[centrer][u]The history of one of our French national breeds : the Barbet or Barbetz.[/u]
A breed cannot exist without a history, of course, and the word Barbet is very old.
This word has become a generic word to describe dogs that are of completely different types and morphology.
Without a past, one could think that a dog came out of one's creative imagination. So, a past that spans over one thousand years? Difficult..;and that’s when things take a different turn.
I will not venture into this long ago past where there the line was very fine between a barbet and a poodle...and where it has been difficult to find the truth among all the suppositions and contradictions.
The past of the Barbet as ancestor to the Poodle and many other well known breeds (Briard, Korthals, Bichon, Terre-Neuve), did him no good in the 20th century.
Nor do I wish to talk about Buffon, Diderot, or the dogs who arrived with the Arabs stopped in Poitiers by Charles Martel in 732.
No one has ever retraced his real story, the bloodlines, the racers with photos and pedigrees to justify them. My objective as passionned and a defender of the breed, is to prouve the existence of the old bloodlines, and [i]consequently [/i]save their genetic diversity which has survived despite what we will call the “difficult” years when the Barbet suffered a horrible destiny between 1980 and 2000.
What a shame that no one had the will to dedicate some time to do research on the breed as many writeres had before when they covered the Barbet in their writings: Jean Castaing, Fernand Méry, Pascal Baux, Eugène Gayot, Pierre Mégnin, along with the magazines the Chasseur français, the sauvagine and many others.
As far as I’m concerned his true history starts with the standard established in 1891 by J de Coninck, who was President of the [u]Société Havraise pour l’Amélioration des races de chiens[/u] and who felt that the Barbet was a better water retriever than gun dog.
His name will still be “Barbet d’arrêt” and will be designated as a French dog (don’t know why, the same for the Korthals and the Poodle who have been claimed by other countries).
His standard became an official French SCC standard and he spent almost a hundred years in the 7th groupe ( gun dogs) before being moved into the 8th group (water dogs and retrievers).
However, what some commonly call a “water dog” in many European countries ( the Puli for example: Hungarian water dog also used as guard dog and shepherd for the Mérinos sheep)
nowadays, do not necessarily have the same origins, nor are they in the French 8th group!
The 1891 standard was represented by a dog named Pilote. He belonged to a man whose name was Mr Coste and who lived in the north of France.He is the one pictured everywhere (along with the one of Joyeuse du Mas de la Chapelle). From that day on, it was not at all possible to confuse a Barbet and a Poodle!
The phenotype of this particular Barbet still exists.
The Barbet is a rustic dog, of a primitive type, never sophisticated, a bit stocky,vigorous,
of the Griffon family which he contributed to the creation (also). He has a long wooly coat that covers his entire body from the tip of the nose to the bottom of his toes and that gives him his Teddy Bear look. His coat can be of many colors: gray and dirty white, with spots, black or brown.
That is an essential characteristic of the breed.
He certainly has European origins because of his strong ressemblance to shepherds. He is of medium size, so easy to feed and train, adapts to everything and therefore, became an all around coutry dog as oppsed to a sophisticatedcity dog, to guard the sheep, or do whetever he had to and because of his extraordinary character and flexibility, he did it all.
He was especially used by peasants as an auxiliary for hunting. Peasants were not allowed to hunt with “breeds” reserved to nobility. French cynophily never took a great interest to him as he was never sophisticated enough for dog shows.
Now, whatever the deal is, it is high time to save his genetic diversity! He has managed to survive after all these years of being in the shade, and because of ignorance about the breed has become very rare, but: he is still here.
That is why I have been able to “retrace” 3 lines from official SCC archives, show catalogs, photos, and birth registry AND the very extensive bibliography I have at my disposal (and yours, of course).
The families of Mr Le Houelleur, Vincenti/ Pêtre along with Mr Geogii and Mrs Fischer who were kind enough to share their personal archives with me.
The oldest, the one started by Mr Le Houelleur goes back in genotype to 1925.
He had the Floirac kennel name and lived in Dordogne where his family has been for 200 years in the same house where some of his Barbets were born and raised. He was a land registrar as for his profession, hunter, and SCC judge, and became interested in the barbet through Pyram whom he found in the Somme region of France, where could be the birthplace of the Barbet Français. At the time, in that area, there was a lot of marshland and birds everywhere...He made decisions that only experienced breeders would/ could/should take, he decided to cross a Bouvier des Flandres “Médor” with a Braque d’Auvergne “Timballe” and the result was “Besef de Floirac”. Besef was mated to Pyram and all the Barbets alive today (other than those re-incarnated by Mr JC Hermans with poodles and mutts in the 1980's without any redipping of any Barbet blood) stem from this union.
