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Barbet French Water Dog: Another Rare Breed

Are Barbets Good Family Dogs?

The short answer is yes. They are good family pets. They are affectionate and get along reasonably well with children and other family pets. They are intelligent and easy to train but will need life-long obedience training.

They do not shed, so they are hypoallergenic and may be a good choice for those allergic to dogs.

They love playing in muddy places and are sometimes referred to as the “Mud Dog.”  The Barbet is content to lounge indoors after spending a lot of time playing with people and dogs. He prefers to spend as little time alone as possible and is happiest when well-socialized.

What Do Barbets Look Like?

Two Female Barbets

Barbets, also known as French Waterdogs, are medium-sized dogs about 19 to 25 inches tall and between 35 to 65 pounds. Some Barbets will have a solid color coat, while others may have markings. They have a shaggy coat in several colors, including black, brown, fawn, grey, and white.

Their coats grow long and must be groomed regularly, or they will become matted. They are athletic dogs bred as hunting dogs, but most are probably kept as companion dogs.

The name Barbet comes from the French word for beard, “barbe.”  They have a calm disposition and are easy to live with.


The breed has a curly coat that usually comes in black, brown, gray, or white colors.  They may also have markings of these various colors.

Because of its curly coat, it will need frequent grooming.  Its nails grow fast and will need to be trimmed regularly.

History of Barbets

The breed has a long history as a companion and versatile working dog.  It was also a hunting dog in France that retrieved waterfowl from wetlands.  For many years, the Barbet and Poodles were the same breeds.

Several dog breeds include the Barbet as an ancestor, including the Bichon,  Griffon, Otterhound, Newfoundland, Briard, and others.

The AKC placed the breed in the Sporting Group in January 2020.  Before that, the Kennel Club recognized the breed in April 2018.  The estimated number of dogs living in the UK in 2018 was 140.

Due to the World Wars, the breed was almost extinct.  However, a few devotees are making great efforts to reestablish the breed as an affectionate, calm, and loyal family dog.

The breed’s delicate but consistent temperament needs positive interactions and an optimistic training atmosphere. Since they are amiable, receptive, and agreeable, training them should be simple. Dog sports, including agility, rally, dock diving, and lure coursing, provide excellent physical activity and cerebral stimulation. Barbets have competed in all of them.

Health Concerns

BarbetThe most frequent problems are ear infections, affecting most water dog breeds. Proper ear care helps minimize ear issues. If the dog exhibits symptoms of an ear infection, a vet should be contacted. The ear should always be free of hair and should be checked frequently.

Breeders that practice responsible breeding work to lessen the likelihood of producing puppies with these illnesses. Other health screening tests that may be performed on Barbet include thyroid and heart exams, knee X-rays, and the D-locus dilution gene test.

Ear infections, hip dysplasia, hernias, undescended testicles, undershot/overshot bites, entropia, and epilepsy are a few conditions that sometimes occur. Given that numerous breeds have recently “contributed” to the Barbet, a study about health problems in the breed has started in France. Before any matings, ethical breeders hip score the parents. Hip scores of A, B, and C may be applied.

There are so few of this breed in the world that little is known of its long-term health issues.

How Much Do They Cost?

Barbets for sale may be difficult to find. And when you find one, expect to pay up to $4,500 for this rare breed.

You can start your search for a Barbet on the AKC marketplace.

For more information, visit the website of the Barbet Club of America.


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