Barbet Dog Breed

Brown Barbet Dog Lying Down
  • Other names:
  • French Water Dog
  • Barbet Water Spaniel

Pronunciation: [ bar bay ]

The Barbet is a French water dog that has been used for hunting and water retrieval since the 14th century. They are big dogs with thick coats whose playful, energetic and pleasing personality makes them ideal so long as they have a job (preferably hunting) that allows them a lot of daily, thoughtful activity. Above all else, you should understand that these dogs love water so much that the French have given them a nickname, "être crotté comme un Barbet," which means "extremely muddy." The AKC placed this breed in its Foundation Stock Service in 2007.

Barbet Breed Details

Breed Specs
Purebred13-15 yrs.20-25 in.37-62 lbs
  • Friendliness
  • Overall
  • Family Friendly
  • Kid Friendly
  • Pet Friendly
  • Stranger Friendly
  • Maintenance
  • Easy to Groom
  • Energy Level
  • Exercise Needs
  • General Health
  • Shedding Amount
  • Behavior
  • Barks / Howls
  • Easy to Train
  • Guard Dog
  • Playfulness
  • Watch Dog
  • Ownership
  • Apartment Friendly
  • Can Be Alone
  • Good for Busy Owners
  • Good for Novice Owners
  • Intelligence
* The more green the stronger the trait.

The Barbet is a hunting dog, and this is the best lifestyle for them. They are especially adept at water retrieval, and the swampier, the better. While they are fine as companion dogs, they don't do well as only companions; they need a lot of activity and a job. First-time dog owners, so long as they have an active lifestyle with purpose (if they don't plan to use a Barbet for hunting) are fine for these dogs.

If you plan to adopt a Barbet, here are a few facts you should know about them:


  • Very calm
  • Loves water
  • Low shedder
  • Easy to train
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Somewhat goofy
  • Very intelligent
  • Loves to snuggle
  • Remarkably loyal
  • Great hunting dogs
  • Few health problems
  • Plays well with kids
  • Excellent therapy dog
  • Superb water-retrieval
  • Understands human moods
  • Loves learning new tricks
  • Adapts well to new places
  • Socializes easily with other pets


  • Easily bored
  • Hard to find
  • Expensive to adopt
  • Destructive when bored
  • Extensive grooming needs
  • Prone to separation anxiety
  • Tends to get wet, dirty and messy

Barbet Breed Description

The Barbet is a somewhat unique breed whose traits and abilities make it a highly prized hunting dog that can work in many capacities. Although these dogs are very rare, there is a lot of Barbet dog breed information to be found and which continues to be unearthed by the many Barbet kennel clubs.

While they are very submissive, the Barbet is also a wonderfully intelligent dog. You will find that as they are eager to please, they will quickly learn obedience and agility training, new tricks, and more. They are highly responsive to those in need too, as they understand people very well.

Between this dog's desire to get muddy and wet with her thick, wooly coat, perhaps the only real problem you'll deal with will be grooming. Of course, these dogs will love getting cleaned up as much as they love playing in water, so be prepared for a lot of hands-on grooming. For the Barbet, it's all about play!

This strong dog does need a lot of exercise and activity, however, so if you are not a hunter or have a therapy dog job for the Barbet you plan to adopt, a healthy and active lifestyle is also good. These dogs are exceptionally active and will quickly get bored and express it in destructive ways.

Barbet Temperament

The Barbet is a dedicated, obedient, and playful dog with retrieval talents that make the breed a great family dog and hunting companion. The Barbet temperament has little aggression, and these dogs prefer to be goofy when not hunting. These dogs crave companionship and will follow you most anywhere; they are informally called "velcro dogs" due to their intense neediness. They bond closely with their family members, and they are eager to please.

They are also prone to explore messy areas. As hunting or field dogs, it is not unusual for them to seek out swampy or muddy areas and plunge right in. Their strength, adaptability to water and desire to know their environment tends to prompt them to not hesitate when it comes to swimming in most anything.

Training comes easily with this breed. They are alert, receptive, and smart, and they excel in both obedience and agility training. Because they are eager to please and deft enough to learn and do new tricks and routines, they are increasingly employed as therapy dogs for elderly, disabled and blind people.

Barbet Health

The Barbet is a rare dog, and this makes understanding the breed's health overview a bit difficult. There are the usual problems that big dogs encounter, such as hip dysplasia, but the specific genetic issues are still being discovered.

Barbet clubs the world have undertaken a long-term campaign to study the dogs so as to paint a picture as best they can. These efforts have begun to yield some results, and some of the concerns that affect Barbets are:

  • Hernias
  • Epilepsy
  • Ear infections
  • Eye problems
  • Elbow Dysplasia
  • Underbite/overbite
  • Non-descending testicles
  • Canine Hip Dysplasia (CHD)

The Barbet is a hardy breed, however, and the average lifespan is long for a large dog. They tend to live 14 to 15 years, and there are reports that some reach 18 or 19 years of age.

  • Cataracts
  • Ear Infections
  • Elbow Dysplasia
  • Entropion
  • Epilepsy
  • Hernia
  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Overbite
  • Underbite
  • View all 9...

Barbet Breed Recognition

The following dog breed registries and organizations recognize the Barbet as a dog breed:

  • American Kennel Club
  • Canadian Kennel Club
  • Continental Kennel Club
  • Dog Registry of America Inc.
  • Kennel Club of Great Britain
  • North American Purebred Registry, Inc.
  • United Kennel Club
  • American Canine Association, Inc.
  • View all 8...