About the breed

French Waterdog – an extraordinary dog

barbet georgia
GEORGIA ON MY MIND de la Serve de la Chappelle d’Alexandre

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.

Barbets have an unusual ailment to appear in the heart of events that change the course of history. Unfortunately, the same history for them is extremely cruel and many times these dogs have been facing extermination. With the drainage of swamps and wetlands, these dogs have lost their natural environment. Loss of “hunting culture” and the emergence of other more popular breeds meant that their benefits have ceased to be valued and the population quickly dwindled. Only few survived the First World War. After the Second World War, only a handful of dogs on a French farm, Mas de la Chapelle survived. And when one could thought that breed will be rebuild in “normal” way the Herman’s poodles came in. People who have old bloodlines dogs were marginalized, dogs were denied registration and issuing of pedigrees. Standard was defined and several times changed in such way, that the dogs could not meet (quite mention that over the years the standard increased dogs heights by 1 / 3).  More and more poodle blood was introduced.Unique contribution to the preservation of race was done by Rainer Georgii and Mr.Petre, who devoted their entire life for the breed. Their hard work has enabled the breed to survive in spite of difficulties.


 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.


Barbet – History

barbet-About the breed 2

The history of the “barbet-type dog” stretches back into antiquity. Although it’s exact origins, is subject to debate. One theory is that the barbet descended from corded herding dogs, originating in North Africa which were brought to Europe with the Moors as they occupied the Iberian Peninsula during the 7th and 8th centuries. Then furthering a field by returning armies from the Reconquista crossing the Pyrenees to France and central Europe. In 1570, Dr. Johannes Caius, who was personal physician to Queen Elizabeth’s first attempted to classify the barbet in his “De Canibus Britannicus”. Dog was described as “extremely useful and willing to play” and given him the nickname “Mud Dog” explained that the dog loves being in a muddy and waterlogged areas. The French king Henry IV, was a passionate of the hunting with dogs. In the year 1587 mrs, Corisande a certain lady picked on in the church by Mr. de Bellieure – Chancellor of Marie de ‘Medici heard that she came to the temple, accompanied by “a fool, monkey, and barbet. ” Without the political subtext (I do not know whether Henry was a fool or a monkey in the opinion of the chancellor), the whole incident proves that even then the breed was known and distinguished from other hunting dogs. In 1621 Markham in his “Art of stalking, “mentions of a waterdog so popular that it is unnecessary to describe it”. Breed also gave the source of the French saying “Crotta être comme un Barbet, meaning just “being very, very dirty”. In the eighteenth century Linnaeus called them Cams aquaticus major or the Greater Water Dog. As written in 1750, “Natural History” by Count Buffon George Louis appears the oldest known graphic representation of so called grand barbet. What was distinctive from the other spaniels, was a thick woolly coat and a great willingness to work in the water.

Barbet (Griffon) or barbet?

barbet-About the breed 4

barbet-About the breed 6
First pre-standard

Most countries other than France have understood the concept that a barbet was the French word for poodle. Grand, petit, barbichon regardless of size and type, any dog with a beard and a long coat was a barbet. These dog types were eventually put into groups and given breed names. One of the barbet types became a Caniche/Poodle, a bichon and so on. The barbet, generic type of dog with a long wooly coat mixed with gundogs such as the Griffon Korthals, the Grifon Boulet and several others who used Barbet blood. It was finally at some point in the 1880’s, given its breed name Barbet and a standard was written for it. Up to middle of 19th century barbet and poodle was the name for same kind/type of dogs. More about history of the breed, and differences between barbet/poodle and Barbet –Barbet History Project. The end of 19th century was crucial for development of French breeds. In that time from the general group of dogs called barbets or poodles, first real breeds appeared. First in the middle of century Poodle emerged (therefore Barbet cannot be an ancestor of Poodle), later Khortals Griffon and Griffon Boulet appeared in card of history. Finally as almost the last one – Barbet emerged as selected and morphologically unified breed. First know source and proof of its presence is from 1884, form French magazine called “Le Chenil”, in that particular year a “chienne griffon barbet francais – Perette II” was entered to “Stud Book Continental”. This it the time when breed – Barbet as we know it – started.

In next year two Barbets – Thug and Plock received prizes at Paris dog show. In 1886 first pre-standard of the race is published. It is worth to mention, judging by the descriptions, photos or articles (including categorizing breed at the dog show) Barbet was much closer to other Griffons like Khortals or Boulet than to Poodles. The history of the breed during that time is fascinating, however it is almost unknown. Breeders of poodley typed dogs, refuse to acknowledge that between one old drawing from 1750 and todays Barbet (which to them is nothing more than “bigger brother of Poodle) there is a chapter in breeds hisotry called Griffon Barbet.

