The New Berger Picard In The Neighborhood

Bergere Picard namedGary (4)Last November Rob drove to Roanoke Virginia to meet and pick up his intended-an 8 week old Berger Picard puppy.  Berger Picard? Berger means shepherd in French; Picard refers to the Picardy region in France. One of the oldest of all the French herding dogs, the Berger Picard was almost driven to extinction by the devastation of two world wars. The Picardy region in France was especially hard hit.

Bergere Picard namedGary (10)Devoted breeders, and the shepherds that needed their herding skills to tend their flocks kept the breed alive. They were virtually unknown in the United States until 2005. The film “Because of Winn Dixie” introduced this rare, rough and ready breed to Americans.  From the Berger Picard Club of America, ” The 2005 release of the movie Because of Winn Dixie introduced America to the Picardy Shepherd. The movie producers wanted a dog that looked like a mixed breed, but needed several that looked alike so that production could continue smoothly, thus they decided on this rare purebred dog. It is this breed’s rustic tousled appearance that has fooled many people into thinking “Winn-Dixie” is just a mutt.” Just a week after his arrival, Milo was invading his crate space, and Gary was at home enough to scold him about it.

November 20 2015 060The Berger Picard is still a very rare breed.  There are reputed to be no more than 3500 of them, world wide. So how did Rob become acquainted?  In July of 2015, the breed was admitted to the AKC. A regional dog show in our area featured a specialty meeting of a Berger Picard club that was graced by 14 of these dogs – all together, in one place. He was smitten.  Some months later, the President of the Berger Picard Club of America had pups on the way; Rob spoke for one of them.  Gary had not so much to do or say for his first few days, except to stick close to Rob.  By day three, he was starting to feel at home.

Bergere Picard namedGary (15)The breed is known for its giant ears, big feet, and energetic personality. They are herders, so they need regular exercise. But Gray would need to develop some people skills, as he would be coming to work every day. In his favor is an innate sense of humor. Not all dogs make good retail store dogs. My corgi Milo is an exception. He is too little and low to the ground to be a threat to anyone, and he is eminently sociable. He doesn’t jump on anyone. He has Welsh style manners, except for his enthusiastic barking when he is playing ball. We have people come to the shop all the time-just to check in on Milo. I like that.

Bergere Picard namedGary (8)Gary grew by leaps and bounds over the winter. The corgis were outraged by the Berger Picard puppy invasion, but eventually they all made friends. That is a tribute to his easy going nature, as the corgis are 11 now, and have their routines. Rob’s efforts to expose him to other people and dogs meant regular trips to the dog park, puppy obedience school, and introductions to people who come to the shop.

Bergere Picard namedGary (3)By late winter, you could watch him putting on weight and stature. It seemed like he went from 14 pounds to 50 overnight.  That shaggy coat that is typical of the Bergers was beginning to come in – face first. He is intensely attached to Rob, and he has taken many of his behavioral cues from Rob, which is a good thing.

February 27 2016 003The day he met MCat, I made an effort to stay out of the mix. There was no need to interfere with their introduction. There was a lengthy stare down. Then, a truce. If you have never seen MCat, you are not alone. He spends the middle of his day snoozing in the pot of his choice. Early and late, he is an active member of the group.

Bergere Picard namedGary (6)It has been fun watching these two fall for each other.

April 7 2016 031Both Corgis have been energized by the addition of a third dog.  They do not seem to be in the least bit intimidated by his size. His good and graceful with my 11 year olds. In the morning before the shop opens, they all play ball-even Howard.

April 12, 2016 123So why am I talking about Gary? He is a new member of our group. Gardeners coming in now after the winter hiatus want to meet him, and have questions about the breed. Should you come by, we will be happy to introduce you.

DSC_4528 Despite being only 7 months old, he has his quiet moments. This is a good thing. The 3 large orange caution cones positioned at our entrance right now is part of his training to never breach those open gates, and leave the yard. He seems to be catching on to that idea fast.

Bergere Picard namedGary (7) He has a warm and affectionate personality that matches his size.

April 12, 2016 058I don’t know how much longer Rob will be able to pick him up like this – ha. It is impossible to tell which one of them likes this relationship better.

Berger-PicardThey make very handsome grown-ups, don’t they?


  1. What a lovely tale…

  2. nancy zichterman says

    I love this post!! Now I really want to travel across the state to your store!!

  3. michaele anderson says

    Ha, you should Gary pick out the next mega-ball lottery ticket or you to buy…he is obviously a very lucky and deserving boy!

