Did you know?
The English word “dog” comes from the Old English “docga” thought to be derived from the Proto-Germanic dukkon”, a word signifying strength.
Dogs display reluctance and wrath
If you try to give them a bath
They bury bones in hideaways
And half the time they trot sideaways.
– Ogden Nash
An extremely rare dog in Canada, the Barbet is a French water dog. His name comes from the French word for beard, “barbe”.
The earliest reference to the breed occurs in a book written in 1387. Many breeds can trace their development back to the Barbet. The Grand Barbet depicted in Count George Louis Buffon’s book Histoire Naturelle (1750) is thought to be the original source of the various water dog breeds including poodles, the Portuguese Water Dog, the American Water Spaniel, etc.
These dogs have also worked as sailors’ helpmates and companions but are best known for being waterfowl retrievers in the marshes, wetlands, and estuaries of France. In the 19th century the expression “muddy as a barbet” was a common descriptor and over time the word “barbet” became a generic term for any dog with a long, curly, woolly coat.
Throughout history they have been versatile working and companion dogs skilled in tracking and hunting game. Their versatility led to their near extinction after WWII. Today the Barbet is used for many activities, from hunting in marshes, to the show ring, to therapy.
Somewhat uniquely, this dog brings his own vocabulary to the language. A female Barbet is called a “Barbette”, a puppy is a “Barbichon”, and breeders are “Barbetiers”.
Photos displayed courtesy of Veronica Matthews, RoVer Barbets, Ontario
The Barbet is a medium sized dog standing up to 20.5-25.5 inches (65 cm) at the shoulder. He is covered in a long, woolly and curly coat that forms cords. The coat forms a healthy mustache and a beard on his chin. The Barbet’s skin is thick and his coat profuse, both of which serve as protection when the dog is swimming in icy waters.
Coat colour is solid black, grey, chestnut brown, fawn, pale fawn, white or more or less pied.
Although he does not shed, his coat grows continuously and must be brushed at least once a week. Known for his rustic long hair, if you keep the coat mat free, rustic looking and clean, clipping should not be necessary. However, the Barbet’s coat has been historically clipped in many different ways depending on his work and his lifestyle. Because of this, he may present different appearances.
In addition, as a long-eared water dog, he can develop problems if his ear canal is not cleaned regularly.
Like many of the sporting dogs, the Barbet’s personality can be described as companionable, cheerful, and alert. Above all, they enjoy being with their human companions. They can suffer from separation anxiety and shouldn’t be left alone for long periods. They are known to be extremely devoted to their masters, preferring to be in the same room at all times. True family dogs, they are great with children and the elderly.
Barbets will live with other dogs happily and early socialization will help them coexist with cats and other, smaller pets.
Obedient and intelligent, Barbets are quick to learn and do extremely well in conformation, obedience, agility, rally, and other dog sports. They are best in an active household as they need regular exercise to maintain their even temperaments. Remember as the original water dog, they love swimming. This is the dog to fetch sticks from the water as long as you’re willing to throw them!