The book "The Briard" is an excellent source of information on the breed. The following is the table of contents from "The Briard":
Chapter 1: Origins and History
To order a copy of "The Briard", or for more information, contact the author:
CHIC or the Canine Health Information Center is a centralized canine health database jointly sponsored by the AKC's Canine Health Foundation and the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA). CHIC is a centralized health database that encourages the sharing of health information. Each breed club defines the health clearance tests required for a dog within the breed to receive a CHIC designation. The CHIC health clearance tests are selected to cover the most prevalent health issues for the given breed. For the Briard, the required health tests are for hip dysplasia, CERF, and CSNB; with thyroid and elbow tests being optional. Hopefully, with increased Briard participation in the CHIC designation, the incidence of these health issues will be decreased.
See the AKC's Canine Health Foundation website for additional information on its activities:
See the CHIC website for additional information on the CHIC program:
For more information on the Briards participation in the CHIC program, see the Briard CHIC web page:
Bloat and Torsion
The term bloat is often used to refer to the conditions bloat and torsion, or Gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV). Bloat, or more correctly gastric dilatation, is a condition where the dog’s stomach fills up with gas and/or food, and expands. Torsion or volvulus is a twisting or rotation of the stomach that occurs with or occasionally without gastric dilatation. GDV occurs most frequently in large, deep-chested breeds, including the Briard. When GDV occurs, it is a life threatening emergency requiring immediate medical attention! To check for bloat, feel for a distended stomach especially near the ribs, but this is not always obvious, it depends on the dog's body configuration. Also look for restlessness and vomiting. The dog will be highly nauseated and retching with little coming up.
Torsion can also occur in the spleen, without the stomach being involved. When this happens, the spleen twists cutting off the vein that drains blood from the spleen. At the same time the artery continues to pump blood into the spleen. The spleen becomes large because of the engorgement of blood. Eventually blood clots develop and necrosis sets in within the spleen. Look for symptoms similar to bloat, and again this is a serious emergency, so get the dog to the vet immediately.
There is no known inheritance for GDV, although some suspect that one exists. Therefore, no heath clearance tests are available for GDV.
For more information on GDV, see the following article:
Unfortunately, cancer occurs frequently in dogs. It has not been determined that a given breed of dog is more prone to cancer. However, evidence shows that specific breeds have a higher frequency of certain types of cancer than other breeds. The most frequent types of cancer in Briards seems to be hemangiosarcoma, followed by lymphoma, then squamous cell carcinomas of the toe. There is no known heritable link to any of these or other cancers in Briards. However, research is being done to determine if there is a heritable link for these cancers.
Lymphoma tends to happen in middle aged dogs, but can happen at any age. Lymphoma can occur almost anywhere on the dog. See the following link for more information on lymphoma:
Squamous cell carcinomas of the toe or digit is a form of skin cancer, and usually starts in the nailbed. In Briards, and other breeds, this cancer happens more frequently in black coated dogs. See the following link for more information on squamous cell carcinomas:
Hip Dysplasia (HD) is a hereditary degenerative joint disease of the hip leading to arthritis, pain, and debilitation. Since HD is a complex genetic disease it is important to do health screening in the parents to decrease the likelihood of this condition to develop in the puppies. If the litter mates of the parents are health screened to be free of HD, this will further increase the odds that offspring will free of HD. Therefore, it is important for non-breeding pet Briards to participate in HD health screening, as well as Briards involved in breeding programs. According to the OFA hip dysplasia statistics, the occurence of hip dysplasia in Briards is 14.6 percent. However, this is only for Briards that have been health screened for HD by the OFA. It is assumed that the actual rate of HD in the Briard is higher than this.
HD health screening is done by veterinarians familiar with Orthopedic Founcation for Animals (OFA) hip dysplasia radiograph procedures. The resulting radiograph is submitted by the veterinarian to the OFA along with the completed OFA application, which the Briard owner has signed.