  4. Cathy Peterson says

    Beautiful dog. . .getting great training and socialization opportunities. . .a treasure. . and another reason to make the trip to your shop!

  5. Adored this post!

  6. Ellen Devine says

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful pup

  7. Jeannine Eitel says

    A very beautiful dog!! Gary is adorable! I will love seeing more pictures of him!

  8. Nancy Szerlag says

    That’s one gorgeous dog. Rob has great taste.

  9. Thank you for the introduction to this beautiful breed, Deborah. Apparently Gary’s match with Rob was made in heaven… they are both very lucky to have found one another!

  10. Deb Cassady says

    We met Gary at the shop when we visited late last fall, he was adorable then, and only getting more more handsome by the day. Will be by to visit again, the next time we head north

  11. Lovely post! Great dog!

  12. debra @ 5th and state says

    deborah and rob,
    you can only imagine my delight in this post which i opened with my new pup, a bergere picard snuggled against me, his name is marcel and is 15 weeks. marcel is helping to heal my heart after, as you know, the loss of my treasured cardigan corgi. there is something here between us three gardeners/shop owners/buyers/dog aficionados. i must find the time to come meet all of you, including howard, milo and now gary.
    loving this breed and their wonderful nature, i just could not get another cardi at this time, my favorite breed, as i would be comparing.
    congrats rob! we belong in a small club together and a delightful one at that! looking forward to more gary adventures, he is a beautiful addition to DGW!

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Debra, I heard from a friend of yours a few weeks ago that you were picking up a berger picard puppy-all the best to you and your new friend Marcel. Deborah

  13. Judi floyd says

    Wonderful post. Dogs and gardening are God’s beautiful gifts. Love yor blog. I’m in Nashville. Plan on visiting you some day.

  14. JoyceBinAtlanta says

    What a great post this morning! Thanks for introducing us to the breed, and especially to Gary. Enjoy many years as a team. The picture with MCat is too funny. Loved seeing these pictures.

  15. Virginia Skold says

    A perfect story about bonding. Such a great addition to your life and store.

  16. Julie A. Marchesi says

    Loved learning about a breed I never heard of. Really cute. How much shedding?

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Julie, there are two very brief and light shedding periods a year-I have seen no shedding from him yet. best, Deborah

  17. Great photos of a good looking dog and Rob, and a warm, happy and charming story. Loved it!

  18. Marguerite says

    Nothing compares to the love for and by a dog. What a great new member of your team. If it isn’t too personal a question, inquiring minds want to know how Gary got his name. In the meantime, my little Welsh dawg, Plohni the Sealyham Terrier, says “Helo” to your two little Welsh dawgs. Thanks for such a heartwarming post.

  19. What a great story, and what a cute pup. You seem to use ‘berger’ and ‘bergere’ interchangeably. In French, ‘berger’ means shepherd, ‘bergere’ means shepherdess.

  20. Christine Denning says

    Thank you for introducing me to this breed. I loved every charming photo!

  21. susan m wilson says

    Wow, I really enjoy all your posts but this is an unexpected joy. Thank you for making my day so happy.

  22. Angeline Rebottaro says

    I loved watching the pups run around the shop all day at the Spring Fair! So much fun.

    P.S., I hope you enjoyed the chocolates 🙂

    Best Wishes,

    Kisses to Rob and Gary!

  24. Lisa Barnett says

    I so enjoy reading your blog and can’t wait to come
    to your shop to meet Gary! Looking forward to seeing all the new things in the store and the beautiful new floor! So happy for you that all of
    the dogs are getting along!

  25. Jennifer Taylor says

    Thanks for making me SMILE. What a wonderful happy story of love. All my best to all of you, and thanks for all of your posts!

  26. What cuties all around! Thanks for sharing the story.

  27. Diane Conkey-McGowan says

    Are these dogs a good choice for a service dog?, I just got to see one from someone who was lucky enough to find one at the humane society.

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Diane, I am amazed there was a BP at a shelter. They are so rare. They are herding dogs, but I would not say they are good and relaxed around strangers. Just my observation of one dog-! best, Deborah

      • Deborah, I just found one online at a shelter in Romania! Wish I wasn’t in the U.S., – I would be taking that dog home! I can answer Diane’s question. I have veterinary training, and dog training. Years ago I was involved with an org. that took dogs from shelters and trained them as service dogs; my job was picking appropriate dogs from shelters. 99% of herding dog breeds – including my border collies – are terrible service dogs. They are too high energy and too ADD and distractable. You do better with retriever types – labs, goldens, and any of those variants.

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