french water dogs


Frequently Asked Questions

Photo by Helle Fisher

How do you pronounce Barbet?


The Barbet (pronounced bar-bay) is a dog of French origin. The name Barbet comes from the French word barbe, meaning beard.


What is the Barbet personality like?


Barbets are friendly, joyful and fun loving dogs that get along well with others and love to be with their owners. They often have a goofy and       clownish side to them that is sure to put a smile on your face. They have a calm nature and are easy to live with as long as their exercise needs are being met. Because they are very devoted to their owners they do not do well when left alone for long periods of time. 


Are Barbets good with children?


Yes, most Barbets have a natural affinity towards children and are inherently gentle with them. It is always important to make sure that children and dogs are supervised when together and that the children are taught how to behave around dogs.


Are Barbets good with other pets?


Barbets are considered to be “good mixers” and as such get along well with other dogs. Proper socialization as puppies with positive supervised interactions will result in your dog knowing how to behave with other dogs and enjoying their companionship. When Barbet puppies are introduced to cats at a young age they do very well with them. Barbet being sporting dogs may chase after small pets such as rabbits and hamsters and birds if not introduced to them as puppies. 


How big do they get?


Barbets are medium sized sporting dogs. Average weights are 35 to 60 lbs and heights are 20 – 25 inches at the withers. Males are on average larger than females. As with many breeds there will be some Barbet that are larger or smaller than average and this is to be expected in a breed that is rebuilding its numbers.


Do Barbets shed?


Barbets do not shed in the same way as other breeds such as the Golden Retriever. They do have an undercoat that does shed a little bit. You will notice it when you brush and comb your dog as the hair will come off on the brush. You will sometimes see little tufts of hair on the carpet from your dog. You will never have the problem of cuddling with your dog and getting covered in dog hair. If you don’t brush your dog regularly (down to the skin) this undercoat will tangle in the coat and form mats. 


How much grooming do you have to do?


Regular brushing and combing is required to keep the dog free of mats. Some coats will mat more than others and you have to stay on top of the combing or you will end up with a badly matted dog. Their hair grows continuously and requires regular trimming. Some owners prefer to keep their Barbet is a shorter all-over trim of about 1-2 inches to facilitate maintenance. Ears should be checked regularly to make sure they are clean and healthy. Some Barbet have more hair in their ears than others and may need to have the hair trimmed and plucked from their ears. The hair on the bottom of the dogs paws needs to be trimmed to be flush with the pads of their feet as well. Responsible breeders will provide detailed instructions on grooming and coat care when you pick up your puppy.


What are their exercise needs?


Barbets are sporting dogs and require a moderate amount of regular exercise. Long on-leash walks as well as the opportunity to run free are beneficial to these active dogs that love being in the great outdoors. When introduced to water many Barbet become avid swimmers, their thick skin and woolly coats protect them from even the coldest water. Barbet are calm indoors as long as they are given appropriate regular exercise. 


Is there a difference between males and females?


This is a difficult question to answer for in general there is little difference between the sexes and it most often comes down to personal preference which is often based on what sex owners have experienced living within the past. Much of behavior is based on how the dog has been raised. As a general rule males have been known to be more easy-going than females. Both male and female Barbet are wonderful and when raised properly they will have the loving, intelligent, and friendly personalities that the breed is known for, no matter what the sex.


Are Barbets easy to train?


Yes and no. Barbets are very intelligent and learn new things quickly. They make excellent obedience partners and are in general quite willing to please. Some can be stubborn and some can bore quickly, repetitive drills don’t go over well with these dogs. Harsh training techniques will not work with this breed as many are sensitive to their owner’s moods and will shut down and refuse to work. If you are gentle with your Barbet whilst still being firm and consistent you will make much more progress in your training. Keep your training fun, interesting and positive and you’ll have a Barbet that enjoys working for you.


Are Barbets good watchdogs?


Barbets are intelligent and alert dogs and also very loyal. They will often bark if someone comes to the door but will take their cue from you and will soon settle when they see that you approve of the visitor. By nature the Barbet is not a noisy dog.


What are the health issues in the Barbet?


The Barbet is in general a healthy breed. However, because numbers are still low there is not too much information available concerning the health of the breed. Responsible breeders and breed clubs are working to gather as much information about the health of their dogs as possible. They share this information with one another in the hopes of breeding the healthiest dogs possible.  


The main concerns at present in the breed are hip dysplasia, eye disease (such as entropion and cataracts) and epilepsy. Responsible breeders health test their dogs and receive certification from board certified specialists that their dogs are free of conditions that are considered to have a genetic component. They share this information on the public databases and make the clearance certificates available to those interested in purchasing their puppies. 


Are they hypoallergenic?


There is no such thing as a non-allergenic dog but Barbets are considered to be good with those who have allergies to dogs. Many Barbet owners who are normally allergic to dogs find that they can live quite comfortably with their Barbet. If you or someone in your family is allergic it is advisable to spend some time with the breed to see how you will react.


How long do they live

The average life expectancy of the Barbet is 12 – 15 years.


©Copyright Stephanie Dixon, Northrock Reg’d. 2012