History of the Briard
The Briard breed differs from several other ancient breeds, in so much as it's history can
be traced back many centuries through paintings, tapestries and in literature. The Briard
was originally bred to herd as well as guard it's flocks, which makes it unique to those
breeds that just herd and those that just guard. The Briard, (la Chien berger de brie),
is considered to be one of France's oldest true bred herding dogs.
More than 1,200 years ago, in the late 700's, tapestries showed Emperor
Charlemagne (742-814 A.D.) with, at his feet, large dogs with rough hair.
These dogs resembled the modern Briard very much.
Il y a plus de 1.200 ans, des tapisseries montraient l'Empereur
Charlemagne avec, à ses pieds, de grands chiens à poil rude. Ces
chiens ressemblaient beaucoup au Briard moderne.
According to a legend of the Middle Ages, Aubry de Montdidier, a
French gentleman and courier to King Charles V, was assassinated
near the ville de Montargis by Richard de Macaire in 1371. The
dog of the shepherd of Aubry was the only witness of the murder.
The dog followed the criminal with insistence, howling and barking.
They finished by suspecting Macaire. The King ordered a duel
between the dog and Macaire to take place at Notre Dame in Paris.
On 8oct1371 the dog won. Some stories say that the dog killed the
assassin, many versions state that Macaire, after badly beaten by
the dog, confessed to the murder and was later hanged. Brie, Aubry,
was struck that there was a similar pronunciation of the two names.
Other names have been given to the dog, chien d'Aubry and chien
d'Montargis. One could have seen the
statue of a beautiful Briard,
made in tribute to Aubry's dog, on top of the door of the Cathedral
of Montdidier
. This sculpture was unfortunately destroyed during
the course of the First World War. Another statue of this event,
"Chien d'Montargis", still exists today.
Two views of the bronze
statue, Chien d'Montargis
sculpted by Gustave
Debrie in 1870. The
statue is now in the
garden of l'Hotel Durzy in
Montargis.
Selon une légende du Moyen Âge, Aubry de Montdidier, un gentilhomme Français fut assassiné en 1371 par
Richard de Macaire.Le chien de berger d'Aubry était le seul témoin du meurtre. Le chien suivit avec insistance
le criminel, hurlant et grondant. On finit par suspecter Macaire.Le Roi ordonna un duel entre le chien et
Macaire. Le chien tua l'assassin. Brie, Aubry, la similitude de prononciation des deux noms est frappante. On
pouvait voir la statue d'un beau Briard, réalisée en hommage au chien d'Aubry, au dessus de la porte de la
Cathédrale de Montdidier. Cette sculpture fut malheureusement détruite au cours de la première guerre
mondiale.
Before the French Revolution, Thomas Jefferson, then United States
Ambassador to France, made friends with the Marquis de La Fayette
and with Pierre Samuel DuPont de Nemours. In 1789, on board the
Clermont, Jefferson, his two daughters, two slaves, over 60 European
trees and three French dogs, returned to America. He had purchased
a bitch big with pup for thirty-six livres, (equivalent of six dollars), and
the dog whelped her two pups on the trans-Atlantic crossing. The bitch
was named "Bergere" and one of the pups was named "Clermont" in
honor of the ship. In 1790 a second sheepdog was sent to Monticello
from Normandy. In 1806 another female was sent by La Fayette, and
in 1809, Jefferson told Pierre to bring another pair of dogs from
France, to be selected by La Fayette. In the early 1800's, Jefferson
sent pairs of dogs west to Kentucky. Judge Harry Innes asked for a
pair to populate Kentucky. Jefferson evaluated the breed in his reply,
"
Their extraordinary sagacity renders them extremely valuable,
capable of being taught almost any duty that may be required of them,
and the most anxious in their performance of that duty, the most
watchful and faithful of all servants
." Jefferson had secured a 1758
drawing of the "chien du berger" by the Comte de Buffon, (below).

For more than 30 years the sheepdogs from France were "carefully
multiplied" by distribution as Jefferson sought to spread throughout
America, "
the most careful intelligent dogs in the world."
Thomas Jefferson
Marquis de La Fayette
Here are some names of Jefferson's le chien du berger: Bergere,
Clermont, Grizzle, Buzzy, Armandy, Norman and Sancho.
Most of the above is contained in a speech authored by Lucia Stanton, Senior Research
Historian at Monticello, derived from Jefferson documents. Her speech, "Mad Dogs and
Faith Servants", presented at a dinner in memory of Thomas Jefferson on 3nov1989.
Copies of this speech may be obtained through the Jefferson library. The entire content
of this speech may also be seen by clicking on this link:
Avant la Révolution Française, Thomas Jefferson, alors Ministre des États-Unis à
Paris, se lia d'amitié avec le Marquis de La Fayette et avec Pierre DuPont de
Nemours. En 1789, il introduisit aux États-Unis une chienne gestante.
Drawing "le chien du berger" by the
Comte de Buffon, 1758.
In 1809, in his Court of Agriculture, the Abbe Rozier used the term "Dog of Brie" to describe the
long-haired French sheepdog.
En 1809, dans son Cours d'Agriculture, l'Abbé Rozier utilise le
terme Chien de Brie pour décrire le berger Français à poil long.
In 1815, during the month of October, Napoleon Bonaparte arrived on
St. Helene, an island off the coast of Africa. Correspondence, paintings,
engravings and other objects recall the arrival of Napoleon, first with
his faithful companions, his Briards, then,  a company of soldiers sent
with him to his exile.
le départ pour Sainte-Hélène: Au gré des vitrines, la correspondance, les
peintures, les gravures et autres objets retraceront l’arrivée de Napoléon 1er
de ses fidèles compagnons sur l’île, leur installation aux Briards.
Napoleon Bonaparte
In May 1863, at the first Exposition of Paris, rang the first Canine Exposition organized in France.
This exposition actually existed again. A Briard, Charmante, was classified first in front of all the
other shepherd dogs.
En mai 1863, à la première Exposition de Paris, se tint la première Exposition Canine
organisée en France. Cette exposition existe encore actuellement. Un Briard,
Charmante, fut classé premier devant tous les autres chiens de berger.
Pierre DuPont de Nemours
Drawing also available through the Jefferson
library or by email from this website.
(lechien.jpg - 69.0 kb)
(Origine et Histoire du Briard)
Charlemagne
Comte de Buffon
l'Abbe Rozier