AKC Dog Breeds: Barbet

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Height: 18-25 inches   Weight: 35-55 pounds  Color: black, brown, fawn, grey, pale fawn, white

The Barbet is a  medium-sized French water dog. The Barbet breed is an integral part of dog history, and many familiar breeds have Barbet in their ancestry. The barbet is found in the ancestry of many popular breeds, including the poodle, the Newfoundland, and the griffons. Depending on geography and necessity, the Barbet connected through the centuries in various capacities, and as a companion dog, but more as an all-around working dog. The name Barbet became throughout centuries a "generic" name for a dog with a long woolly coat. The Barbet is a French water dog and the breed's name “Barbet” comes from the French word barbe, which means beard. It has been said that the French Royals had hunted with Barbets. The Barbet has also worked as sailor’s assistants, much like the Portuguese Water Dog. There are very few barbet in the United States. As of 2009 there were only 47 known barbet registered in the U.S. The French Barbet is a rare breed and genetically it is sought after by many.

General Appearance

The French Water dog is a medium sized dog that should be 21-25 inches at the shoulder (male) and should weigh 33-55 pounds; the female should be 19-22 inches at the shoulder and weigh 33-55 pounds. The Barbet is a medium-sized water dog. The French Water dog has a long thick wooly coat which protects him from the elements as he is a working breed, the color of the coat is almost always a solid color including black, grey, chestnut, sand and white, it is almost unheard of for a litter to be born that is multi colored, although it has been reported once or twice it is generally accepted that the French Water dog only comes in solid colors.  The head has especially long hair that covers the eyes and nose, with a mustache and a long beard. It has a square muzzle; dark brown eyes; a black or brown nose; and long, broad drop ears. The tail is long with a slight hook at the end. Its webbed feet make it a superb swimmer. The Barbet may not look particularly nimble and agile, but it is.


The Barbet is a happy, carefree pal. An ideal field companion and a sprightly sporting dog, it can fetch and retrieve for hours on end. With a quick wit and intelligence, the Barbet can learn commands quickly and perform at a high level. If you’re interested in agility competitions, you might look for a Barbet. But, keep in mind that this dog is rare. Around the home, the Barbet enjoys the company of its family. It is probably best suited to living in a home with a large, fenced yard, but it can handle living in close quarters as long as it gets plenty of vigorous, outdoor exercise. If you live near a lake or stream, consider getting a Barbet—it loves splashing around in the water. The breed is exceptionally gentle and playful with children and becomes very attached to his family. Barbets adapt to all kinds of living conditions and climates. The barbet is an adaptable dog that does well in a rural or city home, provided it receives regular exercise and attention. It does very well with a family. A barbet is an intelligent dog that would need to be given constant attention as boredom and destructive behavior is most common in intelligent dogs that are left alone for too long. Moreover, these dogs would need to be disciplined and trained as they would assert their demanding behavior if a strong leadership is not shown.

Grooming the Barbet’s long, waterproof coat is easy, but it takes some time and dedication to prevent matting. His coat doesn't shed and is considered hypoallergenic. Brush it daily and bathe it occasionally—but not too much. If your Barbet spends a lot of time outdoors, it might be wise to keep its coat clipped to prevent twigs, dirt and debris from getting tangled in the curls.

Health Problems and Life Expectancy

The Barbet can live as long as 15 years with relatively few genetic health concerns. Being a larger breed, some may develop hip dysplasia.

Activity Level

The French Water dog is a happy friendly dog that loves to work and he also has a high energy level which means that plenty long walks are a definite must!  Being water lovers, the most suitable living condition for a Barbet is one where they can swim and run freely. However, if this is not an option, the dog has to be given regular exercise. Long daily walks would fill the dog's need for exercise.


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