Lifespan: 12 - 13 years.
Temperament: Stubborn, Energetic, Lively, Intelligent, Assertive, Mellow.
Colors: Fawn, Grey.
Height: Male: 60-65 cm, Female: 55-60 cm.
Weight: Male: 23-32 kg, Female: 23-32 kg.
At a glance, you might think that the Berger Picard (pronounced bare-ZHAY pee-CARR) is a member of the Muttley crew. With his rough, shaggy coat, Groucho Marx eyebrows, and bearded face, the rare French sheepdog looks enough like a mixed breed that the producers of the 2005 film Because of Winn-Dixie selected him to play a lovable mutt in the movie.
The breed's appearance in the film catapulted it to, well, not stardom, but it did put it on the path to American citizenship. In the nine years since the movie's release, fans of the Picard imported dogs for themselves, formed a breed club, and began breeding and exhibiting the dogs. The Berger Picard achieved AKC recognition in 2015.
If the Picard looks familiar and you haven't watched "Winn-Dixie," it may be because you've seen the breed in the Animal Planet show Treehouse Masters, the movies Daniel and the Superdogs or Are We Done Yet? or in J. Crew advertisements or a Verizon commercial.
People who live with the Picard describe him as comical, smart, and athletic. He's often described as having a humanlike gaze one that says I love you.
These active dogs tend to have lots of stamina. Once you get the go-ahead from your veterinarian, this dog may be the ideal companion for jogging, hiking, or running alongside your bicycle. Many love to swim and can hardly be dragged out of the water. At a minimum, the Berger Picard needs several brisk walks daily. He does have an "off switch," though, and will lie quietly in the house once you're back from your outing.
The Picard is a character, no doubt about it. When he cocks his head and looks at you, you can't help but laugh. This is a dog with a sense of humor. Picards are comedians and will do anything to make you laugh.
Picards are known for being ready and willing to perform. One is known to sing twice daily as the church bells ring. He does an excellent rendition of Ave Maria. When they're not in choir practice, Picards generally bark an alert if they see or hear something unusual.
Herding breeds are highly observant, and the Berger Picard is no exception. He's good at reading people and responding to their needs, whether emotional or physical.
Picards like to give hugs, and they can get physical in the process. If you're not prepared for 50 to 70 pounds of dog to jump up and wrap his paws around you, it can be a shock. Some people are floored by the experience literally. Teaching a Picard to give hugs only when asked is probably a good idea, especially if he will be around young children or seniors.
The Berger Picard is a generally healthy breed with an expected life span of 12 to 15 years. The oldest Picard in the United States is currently 13.
All dogs have the potential to develop genetic health problems, just as all people have the potential to inherit particular diseases.
Run, don't walk, from any breeder who does not offer a health guarantee on her puppies, who tells you that the breed is 100-percent healthy and has no known problems, or who tells you that her puppies are isolated from the main part of the household for health reasons. A reputable breeder will be honest and open about health problems in the breed and the incidence with which they occur in her lines. The main concern in Picards right now is an eye disease called progressive retinal atrophy (PRA). Hip dysplasia is also seen in the breed.
The Picard's coat stands out for its tousled appearance and rough texture. It's 2 to 3 inches long, enough to protect the dog but not so much that it hides the outline of his body. Completing his distinct look are rough eyebrows, a beard and mustache, and a slight ruff framing the head. Together, these accents are known as griffonage.
Even a shaggy dog needs grooming. Brush the coat weekly to keep it clean and remove dead hair. You'll need a coat rake to remove the undercoat during the twice-yearly shedding seasons in the spring and fall. Ask your dog's breeder to show you how to pluck or strip the long hair edging the ears.
Frequent baths aren't necessary unless you show your dog, but if you have a water-loving Picard, give him a thorough freshwater rinse to remove chlorine, algae, or salt after a dip in the pool, lake or ocean. When you bathe him, use a dog shampoo formulated for a harsh coat.
The rest is basic care. Trim the nails every week or two, and brush the teeth often with a vet-approved pet toothpaste for good overall health and fresh breath.