The Berger Picard or Picardy Shepherd is a French breed of dog of the herding group of breeds. This breed of dog is people-oriented, loyal, and can make a good family pet if properly socialized early in life.
It is this breed’s rustic mutt-like appearance that has prevented it from being rapidly popularized and exploited in the United States by the movie release, as has been the fate of some other breeds. People are often fooled into thinking “Winn-Dixie” is a mixed breed.
The Berger Picard is a medium-sized, well-muscled dog, slightly longer than tall with a tousled yet elegant appearance. Their ears are naturally erect, high-set and quite wide at the base. Their eyebrows are thick, but do not shield their dark frank eyes. They are known for their smile. Their natural tail normally reaches to the hock and is carried with a slight J-curve at the tip. Their weather-proof coat is harsh and crisp to the touch, not excessively long with a minimal undercoat. Coat colors fall into two colors, fawn and “gray” with a range of shade variations.
The Berger Picard’s attributes include a lively, intelligent personality and a sensitive and assertive disposition that responds quickly to obedience training. By and large Picards are laid back and mellow but they are known for having a stubborn streak and being reserved towards strangers.
Picards are energetic and hard working, alert, loyal and sweet-tempered with children. They are happiest when they have a job to do. They also have a protective nature, making them good guard dogs. However, they are not excessive barkers. Some Picards are notoriously picky eaters, and it may be difficult to decide on a diet that you and the dog agree on.The breed also has a well developed sense of humor making them an endearing companion, and they continue to be used very effectively as both sheep and cattle herder in their native land and elsewhere.
Like many herding breeds, Picards require human companionship and lots of it. Since they can be demonstrative to their owners and enthusiastic friends towards other animals, formal obedience training and plenty of positive socialization is a must. Athletic, loyal and filled with a desire to work a long day, the breed excels in any “job” as long as enthusiasm and praise is a part of the task.
Berger Picards due to lack of over breeding are a relatively healthy, disease free breed. Hip dysplasia is known, but not common. Nevertheless a reputable breeder will have hips and elbows x-rayed and eyes certified for hereditary diseases.
The breed’s life expectancy is 13 to 14 years.The breed’s intelligence and sensitivity have made it increasingly popular in dog sports such as agility, Tracking, Schutzhund, Flyball and French Ring Sport.