The Barbet is a medium-to-large sized dog, weighing in at 25 to 65 pounds, and measuring 19 to 23.5 inches at the withers. Males are generally smaller than females. This very rare breed is a native of France, where it was developed as a water dog to be used mainly in finding, flushing and retrieving fowl. It has been used as a hunting water game dog since the 1500s. Barbets are tireless swimmers and great hunters. Its ancestors include Poodles, Bichons, Griffons, Otterhounds, Newfoundlands, and Briards, to name some. The name comes from the word for “beard”, “barbe”. Their non-allergenic, relatively non-shedding, curly coats come in solid black and brown, with or without white markings, fawn, and white. They can have markings in black, brown, fawn, gray and white, also. Their coats grow long so must be groomed often. Don’t be deceived into thinking that a non-shedding coat means less work. Quite the opposite, sometimes they require more. The Barbet’s coat requires life-long grooming. If left un-combed, the hair will become matted and tangled.
Due to the Barbet’s low numbers – there are only 300 registered with the AKC – there is not much known about their health issues. Responsible breeders are now trying to find hereditary links to typical health issues that appear in the breed, but it is the low number of dogs that make them extra vulnerable to certain genetic defects. The health issues that this rustic breed is known to have, include progressive retinal atrophy, hip dysplasia, epilepsy, hernias, and ear infections, to name a few. Despite this issues, they are quite long-lived, with an average lifespan of 13 to 15 years. There was even a recorded instance of one Barbet living to the ripe old age of 19 years.
Assigned to the American Kennel Club’s Sporting Group, Barbets are versatile gun dogs. Their keen intellect makes them all around dogs ready to take on any challenge. They are very intelligent and always ready to learn new things. They learn quickly and are relatively obedient, though they do need lifelong obedience training. They are calm, while at the same time joyful, friendly, sociable and cheery. They are loving, loyal, affable and easy to live with. They love children and make excellent family dogs, provided the family gives them regular exercise. They are known to mix well with other household dogs, but care must be taken when they are around smaller pets, as their sporting dog instinct can take over and they can give chase.
For more information on this wonderful breed speak with reputable breeders or go to the American Barbet Club.