Still considered a fairly rare breed, the Berger Picard (pronounced "bare-ZHAY pee-CARR"), named after the Picardy region of Northern France, is considered to be one of France's oldest sheepdogs. There are many theories regarding the origin of the breed but it is believed that they were brought to France by central-European Celts during the 9th century and dogs resembling the Picard have been depicted in various tapestries and engravings throughout French history. Regardless that their origin is shrouded in mystery, everyone can agree that they are closely related to the Briard and Beauceron, other French herding breeds. Berger Picards participated in France's first dog show in 1863 but their numbers began to drop during World War I and II. With the dedication of breed enthusiasts, they have made a comeback in recent years. The breed gained much of their popularity from the 2005 movie Because of Winn-Dixie, the main role played by Berger Picards named Lyco and Scott.
With a shaggy coat and thick eyebrows, Berger Picards look very similar to the typical appearance of a mixed breed which would be why they were chosen to play the role of a lovable mutt in Because of Winn Dixie. However, this French purebred is both sturdy and well-muscled, without looking bulky, to serve as an efficient sheepdog. Picards have a light or dark-colored wiry coat with a rough, scraggly outercoat and a soft, dense undercoat. The breed's dark oval-shaped eyes and naturally erect ears give them an alert and observant expression. They have a powerful muzzle with a large black nose, and the tail of the Berger Picard hangs straight with a curved "J-shape" at the tip.
Like most sheepdogs, the Berger Picard, also referred to as the Picardy Shepherd, tends to be both energetic and vigilant but unlike other herding breeds, they are calmer and more easy-going. Loved by all who know them, they are an entertaining breed that enjoys being part of their family more than anything and will always make you laugh because of their lively personalities. Although highly intelligent and responsive to commands, Berger Picards can be willful and fairly stubborn during training due to their independence as a herder but are very trainable if they have a gentle, yet assertive owner to teach them the rules of the house. They can become bored with too much repetition and it is best to mix things up in different orders to fuel their interest in learning new tricks. Due to their work as a herder, these observant dogs are great at reading people and will always alert their families to unfamiliar noises or strangers on the property. Proper obedience training and socialization are very important for the Picard to avoid unwanted overly protective behavior towards others. Making a great playmate for teens and tolerant of small children, this mellow and loyal breed tends to make an exceptional family companion for a variety of households who can provide them with the proper amount of exercise needed for this active herder.