(aka: French Water Dog, Barbet Water Spaniel)
The Barbet is a rare breed. It is a typical water dog, with a long, woolly, and curly coat. Its large, slightly rounded head is usually covered in wavy hair and a shaggy beard, while its medium-length muzzle and round nose usually peek out. Its strong legs support a sturdy back that leads to a hanging or slightly curled tail. Its webbed feet make it a superb swimmer. The Barbet may not look particularly nimble and agile, but it is.
The Barbet’s personality is described as companionable, joyful, goofy, obedient, and intelligent. They are a great with children, families, and the elderly. Barbet will bond with their family and prefer to be in the same room with the family at all times. They need exercise daily to keep the dog in a healthy state of mind and body.
The Barbet is an ideal field companion and a sprightly sporting dog, it can fetch and retrieve for hours on end. But, keep in mind that this dog is rare—only about a hundred live in the United States. If you live near a lake or stream, consider getting a Barbet—it loves splashing around in the water.
Grooming the Barbet’s long, waterproof coat is easy, but it takes some time and dedication to prevent matting. Brush it daily and bathe it occasionally—but not too much. If your Barbet spends a lot of time outdoors, it might be wise to keep its coat clipped to prevent twigs, dirt and debris from getting tangled in the curls.
The Barbet breed is an integral part of dog history, and many familiar breeds have Barbet in their ancestry (Poodle, American Water Spaniel, Portuguese Water Dog, etc.). The name Barbet became throughout centuries a "generic" name for a dog with a long, curly, woolly coat.
The Barbet is a French water dog and the breed's name “Barbet” comes from the French word barbe, which means beard. The Barbet has also worked as sailor’s assistants, much like the Portuguese Water Dog. It was best known for being a waterfowl retriever in the marshes, wetlands and estuaries of France which is where the expression "muddy as a barbet" came from in the 19th century. Between the late 18th to early 19th century the same dog was known as the barbet in France, the barbone in Italy, and the pudel in Germany. With the advent of dog shows and selective breeding based purely on aesthetics the poodle was developed to be more elegant and of a solid color to distinguish it from its more common past. The versatile nature of the Barbet has meant its survival, and many of today's Barbet still have the assets attributed to them from the past and the Barbet origins and bloodlines can be traced back to the writing of the first standard in 1891.
They are quick to learn and need lifelong obedience training. With a quick wit and intelligence, the Barbet can learn commands quickly and perform at a high level. If you’re interested in agility competitions, you might look for a Barbet.
The most common health problems found in Barbet's are ear infections, a problem in most water dog varieties. Ear problems can be minimized by proper ear care. Due to the extremely low number of Barbet in the world, little else is known about long term health issues. Some other issues that have exhibited themselves are hip dysplasia, hernias, undescended testicles, undershot/overshot bites, and epilepsy.