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Picardy Shepherd
Berger Picard
Other namesPicard
Berger de Picardie
Picardy Sheepdog
Height Males 24–26 in (61–66 cm)
Females 22–24 in (56–61 cm)
Weight 51–71 lb (23–32 kg)
Coat rough
Color fawn or brindle
Litter size 2–10 pups
Life span 12–14 years
Kennel club standards
Société Centrale Canine standard
Fédération Cynologique Internationale standard
Dog (domestic dog)

The Berger Picard (/bɛərˌʒ pɪˈkɑːr/ bair-ZHAY pih-KAR, French: [bɛʁʒe pikaʁ]) or Picardy Shepherd, is a French herding dog originating in Picardy. These dogs nearly became extinct after both World War I and World War II[1] and remain a rare breed.


Picards of both colors.

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 brindle, with a range of shade variations.[2]


The Berger Picard's attributes include a lively, intelligent personality and a sensitive and assertive disposition that responds quickly to obedience training. Picards are easygoing and mellow but can be reserved towards strangers. They require a lot of socialization during the first two years of their lives.

Picards are energetic and hard working, alert, and are not excessive barkers. Some Picards are notoriously picky eaters.

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 herders in their native land and elsewhere.[3]

Like many herding breeds, Picards require human companionship. Since they can be demonstrative to their owners and enthusiastic towards other animals, formal obedience training and positive socialization is important.


Berger Picards are a relatively healthy breed. Known medical conditions include hip dysplasia and progressive retinal atrophy (PRA). A reputable breeder will have hips certified by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) or by PennHip with the results posted at the OFA database.[4] Eyes will be certified for hereditary diseases through the OFA as well (previously through the Canine Eye Research Foundation) and results should also be published on the OFA database.

The Berger Picard participates in the Canine Health Information Center.[5] To obtain a CHIC number, dogs must have their hips and eyes checked with the results published on the OFA website and their blood banked for DNA plus one elective, either elbows, thyroid, or heart evaluated.

The breed's life expectancy is 12 to 14 years.[6]


Exercise and activities

The Berger Picard can compete in agility trials, tracking, obedience, showmanship, Schutzhund, flyball, lure coursing, French ring sport and herding events. Herding instincts and trainability can be measured at noncompetitive herding tests. Berger Picards exhibiting basic herding instincts can be trained to compete in herding trials.[7]

Living conditions

Despite being able and ready to work outdoors, Picards can do surprisingly well in city life provided they are given enough energy-releasing exercise. They are very loyal and enjoy a lot of attention and may suffer from separation anxiety (even if being left alone inside for short periods of time). This is not a breed created to live outside year round. They lack the layer of body fat that even a lean Livestock Guardian Dog has, and their coat is not dense enough to withstand frigid winter conditions of many areas.


The Berger Picard is a low maintenance dog. The rough, tousled coat can mat if not brushed on a regular basis (once every other week), but the coat does not require special care to yield its rustic appearance.

Bathing is rarely done. Their fur should never be trimmed except possibly hand-stripping the ears. Picards have low oil content in their fur and therefore have little odor.


A woodcut of a Berger Picard

In 2018 a genetic study found that, just prior to 1859, a broadly distributed European herding dog had given rise to the French Berger Picard, the German Shepherd Dog, and the five Italian herding breeds: the Bergamasco Shepherd, Cane Paratore, Lupino del Gigante, Pastore d'Oropa, and the Pastore della Lessinia e del Lagorai.[8]

One author believes that the Berger Picard was brought to northern France and the Pas de Calais in the 9th century by the Franks.[1][page needed] 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.[3]

The breeding stock of the Berger Picard 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.[1] The prevalence of the breed worldwide remains limited, even in its native country.

In France, there are approximately 3500 dogs. The Berger Picard was accepted by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) in 1955.

