The Barbet is a breed of dog that originated in France. Barbet is a French water dog and the breed’s name came from the French word ‘Barbe‘, meaning beard.

Barbet dog tongue out

It was best known for being a retriever in marshes, wetlands and estuaries in France, which is why the famous phrase ‘muddy like a Barbet’ came about during the 19th century.

For centuries the Barbet served as a water retriever for royalty and commoner alike, and its thick, waterproof coat helped earn its reputation for being brave even in the chilliest body of water.\

King Henry IV was one royal fan, and legend has it that the king’s mistress was once reproached for bringing a ‘Barbet’ to church.

The breed is considered rare, with approximately only 30 to 40 dogs listed in the United States and about 600 worldwide. However, the breed is gaining popularity in Scandinavian countries.

Traits and Behavior

This mud-loving imp from France is a fine hunter and family companion as well. A barbet is a very intelligent dog and mental stimulation is necessary for its well-being.

Barbet dog looking up

These dogs are happy and carefree.

A barbet dog is not difficult to train, and an owner doesn’t necessarily need to have experience in dog training.

These dogs are more sensitive than other breeds. It’s a pretty energetic breed and it has no problems with joining the long and demanding hikes.

The breed is good for children. They are very playful when they are invited to play and they will stick to their playmates for hours without getting bored.

These dogs must be kept on a leash as they tend to run away.

Pet Care and Diseases

The Barbet breed can have some major problems which may include:

  • Ear infections
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Hernias
  • Undescended testicles
  • Undershot/overshot bites
  • Epilepsy
Barbet dog lying on the floor

These dogs have plenty of stamina and need regular exercise. They should be taken on daily long walks.

When walking, avoid brushy thickets that can tangle the coat. Be sure to have the dog heeling beside or behind the person on the lead.

Daily brushing and combing is a must to prevent mats from forming, also to get rid of dead hair and to keep both skin and coat in tip-top shape.

Bathe the Barbet only when it gets dirty or is needed, the rest is basic care. Trim the nails when your dog starts to scratch the floor or every few weeks.

Brush the teeth frequently with vet-recommended pet toothpaste.


A barbet is a powerful medium-sized dog. The males can be around 21-25 inches (52 cm to 65 cm) tall, and weigh between 18-27 kg (40-60 lbs), while the females can go up to 20-23 inches (50-53 cm) tall, and weigh between 30 and 50 lbs (13.5 kg to 23 kg). It has very large hanging ears.

The legs are generally long. It has a regular conformation. The tail is short and hanging. It has a round head with a short nose attached to a powerful neck.

Barbet dog outdoor

Its thick coat is semi-long, has a woolly texture, can be wavy or curly, and is good in cold weather. The color of the coat can be black, brown, white, gray, sable or fawn.

General Information

The average life expectancy of this breed is approximately 13-15 years. The litter size is about  6-9 puppies. The barbet is also known as the French Water Dog.

Barbet dog puppy

Breed Club

Visit this dog club website dedicated to Barbet dogs. Click this link: http://barbetclubofamerica.com/