The early origins of this French water dog have been lost in the mists of time but its roots have been traced back to the Middle Ages. The first references to the breed appeared in the 14th century and the Barbet’s propensity for water, plus its ability to point and retrieve, led to its selective breeding as a waterfowl gun dog over the ensuing centuries. In time, their fearlessness in frigid waters endeared them to sailors as well. In addition, the breed’s versatility was appreciated by shepherds who used them as drovers for their flocks. The ancient Barbet is believed to be the ancestor of many of today¹s breeds, such as the Poodle, Bichon, Griffon, Otterhound, Newfoundland, Briard and several varieties of water dog. Despite its long history, the Barbet began to lose ground to breeds such as the Poodle in the 19th century and faced extinction. Still quite scarce, the Barbet has aroused interest in rare-breed ranks.
Docile and sociable, the Barbet is even-tempered and non-aggressive. This shaggy, friendly dog is reputed to be a wonderful and devoted family pet that dotes on children and gets along well with other animals.
Vigorous and tough, the Barbet currently rates among the top agility dogs in France. He enjoys regular challenging exercise such as swimming, retrieving or hunting.
The medium-sized Barbet falls between 20-25.5 in (53-65 cm) at the withers. The weight ranges from 44-55 lb (20-25 kg).
The thick coat covers the body and is long, woolly, and curly, forming cords. The hair on the head reaches down to the nose and obscures the eyes. A thick beard and moustache completes the appealing picture.
Though many colours are acceptable, the coat should be a
uniform colour. Barbets may be black, brown, grey, fawn, with white markings. Pied (white with colour pattern) may be with black, brown and fawn.
Be forewarned: this is a high-maintenance coat. It mats easily, especially if the dog swims often. Regular brushing and combing are a must.