Germany has approximately 500 of this breed. There are approximately 400 Berger Picards in the United States and Canada. The Berger Picard Club of America and the Berger Picard Club Canada were formed to help promote and protect this breed.[9] The Berger Picard was fully recognized in the herding group by the American Kennel Club on 1 July 2015.[10] It is also in the herding group category of the Canadian Kennel Club.[11]

The interim breed standard for the Picardy Sheepdog was approved and the breed was accepted on to the import register of the United Kingdom's Kennel Club on 1 April 2014. The breed can only be shown in Import classes and is awaiting official registration of the proposed Picardy Sheepdog Club. The Picard was first shown at Crufts in March 2016 in the Pastoral (Herding) Group.

Recent history

Berger Picards have been seen in at least three films: Daniel and the Superdogs (2004); Because of Winn-Dixie (2005); and Are We Done Yet? (2007). The producers of the American film Because of Winn-Dixie (2005) brought five Picards from Europe (three of the five actually performed: "Scott"; "Laiko"; and "Tasha"). The trainer wanted a dog that resembled the scruffy mutt on the original book's cover, but several were needed that looked alike so that production could continue smoothly, so he decided on this rare purebred dog from France. People often mistakenly think the on-screen "Winn-Dixie" was played by a mixed breed dog.[6]

Joker, a well-known Berger Picard dog in Germany, has starred in six comedy films based on novels by Rita Falk [de].[12] He played as Ludwig Eberhofer owned by Franz Eberhofer, a down-in-luck police officer in a small fictitious Bavarian town, Niederkaltenkirchen: Winterkartoffelknödel [de] (2014), Schweinskopf al dente [de] (2016), Grießnockerlaffäre [de] (2017), Sauerkrautkoma [de] (2018), Leberkäsjunkie [de] (2019), and Kaiserschmarrndrama [de] (2021).[13] Joker died on 28 June 2021 after he collapsed and was rushed to the animal hospital. The autopsy revealed the splenic tumours, which were not discovered earlier during the medical examination prior to his death.[14]

See also


  1. ^ a b c Senecat, J (1979). The Picardy Shepherd of Yesterday and Today.
  2. ^ Les Amis du Berger Picard Club de Race affilie a la Societe Centrale Canine
  3. ^ a b Jacques SENECAT Extraits du catalogue de la première Nationale d'Elevage et de sélection MONTILS le 3 septembre 1967
  4. ^ "Orthopedic Foundation for Animals". Archived from the original on 11 November 2011. Retrieved 19 April 2022.
  5. ^ "CHIC Program | Orthopedic Foundation for Animals | Columbia, MO".
  6. ^ a b Berger Picard Club of America
  7. ^ Hartnagle-Taylor, Jeanne Joy; Taylor, Ty (2010). Stockdog Savvy. Alpine Publications. ISBN 978-1-57779-106-5.
  8. ^ Talenti, Andrea; Dreger, Dayna L; Frattini, Stefano; Polli, Michele; Marelli, Stefano; Harris, Alexander C; Liotta, Luigi; Cocco, Raffaella; Hogan, Andrew N; Bigi, Daniele; Caniglia, Romolo; Parker, Heidi G; Pagnacco, Giulio; Ostrander, Elaine A; Crepaldi, Paola (2018). "Studies of modern Italian dog populations reveal multiple patterns for domestic breed evolution". Ecology and Evolution. 8 (5): 2911–2925. Bibcode:2018EcoEv...8.2911T. doi:10.1002/ece3.3842. PMC 5838073. PMID 29531705.
  9. ^ "Berger Picard Club of America". Retrieved 15 July 2022.
  10. ^ "BOARD OF DIRECTORS" (PDF). American Kennel Club. 21–22 April 2014. p. 5.
  11. ^ "Berger Picard Club Canada". Berger Picard Club Canada. Retrieved 15 July 2022.
  12. ^ Folgner, Sandra. "Fanpage Filmhund Joker—Ludwig Eberhofer". Facebook (in German). Retrieved 16 January 2021.
  13. ^ Fiege, Stefan and Elisabeth. "Bekanntheit als Film-Hund" (in German). Retrieved 16 January 2021.
  14. ^ "Tod beim Gassi gehen: Warum Eberhofer-Hund "Ludwig" nicht mehr zu retten war". NordBayern (in German). 13 August 2021. Retrieved 13 July 2022.

Further reading