One of 19th century sources:

1891 – Les races françaises de chiens d’arrêt – J. de Connick, P.Mahler

Barbet z "Les races françaises de chiens d'arrêt" - J. de Connick, ilustracje P.Mahler (Barbet ten prawdopodobnie nazywał sie PATAVEAU, należał do p. Deville mieszkającego w Paryżu)
Barbet from “Les races françaises de chiens d’arrêt” – J. de Connick, illustrations P.Mahler (Barbet was named PATAVEAU, id belonged to Deville living in Paris)


PILOTE, należacy do p. Coste
PILOTE, należacy do p. Coste

Le barbet est une sorte de griffon,à poils laineux et  frisés ; il est à peu près bâti comme lui mais est beaucoup  plus commun comme forme. Sa tête est ronde, les sourcils  couvrent les yeux, le museau est plus court, les pattes  sont grosses et lourdes, ses pieds ronds et larges. On en  trouve un peu de toutes les couleurs.

On donnait autrefois le nom de barbet à tous les griffons, et c’est plutôt pour établir la différence entre lui et  les griffons poils longs, que j’en donne la description, car  le barbet ne peut pas être absolument considéré comme  chien d’arrêt.

Il y en a certainement qui chassent en plaine et qui  arrêtent, mais c’est l’exception et on trouve de ces cas  dans bien d’autres races. J’ai vu des bassets et des beagles  qui arrêtaient et on ne les a jamais considérés comme  chien d’arrêts.

La vraie chasse du barbet est le marais, il résiste admi-  rablement aux froids les plus durs; il chasse très bien  les râles et excelle à rapporter les canards dans l’eau  glacée.  Sa conformation et l’épaisseur de sa toison l’empêchent  de chasser en plaine et au bois, où ses poils se prennent  dans les ronces. Il faut donc plutôt considérer le barbet  comme un retriever pour les chasses au marais.

Cette race, si tant est qu’elle existe encore à l’état de  race, est assez rare et ce n’est guère qu’en Belgique ou en  Hollande qu’on pourrait en trouver. M. Mégnin, dans son  nouveau livre sur les races de chiens, nous parle de Pilote,  barbet appartenant à M. Coste, et voici ce que lui en a dit  son propriétaire :

« Comme pour ses ancêtres, l’élément de Pilote c’est  l’eau, rien que l’eau, et qu’elle soit tiède comme en août  ou glaciale comme en décembre, le bain est toujours un  plaisir pour lui. Il ferait, je crois, triste figure dans une plaine, je ne l’y ai du reste jamais conduit. Au marais seul. il est sur son terrain et chez lui. Je l’ai souvent ramené de  la chasse le poil hérissé de glaçons, jamais il n’en a paru
incommodé une seconde. Souvent par les plus grands  froids de l’hiver, à 18 ou 19 degrés au-dessous du zéro,  alors que tous ses compagnons de chenil se pelotonnaient  frileusement dans la paille, je l’ai trouvé couché dans la  cour, le museau allongé sur ses pattes, couvert de neige  et littéralement poudré à frimas, le lendemain sa place  était marquée dans la neige fondue sous lui jusqu’au  sol. je me demande si beaucoup d’autres races offrent  de pareilles ressources de tempérament et surtout un tel  dédain des basses températures. Quel précieux auxiliaire  pour le chasseur de sauvagine dans le service exception-  nellement dur de cette chasse? car il rapporte par plaisir  et il aime à patauger plus encore que son maître, si jeune  et si enragé qu’il soit. »

Barbet d’Arret


Griffon is a type of hunting dog whose physical conditions make it able to work in difficult conditions. At the turn of the century this group of dogs included, among others, Khortals Griffon , Griffon Boulet , Griffon Bresse or Griffon a poil Laineux (with woolly hair) . Also Barbet wasquite often counted among the Griffons or was exhibited with them in one group of dogs. All these races were more or less similar (by crosses or similar origin ) . Unfortunately the begining of 20th century brought huge interest in outstanding English breeds, even in the French press canine of this period such as ” Le Chenil “, you could see (by a notice of litters , or exhibitions, or, finally, the entries in the pedigree books) that the influx of dogs from Great Britain was gigantic. Relatively freshly emerged breeds of Griffons were not able to withstand. Only Barbet and Khortals Griffon survived. Until about the mid-twenties the nineteenth century , there are no organized sources about breeding . There are mention of litters , and the success of the exhibition (eg in ” Le Figaro ” of Nov. 17, 1936 ), but because the dogs at the time often did not have kennel names , an analysis of these sources is very difficult.