For more information on hip dysplasia, see the OFA Hip Dysplasia web page:
Congenital Stationary Night Blindness (CSNB) is a genetic eye disease that causes low light blindness or “night blindness” from birth and can also cause various degrees of vision loss in daylight, from no loss to severe. Within dogs, CSNB is unique to Briards, but it is also found in humans. Genetically, Briards are either normal/clear, carrier, or affected. Briards that are normal/clear do not have the CSNB gene, and cannot pass it on to their offspring. Briards that are carriers have the CSNB gene, but will not suffer from the disease. Briards that are affected do suffer from the disease. As long as one parent is normal/clear, then none of the offspring will suffer from the CSNB disease; although, there will be carriers in the offspring. If both parents are normal/clear, then all offspring will also be normal/clear. For details on the inheritance and risks of CSNB, see the Optigen CSNB web page:
Luckily for the Briard, the Optigen lab provides a genetic test for CSNB. The goal of the CSNB test is to prevent Briards from being affected by this genetic eye disease. The CSNB test requires blood to be drawn and submitted to Optigen for genetic testing. The blood drawn for the CSNB test can be done at a veterinary office or at a CSNB clinic. It is important to follow the instructions available on the Optigen web site for the blood test and submittal process. It is recommended that the complete instructions from the Optigen web site be printed, and taken to the veterinarian drawing the blood for the test. Upon completion of the CSNB test, Optigen will mail the Briard owner a certificate with the test results. Read the fine print on the certificate for instructions on how to submit the CSNB results to the OFA database. This will involve the inclusion of a fee in order to get the Briard's results recorded with OFA.
For more information on the CSNB test, see the Optigen web site:
Hypothyroidism has been seen to occur in the Briard. The rate of “primary hypothyroidism” can be difficult to assess. As a result, testing for Hypothyroidism is an optional, but recommended test for the Briard CHIC designation status.
Thyroid health screening is performed by a veterinarian, and involves drawing blood and submitting the sample to an Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) approved laboratory. The OFA approved laboratory must be contacted for the appropriate submission forms, sample handling procedures, and laboratory service fee before collecting the sample. So far, the participation rate by Briards in thyroid health screening is relatively low, and none have shown throid disease. Only a few have had questionable results, that need to be re-tested.
For more information on thyroid disease and health screening, see the OFA Thyroid web page:
CERF (Canine Eye Registration Foundation)
The Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF) registers the results of eye examinations completed by members of the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists (A.C.V.O. ). Dogs receive a complete eye examination, often referred to as a CERF exam, looking for heritable eye disease. CERF examinations do not detect dogs affected with CSNB. At this time no specific hereditary eye condition is known to be a problem in Briards, but some Briards examined have been found to have eye issues. Therefore, CERF examinations are important in order to keep eye problems out of the Briard.
The goal of the CERF exam is to eliminate heritable eye disease in dogs. The CERF test is to be completed by an A.C.V.O. certified veterinary ophthalmologist, and can be done at either the ophthalmologist's office or at a CERF clinic, often held at a dog show. Upon completion of the CERF examination, the ophthalmologist will give the Briard owner a sheet of paper with the CERF examination results. On the back are the instructions on how to submit the CERF examination results to the OFA database. Both the CERF examination result papers and the specified fee must be sent to the CERF organization in order to have the dog's CERF examination results be recorded with CERF and with OFA.
For more information on the CERF examination, see the CERF web site:
Congenital heart defects are thought to be genetically transmitted from parents to offspring; however, the exact modes of inheritance have not been precisely determined for all cardiovascular malformations. Therefore, it is a good idea to have a cardiac health screen performed on Briards involved in breeding programs. Cardiac health screens involve an veterinary examination and are performed by veterinarians with advanced training in cardiac diagnosis. According to the Orthopedic Founcation for Animals (OFA) cardiac statistics, the participation rate by Briards in cardiac health screens is relatively low so far. However, of those that have participated, 98.7 percent of them have normal cardiac health screens.
For more information on cardiac disease and health screening, see the OFA Cardiac web page:
Elbow Dysplasia is a heritable polygenetic disease of the dogs elbow that ultimately results in lameness. Elbow dysplasia does not appear to be common in Briards but it has been seen to occur. Therefore, it is a recommended but optional test for CHIC certification in the Briard. According to the Orthopedic Founcation for Animals (OFA) elbow dysplasia statistics, the current rate of participation by Briards in elbow dysplasia health screening is relatively low so far. However, of those that have participated, 99.8 percent of them are free of elbow dysplasia.
For more information on elbow dysplasia and health screening, see the OFA Elbow Dysplasia web page:
Patella luxation is a condition where the patella, or kneecap, pops out of place. Patella luxation is not known in Briards, but it should be considered an inherited disease. Therefore, it is recommended as a health screening test for the Briard, as it is known to occur in large breeds. According to the Orthopedic Founcation for Animals (OFA) patella luxation statistics, there is not enough rate of participation by Briards in patella luxation health screening to generate any statistics on the rate of occurance in the breed.
For more information on Patella Luxation and health screening, see the OFA Patella Luxation web page: