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French Water Dog

Other names: Barbet, Mud dog

French Water Dog

The Barbet is a rare breed of dog that is centuries old. It is essentially a medium-sized French water dog that was bred initially to retrieve hunted game, but was later tasked with various other ‘helping’ duties on ships and at home. The recent rise of the breed’s household popularity is due in part to him becoming an accepted pedigree in 2018.

Key facts about the French Water Dog

Life expectancy :





Temperament :

Intelligent Hunter

Size :

Origins and history

The modern history of the Barbet is easier to follow. The first Barbet was introduced to the UK in 2001; six years later two unrelated Barbets were introduced and bred. The majority of Barbets in the UK are descendants of these later dogs.  In April 2018, the Barbet became the 220th breed recognized by The Kennel Club of the UK.

FCI breed nomenclature

FCI Group

Group 8 - Retrievers - Flushing Dogs - Water Dogs


Section 3 : Water Dogs

Physical characteristics of the French Water Dog

    Adult size

    Female : Between 21 and 24 in

    Male : Between 23 and 26 in


    Female : Between 44 and 66 lb

    Male : Between 44 and 66 lb

    Coat colour

    Type of coat

    Eye colour



    A stocky and angular dog slightly longer than it is tall. The neck is strong and solid leading to a well-defined, straight top line. The tail is carried just a little higher than level when the dog is active. All four limbs are muscular and solid.

    Good to know

    The ‘Grand Barbet’ of 1750 is thought to be the ancestor of various Water Dog breeds of today, including the Poodle and Portuguese Water Dog. The ancestor of the Grand Barbet may have been the Komondor (this is only speculated).


    • 66%


      The Barbet is affectionate and loves nothing more than being in the company of its pack.

    • 66%


      Barbets tend to be a little goofy and may show off if they think they have an audience. They have a thirst for play that is unquenchable. Due to their sometimes rowdy antics care should be taken of small toddlers whom the dog can easily knock over.

    • 66%


      Even-tempered and placid, the Barbet is rarely aggressive.

    • 100%


      A highly intelligent breed, the Barbet gets bored easily of games and other activities (such as learning); the owner must vary their approach to the Barbet to keep the dog entertained.

    • 100%


      It is a very good hunting who does not hesitate to jump in the water (even very cold) to go for the game. It is a very good working assistant, versatile and reliable.

    • 66%

      Fearful / wary of strangers

      The Barbet is not wary of strangers. In fact, it is often over-friendly and excitable when meeting new people.

    • 33%


      The Barbet is not an independent dog. It looks to its owner for direction and often demands praise.

      Behaviour of the French Water Dog

      • 33%

        Tolerates solitude

        This dog adores companionship. If left alone for long periods, the Barbet will become depressed.

      • 66%

        Easy to train / obedience

        Training must be consistent and varied in its delivery. The dog’s attention span can waver and a trainer must accommodate this natural tendency.

      • 66%


        The Barbet will bark no more than any other dog; the barking quickly subsides.

      • 66%