Friday, June 24, 2011

Unusual Breed: Barbet

A black Barbet. I believe this dog is in France
The Barbet is a French water dog that is the ancestor of the poodle, or at least one of the ancestors. According to some sources, the two breeds were refered to as the same dog for a number of years. It is a very old breed, its first written mention being in 1387. The name "Barbet" comes from the French word for beard, which is clearly appropriate! It is a rarely heard of breed, and at last count there were only around 60 in the United States. The breed comes in multiple colors, but is most often seen in black or liver.

Black and liver Barbet pair in Poland
The breed is fairly versatile: able to hunt, retrieve, point (though possibly not so well), and even work in aiding sailors (something which made the Portugese water dog famous). It is an ancestor to numerous other breeds, including the aforementioned poodle, Newfoundland, and the griffons. It nearly became extinct after World War I, but since then its numbers have grown. However, its popularity pales in comparison to its historical numbers.

The breed is accepted by the FCI, CKC, UKC, and the AKC FSS. According to the FCI, the breed is characterized as follows:

Height: 53-65 cm, the females being smaller than males
Color: black, brown, fawn, or grey with or without white markings up to and including piebald. All shades of fawn are allowed. Also, solid white. 
Behaviour: even-tempered, social, water-loving, and attached to its master
Faults: numerous. I'll let you read them for yourself if you are curious. 

For fun, here's a Barbet lure coursing: 
First Image is copyright-free, second is under a Creative Commons license and is property of Pleple2000, both are from Wikimedia Commons

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