dr Vincenti's barbetsThere were a few breeders before WWI, one of which was a M. Coste who produced a Barbet by the name of Pilote who portrays the Griffon-Barbet d’Arrêt standard. He is a typical representation of the Authentic Barbet or “Vieux Barbet Français” to this day for morphology. There were Barbets who hunted in the south of France, near the Camargue region. Two breeders were working together. They were the Floirac (Hourie de Floirac was the 1st Barbet to be SCC/ LOF registered) and Mas de la Chapelle kennels ( Joyeuse du Mas de la Chapelle). This is in the 30’s and early 40’s. WWII came along and put an end to a lot of breeding again, not only Barbets, but other breeds in many countries hit by war. Many breeds and not just the Barbet suffered from lack of precise ancestry. Many recovered due to close cooperation of a few people who worked for the survival of the breed. There was not money around for futile expenditures. Not many were interested in “wasting” money registering dogs (there was no logical reason to, at the time). Dogs which corresponded to the specifications they had ( standard!) worked, hunted, reproduced and everyone was happy. The Barbet was not an exception. The same thing happened to Polish Lowland Sheepdog and all Polish hunting breeds exterminated during IIWW, those breeds were rebuild based on dogs “in type” often living in same villages where they were used for hunting before war (there were cases where dogs were hidden and their papers burned to protect them). Still no one says today about them that they were/are extinct as some “barbets experts” states. The pedigree is not what makes a breed, morphology is.

In the same village, called Graveson, as the village where Doctor Vincenti, of the Mas de la Chapelle kennel, lived 2 brothers who saved the Barbet from extinction. The Ayme brothers, neighbours to the Mas de la Chapelle, and who lived in the Mas de la Musique a few hundred meters away, were able to keep the breed alive. In the 50’s, during a trip to Portugal, they saw a dog that looked like a barbet-type dog, a Portuguese Water Dog and brought him back with some cattle in a truck, to bring some new blood to the Barbets they had to avoid inbreeding. The original strain was therefore kept alive up to the 60’s, none having been registered at the SCC for many years. A Miss Postigo, from Marseille, registered some Barbets at the SCC in the late 60’s. These were ATI because the SCC had no records of the ancestry which had been kept alive in Graveson, by the Ayme brothers. In the early 70’s, Miss Postigo offered Mrs Pêtre (Doctor Vincenti’s daughter) a Barbet and breeding started again. This is the same process that was used by many breeds around the world and not just in France! Mrs Pêtre registered a kennel name in the early 80’s. It was Barbochos Reiau de Prouvenco. The dogs were SCC registered as Barbet d’Arrêt (pointing dogs).

Vieux Barbet and Modern Barbet

In 1977, Jean Claude Hermans, who had been a groomer and was very interested in the canine world, wrote an article about the corded Poodle in a canine review. The corded poodle was in the past also called the Royal Poodle. He then took an interest in a rare breed called the Barbet. He had seen an ad in a canine revue, about Barbet puppies available in the south of France. He thought the breed extinct for over a hundred years( that is how the rumour started about the breed being extinct which it never has been) and was intrigued. He contacted the breeder, Mrs Pêtre but never went to see her. After having seen one dog that had been placed in the Paris area where he lived, he had as a plan to start from scratch, ignore any of the SCC/LOF (Liste des Origines Françaises) registered Barbets and decided to “re-incarnate” the breed. He went around local rescue centers around Paris and selected some ATI (A Titre Initial = no known ancestry) Barbet-type dogs ( Lynx and Sérienoire), registered them and called them Barbets. Then, he began mating them without any known breeding plan. At some point, he was given the right by the SCC to do a cross-breeding (of a Barbet with a Poodle) to add some diversity. Since he had decided to re-incarnate the breed and claimed the Barbet was extinct at the turn of a century, he began using poodles and crossing them (brothers and sisters/ daughter and father). There was never any concern with any health issues at the time. The first true crossbreeding of an ”Authentic Barbet/Vieux Barbet Français” with a Barbet Moderne only took place in 2000, and never before regardless of the claims of several who speak about a crossbreeding.. The breeder who braved the ban of mixing the 2 sides (Authentic and Moderne) was publicly ridiculed. He had a difficult time finding poodle breeders who would accept to work with him because at the time the Poodle club of France was against his “plan”. In 1980, he decided to start a club, proclaimed himself president and also became an SCC judge to help his cause. He needed to have at least 50 births per year to be able to stand on his own. He climbed up the canine ladder and has become involved in several breeds over the years. He did his best to get as many people as possible to have litters, only ever having one litter of Barbets himself! His only objective was to have the tightest curliest coats. This particular legacy lives on to this date and very often, morphology is put aside when a tight curled poodle-type can be selected into the Barbet Moderne. There were LOF Barbets around with Barbet blood in them, others were ATI, but his strategy was to reincarnate the Barbet de Buffon from 1760, by using Poodles, so he methodically began to refuse confirmation of many Barbets especially those from Mrs Pêtre and her collaborators, and modified the standard so taller Poodle type dogs would correspond “better” to his vision of the breed. The Poodle coat being dominant, it is very difficult nowadays to get away from the Poodle “type” and therefore be able to show dogs in a long coat as stated in the standard ( FCI 105).

