Have you seen the 2005 American movie Because of Winn-Dixie? One of the scruffy seemingly mixed breed mutts that appeared in that movie is a Berger Picard. Mark Forbes, the dog trainer in the movie brought over 5 of this breed from France. Tasha, Scott and Laiko, three of the imported purebred Berger Picard performed in the movie.
A Berger Picard (pronounced Bear-zhay Pee-carr) is also known as Berger de Picard and Picardy Shepherd. These dogs are utilized as cattle and sheep herder in France, its land of origin. This dog that belongs to the French herding breed of dog is distinguished from other types of dog because of its smile. Yes, a Berger Picard really does enchant its owners with its engaging smile! This is attributed to the lively, sensitive and intelligent personality of the dog. This breed is known to have a well developed sense of humor making it a suitable and lively companion. These naturally energetic and hard working dogs would be happiest when they are given a task to do. Because of their protective nature, they make ideal guard dogs. They would form a strong attachment with the human family. Because of their loyalty and sweet tempered nature they would make ideal companions for the children.
Beger Picards are inherently intelligent as they are known to react promptly to commands in obedience training. Generally, these dogs are mellow and obedient but there are instances when it would be assertive and would manifest its stubborn streak. Although noted to learn quickly, some specimen would at times show pig headedness and refuse to heed the command. These fits of bad humor must be accepted by the owner as breaking the dog’s will could have detrimental effects to its character. Berger Picards are very sensitive to the voice and an owner training the dog is advised to cajole and sweet talk the dog as a happily given command seem to work best. The owner would need to have time and a good reserve of patience to train this sweet tempered but stubborn animal.
A Berger Picard is medium sized, well muscled dog. Although the coat is tousled and scruffy looking the dog still managed to have an elegant appearance. The naturally erect ears are slightly wide at the base. Even though the eyebrows are pretty thick it does not hide the dark jovial ever smiling eyes. Basically, the colors of the coat are fawn and gray with different shade variations. The dog may have white markings on its chest and also on the tip of the toes.
The dog’s life expectancy is 13 to 14 year and a litter size of 2 to 10 pups.
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A mature Berger Picard stands about 21 to 25½ inches tall and weighs about 50 to 70 ponds. This rustic though elegant looking dog is well muscled with an intelligent and jovial countenance. The coat that grows 2 to 2.5 inches long is crisp and rough to the touch with a dense growth of undercoat. The weather proof coat comes in a wide range of fawn and grey shade variations. The thick eyebrows of the dog can not hide its alert and inquisitive smiling dark eyes.
The head that is proportionate to the size of the body is broad but not massive. Muzzle is strong and features a moustache and a small beard. The moderately sized ears are wide at the base. Carried high and erect, the ears that resembles that of a sheep is slightly rounded at the tip.
The dog’s muscular chest is deep and reached up to the level of the elbow. Basically the hairy tail reaches up to the hock and when the dog is on the move it is carried high forming a J curve at the tip. Feet are well rounded without dewclaws.
Berger Picards are intelligent, highly energetic, loyal and sweet tempered dogs. This breed however also posses varied personalities. It can be very energetic, boisterous and vivacious and yet it can also be very reserve, stubborn and suspicious. A person who has chosen to have this breed of dog should be ready to give the dog constant reassurance as this breed craves attention. Locking the dog in a kennel is a bad idea as this dog would need to be a part of the family, to romp and join in the activities of the kids. In fact these dogs make wonderful nannies as they are sweet tempered and very protective of the kids.
Being herding dogs, Berger Picards would require lots of human companionship. This dog can be very demonstrative with the human family and too “enthusiastic” with other smaller pets. This is why socialization and obedience training is very necessary. Berger Picards are hardworking dogs. They have this excessive desire to work and nothing would make them so happy than the master’s praise and recognition for the task done.
Berger Picards would be suitable pets and companions for energetic master who love the outdoors. Being working dogs, they would love to be exercised. In fact, exercise should be included in the dog’s routine as a leashed and bored Berger Pecard would manifest destructive behavior. These dogs would make suitable jogging and biking companions as they would revel in strenuous activities.
Although more accustomed to living outdoors, Berger Picards would do well in an apartment building with a moderately sized yard as long as the dog is given sufficient exercise everyday. Always wanting to be with the human family, the dog would prefer to be inside the home. Fortunately, these dogs are pretty quiet inside the house and would be content to lie down at the foot of the master. These dogs however, would have stubborn fits. Some specimens like to bark and this could be a problem especially if the owner is living in an apartment or if the residence is surrounded by neighbors.
Berger Picard needs very little maintenance. Because the coat do not mat it does not really need special care apart from brushing and combing once or twice a month as the rough and tousled fur already give the dog a rustic and elegant appearance. The dog does not shed profusely and does not have a doggy smell thus bathing is not really necessary. It is not advisable to trim the fur apart from the hair on the area of the ears.
Like any other French shepherd, Berger Picard is said to have originated from the dogs that arrived together with the Celts in Picardy in Northern France and in Pas de Calais in 800 AD. Berger Picard took its name from Picardie Region in the northeastern part of France. This French sheep dog that is considered to be the oldest among all the French shepherd dog is believed to be related to the more famous Briard as the two breeds are very similar in appearance. Others believe that the Berger Picards, Beauceron as well as the Belgian and Dutch shepherds share a common ancestor. All through the middle ages, sheepdogs that have a resemblance to the Berger Picards are portrayed in tapestries and engravings. Wood carvings that illustrate the dog are most common during these times.
In 1863, the Berger Picard made its “debut” in the first French dog show. Sadly, because of the dog’s unkempt rustic appearance, it did not gain popularity and was not well accepted as a show dog. However, owners have persistently entered the Picard in dog shows, made the dogs participate in guarding and defense trials and in 1925, the breed was finally recognized in France.
Most of the Berger Picards can be found in the farms in the northeastern part of France. Because these areas are heavily ravaged during the 1st and 2nd World War, the breed almost became extinct. It was only in 1940s that rebuilding of the breed was started. Several dog lovers searched Picardy for Berger Picards that will be used to rebuild the breed. To this day, the number of these dogs that are most noted for their smile are still very limited. In France, approximately 3500 dogs are in existence and a little over 500 Berger Picards can be found in Germany. On January 1, 1994, this breed was finally recognized by the United Kennel Club and in April 2007, Berger Picards was included in the Foundation Stock Service list of the American Kennel Club. Presently, about 150 Berger Picards can be found in Canada and in the United States.