Thought to be the oldest of the French Sheepdogs, the Berger Picard was brought to northern France and the Pas de Calais in the 9th century by the Celts.
Some experts insist that this breed is related to the more well-known Briard and Beauceron, while others believe it shares a common origin with Dutch and Belgian Shepherds. Although the Berger Picard made an appearance at the first French dog show in 1863, the breed's rustic appearance did not lead to popularity as a show dog.
The breeding stock of the Berger Picard, or Picardy Shepherd, as it is known in some countries, was decimated by the ravages of World War I and World War II. With its population concentrated on the farms of northeastern France, trench warfare in the Somme reduced the breed to near extinction.
The Picard's easy care and happy, though mischievous, temperament have started the breed back on the road to recovery. Nevertheless its numbers are still limited, even in its native country. Today, in France there are approximately 3500 dogs and in Germany approximately 500 of this breed.
The Berger de Picard was recognized by the United Kennel Club on January 1, 1994.
At present there are fewer than 250 Berger Picards in the United States and Canada.
The Berger Picard is a medium-sized, well-muscled dog, slightly longer than tall with a tousled yet elegant appearance. Their ears are naturally erect, high-set and quite wide at the base. Their eyebrows are thick, but do not shield their dark frank eyes. Yes, they really do smile! Their natural tail normally reaches to the hock and is carried with a slight J-curve at the tip.
Their weather proof coat is harsh and crisp to the touch, not excessively long with a minimal undercoat. Coat colors fall into two basic colors: fawn and gray with a wide range of shade variations including light fawn, dark fawn, gray, gray with black highlights, blue gray, gray red, and brindle.
The Berger Picard's attributes include a lively, intelligent personality and a sensitive and assertive disposition that responds quickly to obedience training. By and large Picards are laid back and mellow but they are known for having a stubborn streak and being reserved towards strangers.
Picards are energetic and hard working, alert, loyal and sweet-tempered with children. They are happiest when they have a job to do. They also have a protective nature, making them a good guard dog. However, they are not excessive barkers.
The breed also has a well developed sense of humor making them an endearing companion, and they continue to be used very effectively as both sheep and cattle herder in their native land and elsewhere.