(aka: Berger de Picardie, Picardy Shepherd, Berger di Picard)
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 exhibit a rugged yet elegant appearance, a dignified demeanor, and winsome expression.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.
Berger Picard Temperament
The Berger Picard breed is not recommended for first time dog owners. The Berger Picard has a sensitive and assertive disposition, is loyal, and even-tempered. They do well with children, dogs, and other pets they have been raised with. They are alert, hard-working, and energetic. Berger Picard's do not do well if they are isolated or ignored. This breed is a devoted guardian of their family, livestock, and territory.
The Berger Picard requires minimal grooming. Once a month combing of the coat is recommended. Bathing will damage the weather-proof coat. Dry shampooing will suffice. Berger Picard's are prone to eye infection and hip dysplasia.
Thought to be the oldest of the French Sheepdogs, 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 and Beauceron, while others believe it shares a common origin with Dutch and Belgian Shepherds. Although the Berger Picard 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 Berger Picard, or Picardy Shepherd, as it is known in some countries, 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 Picard's 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. At present there are approximately 200 Berger Picards in the United States and Canada.
The producers of the 2005 American movie Because of Winn Dixie brought five Picards over from Europe ("Scott", "Lyco" and "Tasha" performed in the movie). The trainer, Mark Forbes, wanted a dog that resembled the scruffy mutt on the original book's cover but needed several that looked alike so that production could continue smoothly, thus he decided on this rare purebred dog from France.
Highly intelligent and quick to learn, the Berger Picard breed requires early socialization and basic obedience training. This breed tends to be stubborn and moody. Short and varied sessions are recommended. Berger Picard's do not respond to harsh or heavy-handed methods. Training must be done with patience, firmness, fairness, and consistency.
Berger Picars, due to lack of over breeding, are a relatively healthy, disease free breed. Hip Dysplasia is known, but not common.