How to Train a Berger Picard

The Berger Picard is a lanky herding dog of strong bone and sturdy build. Picards spent centuries as take-charge independent problem-solvers, so early socialization and positive training are necessary to cope with their stubborn streak.

You can spot a Berger Picard a mile away thanks to his erect ears standing 4 to 5 inches high, a wavy fawn or brindle coat, and a strong tail that tapers to a distinctive J-hook. Males stand as high as 26 inches, and females as low as 21 inches. The eyes are dark and glistening, and the rectangular head is furnished with shaggy eyebrows, beard, and mustache’ the very image of a sagacious and worldly Frenchman.     The Berger Picard is an ideal companion for athletic owners. Their rugged constitution, agility, and boundless energy make them eager partners in all kinds of sports, games, and outdoor pastimes. Exercise is a must; prolonged idleness and neglect will likely lead these sensitive, super-smart dogs to destructive behavior.

Pronunciation – Bare-Zhay Pee-Char


France remained an agricultural nation long after the Industrial Revolution began in other parts of Europe. And even today, livestock and dairy are integral parts of the French national character. Among the many pasture dogs developed by French shepherds over the centuries, the Berger Picard (bare ZHAY pee CARR) might be the oldest. This rustic herder was reputedly brought to northern France by the central-European Celts who invaded Gaul in prehistory.
While not every authority buys into this theory, all can agree that the Picard is a breed of great antiquity, with close family ties to such French herders as the Briard and Beauceron. The breed’s name is derived from its home region, Picardy. (In some countries, the Berger Picard is known as the Picardy Shepherd.) Picardy, today part of the Hauts-de-France region, has always been known as a great agricultural center and home to miles of rich pastureland. It comes as no surprise, then, that the farmers and cattlemen of the region took such pride in their indigenous sheepdog. It was exhibited in France’s first dog show, in 1863, and by the turn of the century dedicated breeders were at work fixing the Picard’s breed type.
The 20th century’s two world wars decimated the European populations of many breeds, but the ravages of war were especially hard on the Picard. Picardy, in the valley of the river Somme, was the site of ferocious battles in both wars, turning serene pastures into killing fields. The Picard nearly went extinct, but this spirited and assertive dog, though still rare, has made a comeback in recent years.
The breed’s visibility was boosted when a Berger Picard played the title role in the 2005 movie ‘Because of Winn Dixie.’ The breed received another splash of recognition in 2015, when the Berger Picard Club of America was admitted to the American Kennel Club.


Berger Picards are generally a healthy breed. Like all breeds there may be some health issues. Some dogs may be faced with these health challenges in their lives, but the majority of Berger Picards are healthy dogs.


The Berger Picard’s double coat consists of a soft, dense undercoat for insulation covered by a shaggy, wiry, waterproof topcoat. During shedding season, brushing every day or two with a rake and a slicker brush will remove the dead hair before it ends up on the floor and furniture. The rest of the year, a Picard only needs to be brushed once a month. The breed should be bathed only occasionally, and shampoos formulated for crisp coats are recommended. As with all breeds, the Picard’s nails should be trimmed regularly.


Bred to work in the fields, the Berger Picard is active and athletic, with plenty of stamina and drive. This high-energy breed needs lots of daily exercise and mental stimulation. The Picard must have a good outlet for all his energy, or he may become destructive and unhappy. Owners should expect to go on at least one long walk every day. Picards also make excellent companions on hikes and bike rides, and they enjoy swimming and playing fetch. Many Picards participate in agility, tracking, obedience, Schutzhund (protection), flyball, French ring sport, rally, and herding competitions.
We wrote an article detailing how much exercise your dog needs, here


As with all breeds, early socialization and puppy training classes are a must. Training should begin as early as possible to prevent bad habits from developing. Picards have a stubborn streak, but they are very intelligent and eager to please, so training is usually fairly easy. They are more likely to respond to praise and affection than to food, and are unlikely to respond to harsh training methods.


The Berger Picard should do well on a high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior). Berger Picards are athletic, active canines, so be mindful that your dog is getting enough good nutrition to meet his needs. Conversely, some dogs are prone to getting overweight, so watch your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.
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