Barbet (dog)

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Chien de race Barbet.jpg
Other namesFrench Water Dog
Height Dogs 58–65 cm (23–26 in)
Bitches 53–61 cm (21–24 in)
Coat thick, long, woolly, wavy, and curly
Colour Solid black, grey, brown, fawn, pale fawn, white or more or less pied
Kennel club standards
Société Centrale Canine standard
Fédération Cynologique Internationale standard
Dog (domestic dog)

The Barbet is a breed of dog; it is a medium-sized French water dog. It is listed in Group 8 (retrievers, flushing dogs, water dogs) by the Société Centrale Canine, the French Kennel Club and the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (International Canine Federation).

The breed name comes from the French word barbe, which means 'beard'.


The Barbet is a rare breed. Most Barbets, especially those shown in conformation shows, are black, brown, black and white, or brown and white. It is common to see white chest spots and white paws or legs on black or brown coated dogs. Fawn (which can range from pearl to cream to gold), and pied variations are re-emerging, but in limited numbers.

Male Barbets usually grow to be about 21 to 25 in (53 to 64 cm) tall and between 40 and 60 lb (18 and 27 kg), while females usually reach about 20 to 23 in (51 to 58 cm) and 30 to 50 lb (14 to 23 kg).


Two barbet females

The breed stands 58–65 cm (23–26 in) for the males, 53–61 cm (21–24 in) for females with a tolerance of 1 cm +/- 1 cm (0.39 in), and weighs 17–28 kg (37–62 lb). The barbet is a prototypic water dog, with a long, woolly, and curly coat.

Their coats grow long and must be groomed regularly, otherwise the coat can become matted and the barbet may lose small tufts of hair like tumbleweeds.

The accepted colours of the breed are 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. Grey and white are extremely rare; mixed colours (except with white) are considered a fault. The most common colors are solid black, solid brown or both colours with white markings. The birth figures worldwide for 2007 are 176. All born were solid black or solid brown, some with white markings on the chest, chin, and legs.


Typical example

The barbet's personality is described as friendly, joyful, obedient, and intelligent. They are quick to learn and need lifelong obedience training. They are great with children, families, and the elderly. Barbets will bond with their 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 capable retrievers for waterfowl hunting. In France, the barbet can take the test d'aptitudes naturelles (TAN), a basic water-retrieving test, and has recently been permitted to participate in the brevet de chasse a l'eau (BCE), a general hunting-dog test involving field and water trials. In Germany, the barbet takes part in field trials.

Genetic diseases[edit]

Barbets are 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; epilepsy, hernias, hip dysplasia and entropion, most problems can be traced back 4–6 generations. Often this was due to limited breeding stock as well as the fact that many matings were with dogs of unknown medical history.

Overall health[edit]

Barbet suka 2009 pl4.jpg

Due to the extremely low number of barbets in the world, little is known about long term health issues. Some issues that have exhibited themselves are ear infections, hip dysplasia, hernias, undescended testicles, undershot/overshot bites, entropion, and epilepsy. A study has begun in France about health issues in the Barbet as several breeds have recently "contributed" to the Barbet. Ethical breeders hip score the parents before any matings. A, B, and C hip scores can be used.

The most common issues are ear infections, a problem in most water dog breeds. Ear problems can be minimized by proper ear care. A veterinarian should be consulted if the dog shows signs of an ear infection. The ear should always be clear of any hair, and inspected very regularly.


Barbet d'Arret, circa 1915

The barbet connected through the centuries in various capacities, and as a companion dog but more as an all-around working dog. The term barbet became throughout centuries a generic name for a dog with a long, curly, woolly coat.[1] Barbets are best known for being a waterfowl retriever in the marshes, wetlands, and estuaries of France.[2] This is where the expression "muddy as a barbet" came from in the 19th century. Between the late 18th to early 19th centuries, the same dog was known as the barbet in France, the barbone in Italy, and the Pudel in Germany; for almost a hundred years the barbets and poodles were considered the same breed.[3]

Status in Great Britain (UK)[edit]

UK-born barbet

The first Barbet, a male, was brought into the UK in 2001, although he did not reproduce. In 2007, two unrelated females were brought in from France, having completed their period of quarantine; the majority of Barbets currently in the UK are descendants of these. Since then, further examples of the breed have been imported from France, Netherlands, Canada, Poland, and Sweden. Several UK-born barbets have been used in the breeding programmes of other countries; their offspring can be found in Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany, Sweden, Finland, and Canada.

In April 2018, the Barbet became the 220th breed recognized by The Kennel Club of the UK and the Barbet can now be shown in Import Register classes at all UK dog shows held under The Kennel Club rules. Barbets born in the UK prior to this date were registered in France by the Société Centrale Canine (SCC), a national affiliate of the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI). There are on average only one or two British-born litters born per year. In 2018, there were approximately 140 barbets living in the UK.

The majority of Barbets in the UK are kept as pets, although a small number are used regularly as gun dogs, agility dogs, and for search-and-rescue work; they can also take part in conformation shows in the UK and in FCI-member countries, with two British Barbets achieving French Champion status in 2014.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Gayot, Eugene (1867). Le chien: histoire naturelle, races d'utilité et d'agrément (in French). France: Firmin-Didot.
  2. ^ De La Rue, A. (1881). Le chiens D'Arret – Francais et Anglais. Paris: Librairie Firmin-Didot et Cie.
  3. ^ Cuvier, Georges (1827). The Animal Kingdom Arranged in Conformity with Its Organization. London: William Clowes and Sons. ISBN 978-1108049580.

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