About the Picardy Sheepdog

About the Breed:

Thought to be the oldest of the French Sheepdogs, the Picardy Sheepdog also known as the Berger Picard was brought to northern France and the Pas de Calais, in the 9th century by the Franks.

Some experts insist that this breed is related to the more well-known Briard & Beauceron, while others believe it shares a common origin with Dutch and Belgian Shepherds. 

Although the Picardy Sheepdog made an appearance at the first French dog show in 1863, the breed’s rustic appearance did not lead to popularity as a show dog.

The breeding stock of the Picardy Sheepdog, was decimated by the ravages of World War I and World War II. With its population concentrated on the farms of north-eastern France, trench warfare in the Somme reduced the breed to near extinction.

The Picards easy care and mellow, yet mischievous, temperament have started the breed back on the road to recovery. Nevertheless its numbers are still limited, even in its native country.

As mentioned previously, today in France there are approximately 3500 dogs and in Germany approximately 500 of this breed. At present there are approximately 400 in the United States and Canada. 

Currently there are just under 40 Picardy Sheepdogs registered in the UK.


Breed Information:

Country of Origin: France                                          

Original Function: Sheepdog

Approximate Height:            

Males 59 – 65 cm      Females 54 – 59 cm

Weight: Between 24 – 35 kilos (52 – 77b)                   

Age at Maturity:  2 years

Litter size: 2-10 pups                                                  

Average life span: 12 – 14 years

Coat type: Rustic, natural looking, with a soft, dense undercoat and shaggy, rough top coat that is harsh.

Coat length: 2-2.5 inches (5-6cm)

Coat Colour: fawn or brindle

Coat care: Weekly brush. Coat will mat if neglected

Exercise: Anything from a half hour daily walk to a whole day out hiking. He’s adaptable.

Training: Easy with correct handling and motivation.

Temperament: Good with children, dogs and cats if socialised correctly. Can be aloof with strangers

Special considerations: Not ideal for first-timers, the Picardy Sheepdog can have strong hunting instincts and needs experienced handling – but has all the makings to be the dog of a lifetime.

Charactersketch: A devoted, loyal, mellow, ‘thinking’ dog, the Picardy Sheepdog thrives on the companionship of his human family.


Living with a Picardy Sheepdog:

By Shirley Hitchman

The word to describe living with a Picardy Sheepdog is ‘intense’.  Picards require extensive positive socialisation. The bond formed between owners and these dogs is of great intensity; it’s more like they imprint on you. They have the potential to be your one-in-a-million dog and no dog could ever love you more. Devoted, protective and loyal, they stick to you like glue, never happier than when with their owner or family.They are good with children and with other family pets, provided they are introduced correctly. 

Often described as a well-worn teddy bear or a GSD in a Muppet suit, his rugged, rustic good looks act like people magnets. They are just too cute for their own good!  Known for being aloof and wary of strangers, people should respect their space. Any behavioural issues in Picards are usually fear- or conflict-based. This is because, being bred originally to work alone or with one person in an open area, they can suffer from sensory overload. They still retain a strong sense of work. They have a high prey drive.

They are described as independent, stubborn, and strong-willed – but I disagree. They are intelligent, playful, good at problem solving and make appropriate connections, so they don’t do repetition; they only do something if there is a point. They respond to positive reward-based methods and can reach high standards of obedience.

They need to be handled firmly, but with kindness. Rule with an iron fist in a velvet glove. Dogs tend to be easier than bitches, being more laid-back and outgoing, while bitches are better at protective work, which probably stems from being ready to protect their litter.

A medium built dog under that hair, they do not eat a lot, but do need a quality natural diet because they are prone to sensitive stomachs when fed on poor quality food.

A hardy, healthy breed in general. The rustic coat requires little attention – just a weekly brush through.

So, although this is a dynamic dog, he will be content to spend longish periods doing nothing – all he asks is for your company. 

Do you deserve a dog like this?

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