Barbet Dog Breed Profile

A medium-sized birding breed, the Barbet (pronounced bar-bay) is possibly best known for its distinctive, curly coat and beard at the muzzle.

Barbets were bred hundreds of years ago as water dogs to hunt waterfowl and birds in Europe.

It is estimated that there are only 30 to 40 barbets in the U.S and about 600 worldwide. This makes the bred very hard to find.

Modern-day Barbets, however, have retained the athleticism, intellect, and calm temperament of their ancestors, which makes them excellent family dogs. They are equally good with other pets and are calm around children.

Although the Barbet is caring and loyal to its owner, it may not be as friendly to strangers. Consistent obedience training and appropriate socialization will help your pet be more sociable.

Shedding is minimal since the Barbet has a curly, dense coat, but regular grooming is necessary. A Barbet may not be the best dog for a first-time dog owner or apartment dweller because of their extensive grooming needs.

Table of Contents

Breed overview

  • Height: Barbets can typically measure between 19 and 24.5 when calculated from the shoulder
  • Weight: Many barbets can weigh about 35 to 65 pounds
  • Coat and colours: A long, thick, curly coat with a black, gray, brown, or fawn finish. There will also be white marks on some barbets.
  • Life expectancy: Can live up to 12 – 14 years


  • Affection Level: High
  • Kid-Friendly: High
  • Amount of Shedding: Low
  • Exercise Needs: High
  • Friendliness: Moderate to High
  • Playfulness: Moderate
  • Trainability: High
  • Pet-Friendly: High
  • Energy Level: High
  • Tendency to Bark: Moderate
  • Intelligence: High


The Barbet, a relative to the Briard and the Poodle, originated as a bird and waterfowl hunting dog in France.

The dog’s webbed paws made it possible for it to chase birds into mud and water, earning it the local name “Mud Dog.” “However, the Barbet’s actual name comes from the French word” barbe, “meaning” beard.

There is a long, varied history of The Barbet in Europe. In literature, the first written mention of the breed appeared in 1387, although some claim that Barbets originated in the 8th century.

Despite their tiny populations, the breed ranks in French dog competitions as one of the best agility dogs.

The American Kennel Club officially grades the Barbet as a member of the “Miscellaneous Class.” This is a wide group of dogs that the American Kennel Club has not yet accepted as a standard breed.

While the AKC offers steps for achieving standardization, the AKC will not inherently accept all purebred breeds.


Since barbets have long, thick, curly coats, regular grooming is absolutely necessary. They are especially prone to mats, tangles, and debris build-up. It’s not unusual to find debris on your dog’s suit after daily walks.

The Barbet’s coat can become felted or matted if left ungroomed. This can cause it to grow into long lengths. Daily brushing and combing of your pet’s coat can help to prevent matting or tangling.

To make grooming simpler, some owners of Barbet tend to keep their dogs’ coats shorter. Maintain your dog’s coat to about 4 inches in length around the body if you want to trim your Barbet’s coat, and a bit longer on the chin, head, and tail.

You should periodically clip the hair between the eyes of your dog so it can see more clearly. Don’t also forget to trim the hair around the ear canal.

A local groomer would be able to help if you don’t feel very comfortable trimming your dog’s coat.

Make sure to periodically check the ears of your Barbet, and gently remove any build-up of wax or debris using a soft cotton cloth.

Make a visit to your vet if you notice your pet’s ears are red, inflamed, too dirty, or smell odd. These might be signs of infection, and treatment may be needed.

All dogs are susceptible to periodontal complications if they are not provided with adequate dental treatment.  It is ideal to brush your dog’s teeth every day, but brushing your pet’s teeth at least once a week can prevent the development of oral diseases.

Dental chewing treatments may also be supplemented with brushing, but don’t forget that they are empty calories. It is necessary to offer them in moderation, and it shouldn’t be the only form of dental hygiene used.

Barbets have higher levels of energy and exercise needs, and they are highly intelligent dogs, so keeping them active and occupied is crucial. 

They excel in agility sports, puzzles, games, and other engaging activities. Obedience training can help to put your Barbets’ stubbornness in check.

Common health complications

While Barbets are normally safe dogs, there is no assurance that there will not be any health problems, so it is vital to recognize the signs and symptoms.

So immediate attention is required if your Barbet shows signs of any of these health problems:

Separation anxiety

Barbets love their owners enough that they can develop separation anxiety. Signs of the disorder may include excessive drooling, incidents in the home, and disruptive behavior.

Speak to your veterinarian about ways to relieve separation anxiety by incorporating medications and training.

Hip or elbow dysplasia

The joints in the hips and elbows are affected by this condition and can lead to intense pain and weakness.

Dysplasia is an inherited disease, so it’s necessary to ask for a joint guarantee from a reputable breeder.

While most cases of dysplasia are hereditary, development can also result from injuries and being overweight.


Epilepsy is a condition that alters the electrical currents in your dog’s brain and is characterized by repeated seizures.

Foaming in the mouth, collapsing, and full-body convulsions are symptoms of seizures.

Contact your veterinarian for care immediately if your dog has any of these signs.

Diet and nutrition

The diet of your pet depends primarily on its size, weight, levels of exercise, and metabolism, but you should normally expect to offer your Barbet 1.5 to 2 cups of quality, high-protein dog food per day.

Your veterinarian should be able to help you create a meal plan that is perfect for your dog.

Remember: When under-exercised and overfed, all breeds are vulnerable to canine obesity. Obesity can lead to serious health issues such as diabetes, heart disease, and joint problems.

So it is vital to ensure your dog consumes a safe, nutritious diet.


  • Loyal and loving owner and other family members
  • Does well with other pets in homes
  • Does not shed overly


  • Requires plenty of exercises
  • Not suited for apartments
  • Needs daily grooming

Buying or adopting a Barbet

Since barbets are comparatively rare, you’re unlikely to find one in your rescue center. If you select a breeder to buy a Barbet, do your homework to ensure that you deal with a credible, ethical breeder.

Visit the breeding facility if possible to see where the dogs are housed, if they are healthy or not, and how sanitary and safe their environment is.

Be on the alert for signs, including sick livestock, crowded spaces, or discounted puppies.

Responsible breeders want what’s best for their pets and should be ready to address any concerns or questions you might have. Do not shy away from asking any questions when necessary.

Before taking one around, it’s essential to do your homework to make sure you can handle the exercise, grooming, and training needs of a Barbet.

A Barbet is not suitable for first-time dog owners, families with hectic schedules, or inactive families, mainly because they are very high maintenance dogs.

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