sangria-poppenspalersIn the early 1990’s, a German man by the name of Rainier T. Georgii and his companion Inge Fischer moved to France. They were well known in the working dog world for her successful Irish Water Spaniel breeding. They fell in love with the Barbet, decided to work for its survival and used as foundation stock a Barbet by the name of Hercule di Barbochos Reiau de Prouvenco. A long collaboration started between Mrs Pêtre and the Georgii/Fischer team. M Hermans decided to fight tooth and nail any of the dogs produced by M Georgii, who was forced to register his Barbets in Germany. All-out war raging between the two men, resulted in falsifying pedigrees. Over 30 years, the breed club has never been able to resolve any issues for lack of competences and willingness to do so. Nor has it helped any breeders working for the survival of this rare French breed. M. Georgii is honorary member of the French Barbet and other waterbreeds’ club and so is Mrs Pêtre. Over the years, many people who loved the breed and wanted to help with its survival were discouraged and finally gave up. That is the reason why many kennel names never registered more than one perhaps two litters before giving up. This information is available on pedigree databases. The data about other blood added into the Barbet is available today thanks to many other breeds’ pedigree databases, the archives available and the research which has been done. This has revealed a lot of valuable information needed by the breeders of Barbets. These dogs do all have common ancestors. These additions of blood, however, were necessary for the breed’s genetic diversity and survival, but known by only a few long term breeders and hidden for many years from the others until recently. Litters were never evaluated by the breed club and progeny registered according to breed type. All progeny was given a first class registration. A tremendous amount of damage was done to the breed. M Hermans finally gave up presidency of the club he founded, in 2001. He is now involved in other breeds and updates a website concerning dog paintings, postcards and the likes. He is honorary member of the Swiss Barbet club. After years he stated that ” We have therefore recreated the barbet thanks to the standard of another breed and thanks to the confusion of misleading information. Today it is easy to differentiate two lines in the breed , one so called “Vieux Barbet” – the old type, pedigrees of those dogs are mainly founded on dogs registered in 60s and 70’s in France (our Ila is a good example) and so called “modern Barbet” – pedigrees of those dogs are mainly founded on poodles and other dogs introduced to the breed by Hermans – Swiss example.

how much there is a Barbet in Barbet ?

How come so large differences in one breed, why some dogs have beautiful long-haired coats and others are regularly shaved. From our perspective, look at the pedigree is enough to understand more or less what it is and where the dog comes from, for you – pedigree cut on the fourth generation can say absolutely nothing. And so the riddle of why the two standing next to each other dogs of the same breed can be so different, is impossible to answer. Statistical Barbet has a lineage reaching 7-8 generations (exactly 7.3 – as of year 2012), and so literally the paper version bypasses its key starters. A simple example of the dog which often appears in the pedigreesCH FR de l’Etang de Fontmerle R’Mohican. Looks like a sound Barbet, champion of France, from French kennel but can We be sure? his own pedigree dispels doubts, he is a Barbet only in name, his entire lineage – portuguese water dogs, poodles and two dogs from the shelter (last column on the right), of all those dogs only one looked like Barbet. The whole problem of the origin of dogs is taboo and some breeders avoid answering questions about the origin of the dogs, because the next logical question is – “and what it is and whence comes my future dog” and the answer “from a poodle” is not very encouraging, it is also quite common option that the “breeder” simply does not know what is in the pedigrees of the dogs. Given the small population of old lines there is no longer (and never will be) the possibility to breed Barbet without any admixture of new lines, but still with proper breeding, we can breed beautiful dogs in the proper type, with a large proportion of dogs descanding old lines. On paper, each Barbet belongs to the breed but in the race today (although the division is not new), there are two lines of dogs conventionally called – Vieux Barbet and Modern Barbet. Example – Ulysse di Barbochos de Reiau Pouvenco i Alias De Ile Romande. Take a look at their pedigrees. Those two dogs could be shown in one exhibition and one does not have anything to do with the other except the name of the breed, in their pedigrees, there are no common ancestors and their appearance (without the characteristics common to dogs in general) is quite different. 

officially …

The reasons for this state of affairs is explained in the section about breed’s history. Just a reminder old lines descended from dogs registered with the 60s and 70s,  another completely new line of dogs was created in the late 80’s. The godfather of this new line of dogs is JC Hermans (for many years the President of the French Barbet Club). This short text actually containes the whole drama of events that changed the race and almost led to the replacement of the Barbet with a hybrid of other races. What it is not shown – ordinary people and breeders who have been bullied and forced to abandon the breed unable to resist the influence of one well connected man. For many years, JC Hermans maintained that there is no historical references about Griffon Barbet after as these, however, began to appear, it is how he commented mention of nineteenth-century exhibition which was attended by Barbets:

vieux barbet
One of many JC Herman’s messages, red & black annotationa by Elaine Fichter

When I decided to recreate barbet ( Buffon’s barbet –today we know that Buffon’s Grand Barbet was a poodle – TT), sometimes I’ve seen dogs in the type of Griffon Barbet and had to eliminate them from breeding and reproduction. At one point I thought it might be interesting, kill two birds with one stone and simultaneously recreate Barbet and Griffon Barbet. TT) that adding yet Griffon Barbet would adding fuel to the fire.

