Barbet:French National Treasure
Mr Georgii's Barbet story
This is something that Mr Georgii sent me when I contacted him asking him for his version of the barbet story.
There are some details that confirm what Mrs Pêtre has said and wrote (20+ years ago).
The Barbet is considered to be behind all rough-coated ( continental) pointing dogs.
For many centuries all kinds of rough- coated gun dogs were called Barbet, and one can read that the Barbet existed in different sizes, the bigger ones being more suited to protect home and livestock, the smaller ones (medium-sized) being used mainly for shooting wild fowl.
Then came a time when Barbet and Poodle were unsed to name the same dog – the Poodle having started out as a “Water Dog” = Barbet. (The Spanish Waterdog people pretend that the poodle resulted from the SWD which came to France with officers of the French army.)
When, at the end of the 19th century, people began to distinguish particular breeds, standards were set for the Barbet as well as for the poodle, the standard for the Barbet adapted to the need of shooting in rough country, bog and water.
Thus developed a medium sized, sturdy, intelligent, independant dog, able to find game, flush and retrieve it.
When in the years between WW1 and 2, in France as well as in other European countries, it became fashionable to turn to more sophisticated breeds, the Barbet was threatened with extinction.
A Few obstinate admirers of the breed managed to collect the remaining subjects and give it a good boost.
After WW2, however interest in the breed diminished once more and so again only a few Barbets survived.
About 20+ years ago one breeder, whose father had been one of those to maintain the breed between the wars, tried to assemble the remaining stock by placing ads in diverse dog-papers asking for all owners of a Barbet to please contact her.
As a result of these ads somebody showed up with a dog, asking her if this might be a Barbet.
It looked like a Barbet, but was much too big for the standard. (The standard at that time, demanded a minimum of 45/50 cms female/ male and a maximum of 50/54 female / male)
Some time after this visit our breeder could read in the dog papers that a club for the Barbet had been founded in paris...
Thus the president of that club set out to “save” the Barbet...
Not having a dog suitable to the standard, first thing he did was to change the standard (instead of trying to do some judicious breeding in order to arrive at the right size!).
UNFORTUNATELY, the French kennel club- (SCC) supported him so in 1986 a new standard was issued by the FCI.
In order to arrive at the sizes demanded by the standard, M Hermans insisted on crossbreeding the Barbet with the Standard Poodle. This way he arrived at bigger subjects which unfortunately had lost their ability to point.
As a result the new standard changed the former maxima to minima with no restriction as to more height, and took the Barbet from the 7th group FCI (pointing dogs) to the 8th group (retrievers, spaniels, waterdogs).
The coat also changed, became wooly and HARD TO KEEP- a handicap for a working dog.
The few owners of genuine Barbets were discouraged at shows and found it impossibleto get their dogs “confirmed” for breeding, so today only one breeder of the “pointing” type Barbet remains who has obstinately refused to take in poodles.
They try to preserve the old qualities, requiring the passage of a field trial for breeding.
Our dogs winning often in France, the French club- in order to eliminate our dogs for good –once more changed the standard in 1995, now demanding 53/58 minimum for the 2 sexes....
WITHIN NOT EVEN 10 YEARS THEY RAISED THE SIZE BY 8CMS!!!!!!!!!!!
However, "we" continued to be successful in our breeding and showing.
Since May 2001, the club has a new president (!! Changed since Jan 13th 2006) and the policy is now changing, our Barbets being accepted – the “Barboodle” type of the poodle running into problems with inbreeding and hereditary faults coming from the poodle.
At the international dog show in Besançon on October 7th 2001, the club succeeded to assemble 42 Barbets (42 inscribed, 38 present). Of thses numbers exactly half (21 resp. 18) came from our side.
At a round table session, club members and dissidents- tried- to discuss the future policy to be taken. Even if some of the hard-core barboodle breeders were furious, the general consent was that we all needed to cooperate and save what is left of the genetic base of the barbet.
About 3 or 4 years ago, some couragious breeders had come to us in order to have their females mated by our dogs, and the results have come out very promising.
There was 1 litter in Denmark, 2 in Belgium, a third arrived –July 13th 2002 (1m/3f), 3 litters in France (2* of them born beginning July 2002), one litter in Switzerland and one in Italy.
Above text was up to date in May 2003, but since things have moved on.
The ancient president, who remained VP and tried everything to block any changes was not re-elected this summer. Ever since he is trying to convince everybody that the elections were falsified—absurd!
The general assembly this summer decided to put the name of the BARBET back into the name of the club.
Hoping to have given you a little idea about the recent history of the Barbet,
I remain sincerely yours
Rainer T. Georgii