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Home > Dogs > Dog Breeds > Barbet Dog Breed: Info, Pictures, Care Guide, & Traits

Barbet Dog Breed: Info, Pictures, Care Guide, & Traits


There are barely enough fun-filled adjectives to describe the Barbet dog, the newest breed to be recognized by the American Kennel Club on January 1, 2020. But you wouldn’t be wrong to call the Barbet dog playful, goofy, affectionate, clownish, and always up for a new adventure. In addition, their loyalty, intelligence, and versatility are something dog fanciers can’t get enough of.

The Barbet dog breed (pronounced Bar-bay) is a relatively new French water dog with webbed feet that makes it not afraid to get a little dirty in the mud. Although this rare breed’s history is quite uncertain, the accepted theory is that Barbets are relatives to Poodle and Briard breeds.

Breed Overview


22 – 25 inches


35 – 63 pounds


12 – 15 years


White, blue, silver, red, brown, grey, black

Suitable for:

Active families, those looking for a low-shedding dog


Loyal & loving, intelligent, easy to train, friendly, gets along with other pets

They are also descendants of the African Shepherd dogs bred with European dogs way back as early as the 7th century. The Barbet has served royalties and commoners alike, and their dense waterproof coats earned them a reputation for braving the chilliest water in pursuit of waterfowls.

The Barbet dog has a nickname “mud dog,” although its actual name comes from the French word ‘barbe,’ which means beard, thanks to its bearded appearance. And yes, there’s much more you should know about this rare breed, so keep reading for an in-depth look at this furry canine.

Barbet Dog Characteristics

High-energy dogs will need a lot of mental and physical stimulation to stay happy and healthy, while low-energy dogs require minimal physical activity. It’s important when choosing a dog to make sure their energy levels match your lifestyle or vice versa.
Easy-to-train dogs are more skilled at learning prompts and actions quickly with minimal training. Dogs that are harder to train will require a bit more patience and practice.
Some dog breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, and some more than others. This doesn’t mean that every dog will have these issues, but they have an increased risk, so it’s important to understand and prepare for any additional needs they may require.
Some breeds, due to their size or their breeds potential genetic health issues, have shorter lifespans than others. Proper exercise, nutrition, and hygiene also play an important role in the lifespan of your pet.
Some dog breeds are more social than others, both towards humans and other dogs. More social dogs have a tendency to run up to strangers for pets and scratches, while less social dogs shy away and are more cautious, even potentially aggressive. No matter the breed, it’s important to socialize your dog and expose them to lots of different situations.

Barbet Puppies

Image Credit: WilleeCole Photography, Shutterstock

The Barbet pup is in the AKC’s sporting dog groups and a rare breed, so it’s challenging to get a puppy. However, its versatility, rarity, and unavailability of enough registered breeders mean that if you find a puppy Barbet for sale right now, you’ll need to relax and ponder its cost. They are not affordable dog breeds. These dogs can even fetch higher prices if you get them from reputable documented breeders and have traceable lineages. That’s not all, though, as potential owners can wait up to a year-long to get their pup!

If you’re lucky enough to bring home a Barbet puppy, be ready to play with them and take them out for regular exercise. They’re very energetic and will need plenty of mental stimulation to avoid boredom.


Temperament & Intelligence of the Barbet Dog

On the whole, Barbets are a laid-back breed but with superior athleticism, high energy, and incredible agility. These dogs would love nothing more than to play chase and hunt with you to utilize their high power.

The breed is also highly prone to misconduct like barking and excessive digging due to boredom. For this reason, they require regular work-outs to mold them physically and emotionally. Barbets also require early socialization, as in any other breed, or they can be territorial and aloof with strangers at times.

But you can’t describe a Barbet without mentioning how smart these dogs can be! Barbets are an intelligent breed; of course, what would you expect from a pup that shares ancestry with Poodles- one of the most agreeable intelligent breeds worldwide?

However, intelligence breeds sensitivity in Barbets, who can get bored with monotonous activities and require stimulation through varying games and activities.