J de Coninck wrote a standard for Griffon Barbet also called Barbet d’arret (hunting –TT). When the race disappears (in 1977, when Hermans decided to start his fantasy, already 50 registred Barbets lived in France – well, they must have been invisible – TT), its name is never removed from the nomenclature (of course it is, as it happend with Boulet Griffon – TT ), barbet therefore still existed with the standard for GriffonBarbet. As a result, I could officially modify the standard and go from Griffon Barbet to Barbet, without saying anything. At the same time there has been a change of nomenclature and the new barbet could change the group (from 7th do 8th – TT) and be with his brothers from other countries.. So we have recreated barbet, thanks to other breed standard and confusion of misleading information.

but still some resisted

The people who opposed him were Rainer Georgii i Inge Fischer. This is how the fight looked from their side:

vieux barbet

vieux barbetvieux barbetAs JC Hermans wrote, barbet was invented anew, and many breeders now breed new Barbet, a proprietary mix of several races, trying at all costs to link it with the historic type of dogs (it is as if today someone would argue argue that it labradoodle is a labrador). Altough Hermans did not manage to eliminate the old line, his successors and are still trying to do it. It is worth mentioning that the division into two lines has become “a topic to avoid” just recently, even twenty years ago, when it seemed that there is only a step away from the extermination of the old lines, breeders openly talked about the new breed with old name. Today, when it turned out that the old lines withstood the bad times, modern type breeders are trying to convince everyone that the old type of dog does not exist or even that it does not correspond to standard. Not many know that back in time another Club was created to protect the old type and was called “l’Amis du Barbet”.

vieux barbet
French article written some 30 years ago. On the left the old type is described, on right the modern type. This part starts with a honest declaration by the modern barbet breeder that history of this type starts in 1977

A bit of history

Odbudowa rasy – starych linii, w latach 70-tych, przebiegała identycznie jak np. Polskiego Owczarka Nizinnego, psy w typie rasy rejestrowano we Francuskiej Księdze Wstępnej (stąd przy imionach psów – TI czyli Titre Initial), następnie ich potomstwo było sprawdzane i dopuszczane do”>Rebuilding race – the old line, in the 70s, proceeded the same way as many others breeds including f.e. Polish Lowland Sheepdog, dogs in breed type were registered in the French Preliminary Book o (hence the names of dogs with – TI – Titre Initial), then their offspring was checked and allowed to further breeding.

vieux barbet
Photos of dogs that become the basis of the old lines.
1. R’LUCKY (1968-03-01), 2. S’GANDAR (1969-07-28), 3. U’GRIBOUILLE (1971), 4. THAIS (1970-12-22 – R’LUCKY (T.I) x PHEBEE DITE DOLY (T.I)), 5. ISLAM (1973-07-01), 6. M’DIOUNE (1976-01-01), 7. NOE (1977-04-01), 8. O’PLUTART (1978-06-01), 9. OPS (1978-09-03 – U’GRIBOUILLE (T.I.) x THAIS ) , 10. PHELIE (1979-04-23), 11. RHETIE (1980-02-21 U’GRIBOUILLE x JOYEUSE)- 12. SOUSHONG (1981-07-25 – ISLAM (T.I.) x OPS), 13. GAUGIN des Marécages du Prince (1991-01-01)

In the case of S’Gandar, which was registered as TI, I have a copy of card entry, where his owner – daughter of Dr. Vincenti (pre-war breeder) inscribed his full pedigree derived from the pre-war kennel Mas de Chapelle, SCC, however, had not been able to take this information and S’Gandar remained TI dog. Modern line is younger by several years and for a long period its development took place without crossbreeding with the old lines whose existence was gradually reduced.  Here You can trace the changes done to the standard and what it meant for the breed when first modification in 1986 was done. Pay attention to how dogs “grew” within this period. It is this increase in the size of the dog, that was the main tool for the elimination of old lines as virtually all elements of the standard are vague and immeasurable, except height. So where breeding committee or some other body of the club is “checking” the dog (Switzerland and France), it is enough to measure it and say that dog is 1 cm too small and can not be approved for breeding (such things are still happening). Simple and without fuss. However just by wishful thinking, as such, breed can not grow. Today the mediana of studs is 58 cm and for emales 53 cm (with minimums 57 and 52 cm). Simply put, the race doesn’t have the gene pool, which would allow to achieve the required sized Below list of dogs that gave rise to the modern barbet. Note that the photos of most f those dogs are nowhere to be found. Although Poodles introduced to the breed originated sometimes from a reputable lines, eg. from the famous Waycliff. vieux barbet

