Meet the Barbet: A Fun-Loving (And Fuzzy) Water Dog

Meet the Barbet. This fluffy breed has burst onto the scene, recently joining the AKC and the Westminister Kennel Club Dog Show.

While Barbets may not be a new dog breed per se, they were recognized by the American Kennel Club in 2020 and will make their debut at the Westminiser dog show in 2021.

Barbet's are known for their stellar personalities. They have been called playful, quirky, clownish, goofy, and loving. The Barbet Club of America has long championed the breed calling them "loyal, smart." The barbet has been around since 1994 with around 500 in the United States. The club has around 100 members.

Where did Barbet's come from?

According to the Barbet Club, the pup was a water dog in France; the dogs were used for a hunting water game. In the 16th century, the French used the dogs mainly as a sporting dog as pups were the primary retrievers of water fowl.

Since they are a French water dog, their name gives their heritage a nod and is pronounced "bar-bay" and comes from the French word for beard, barbe. The gun dog has a rather pronounced lineage stemming from Bichons, Briards, Poodles, and Newfoundlands.

While the breed is not as well-known now, they made it into paintings sitting in French fields or marshes. People have even said that Napoleon himself had his own Barbet. According to the AKC, King Henry IV had a Barbet that he would hunt water fowl alongside. The dogs were naturally drawn to water and muddy mischief, which garnered them the nickname, "mud dog."

However, the World Wars caused harm to the breed, almost ending it completely.

Do Barbet dogs shed? 

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The woolly fur of the Barbet breed may give potential owners pause. First, their curly coat is actually not fur — It is considered to be hair. That curly hair has always kept them warm in cooler weather and in the water. The rare breed has a fairly high maintenance fur regime; it needs to be brushed and combed frequently to maintain. It also not designed to be shaved or trimmed. The long hair is a part of their signature look!

Barbet club president Barbara Gresham said to the AKC an ideal owner is, "Someone who like to brush and comb their dog frequently."

Their hair has many variations. They can have white markings on black, brown, gray or fawn colored hair.

How big do Barbets get?

Babets can grow to be between 30 and 60 pounds and about 19 to 24 inches tall, depending on if they are male of female and its lineage. The dogs are incredibly active and agile. Their exercise needs will have to be met so they do not become bored. They excel at activities such as frisbee, fetch, and anything that involves speed or agility.

A purebred Barbet puppy is usually around 10-15 pound when they are two months old.

How can you expect your Barbet to live?

The lifespan of a Barbet is around 12-15 years. However, there are some genetic predispositions that the dogs do suffer from. They are known to have epilepsy and hip dysplasia. Barbet club Treasurer Stacy Able, said "We have a relatively young population in the United States, so we will have to gather more data as we progress. Breeders on the BCA website are required to test hips, elbows, and eyes."

The breed is also known to suffer fro progressive retinal atrophy, another generic trait breeders are trying to weed out.

The breed is registered as a sporting breed with them enjoying such activities as agility, conformation, and dock diving. The dogs can compete in related activities and obedience trials.

How much does a Barbet cost? 

The BCA has a list of approved breeders on their site if you are interested in having your very own water dog. Breeders are in Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Texas, Vermont, and Wisconsin.

Your very own French Barbet puppy will cost you about $2,000- $4,000. Many reputable breeders have a lengthy wait list. It can be a year or more before you can get a Barbet puppy.

In the meantime, you can stalk the re-emerging breed on Instagram!

Would you get a Barbet? Let us know over on our Wide Open  Pets Facebook page. 

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