Breed Summary

As an archetypical water dog of France, the Barbet is a rustic breed of medium size and balanced proportions that appear in works as early as the 16th century. The Barbet is slightly rectangular with a substantial head and long, sweeping tail. They have a long, dense covering of curly hair and a distinctive beard (French barbe), which gives the breed its name. An agile athlete, the Barbet has been used primarily to locate, flush, and retrieve birds. They have a cheerful disposition; very social and loyal. Neither coarse nor refined, the Barbet is solidly built with an adequate bone to perform his tasks as a true sporting dog.

Country of Origin: France

AKC Breed Popularity:

AKC Classification: Sporting Group

UKC Classification: Gun dog

Exercise Requirements: 20-40 minutes/day

Height: Female: 17-20 inches; Male: 20-23 inches

Weight: Female: 35-65 lbs.; Male: 40-70 lbs

Physical traits: Medium-sized, Strong, Well-balanced

Coat: Length: Medium

Characteristics: Loose, Curly, Wavy

Colors: Black, White, Fawn, Grey, Brown

Overall Grooming Needs: Lows

Personality traits/Temperament: Friendly, Bright, Sweet-Natured

Energy Level: Average

Tendency to Drool: Moderate

Tendency to Snore: Low

Tendency to Bark: High

Tendency to Dig: Low

Social/Attention Needs: Moderate

Life Expectancy: 12-14 years


The Barbet is a healthy breed of dog. They solidly built with an adequate bone to perform his tasks as a true sporting dog, and are sturdy, with a moderately sized and constructed frame. Given the small genetic pool from which the Barbet draws, it is a healthy breed thanks to wise, cautious selection by breeders. Some dogs can develop itchy skin conditions where baths with a high quality dog shampoo and conditioner is recommended. Flea control is also essential. Responsible breeders screen for health conditions such as hip and elbow dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), seizure disorders, and allergies.


The Barbet should do well on high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior). Add a high quality multivitamin to complete the nutritional circle. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet.


Positive interactions and upbeat training environments are needed for a Barbet, as the breed has a sensitive, but even temperament. Training should be a relatively simple task, as Barbets are friendly, responsive, and agreeable. Agility, rally, dock diving, and lure coursing are all dog sports that Barbets have taken part in, and make for great exercise and mental stimulation.


Bred as a marsh/swamp game retriever, the Barbet is an agile athlete and loyal partner in any activity, especially if it involves water. They actually have webbed paws specifically for swimming. Besides swimming, other options for exercise include playtime in the backyard, preferably fenced, or taken for walks several times a day. Exercise can also come in the form of walks, indoor activities, like hide-and-seek, chasing a ball rolled along the floor, or teaching them new tricks. Use paw balm daily to protect their feet. The Barbet enjoys plenty of playtime with dogs and people but is then content to lounge nearby indoors. He is happiest when well socialized and prefers not to spend too many hours alone.

Fun Fact

The breed nearly went extinct after World Wars I and II, but thanks to a few fanciers, the breed survived.


1. American Kennel Club. [accessed 2020 Nov 28].

2. Dog Breeds | Hill’s Pet. [accessed 2020 Nov 28].

3. List of Dog Breeds | Petfinder. [accessed 2020 Nov 28].

4. All Dog Breeds - Complete List of Dog Profiles. [accessed 2020 Nov 28].

5. Dog Breeds | Types of Dogs | Purina. [accessed 2020 Nov 28].


Subscribe to our newsletter • Don’t miss out!