• Barbet in Great Britain
  • Barbet Dogs
  • Barbet Dog Breed
  • Barbets
  • Barbet Dog
  • Barbet in the UK
  • Barbets in Great Britain
  • Barbets in the UK
  • Barbet
  • Barbet Breed
Exercise Level:
Barking Level:
Good with Children:
Good with other pets:
Height: 58 - 66cm M | 53 - 60cm F
Weight: 15 - 28kg M | 15 - 28kg F
Life Expectancy: 13 - 15 Years

Looking for a Barbet?


A French mid-sized water dog, the barbet is energetic and fun-loving. He loves the company of people, may it be adults or children. A brilliant dog that’s quick on his feet, he easily learns commands and is highly capable in agility and obedience competitions. Since the barbet is primarily bred to locate, flush, and retrieve waterfowl, he is proficient in swimming and loves activities involving water. On 1 April 2018, the barbet was officially recognised by the Kennel Club.

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The breed’s name originates from the French word ‘barbe,’ which means beard. It is a fitting name for a dog with an impressive and distinguishing thick, curly beard that matches his coat. The barbet is also dubbed as ‘mud dog’ since he tirelessly chases birds into mud and water.

The barbet's true origins are unclear. It is thought to have descended from the African shepherd dogs that procreated with European dogs during the seventh century. Meanwhile, there were also records of the barbet’s existence that date back to 1387 when the first written description of the breed appeared. In other accounts, it is believed that the dog existed as early as the eighth century.

The barbet is known to be the predecessor of different modern water dog breeds such as the American water spaniel, poodle, griffon, Portuguese water dog, bichon frise, and otterhound. This earned him the title the ‘father of all poodles.’

The barbet is not only a skilled water dog that can withstand the coldest waters, but also a sociable companion that is fond of his owners. It is no wonder that the nobility and peasants alike welcome him into their homes. It is said that King Henry IV adored barbets and kept them as companions. One time, his mistress was reprimanded for bringing the pooch with her to church. Meanwhile, commoners nicknamed him ‘sailor's companion’ as he not only retrieves waterfowl, but also the fish that escaped the fisherman's net.

After World Wars I and II, the breed was on the brink of extinction. With the efforts of a few fanciers, they managed to increase the barbets, although it remains one of the rare dog breeds. Approximately, there are less than a thousand barbets around the globe. Fanciers are hoping that more people will appreciate the barbet and open their homes for this lovable and enthusiastic dog.

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Appearance and Grooming

The most distinctive characteristic of the barbet is his thick, fuzzy coat that covers his entire body. He also has a shaggy moustache and a beard. The dense layers of fur are waterproof and protect him from the cold. Its texture may range from wavy to curly and colours may vary from solid white, black, grey, fawn, red fawn, pale fawn, and brown. Despite the barbet's thick coat, it only sheds a little, which makes the dog a good choice for dog lovers with allergies.

The barbet has a wide, bulbous skull, round, dark eyes, wide nose, and thick, black lips. His ears are tuft and flat. He has a robust and athletic build with a broad chest, sturdy brawny legs, and a tail that is slightly curved at the tip. The barbet possesses huge webbed feet that function like flippers and help him swim efficiently.

When grooming the barbet, take extra care of his coat. Bathe him once every two or three months. Avoid excessively washing him as it can lead to dry skin and hair. Whilst the coat does not shed frequently, loose hairs usually end up matting than falling off. Various dirt and debris may stick on it after a walk too. To keep it clean and free from mats, brush it daily and trim it four times a year to prevent it from overgrowing.

Oftentimes, wet food can get stuck on the beard. Make sure that he is accustomed to getting his face cleaned at a young age. Trimming the hairs around his rear once a month is also recommended to prevent faeces from getting stuck on it.

The barbet has hairy and droopy ears that need frequent inspection and cleaning to ward off the chances of infection. His nails, too, must be trimmed regularly to avoid cracking, overgrowth, and splitting. Tooth brushing should be practised every day. It is best to start doing this during his puppyhood so he can get used to it easily.

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Temperament and Intelligence

A jolly and chummy dog, the barbet enjoys bonding with his owners just as much as he loves running around and rolling in the mud. His friendliness makes him a perfect fit for households with children and the elderly. Family is something the barbet treasures deeply, so he develops strong bonds with his owners. Being an active and social animal, he does not want to miss out on any fun family activities.

Leaving him alone for a long time is a no-no, since it can lead him to develop separation anxiety, excessive barking, and chewing. Thus, make time to play and bond with him every day. If possible, have someone who can keep him company whilst you are away on a trip or at work.

Because the barbet is an easy-going pooch, he interacts well with other dogs, cats, and small animals. However, he needs supervision when around pet birds as he has a high prey drive for fowls. The barbet is generally friendly towards strangers too. Although the breed is highly sociable, early socialisation is still a must to ensure that the dog is amicable towards other people and pets.

Smart, rarely dominant, and very responsive, the breed is highly trainable and devoted to pleasing his master. Always use positive reinforcement and make training a consistent and fun one to keep him interested in learning new commands. The barbet is known to excel in obedience and agility training. He also has a zest for other exciting dog activities such as rally, dock diving, and lure coursing.

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Nutrition and Feeding

As with all other dog breeds, protein is considered the foremost important nutrient in your dog’s diet. It is a molecule made up of amino acids, which are building blocks for cells, organs, tissues, hormones, and antibodies. Protein can be found on both meat-based food and plant-based food. A barbet puppy should consume about 22 per cent of protein, whilst an adult barbet should consume about 18 per cent of protein.

Fat accounts as the main source of energy for dogs. It is essential for the building cells, production of hormones, and coat and skin maintenance. A barbet puppy should consume around 8 per cent of fat, whilst an adult barbet should consume around 5–8 per cent of fat depending on his activities.

Carbohydrate is broken down by the digestive system and converts it to glucose, which is a source of energy. Dogs also need iron, minerals, and other nutrients, which they can get from whole grains. An adult dog’s body is made up of 60–70 per cent of water, so provide your dog with clean water all the time. Minerals are also important to keep their bones and teeth healthy and strong, and help them grow.

Some important nutrients are not naturally provided in some dog foods; hence, it’s the owner’s duty to provide the barbet with supplements recommended by the vet. Listed below are some of the supplements that your barbet might need to take:

  • Digestive enzymes
  • Fish oil
  • Glucosamine
  • Lysine
  • Multivitamins
  • Probiotics

An eight- to twelve-week-old barbet puppy requires four meals daily. When he reaches three to six months old, decrease his meals to only three times per day. Once the puppy is six months old to one year old, feed him at least two bowls of food a day. 2 1/2–3 1/2 cups of dog food will suffice. You can adjust the amount depending on his activity level, metabolism, size, and weight. But also keep in mind not to feed him more than required as he might become overweight, which will eventually result in health problems. If you are giving your barbet pup some treats in between, decrease the food amount of its meals to balance its intake. Remember to provide him with fresh water.

An adult barbet should be fed two servings a day. Each cup of food served should not contain more than 350 calories. If you have an active barbet dog, you can increase the food amount per cup according to his activity level. As usual, provide fresh, clean water only, and don’t forget to wash his water and food bowls always.

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Health and Exercise

The barbet is an active dog breed that requires more exercise. Take him for a walk at least one to two hours a day. With proper training, he can be walked off lead without worrying that he might run away. Since he loves splashing around in the water, consider bringing him to the beach or lake periodically for a swim. Make sure to keep him mentally stimulated at home by teaching him new tricks and giving him puzzle toys. This will help in curbing his boredom and preventing unwanted destructive behaviours.

Due to the rarity of the breed, there is only little knowledge about the predominant health issues he is susceptible to. Below are some of the most common health problems observed in barbets:

  • Hernia
  • Epilepsy
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Ear infections
  • Progressive renal atrophy
  • Allergies

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Cost of Ownership

A barbet puppy can cost anywhere from £400 to £900. Expect to pay more for a well-bred pedigree puppy from a KC-registered breeder. As there are not many barbet breeders in the UK, there’s likely a waiting list for this breed. On top of the purchase price, expect to spend from £200 to £300 for the initial expenses for dog supplies like collars, leashes, crates, beds, toys, and grooming needs.

High-quality dog food and treats may cost you £220 annually. Expect to pay £400 per year for the dog’s medical care, including vaccinations and regular check-ups. Pet insurance premium is at least £33 a month for basic coverage.

Barbet Breed Highlights

  • The barbet is a laid-back and companionable dog that loves to spend time with his owner.
  • He is generally friendly to both people and pets, but due to his high prey drive, he needs supervision when around birds.
  • Daily exercise is a must to prevent him from becoming restless and destructive.
  • A hypoallergenic dog that requires daily brushing to keep his coat free from mats and dirt.
  • The barbet is highly trainable because of his obedient and intelligent nature.

Are you sure the Barbet is the best breed for you? Take the Pet Breed Selector Quiz to find your perfect breed match.

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The information, including measurements, prices and other estimates, on this page is provided for general reference purposes only.