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31-51 lbs
French Water Dog

The Barbet (pronounced Bar-bay) was originally a gun dog used in France to hunt water game. He is not a well-known breed but is beginning to gain popularity outside of France. The Barbet almost became extinct after World War II. He is an ancient breed, dating back to the 16th century. He is devoted to his family and is smart, happy and loving. He is agile and does great in dog sporting events such as agility, Frisbee and lure coursing. He can withstand cold weather and has the ability to go into water in any weather. Somewhat of a high maintenance dog, his coat does require considerable grooming.

gun dog
Date of Origin
water dog

Barbet Health

Average Size
Height: 22-26 inches Weight: 37-62 lbs
Height: 20-24 inches Weight: 31-51 lbs
Major Concerns
  • Entropion
  • Hip Dysplasia
Minor Concerns
  • Cataracts
  • Epilepsy
Occasional Tests
  • Eye
  • Hip
  • X-Rays
  • Eye Examination
  • Physical Examination

Barbet Breed History

The Barbet is also known as the French Water Dog because he was originally bred to be a water retrieving gun dog. Barbet comes from the French word for beard. He is traced back to the 16th century and was bred to flush out water fowl in the wetlands and marshes then retrieve them.  Since then, he has been used for many different tasks including cart pulling and guarding. The first official standard for the Barbet was developed in 1894. He was a popular dog in French literature throughout the ages and was once a common breed. He was also depicted in many paintings where he was hard at work in the marshes hunting for water fowl. It is even rumored that Napoleon owned a Barbet. Many researchers feel that the Barbet was used to create other breeds such as the Briard, Poodle and Bichon. Researchers feel there are other breeds the Barbet contributed to but there is no proof to these claims. The Barbet almost became extinct after the World Wars in the 20th century. However, a few enthusiasts of the breed fought to preserve the breed and there has been a rejuvenation of the breed. Today, the Barbet is gaining popularity, though still considered to be a rare breed. He is evolving into a great family companion. It is uncertain when the Barbet was imported into the United States. They have experienced a surge in popularity and the Barbet Club of America was formed. In 2007, the Barbet began being recorded into the American Kennel Club’s Foundation Stock Service.

Barbet Breed Appearance

The Barbet is an ancient breed with a substantial head and a long tail. He has long dense coat that is curly and has a distinctive beard. He has a very unique look with profuse hair that must cover his entire body. His coat has thick, natural curls that can be large and loose or small and tight. The hair on his head should reach the bridge of his nose and he has a beard. His ears are also covered with long hair. His coat should never be cut and should be kept natural and free of mats. His hair should always retain a curl, even after bathing. The Barbet comes in all shades of fawn, brown, black or gray. He can have white markings on his chest or feet. He can also be pied, which is where he is primarily white with shading of fawn, brown, black or gray.

Barbet Breed Maintenance

Although there is no truly hypoallergenic dog because all dogs have some dander, the Barbet is a good choice for those with allergies. The Barbet has unique hair that does not shed the same as other breeds. He sheds tufts of hair that will come out and are generally removed with weekly brushing. His curls do need to be combed often to prevent matting and keep his skin healthy. When he is groomed, he needs to be combed or brushed completely. This means brushing his coat down to the skin to prevent tangles or mats from forming. When your dog plays in the water, as the Barbet is prone to do, he will need to be groomed after each outing. His hair grows continuously and therefore does require trimming to keep him neat and clean. Owners who are not showing their Barbet may even prefer to clip him down to about two inches so his coat is easier to maintain. Never shave your Barbet completely as his skin needs the protection of his coat. His ears must be plucked to keep excessive hair from growing and trapping dirt in the ear. Keep his ears clean to prevent infection. His nails should be trimmed as needed, usually every 2-3 weeks. The hair between his foot pads should be trimmed as needed.

Barbet Temperament

The Barbet is a versatile water fowl gun dog. He loves the water and will jump into pools, ponds or lakes when given a chance. His coat is weather-resistant and he can play in water of any temperature. He makes an exceptional family companion and loves children and other dogs. He should be watched around pet birds since he does still have a high prey drive when it comes to fowl. He is easy to train as long as he is trained using positive reinforcement. The Barbet should not be left alone in the back yard for long, he can become destructive and a nuisance barker. He is not usually wary of strangers, however if he is not socialized properly from a young age, he can become shy and suspicious of new situations. Begin socialization with other dogs and people as soon as your Barbet puppy has received the final vaccination in his puppy series.

Barbet Owner Experiences