The Briard is a large, muscular herding dog with a coarse, long, slightly wavy double coat in any color but white. The tawny puppy coat yields to a lighter yearling coat. Then the coat deepens in color again to the richer adult shade. The nose is black and the ears are generally cropped into a rounded shape so the hair cascades from them into the rest of the coat. The natural ear is pendant and lies away from the head. The Briard also has a shaggy beard, eyebrows, and mustache. The muzzle is square and long. The long, feathered tail has a crochet hook at the tip. Briards, like many French shepherds, have two dewclaws on each hind foot. The Briard's elegant gait is floating and agile; the dog almost seems not to touch the ground.
This ancient French sheep guard and herder also has been used by the French army as a sentry and messenger, and to search for wounded soldiers. The Briard is named either for Aubry of Montdidier, a man who was supposed to have owned an early Briard (Aubry's dog is chien d'Aubry in French) or for the French province of Brie (though the dog probably does not originate in that locale). Charlemagne, Napoleon, Thomas Jefferson, and Lafayette all owned Briards. The Briard still serves as a herder and flock guardian today, but is also an esteemed companion dog.