Dogs introduced by Hermans. 1. LYNX (1975-01-05) – first and most griffon-lool-alike dog, 2. SERYNOIRE (1981-08-15), 3. BRUSS du Haut Pacquis (white Poodle) (1986-07-24), 4. BLACKY (Poodle) (1986-12-10), 5. BARON de l’Ame du Prince des Hortillons (Poodle) (1987), 6. UDITH del’Ame du Prince des Hortillons (Poodle) (1982), 7. do Condinho LUZ (Portuguese Water Dog) (198?), 8. ESTURGEONNE des Saute Ruisseaux ( 1989-01-05 – BARON de l’Ame du Prince des Hortillons (Poodle) x ULYSSIA des Marécages du Prince), 9. H’ALIX (1992-12-16), mix of PWD, poodle oraz Lynx&Serynoire – chyba najbardziej tajemniczy z tych psów (GALLO des Canailles de Verbaux x do Condinho Luz (Portuguese Water Dog)) his pedigree was removed in 2012.

The origin of those dogs is quite obvious – they were mostly standard poodles. Doubts arise only with three dogs – Lynx, Serynoire and H’alix. Lynx and Serynoire were dogs found by Hermans in sub-Parisian shelters. Lynx was quite nice type of the dog, fitting the Barbet standard and was objectively a nice dog, Serynoire was more in the type of poodle. The evaluation of these dogs is problematic for another reason – there are breeders stating that the Lynx never mated any females (although, according to pedigrees he had over forty offspring), moreover tracing the simplest of colors inheritance (black / brown) in the offspring of these dogs, indicates that not everything is there, the truth ? We will probably never know. H’alix, whose pedigree miraculously disappeared in 2012, was a mongrel dog mix of Portuguese Water Dog, the offspring of Lynx and Serynoire and a few poodles. vieux barbet

ULYSSE di di Barbochos Reiau de Prouvenco. One of the last four purebreed Barbets: Islam (ATI) origin unknown 1973-07-01 25,0% S’Gandar (ATI) origin unknown 21,9% Phebee/Dolly (ATI) origin unknown 1966-06-21 20,3% R’Lucky (ATI) origin unknown 1968-03-01 20,3% Noë (ATI) origin unknown 1977-04-01 9,38% M’Dioune (ATI) origin unknown 3,12%
barbet moderne
des Saute Ruisseaux Esturgeonne, and his pedigree. : Serynoire (ATI) origin unknown 1981-08-15 25,0% Lynx (ATI) origin unknown 1975-01-05 25,0% de l’Ame du Prince des Hortillons Udith Poodle 25,0% vom Gibichenstein Ada Poodle 3,12% Jo-Ki Black Game of Chance Poodle 3,12% von der Gibichsburg Burga Poodle 3,12% Wycliffe Timoteo Poodle 3,12% Apiele Nominee Poodle 3,12%

The breed had also been crossbreeded with other breeds. These, however, you will not find in official documents (though here You can read about the icrossbreeding with the Irish Water Spaniel). Portuguese Water Dog, Spanish Water Dog, the Irish Water Spaniel. One must remember that the both lines were (and are) for many years  a subject of selection, the old line into the dog of the old type and the dogs modern in their direction and the characteristics desired (regardless of their values) are amplified in this process. Vieux Barbet line today is still very rare, in contrast to its newer rival. No more than 1/5 of all breeders trying to keep it alive. However, awareness is slowly growing, and I hope that the old lines can be saved , because they are a real treasure, not only for the breed but also for dogs as such. Modern line as a conglomerate of other breeds, may be started over again at any time with same idea behind it. Both lines in the breed are very different from each other, exactly the same way as different are their origins. Extremely curly and dry hair (sometimes regularly shaved – in long-haired breed!), small heads, long narrow muzzle, poor construction, tails lying on back, or walking “on toes” and the lack of any passion for work. Today, at one dog show, side by side those dogs might be shown (they are both Barbets afterall, however Eustrogenne is gone), not sharing with each other a single common ancestor, a simple question which one belongs to which line? And if at all the dog on the right is a Barbet?





FCI-Standard N° 105 / 29. 03. 2006 /GB

TRANSLATION : Jennifer Mulholland.

ORIGIN : France



UTILIZATION: Water dog used for hunting wildfowl. Like all water dogs, the French Water Dog is more than just a retriever; he must search for, locate and flush out the game hiding in the water vegetation. He then retrieves the game shot by his master. Very resistant to cold, he shall go to water in all weather.

CLASSIFICATION F.C.I.: Group 8 Retrievers, Flushing

Dogs, Water Dogs.

Section 3 Water Dogs

With working trial.


BRIEF HISTORICAL SUMMARY: A very ancient breed, common throughout France, used for hunting waterfowl and

described or mentioned in several works as early as the 16th century.


GENERAL APPEARANCE: Medium proportions, medium size, characterized by a thick, woolly coat which guarantees efficient protection against cold and damp. The coat forms a beard (French barbe) on the chin, which gave the breed its name (Barbet).


• The muzzle is slightly shorter than the skull.

• The length of the body, measured from the point of

shoulder to the point of buttock, is slightly more than the

height at the withers .


