My first encounters with Briards were with the lovely, natural eared dogs of Germany. After seeing Briards in the US, I came to the conclusion that I prefer the natural look. Added to this perference is that fact that I am not interested in surgically altering an animal for aesthetic or competitive reasons. For these reasons my dogs do not have their ears cropped and puppies that are bred here will not be cropped. Although I recognize that it is more difficult to put a championship on a natural eared dog, I feel that a dog of quality will be able to overcome any conscious or unconscious biases amongst judges in the show ring.
Also influenced by my time in Germany and by much investigation into the commercial dog food industry, I have been feeding my dogs a home prepared, whole food diet since 1991. As an avid researcher in all things canid, I have put a lot of time and thought into what my dogs eat and I am confident that their diet promotes their good health which is evident in their shiny healthy coats, good white teeth, well muscled bodies, and long lives.
For me, the most striking physical attributes of a Briard are the large, strong heads, the fluid, effortless movement, the beautiful coat with the slight wave, and that wonderful confidence. Equally important as the physical traits of the breed is the temperament. As an animal behaviourist I work with domestic dogs as well as wild canids. What I see again and again as the thing that often plays the biggest role in a dog leading a good, long, happy life is the dog’s temperament. A good temperament can easily be ruined by poor management and training, but a poor temperament is very difficult to handle even with the best management and training. Starting off with good temperament is crucial.
The Briard is not the dog for every person or family. The time commitment it takes to bring a puppy along into adulthood is not something to be taken lightly. They are a herding breed, a breed which evolved as a guardian. It would be a useless Briard who invited wolves and poachers into its flock. With most Briards living today as family pets, it is most important that they are socialized as puppies and well into adulthood so they do not see every unfamiliar person and canine as unwelcome marauders. That being said, I find them the most wonderful of breeds, with a wonderful sense of humor and joie de vivre. They are a pleasure to work with and they keep you on your toes.