Barbet – an extraordinary dog
Under the innocent look of a peaceful and sluggish little bear (and this is the first false impression) lies the unique character of one of the rarest breeds of dogs. Behaviour of barbets and their response to the surrounding world is absolutely exceptional and unique, as confirmed by anyone who has had to deal with them. Barbet hunts, retrieves form the water, does “dock-diving”, dog-trekking, obedience and agility sports. Barbet adapts to the lifestyle of his owners, he can spend half a day or a quiet evening rest to remind you of the necessary dose of exercises. A long walk with the attractions is the minimum on weekdays and on weekends you have to do more (although the dog will give you a good night’s sleep.) Barbet is a waterdog, he loves water and swimming for which he was “created”. If you are looking for a peaceful mascot, barbet is not for you. Thus dog needs Your time and attention. Barbets are hunting dogs not only by name as most dogs from FCI Group VIII. Many can hunt and fetch from the water. Preparing a dog to be a retriever and hunter is months of intense work. Of course you can turn barbet into soft toy, but why waste the unique trait?
The Barbet (French waterdog, Griffon d’Arret) is a very old breed. It is a medium-sized dog. It is listed in Group 8 (retrievers, flushing dogs, water dogs) by the Société Centrale Canine, the French Kennel Club, although prior to 1986 it belonged to a group of gun and pointing dogs – hence the name – Griffon d’Arrêt a Poil Laineux (7th group). Used to hunt game and waterfowl. It has woolly coat, which gives him excellent protection when working. The Barbet word derives from the French “barbe”, meaning beard, giving it a distinctive look. Barbet is a rustic breed (not “sophisticated” as it relative – the poodle). Breeders like to call it a rustic dog.
The breed stands 58 to 65 cms for the males in height, 53 to 61x for the females with a tolerance of 1 cm +/- and weighs 17 to 28 kg (35-60 pounds). Its coat can be long (approx 15cm), with oil in it to protect it. Poor quality of hair in some dogs is the result of interbreeding with other races. In short – its coat should never resemble a poodle coat. The accepted colors of the breed are solid black, brown, fawn, grey, pale fawn, white, or more or less pied. All shades of red-fawn and pale fawn are permitted. The shade should, preferably, be the same as the color of the body. Grey(natural born not faded grey) is extremely rare; mixed colors (except with white) are considered as a fault. The most common colors are black or brown with white markings. The birth figures worldwide for 2007 are 176. Most worldwide born were black or brown some with white markings on the chest, chin, and legs. The Barbet should be firmly and well proportioned built, strong, have a strong head, round and well-built chest, low set tail, not carried over the back and ending with a characteristic hook.
The Barbet’s personality is described as companionable, joyful, goofy, obedient, and intelligent. They are quick to learn and need lifelong obedience training. They are a great with children, families, and the elderly. These versatile dogs are more and more used in treating patients and caring for disabled and blind. Barbet is impulsive, strong and extremely smart and, above all, willing to work with people. Barbet will bond with its family and prefer to be in the same room with the family at all times. They need exercise daily to keep the dog in a healthy state of mind and body.
They are very capable retrievers for waterfowl hunting. In France the Barbet can take the Test d`Aptitudes Naturelle (T.A.N.) a basic water retrieving test and is permitted to participate in the BICP, which is a general hunting test involving field and water trials. In Germany the Barbet takes part in field trials.
As with all purebred dogs, the Barbet is vulnerable to certain genetic defects. Due to the limited gene pool for this breed, conscientious breeders carefully study pedigrees and select dogs to minimize the chance of genetic diseases. Unfortunately, like many breeds, a growing popularity has encouraged breeding by people who are not knowledgeable about the breed. Of the few health issues that have exhibited themselves, most problems can be traced back 4-6 generations. Often this was due to limited breeding stock as well as the fact that most matings were with dogs of unknown health history.