BEHAVIOUR/TEMPERAMENT: Even disposition, very

attached to his master, very sociable, loving water even when

very cold.


HEAD: The coat on the skull must fall onto the bridge of the

nose. The beard is long and furnished; the moustache entirely

covers the bridge of the nose.



Skull: Rounded and broad.

Stop: Defined.



Nose: Broad, with well opened nostrils; black or brown depending on the colour of the coat.

Muzzle: Quite square. The bridge of the nose is broad.

Lips: Thick, well pigmented and completely covered by long hair. Black or brown edges.

Jaws/teeth: Jaws of equal length. Scissors bite. Strong teeth.

Incisors well developed and well aligned.

Eyes: Round, preferably dark brown. The rim of the eyelid is black or brown.

Ears: Set on low (at eye level or slightly lower), long, flat, wide, covered by long hair hanging in strands. When brought together in front of the nose, the ears (including the hair) reach at least 5cms beyond it. The ear cartilage reaches further than the corner of the mouth.


NECK: Short and strong.



Back: Solid with well sustained topline.

Loin: Arched, short and strong.

Croup: Round, seen from the side, in smooth continuation of the line of the loin.

Chest: Broad, well developed, deep, reaching the elbow; ribcage rounded but not barrel-like.



Slightly raised, carried above the horizontal when the dog is in action, low set, forming a slight hook at the tip.





Shoulders: Oblique. The scapulo-humeral angle varies between 110° and 115°.

Upper arm: Strong and muscular.

Lower arm: Straight, strong bone, upright, completely covered by long hair.



Upper thigh: Slightly oblique, well muscled.

Hock: Low, well angulated.

Metatarsus (Rear pastern): Upright.


FEET: Round, broad, covered by hair.



MOVEMENT/GAIT: Easy movement, the limbs moving in line with the body. Medium length foreleg stride with good thrust from the hindquarters.


SKIN: Relatively thick.


HAIR: Long, woolly and curly; can form strands. The coat is furnished, covering the whole body in a natural state. This is an essential characteristic of the breed. The French Water Dog may be groomed in a specific manner to accomodate its work and maintenance.


COLOUR: Solid black, grey, brown, fawn, 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 colour of the body.



Height at the withers: Dogs: 58cm – 65cm

Bitches: 53cm – 61 cm

With a tolerance of +/- 1cm



Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree.

• Head fine and narrow, muzzle thin and too long, lips thin.

• Overshot or undershot. Wry jaw.

• Light eyes.

• Ears set high (higher than eye level), thin, short and narrow.

• Neck long and thin.

• Topline hollow.

• Loin long and weak.

• Croup straight.

• Chest narrow.

• Tail set on high, curved over the back, curled over or lying on the croup or loin. Tail naturally absent or too short.

• Shoulders straight.

• Upper arm thin.

• Forearm with fine bone; feathering.

• Hindquarters: Upper thigh flat, hocks straight, feathering; presence of dewclaws. Feet fine and narrow, not covered by coat.

• Skin thin.

• Coat short, harsh, not woolly, not curly.

• Colours: Any colour other than those mentioned in the




• Aggressive or overly shy.


Any dog clearly showing physical or behavioural abnormalities shall be disqualified.


N.B.: Male animals should have two apparently normal testiclesfully descended into the scrotum.


Moustache – The Barbet Hero

barbet-About the breed 20Have you ever wondered what animals accompanied the Grand Army? Quite simple – horses pulling mules … , maybe the cattle driven in the role of live stocks. Eagles? Also, but rather, as emblems and coats of arms. More interested in the topic, will start to think … maybe dolphins? After all, someone has created a plan of crossing the English Channel on these mammals, each soldier had to have his own water horse. There are bees also, hard-working insect with the letter “N” was a sign of Bonaparte. Pigeons? That is all, even in my modest library dedicated to the era, none of the authors did not devote even the shortest note to the dogs.

Moustache history began in 1799 (and thus in the year in which Napoleon’s star began to shine) when 40th regiment (or if you like half-brigade) infantry marched through Caen in Normandy, heading to the front. Puppy of a local baker, was lured by the sounds of fun playing drums and stood long time to watch the motley soldiers, and when the regiment went out of town, he followed. For three days Barbet was keeping a safe distance from the regiment. At night, he circled around, and wandered through the surrounding swamps and marshes. On the fourth day when he approached the camp he was one big ball of dry mud. How do he have to look like if the soldiers nicknamed the dog “moustache”?, while the name of the breed comes from the characteristic beard? It is interesting that in the near future, the moustache will become a compulsory part of the appearance of veterans of Napoleon’s army.


