Barbet Dog Breed: The Water Dog

Written by: Bojana Radulovic
The Barbet Heeler is a medium-size dog with a loving personality. This is a well-balanced and loving dog with a long history. Read on to discover more about this breed.
Dog Breed Group:
Sporting Dogs
20 to 25 inches tall at the shoulder
37 to 62 pounds
Life Span:
13 to 15 years

Breed Characteristics:

Apartment Friendly


How well will this breed adapt to apartment living? Is the apartment size the most important factor when it comes to proper living conditions? Is the breed suitable for apartment living?

Good For First-Time Owners


Some dogs aren't suitable for first-time dog owners. Is this breed a good match for someone with no dog experience? Can training help them be on their best behavior with owners with no dog experience? Are they suitable to be handled by someone who is just entering the canine world?

Overall Sensitivity


Some dogs are sensitive. Certain breeds are rough on the outside, while having the softest heart on the inside. In other words, some dogs are 'thick-skinned' while some are 'easygoing.' Is this breed prone to sensitivity?

Tolerates Being Alone


Separation anxiety in dogs is a serious condition that can affect a dog's life quality. Is this breed prone to this condition? Can you leave him alone for hours? How destructive this breed can become when bored, neglected, or not loved enough?

Affectionate With Family


How affectionate this breed will be around his humans? Will he welcome new family friends easily or he will choose to be shy? Some breeds can be clingy with owners, while others don't attach a lot. Will this breed act as the family's best friend?



Some dogs will tolerate children, while others will adore well-behaved ones. Dogs and children should always be supervised, no matter how well trained the dog might be. Will this breed act as a nanny dog or he will stay away from children?

Friendly Toward Other Dogs


Some dog breeds cannot wait to run to the dog park and run with others. Others prefer to be with their humans, and not to be a part of a multi-pet household. Is this breed dog lover or not? How friendly this breed will be toward other dogs?

Friendly Toward Strangers


Some dog breeds tend to be reserved toward strangers and highly suspicious. Others are fast to walk away with them easily. How welcoming this breed is toward strangers?

Drooling Level


If you love to clean all the time drooling level in dogs is a trait that you should mind. Is this breed less likely to drool, or you will always need a towel on hand?

Easy To Groom


Heavier shedding during the shedding season is something that every dog needs to go through. However, some dogs shed just a bit all year round. Is this breed one of them? How often should you groom this dog?

Overall Health


What can you expect from this breed in terms of health? Are there any genetic conditions to vary about? Is obesity a major issue in this breed? By knowing more about the dog's health, you are learning how to help him live a longer and healthier life.

Prone To Obesity


Treats are a great addition to training sessions. Dogs love sweet bites of dog treats but they should be served in moderation. Treats can lead to obesity, next to poor nutrition. Can this breed gain extra weight from treats? How prone to obesity this breed actually is?

Trainability Level


Training some dogs is easier than others. How easy this dog will be to train? What can you expect? Some dogs are huge people pleasers and they will master commands easily, while others will try to outsmart you.

Intelligence Level


Dogs are smart beings. We do our best to train them, but they do still end up training us to adapt to their needs. How intelligent is this breed? Will he try to outsmart you? Or he will need multiple training sessions to master basic commands?

Prey Drive


Dogs were bred for a specific purpose. Those who were bred to hunt have natural instincts to hunt, even today. This is why many dogs, like Terriers, will chase other animals. They will also have a hard time concentrating on your commands when there is something small moving. Is this breed prone to following his prey instincts?

Barking Level


How vocal this breed is? Can you expect neighbors to ring you often to calm your dog? Or you can sleep without worries of hearing your Fido bark? Some breeds are highly vocal, others have unusual sounds, and some are silent. Is this breed prone to barking?

Energy Level


Low-energy dogs are happy with regular walks and indoor chill times. High-energy dogs are always ready for action. Is this breed a couch potato, energetic dog, or somewhere in between?

Exercise Needs


Some dogs are more than happy with a slow stroll down the street. Others need hours of active time to stay happy and fit. Is this breed demanding in terms of exercise? How much exercise this breed needs to stay happy and healthy?

Playfulness Level


Some dogs never lose that puppy spirit, not even in their senior years. Others are more serious and prefer having a job to do. Is this breed demanding in terms of playfulness? Can you expect playfulness in their senior years as well?

Barbet is a sweet-natured water dog of France. This is a rustic breed of medium size and well-balanced body proportions.

The breed is known for its substantial head and long tail. The Barbet also has a unique coat – long and dense and covered with curly hair.

This older breed (as of the 16th century) is an agile athlete, and it was primarily used to locate, slush, and retrieve birds. On top of that, the Barbet is very loyal and social.

Quick Facts

Real name: Barbet
Other names: French Water Dog
Origin: France
Breed type: Sport Dogs
Weight: 35-65 pounds
Height: 19-24.5 inches
Lifespan: 12-14 years
Litter Size: 4 – 6 puppies
Color: Solid black, grey, chestnut brown, fawn, pale fawn, white or more or less pied
Coat: Thick, long, woolly, wavy, and curly

Barbet History

The Barbet was originally bred to be a versatile gun dog. However, his role over history evolved, and Barbet has become a loving, smart, and devoted pet.

In his early days, the Barbet was a water dog primarily used for hunting water games.

At least, thats what 16th-century scripts witness. Other references on the breed are found during history as well.

Every mention of the breed tells about this breed with respect, love, and admiration.

After the period of World Wars, the Barbet was nearly extinct. This was the case with many other breeds, such as German Shepherd.

Luckily, thanks to devoted dog lovers, and responsible breeders, this breed is today alive.

