Briards are intelligent, hard working, and alert. Combined with their endurance, these traits make Briards good herding dogs. Because the Briard like other herding breeds has a high level of energy, it needs physical and mental stimulation in the family environment. Dog sports such as flyball, tracking, agility, and obedience as sport can help meet these needs while allowing the dog to form a strong bond with its family. The Briard is also a good jogging companion and often a good swimmer. In addition, Briards bond with people in animal-assisted therapy, and their acute hearing makes them useful in law enforcement and search and rescue after disasters including avalanches.
The Briard is an ancient breed owned throughout history by familiar names like Napoleon, Charlemagne and Thomas Jefferson. The exact year of the Briards origination is not known, but most speculate that it was sometime in the seventh or eighth century. What is known is that the Briard descended from the guard dogs of Europe and the shepherds of the Orient. The breed quickly become the hunting and guard dog of choice among the French aristocracy and was often given as a gift to friends by Charlemagne. In the 1850's, the Briard was crossed with the Barbet and the Beauceron, leading way to the Briards that we know today. The French used Briards as war dogs during World War I where the dogs not only carried supplies and ammunition, but were also used to determine which soldiers needed medical assistance and which were close to dying. The dogs would seek out the former and pass by the later, letting medical personnel know which to attend to. The American soldiers were so impressed with the breed that they began importing them at the end of the war. The breed gained entry into the American Kennel Club in 1922.