The Barbet is a very old breed and as with many old breeds the origins are not completely clear. It is said the breed was around much longer, but got his name in the 16th century. There are several drawings and paintings from that time where a dog very similar to the Barbet is pictured.
The Barbet has always been used as a hunting-dog, trained to retrieve shot birds and game and probably pointing and flushing game too. However, the Barbet is also mentioned as a herding- and guard dog. This is not surprising as it was the dog for the people, who did not have money or food enough to keep dogs for every task.
A lot of the breeds we know now are said to be descendants of the Barbet. The Poodle is the most well-known but several herding breeds and even Griffons are said to be (partly) created by Barbet-blood.
During the 19th century the breed was rare, some even say extinct. In the recent history the breed has been bred back using several breeds and dogs of unknown origin. Nowadays the Barbet has a growing group of devoted breeders and owners which will hopefully get the breed into more calm waters.
The breed is relatively healthy. Most Barbets live a long live without many problems. Health problems for which breeding stock is tested in the Netherlands are hip dysplasia (HD) and eye problems (Cataract, PRA, distichiasis and entropion being the main things they are checked for). Nowadays we also have options for DNA tests that check if a dog is a carrier or at risk for a wide scale of diseases, not all applicable to the breed.
Epilepsy sometimes occurs in the breed. This neurological disease is species-related and can and does occur in all breeds and in non-pedigree dogs. Research is being done in Finland which will hopefully help to understand how this horrible condition can be eradicated, but as it is polygenetic we are a long way off for hoping for a genetic test or a cure.
A lot has been written about the breed and its origin. Although we feel history is important, we will not try to write down our own version of all that happened as that is not the purpose of this website.
In our breeding, we keep in mind the history and original function of the breed, but we prefer to concentrate on the current population and figure out how we can help the breed made to last.
The character is that of a family dog, the Barbet is a social dog who is very attached to his owners. It’s a breed that is relatively easy to raise and train into a well-adjusted pet. When raising a Barbet, remember to stick to your ground rules but don’t be overly firm. The Barbet is a sensitive soul and will not easily forget if you treat him roughly.
The Barbet is a breed that takes a long time to mature mentaly, up to 3 years. Most Barbets retain their playfullness their whole lifes. In general, Barbets are not great guard dogs and will not bark at everything.
It’s an easy-to-train breed who loves to be active in dogsports. Whatever sport you want to try, the Barbet will be happy to try with you! A Barbet does have a mind of its own and will only work wíth you. Don’t expect him to do everything you ask him to do and avoid monotonous work.
We enjoy a wide variety of dogsports. Our main hobby is showing but we’ve tried our dogs at many different classes, including Flyball, Balance&Coordination, Nosework, etc.
Although every individual is different, Barbets in general do not do well when put under pressure. In our opinion, if you are looking for a dog to compete at high levels of dogsports with, the Barbet is not necessarily the best choice. They have talent for a lot of sports but their mentality is not really suited to the hard-core competition spirit.
Barbets are active dogs and need their exercise outside. If the normal routine gives your Barbet enough exercise, he will not complain if there’s a bit more down-time now and again. At home Barbets are relaxed and calm, if they can release their energy during walks.
We love the happy character of the breed and their always sunny disposition.
One of the reasons the Barbets is getting more well known is its coat. Some call it hypo-allergenic. This is a term from the commercial Doodle marketing strategy, pretending to have the only dog (or as they insist, breed) that doesn’t shed and doesn’t cause people with allergies problems.
While it is true this type of coat is better to handle for a lot of allergic people, there’s no such thing as a hypo-allergenic coat and we don’t like to use this (misleading and incorrect) term.
The reason the coat of the Barbet, and many other breeds including the Waterdogs, doesn’t cause a reaction with allergic people is because they don’t shed as ‘normal’ breeds do.
They do loose undercoat (wool) but most wool and skin cells stay in the coat. This automatically means the coat does require frequent care! While most allergic people can even groom their own Barbet, some do react while grooming the dog. If there’s no non-allergic family-member who can groom the dog, it’s wise to pay someone to do so.
For more information about coat care, see the Food and Care pages.