Image By: Ysbrand Cosjin, Shutterstock

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 👪

A Barbet’s prized qualities are their joyfulness, obedience, and intellectual brightness. These dogs are peaceful, gentle, and even-tempered- the best trait combo for a child’s pet.

However, they can be quite a handful around young kids as they quickly get overzealous and bouncy during playtime and may accidentally knock your kids over.

Barbets are also social and a little more people-oriented and can develop separation anxiety if they stay by themselves for long. So, if you are the type that wants some off-time away from your dog, Barbets could be unsuitable for you.

Don’t blame them, though, as their long history working with humans gives them the attachment trait.

Be sure of a pup that will stay loyal and protect the people it loves against intruders. This dog breed can be wary of new faces and alert you of possible intrusion, although they are not always aggressive.

Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets?

Barbets generally get along well with other household pets -although you may need to socialize and introduce them when they are young to prevent problems.

Lest you forget, these dogs have been hunting prey ever since, which means they have a strong prey drive. They may always consider small pets like chickens, rabbits, cats, and hamsters as prey, so you shouldn’t compromise early and adequate training.

You need to make a dog with natural prey drive always remember to stay by your side rather than harass any small animal they share a home.


Things to Know When Owning a Barbet Dog:

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

Although barbets don’t have specific dietary needs, they may require a high-protein diet to sustain their high energy and fast metabolism.

You can feed them commercial kibble, as long as it is dry and of the highest quality. However, owners should draw from their dog’s age and energy levels to determine how much food they provide their pets.

2-3 cups of dry dog food daily should help, although you won’t have to feed the Barbet that much if the food is of higher quality (which means higher nutrient concentration). But whatever you do, don’t overfeed your pup as this breed is prone to obesity and never says NO to food offers.

You can also supplement their dry diet with animal-based proteins such as lean meat or organ meat. Also, ensure your commercial pet food comes from reputable pet shops and contains suitable ingredients, including animal proteins.

Check for and avoid food with filler components like corn, soy, wheat, and artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives.

Image By: mazarekic, Shutterstock

Exercise 🐕

Barbets have excess energy that owners need to help utilize. This shouldn’t be hard, as they are a sporting breed and are reputable athletes and swimmers. However, it means that they need daily exercise and regular mental stimulation for their intelligent minds.

These dogs thrive on agility sports and ball games, any activity that keeps them engaged mentally and physically. Be sure to take them swimming as well, owing to their history of waterfowl retrieval in marshy areas.

Sufficient workouts can turn Barbets into happy and mellow dogs and lots of barking, digging, trouble, and chewing if you deny them exercise.

Training 🎾

A Barbet is the perfect canine friend for a dedicated and active dog owner. This dog’s mental prowess and dedication to its human makes it thrive in various activities, including retrieval agility activities, flyball games, and obedience training.

Yes, the breed’s history of working with humans and obeying their commands means that training with this dog calls for nothing other than fun. However, it’s worth noting that this breed is intelligent, and while it’s a good thing, the intellect creates a sensitive temperament. For this reason, Barbets may not respond well to long and harsh training sessions and require a soft but firm hand.

You need to be a firm and confident trainer to match up the dog’s energy levels to follow commands. There’s no need to be harsh and intolerant, as any yelling, impatience, and severe training methods will stress the pups out and make them rebellious.

However, the reward-based technique can make the training successful by taming the dog’s sensitive nature. Training, praising for the good behavior, and then rewarding the dog for the excellent behavior works!

Grooming ✂️

The good thing about Barbets is that they hardly shed, so you won’t have to clean after their hair or get sick from allergies. But a Barbet’s coat is constantly growing, so you may need to brush every day and trim it up to 5 inches every few weeks to prevent knotting and mating.

The beautiful and furry Barbet’s coat attracts dirt and debris whenever they brush against surfaces, and they may end up in your home if you don’t brush daily. Plus, dead hair can clump up into locks and mess your canine’s outlook.

Barbet dog_Pleple2000_Wikimedia
Image By: Pleple2000, Wikimedia

Health and Conditions 🏥

A Barbet can live up to 12-15 years if you take care of it and ensure it’s healthy and thriving.