At thirteenth of June 1800 during the Italian Campaign, dog detected an Austrian spy who infiltrated the camp. The evening the same day the French encamped in the valley of Balbo, in the middle of the night barking dog woke up the sleeping soldiers, the angry man couldn’t calm him down. Soon the “awaken” camp was attacked by the enemy using the cover of darkness. Soldiers repelled the enemy with difficulty and Moustache was slightly injured during skirmish. Everyone knew who they owe their lives to. A day later, Barbet took part in the Battle of Marengo, a warrant officer was defended by him against an attack of another dog. This was his service during the fight – always at the center of the regiment at the side of a warrant officer.

barbet-About the breed 22Austerlitz

Fame came on the day of the greatest victory of Napoleon. On December 1805 – on fields of Austerlitz stood more than 150,000 soldiers. Fortieth regiment was positioned on the left wing, in front of Bagration, under the command of the Marshal Jean Lannes (the regiment was part of the second division of Vth Corpus). On the opposite flank, Napoleon set 9,000 people under Davout, facing over 30,000 enemies. It is here where under the guidance of the brilliant Marshal took place the crucial part of battle. At the nine hell was unleashed. Davout hardly maintained position, while Lannes was supposed to gain the position of the enemy. At about the fourteenth, when the battle was already won, Lannes ordered the attack. The French attacked the Russians, after one of the battles scarred troops retreated to reorganize before the next attack. Then it turned out that on the field between the armies remains severely wounded soldier with the regimental flag and with the eagle. The loss of these “relics” given by the Emperor himself was a disgrace for each regiment and would be a strong blow to the morale of the troops (the loss of the eagle, occurred only once.) A dying soldier with last ounce of strength wrapped in the flag, to impede the opponent from gaining it. The distance between the armies was approximately 300 meters. Under the deadly fire there was no possibility of reaching the wounded. The Frenchman was left alone … almost alone, dog keeping always close to the standard-bearer also this time did not leave, despite the heavy fire Barbet stood by the dying. This scene was so incredible that nearby troops ceased fighting. Fire (including artillery) on a narrow stretch was only maintained by the Russians trying to kill the dog. For several seconds without move, Moustache was targeted by several hundreds of cannons and rifles. Before the soldier died, the dog was hit twice. We do not know if the soldier gave him the last command, or the dog knew what to do. Moments later, pulling a banner Barbet headed back to their own. Loosing lot and ineffectiveness of the fire let the angry Russians to release their Great Dane, this over 60kg colossus sped towards the smaller opponent. Wounded Moustache, with the banner in his mouth, had no chance to escape when the dog approached, Barbet proudly turned in his direction and took the fight. The extraordinary event was watched by few thousand people, the officers of high ranks and Marshal Lannes himself. Nobody knew how Moustache done what they had witnessed. After a short fight Great Dane lay dead, and wounded Barbet arrived at the French line. Soldiers immediately brought out the little hero from the battlefield, the dog has been bandaged (except for two gunshot, he had broken his paw). Since in Napoleon’s army everyone was measured by his deeds, and Jean Lannes, was the hero of the army, not without reason, so no one was surprised by visit, he made to a wounded dog. Gasconian decorated dog for bravery with a medal minted in silver, saying: “Moustache, French dog, a brave soldier, worthy of respect” on the back and “In the battle of Austerlitz, wounded with a broken paw, he saved the banner of the regiment. ” By the command of Marshal dog was enlisted to the paylist of the regiment, receiving a full food rations and pay. A few days later, Barbet was presented to Napoleon, for whom he performed some tricks. Emperor laughed, when after saying “the enemies of Napoleon, ” Barbet raised the rear paw. Another version says that that Moustache was saluting the Emperor

Siege of Badayoz

Moustache traveled across Europe, fought at Jena and Friedland (and thus in Poland), together with the regiment he went to the unfortunate Spain, where the star of Napoleon began to fade. In 1809, V Corps, participated in the second siege of Saragossa. On March 11, 1811, after twelve years of service, during the siege of Badajoz, the cannoball reached our Barbet veteran, the soldiers buried him on the battlefield, on the tombstone were the only two words: “Brave Moustache”. Unfortunately, the Spaniards destroyed the tomb and bones of the dog were dug up and burned. Few years later the same Spaniards, will ask falling Emperor for help.

barbet-About the breed 24Moustache was not only known Barbet era, a faithful guardian Moffino separated from the owner in far Russia, crossed half of Europe to find him in Milan. There was also a famous magazine keeper Toffino and Barbuche  the watchman, who lost a paw in defending regimental drummer. Their stories are a task for a professional historian.

Napoleon wanders through the camp, asking veterans playing cards:
– How is the game going for the brave Moustache?
– He has good cards, but… he wags his tail then.

March 11, 2006 year in Asnieres-sur- commemorative plate was unveiled


• Mad. Jeancourt-Galignani, Les Caniches et leur Elevage (Paris: 1958)
• J. Jupin, Les Chiens Militaires dans l’Armee Francaise (Paris: Berger-Levrault, 1887)
“The Use of Dogs in War: A Frenchman’s Notion of them as Soldiers,” The New York Times, 7 April 1889,.
• Internet