AKC Miscellaneous Class


CKC Ch Quaciendas Thunus Georgii. Owned by Stacy and Walter Able of American Barbet / Ginkgo Bred by Greet Los-Romeijn and Alex Los, Photo copyright, Stacy Able Photography

CKC Ch Quaciendas Thunus Georgii. Owned by Stacy and Walter Able of American Barbet / Ginkgo Bred by Greet Los-Romeijn and Alex Los, Photo copyright, Stacy Able Photography

The rustic, fun-loving Barbet (pronounced “bar-BAY”) is one of the original water dogs the French developed for hunting and general farm work back in the 1300s. Cherished for their versatility, the Barbet―unlike most hunting dogs―is able to find game, flush it, and retrieve it once it has been downed. Despite its talents, however, the Barbet nearly went extinct after the two World Wars.

Named for their prominent beards (the French “barbe” means beard), the dogs were first imported to the United States in 1994. The Barbet Club of America was founded in 2009. The breed was recorded in the AKC’s Foundation Stock Service in 2007. The Barbet entered the AKC Miscellaneous Class in January 2017 and has been classified as a Sporting breed.


Covered in curly hair, the Barbet is a slightly rectangular dog with a large head, a distinctive beard, and a sweeping tail. The head is strong and broad; the expression is happy and sociable. The round eyes are dark hazel to dark brown (matching the coat color). The eye rim color corresponds to the coat color (black rims for black, black pied, or gray dogs; brown for brown or brown pied dogs; and black or brown for fawn dogs). The ears are wide, set at eye level, and covered with long hair. The stop is defined but not prominent. The color of the large nose harmonizes with the coat color, the lips are thick and fully pigmented, and the breed has a scissors bite.

The neck is strong, the back is solid, and the croup is rounded. The long tail extends naturally from the topline. In motion, the tail is carried in a sweeping curve. The chest is broad and the ribs are rounded. The underline is not tucked up.

The front legs are straight and strong and the hindquarters are well muscled. Forefeet and hind feet are round with tight, well-arched toes. Dew claws are optional on the fore feet but not allowed on the hind feet.

The coat is thick and has a combination of tight and loose curls all over the body. On the head, the Barbet’s hair reaches to the bridge of the nose, and the dog has an obvious beard. The color can be any shade of black, gray, brown, or fawn, with or without white markings, as well as pied (primarily white with all shades of black, gray, brown, and fawn markings).

The Barbet’s gait is easy, with good front reach and strong impulsion from behind. The topline stays fairly level when the dog is in motion.

Key Facts

  • Height:  21 to 24.5 in (male); 19 to 22.5 in. (female)
  • Size:  Medium
  • Weight:  37 to 62 lbs.
  • Availability:  Difficult to find
  • Talents:  Service dog, hunting, retrieving, pointing, herding, watch dog, guiding, agility, obedience, and tricks


The Barbet needs extensive grooming to keep its long curly hair clean and free of mats. The coat can be scissored to keep the dog neat, but excessive cutting and shaping is discouraged (and even penalized in the show ring). A sensitive, thoughtful breed, the Barbet can appear slightly hesitant at first but then tends to join into any activity with enthusiasm. Early training is recommended as the Barbet can be stubborn and may develop bad habits.


Friendly and joyful, the Barbet exudes an air of cheerful sociability, even clownishness. But underneath this fun-loving exterior is a hard-working sporting dog, one that was bred not only to retrieve downed water birds, but also to find them and flush them. Barbets are intensely loyal and obedient to their families and love to spend time with them. Their agility and intelligence help them excel in a number of other canine sports, including Frisbee ™, flyball, ball catching, dock diving, rally, agility, and obedience. Several have been trained in service, guide dog, and therapy work. As a sporting breed, Barbets do best when given plenty of opportunity to exercise their bodies and minds.


  • Children:  Good with children only when raised with them from puppyhood
  • Friendliness:  Reserved with strangers
  • Trainability:  Very easy to train
  • Independence:  Moderately dependent on people
  • Dominance:  Moderate (not particularly dominant or submissive)
  • Other Pets:  Good with other pets if raised with them from puppyhood
  • Combativeness:  Friendly with other dogs
  • Noise:  Not a barker
  • Indoors:  Relatively inactive indoors
  • Owner:  Good for novice owners


  • Grooming:  Extensive grooming needed
  • Trimming and Stripping:  Some trimming or stripping of the coat needed
  • Coat:  Curly coat
  • Shedding:  None or very light
  • Exercise:  Needs lots of exercise
  • Jogging:  A fair jogging companion
  • Apartments:  Will be OK in an apartment if sufficiently exercised
  • Outdoor Space:  Best with at least an average sized yard
  • Climate:  Does well in most climates
  • Longevity:  Moderately long lived (12 to 15 years)

Useful Links

AKC® Barbet Breed Standard

Barbet Breed Club

Search for a Breeder

Rescue Organizations

Books about the Barbet

Barbet Gifts