Dr Vincenti (Mas de la Chapelle kennel) lived in Graveson, not far from Tarascon and the Crau area of France (Camargue, more precisely). He corresponded with Mr Le Houelleur and obtained “Hourie de Floirac” from him and she produced the most famous Barbet ever: Joyeuse du Mas de la Chapelle.
Dr Vincenti’s objective was a gundog a bit lighter than those of Mr Le Houelleur. He therefore mated his Barbet with a local breed from the Crau (a region located a few kilometers from Avignon and Arles) named Balthazar, born October 5th 1931, son and grandson of [i]Barbets de Camargue[/i],so the letter says, who according to a document that dates to 1936 are “an old breed from Arles coming from the Yonnet family, old capitalists from Provence”.
Alas, WWII was fatal for both kennels of Mr Le Houelleur and Dr Vincenti.
However, one of Dr Vincenti’s neighbours, Mr Ayme at the Mas de la Musique, 50 m away from the Mas de la Chapelle, had some Barbets for hunting from Dr Vincenti and continued breeding them for their hunting capacities and it was obvious that they were not registered officially at the SCC...what on earth for? A redip with a Portuguese water dog imported from Portugal brought some new blood into the Ayme breeding.
In 1970, Mrs Pêtre, daughter of Dr Vincenti, decided to breed Barbets again, and easily found one of her father’s line of Barbets. The breeding started up again in Tarascon, a few kilometers away from the Mas de la Chapelle where her father lived and that Mas is also still in the family!
New blood was mostly and logically brought by local dogs, of the chien de Crau breed, seeing how close they were to one another and the fact that Dr Vincenti, Mrs Pêtre’s father had not hesitated for a minute to use them when needing new blood.
This wonderful breed (shepherd for Mérinos sheep) has, for some of its lines, hardly changed in 150 years and the Barbet bloodline 2 comes from these crosses with TI ( dogs with not “real” origins) of Chien de Crau.However documenst drawings and photos are available.
Recently in February 2009, an inventory was made by some members of the Zootechnical commission of the SCC who had gone to St Martin de Crau to decide whether a standard should be drawn up so that this breed doesn’t die either!
Mrs Pêtre continued breeding until 2008 and has always been a well of information about the Barbet.
She was also responsible for Mr Georgii (Poppenspälers’) and Mrs Fischer’s passion for the breed........and mine.
The 3rd and last line is the rarest and still has a few subjects alive today. There could be less than a dozen left in the world: 1 in the USA, one in Finalnd and a few in France.
This line descends from the Griffon Boulet. The dog created by Emmanuel Boulet, a rich industrialist from Elbeuf in the 1880’s. It had Barbet blood in it. Mr Boulet corresponded with the baron Korthals, who also created his own breed and he also used 2 Barbets to make his Griffon. Janus GSB 33,( Griffon-Hunde-Stammbuch), who was gray and brown and Donna, GSB 190. Baron Korthals used seven racers as founding stock for his dog, for their physical and moral qualities to obtain a versatile rough coated dog whereas Mr Boulet was trying to obtain a silkier wooly coat that was to be brown or deadleaf color. Originally, the Boulet was white with yellowish spots.
It took him 20 years to reach his objective.
At the beginning of the 20th century a lot of Boulets looked like Barbets or vice versa espciallay when you looked at some photos. It was very easy to confuse them. Having seen a Boulet that he mistook for a Barbet back in the 1970’s, a gentleman started looking for one. He found a couple of Griffon Boulets that he had confirmed as Barbets and from these 2 dogs descend this last bloodline that is alive.
The objective of a small number of Barbet “fanciers” of the old bloodlines are trying to do their utmost to save them and their genetic diversity. Thanks to progress in the scientific domaine and professionnals, it is now more than before possible to continue these old lines and render them poodle-free again.
Latest news, a white and black female was born in a litter in the Netherlands..carbon copy of Joyeuse du Mas de la Chapelle who became French champion in 1938 and another one was just born in Finland who would be of line 4: the fawn Barbet, a line I considred extinct as it had not given any fawn Barbets since 1990. Things are looking up.
[b]Long live the Barbet Français[/b]...[color=#008000]Treasure of our French canine heritage. Vive le Barbet![/color]
Elaine Fichter © 2009 along with the French version.
Bibliography on this site.
[u]La version française se trouve sur le site de: [/u]
[i]Si vous avez des modifications à apporter n'hésitez pas à me les communiquer.[/i]