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Berger Picard

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Is the Berger Picard right for you?

Species group:

Other name(s): Berger de Picard; Picardy Shepherd

The basics:
Although not recognized by the American Kennel Club until 2016, the Berger Picard may be the oldest of all the French shepherd dogs. According to the Berger Picard Club of America, "The Berger Picard was brought to northern France and the Pas de Calais in the 9th century by the Celts." Good-natured and attentive to its flock, this rustic sheepdog is tireless and hard-working, but its casual, country look could cause some people to confuse it with a mutt. Indeed, because of its tousled appearance, the Berger Picard was the breed to chosen to star in the 2005 comedy film, Because of Winn-Dixie. (The director couldn't use an actual mix, because several canine actors shared the role, and they all needed to look alike.)

Like other sheepdogs, this breed can be high energy, and it thrives on being around its "flock" or its people. Your pet doesn't need to be trained to herd sheep or star in Hollywood films, but it does enjoy being given a rewarding job to do.

Appearance / health:
The Berger Picard is a medium-sized, well-muscled dog. It is somewhat longer than it is tall. The erect ears are high-set, and wide at the base. The eyebrows are thick, but do not shield the eyes. The tail normally reaches to the hock and is carried with a slight ‘J’ curve at the tip.

The thick waterproof coat of the Berger de Picard requires combing and brushing only about once or twice a month. Extra care may be required during the shedding season (in spring and autumn). The fur does not need to be regularly washed or trimmed, unless it is dirty. This breed is a light shedder and has no doggie odor.

This breed requires a good amount of exercise.

Hip dysplasia (deformation of hip joints causing lameness) is noticed in some dogs of this breed, but not too commonly. During the first year, puppies may suffer from eye infections. Berger de Picards also have some hereditary eye problems such as Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), or deterioration of the retinal cells, which causes blindness, and Retinal Dysplasia (RD), or abnormal development of the retina, which causes visual impairment. All breeding dogs, males and females, should get checked for these diseases once a year or every two years. Fertility problems and thyroid issues are seen in some dogs.

Behavior / temperament:
The character of Picards can vary. Their nature may alternate between reserved to confident, suspicious to curious, vivacious to tranquil, and nervous to composed. This breed needs to be a member of the family. They do not take well to being confined in a kennel, away from the owner and family. Those Picards who are used for hunting, use sight more than smell. Some dogs have stronger hunting instincts than others, and they use sight more than smell. Picards may sometimes tend to be irritable. Experienced owners of this breed accepts these changes in mood. They will also guard against doing anything to break the dog's will, as this could destroy this breed’s unique character.

Like many of the intelligent herding breeds, the Berger de Picard is sensitive, making them a poor choice for training methods that are not supportive and positive. These dogs are very sensitive to voice and the trainer may need to be careful right from the beginning. Once a trainer understands the breed’s requirements, the Berger de Picard will make an excellent working partner. Picards like to work, and are happy doing any kind of job as long as they are enthusiastically praised.

Some individuals may bark frequently.

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