This breed is generally healthy and robust, although they are rare, and there’s limited information about the diseases they are susceptible to. However, there are a few genetic diseases common in Barbets, and they include:

Minor Conditions
  • Cataracts
  • Obesity
  • Skin and food sensitivities
  • Hot spots
Serious Conditions
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Epilepsy
  • Cancer
  • Entropion
  • Ear Infection
  • Epilepsy: A dog can also suffer from intermittent chronic seizures that you can manage through medication or may not require treatment if the episodes occur so rarely.
  • Entropion: Entropion is an eye condition, mainly an abnormality of the eyelids that cause the upper and lower eyelids to roll inwards. The eyelid’s inward rolling causes the cornea (the eye surface) to rub against the dog’s hairs on the outside to the point where an ulcer may form. It can also result in irritation, pain, and partial vision loss.
  • Cataracts: Besides entropion, dogs are also prone to cataracts, and while usually harmless, the condition can lead to partial eyesight loss in severe cases.
  • Ear Infections: Barbets quickly develop ear infections due to their swimming abilities. Bacteria and yeast thrive in a damp, warm area, which can be the dog’s ears in this case. Bacteria and yeast formation on a Barbet’s ears causes an infection known as otitis externa. This means that owners should always clean, clear, and keep their dog’s ears dry at all times, especially after a moment in the water.
  • Elbow and Hip Dysplasia: Dysplasia is common in medium to large dogs like Barbets. This condition causes painful joints due to improper development of the joint areas (hip and elbow), causing health deterioration that results in loss of function and arthritis. Breeders can limit the existence of this condition in future litters by screening Barbet parents before mating them. Similarly, dog owners can prevent the life-limiting abnormality by ensuring their pups get a healthy diet rich in omega 3 and 6 fatty acids.

Male vs. Female

A dog’s gender matters when thinking about the dog to bring home because every pup is unique, and there could be few notable differences between male and female Barbets.

There are no many distinctive differences between male and female Barbets, just that male Barbets are more prominent, heavier, and easier going than females.

It’s also worth noting that same-sex dogs may be territorial, and dogs of different genders get along well-a factor you may consider if you want to pair up your Barbets.

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3 Little-Known Facts About the Barbet Dog

1. They Are Hypoallergenic

Goodbye to sneezing fits for owners with allergies and lint rollers for those that hate hairy everything! The Barbet is hypoallergenic and sheds very little, a better option for the 10%-20 % pet fanciers allergic to canines and cats.

Although no dog is truly 100 % non-shedding, certain breeds favor the allergic human better than others. These breeds, including the Barbet, are typically low-shedding and produce less dander.

Dander is the skin flake attached to the animal’s shedding hair, covering every surface in a home and causing most allergies in humans.

2. Barbets Almost Went Extinct

Barbets are not-so-new breeds, as records in French artwork place their existence back to the 16th century. However, World War 11 devastated France, and Barbets became so scarce that they were almost on the brink of extinction, just like many other breeds at the time.

Luckily, a few breeders worked hard to restore the breed and managed to save Barbets from extinction. Although they are still decidedly rare, the species is a bit safe once again, even though they are only 500 documented Barbets worldwide and less than 100 in America.

3. Their Coats Won’t Stop Growing

Remarkably, a Barbet’s waterproof coat continuously grows, just like their Poodle relatives, and requires regular trimming. This characteristic makes them high-maintenance as you’ll need to attend to their coats every six to eight weeks, which can become expensive if professional groomers do it.

The coat is also more likely to pick up twigs, burrs, and leaves and make the best place for mats to form if you don’t groom frequently.


Final Thoughts

The Barbet is an awesome friend to children and adults alike, packing tons of personalities for its owner. Better still, this is the dog for you if you want a pup that’ll keep you on your toes.

However, this breed is energetic and sporty and requires lots of emotional and physical stimulation, which may appear like owning one is a big responsibility. Of course, it’s a responsibility, and you shouldn’t take it lightly.

Ensure you are ready to brush and prep its coat frequently, work out with it, and take care of its health as much as possible. But one thing is for sure: Barbets are worth the effort!

Featured image credit: John Silver, Shutterstock

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