Barbet ?

vieux barbet

Vieux Barbet and Modern Barbet

A month ago Eva Olsson has published on her blog an article about her experiences with Barbets. I think it’s worth to read because it was written by a person who looks at the race from the perspective of the owner and not from the breeder. Eva’s article drew our attention to one important thing, to by no means an academic debate – 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 Barbetsvieux 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.

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Above two of many examples how JC Hermans tried to change the breed by influencing the judges. The most important criteria – height and tight curls,
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Another letter to the judges, JC Hermans reminds them to that Griffon Barbet type must be eliminated.

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

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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

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. Unofficially ..

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. The process of …

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. 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? 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%














“But people should know. The more we are aware the better decision we can make – either it comes to breeding or to buy a puppy. It is apparently known facts that are important not only for decisions in breeding and tracing health issues in research, calculate COI etc but also for all those who own or is looking for a Barbet. This dogworld of ours never stops to amaze me. I am not a breeder, studowner or a club boardmember – only a simple and interested barbet owner. I have recently discovered that my own dog is by most part a lot of other known and unknown breeds than he is barbet. Especially since we have a breed that varies a lot in types because of its history. What even more amazes me is that establishment around the barbet knew about these facts but choose not to tell. How do You explain this question to puppybuyers whom discover this afterwards like myself? I would like to know and understand how you reason in this matter. As in anything I would like to purchase I would’ve liked accurate information before acting rather than after. Don’t get me wrong; I am crazy about and love my precious dog for what he is and wouldn’t give up on him for anything no matter what I discover in his pedigree. But we all like different and when buying a expensive and purebred dog I would have liked openness to make my choice out of facts that really are known rather than to discover he has a complete different background from what is stated. We can’t change history but we can change and share what we have learned today to improve tomorrow. It would be fair to all involved and mostly benefit our breed and its future. A fact just as important as to register litters.” – Eva Olsson

All photos and scans used in article courtesy of Elaine Fichter

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