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The Barbet

         
 

We would like to thank Wendy Preston of The Barbet Club of Great Britain  for the following article on this ancient and endangered breed of gundog.  Wendy's barbet 'Bebop' has recently passed her Grade One Beginner Retriever Field Test  -  Many congratulations to Wendy and Bebop

 
 

photograph of Amy by kind permission

 

The Barbet   by Wendy Preston

This breed or type of dog has long been a part of British History. Although now named 'The French Water Dog', it has in the past been known as water spaniel, water dog, poodle, rough haired water dog, duck dog, shock dog, finder, and sheepdog.  The barbet is well documented in many old texts and drawings spanning back over the centuries from across Europ and the UK, and is frequently mentioned in the histories of many of today's breeds, such as poodles, Griffons, Curly Coated Retriever, and Bichons

 

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Barbet History

In France in the early 1800's the dog was known variously as barbet, griffon barbet, or barbet d'arret.  The Griffon Barbet was a type of barbet and was equally happy to work in the water and on the land, and survived the start of breed classification when it began in the late 19th century. It was more easily identifiable, and was still found working in the countryside and Estates of France. The common working man's barbet, sturdy, square muzzled and between 16 and 20 inches in height, lost its unique identity over time to taller, longer muzzled and more elegant variations brought in from Germany and Russia, and became better known as the poodle, or caniche in French.  By the mid 19th century, the original water dog/barbet, and poodle, had come to be recognised as the same dog.

 

My Barbets.

I consider myself very lucky to own two rather beautiful girls, Betsy Bonheur and Bepop and to be a part of an International project to safeguard and promote this wonderful breed. Betsy has shown early promise in the show-ring in France. Bepop has started gun dog training, she is now 21 months old and has a natural desire to retrieve, her enthusiasm has certainly been life changing even coffee cups arenít safe and with three children in the house she has an endless supply of items to bring me. Initially she hid her trophyís, but since embarking on her training she now without fail presents me with her gift and does therefore get rewarded, however this is rather nerve-wracking when she presents china, and I do apologise that I donít have any photos of this, but I donít encourage the Ďwait and holdí when itís my best china.

   
 

"the barbet loves water and mud"

     
 

The Modern Barbet

The breed today is slowly regaining prominence; there are perhaps only 600 dogs worldwide. Its survival is due to a handful dedicated breeders and owners, not only in France but also all over Europe, Scandinavia and N. America. It now has the look of the ancient poodle, but has the inherent qualities of a hunter and retriever, so this rather beautiful teddy bear dog is not all it seems. It is proving itself as an excellent retriever in water, it has had success in blood tracking, wild boar hunting and is also being used as a Guide Dog in some parts of Europe. Finally and most importantly a fantastic family dog, it doesnít moult, itís not aggressive, and suffers few genetic faults. However, its not the perfect dog, it loves water and mud, so anyone who is house proud, would be best advised to avoid this breed or do as I do, hose them down after a walk.

 

   
   

 I do intend to breed from both girls using stud dogs in Europe, Bepop has a good hip score and clear eyes and Betsy is currently awaiting her hip score results.

   
 

Recognition and registration

I am also hopeful that the Kennel Club will support this International project by allowing the registration of my two girls, and thus any offspring produced. Registration is important as some of the puppies will go back to Europe or Scandinavia be included in the International programme and maintain genetic diversity

For more information

Please do get in contact via e-mail address Wendy@barbet.org.uk if you would like more information on the breed or its history. My website www.barbet.org.uk also has more photos`, and links to other barbet related websites 

   

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