing, not just on the breeding pair, but often on the entire lineage. This testing ensures that common genetic diseases and conditions are minimized or eradicated.
  2. Quality Raising: From the moment they are born until they go to their forever homes, puppies incur various costs. This includes quality dog food, toys, socialization activities, initial veterinary care, vaccinations and deworming, and sometimes early training.
  3. Breeding Expenses: The act of breeding itself can be costly. This might involve stud fees, prenatal care for the mother, and any unexpected medical expenses during the birthing process.
  4. Breed Rarity: The Berger Picard is a relatively rare breed, especially in some regions. Their scarcity can increase demand, leading to a higher price point.
  5. Breeder’s Reputation: Breeders known for producing high-quality, healthy, and well-socialized puppies might charge more due to the trust and confidence they’ve built within the community.
  6. Registration and Documentation: Many reputable breeders will provide documentation of pedigree, health testing results, and AKC (or other reputable kennel club) registration, all of which can factor into the price.

While the initial cost of a Berger Picard puppy might seem high, it’s essential to remember that you’re not just paying for a dog. You’re paying for the peace of mind from knowing your new family member has been given the best start in life. Investing upfront can lead to fewer health problems and behavioral issues, ultimately saving you money and heartache in the long run.

Finding a Berger Picard through Rescue Channels

The Berger Picard, with its noble appearance and heartwarming temperament, is a breed that captures many hearts. However, their rarity means that finding one in need of a new home through a rescue can be quite challenging. If you’re considering adopting a rescued Picard, here’s what you need to know:

  • Availability: Due to the breed’s relative scarcity, it’s quite rare to come across a Berger Picard in a rescue situation. The limited numbers of Picards in rescues are often a result of unforeseen circumstances, such as owner illness or a change in living situations.
  • High Adoption Rate: When Berger Picards do become available for adoption, they tend to find new homes relatively quickly. This can be attributed to their unique appearance, excellent temperament, and the breed’s overall rarity.
  • Be Prepared to Wait: Given the limited availability and high adoption rate, you might need to wait for several months or even longer before you find a Berger Picard that matches your needs.
  • Rescue Process: If you’re set on rescuing a Berger Picard, it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with the adoption processes of different rescue organizations. Most will have an application process, possibly followed by an interview, a home check, and references.
  • Stay Updated: Regularly checking in with rescue organizations or joining a waitlist can increase your chances of being notified when a Picard becomes available.

Want to rescue a Berger Picard? Check the Berger Picard of America Rehome to get connected!

Wrapping Up on the Berger Picard

Originating from the pastoral landscapes of Northern France, the Berger Picard’s rich history, striking appearance, and undying loyalty make it stand out among dog breeds. Its rustic charm and sharp intellect make it a treasured companion for those who understand its needs and characteristics. 

However, diving into the world of Berger Picards isn’t a decision to be taken lightly. Their distinct temperament and requirements mean they’re best suited to households that can provide adequate training, exercise, and understanding. Plus, given their rarity, procuring one—whether through purchase or adoption—requires patience and perseverance.

In the end, should you decide that the Berger Picard aligns with your lifestyle and commitments, you’ll be rewarded with a companion whose devotion and character are as rich and deep as the centuries of history they carry with them. As with any dog breed, thorough research and preparation are key to a successful and harmonious relationship.

References

https://picards.us

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