With careful planning, responsible breeding and a lot of patience this old breed was preserved for the future. They are still rare and can be found in small numbers. If you are thinking about getting the Barbet, check local shelters first.

You will be surprised to learn just how many different breeds, even purebreds, you can find in your local shelter.

Life happens, and even the most beloved pets end up on the streets, especially if they are scared of loud noises and fireworks and run away.

If your dog isn’t microchipped higher are the chances of losing him.

Today, the Barbet still has enormous love for water and enjoys water sports. This is an ‘all round’ dog, with extensive historical lineage, standing as a classic dog breed.

Barbet Physical Appearance

This is a medium-sized dog with a weight between 35-65 pounds, and a height between 19-24.5 inches.

If you provide proper nutrition, regular veterinarian check-ups, and an overall positive environment, you can expect your Barbet to live between 12 to 14 years.

The Barbet is a rustic breed of medium size, with a well-balanced body. The most impressive treat of this dog is his dense and curly coat, which probably makes him look bigger than he actually is.

The Barbet also has a distinctive beard, also known as French barbe, which gives the breed its name.

All in, the Barbet’s body was built to locate, flush, and retrieve birds. The head is strong and broad. Eyes are of medium size with clear and gentle expression.

Eye rims are fully pigmented, while ears are wide and set at eye level. Skull is rounded and broad, and the muzzle is shorter than the skull.

The nose is large and fully pigmented in harmony with coat color.

The neck is strong. The tail is more busky and the natural extension of the topline, commonly long and low set. The tail is never docked. The body is athletic with substance.

Shoulders are well laid back, legs are straight and strong, and feet are round. Upper tight is well muscled.

Barbet Personality

The Barbet is a smart dog. This breed is highly intelligent and obedient.

The Barbet’s personality is friendly and gentle. They go better with experienced dog owners, becuase they have a goofy side that should be kept in control.

If you are just thinking about getting a dog, make sure that you focus on breeds that are suitable for first time dog owners – proper preparation is everything when it comes to dog ownership.

Barbets are fun-loving dogs who can spend hours sitting on a couch with their human family or play outside in the mud and water for hours.

Since they are highly compatible by nature, they are an excellent choice for seniors or families with children.

They are sensitive, so positive reinforcement is the only right way to train your Barbet, just like any other breed, actually.

Barbets will bond closely with their family members, which is why they will enjoy every second spent within family activities.

Since this breed was bred for hunting, he will need frequent exercise.

Make sure that you provide enough outdoor time and also fun indoor activitiesdon’t forget that a tired dog is a happy dog.

Barbet Training

Just like with any other breed, your Barbet will thriver in a positive and loving environment.

Dogs love positive reinforcement and training sessions that are fun and supported with treats.

When training this breed you should be extra careful because the Barbet is a sensitive dog with an even temperament.

If you already have dog experience, training your Barbet should be easy and fun.

If training your Barbet is too much work for you think about hiring a professional dog trainer or going to puppy school with your Barbet.

Barbets are friendly, very responsive, and agreeable, so training him should be a fast process.

Make sure that you start with early socialization as soon as puppy vaccination is done.

Have enough toys on hand if you are training a puppy.

If your new Barbet is a senior, make sure that you are gentle with exercise and training needs.

Provide an environment where the senior dog may have proper exercises for senior dogs and live longer.

Barbet Exercise Needs

The Barbet is a game retriever. As such he is an agile athlete and a great partner in any activity, especially if activities involve water.

In fact, Barbets have webbed paws specially created for swimming.

Other breeds with webbed toes are:

Breeds with webbed toes are great swimmers, and whenever they see the water they will stop and jump in.

Dogs thrive on exercise. They love being busy. In fact, they are happiest when they have a job to do.

This is the main reason why they enjoy repeating basic commands over and over again.

They enjoy playing time both with humans and other dogs and don’t do well when left alone for too long.

Before you get a dog, be honest and see how much of your time you can give to your Barbet.

Provide a minimum of three daily walks, between 20-30 minutes, and whenever possible have longer walks of fetching time in a dog park.

Barbet Grooming

Grooming is much more than maintaining a dog’s coat and hair. Grooming is more about connecting with your dog through grooming sessions.

Dogs love to be petted and brushing them in their eyes is a sign that you care about them. Isn’t that really wonderful? So, make sure that you have the best grooming tools for your dog and the right brush.

In general, brushing your Barbet shoudl happen a minimum of once per week, although two times would be perfect. Be gentle, and have treats nearby in case your Barbet gets nervous.

Start with grooming practice while a puppy, because the earlier you start, the easier grooming will be.

The rest is basic grooming:

When it comes to Barbet’s curls, it’s important to let them air-dry after bathing to regain natural curls.

This breed is especially known for its strong nails, so make sure that you pay extra attention to Barbet’s nails.

Barbet Health

The Barbet is overall a healthy breed. Just like in humans, certain issues may appear later on, which is why it’s so important to work with responsible breeders if you are buying a dog.

They will present you medical documentation on the dog and even take you for a tour of the facilities, and let you meet the dog’s parent, or at least the bitch.

Responsible breeders will always tell you taht if you come to a situation that you cannot take care not the dog anymore, to return the dog to them.

If you don’t get this treatment, know that you are dealing with puppy mills, which should be avoided at any cost.

The Barbet should be screened for the following disorders:

Therefore, the recommended tests are:

  • Hips
  • Elbows
  • Dilution factor

The Bottom Line

The Barbet is a water dog of medium size, known for its friendly mind and active nature. This is a great breed for adults and families with children.

They love being around people, participating in dog sport activities, especially if water is involved.

If you don’t mind providing enough exercise, brushing regularly Barbet’s coat, and creating a positive environment this breed just might be for you.

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