5 French Dog Breeds Great and Small

French dog breeds come in all different coats and colors, shapes and sizes. Many are named for the geographic area they are from like the Briard and the Brittany. There is not one common element running throughout all the French dog breeds, and there are no two alike. Let’s take a look at five breeds ranging in size from five pounds to over 110 pounds.

Five French Dog Breeds


The Briard is an old breed of working dog from the dairy producing region of Brie in Northern France. These pooches pull double duty of not only herding the sheep, but also guarding them from predators. They got their start in the United States when Thomas Jefferson ended his position as ambassador to France and brought home a pregnant Briard.

One of the French dog breeds that pulls double duty as both a herding dog and a guardian dog is the Briard.

The Briard is a large dog standing 22-27 inches at the shoulder and weighing between 55-100 pounds. They are smart and learn quickly, protective of their families and wary of strangers They have seemingly boundless energy.


The Beauceron is also one of the French dog breeds that can protect the herd and round them up too. They possess this duality of purpose. These dogs were named for their region of origin southwest of Paris. They developed in the late Middle Ages and are sometimes referred to as Bas Rouge for their red feet.

The Beauceron has red markings on it's face, ears, neck, and feet to offset its black body.

The Beauceron stands 24-28 inches tall and weighs 70-110 pounds. This is a dominant dog and not meant for the first-time dog owner. Well-trained and socialized Beaucerons are faithful, amiable, and obedient companions.


The Brittany is a tireless and eager gundog requiring lots of exercise. These dogs come from the Western region of France with the Bay of Biscay on the South and the English Channel to the North for which they are named. Of all the French dog breeds, they are the most versatile birddogs in the field, able to hunt almost anything with feathers. The Brittany came to America in 1931 and was introduced to the AKC in 1934 as the Brittany Spaniel. The name was changed to Brittany in 1982.

The Brittany's short coat requires minimal grooming.

The Brittany weighs 30-40 pounds and is 17-21 inches at the withers. While the Brittany is usually either bred as a showdog or a gundog, many breeders will try for the “dual” Brittany. A dog that excels in both the showring and in the field.

Dogue de Bordeaux

The oldest of French dog breeds, dating back to before France was a country, is the Dogue de Bordeaux. This Mastiff originally was bred in two sizes as war dogs and as fighting dogs. The smaller of these disappears in the early 1800s and the larger becomes a cattle herder. Today’s Dogue was almost unknown outside of France until the Tom Hanks movie “Turner & Hooch” was released in 1989.

These Dogues de Bordeaux are precious with their excessive facial folds and drooling.

The Dogue de Bordeaux is between 23-27 inches tall and weighs 99 pounds and up. Males start at 110 pounds and up. A Dogue’s life expectancy is between 5-8 years. These very devoted and loving canines can be dominating and require proper training from puppyhood so they don’t take the upper hand as seen in the movie.


Papillon, meaning “butterfly” in French, is in reference to the breed’s wing-like ears. Paps were initially bred as companions for noblewomen and men and can be found in many portraits of royalty by great artists like Rembrandt and Goya. They were a favorite of Marie Antoinette and Louis XIV. The first Papillon was registered by the AKC in 1915.

The Papillon is thought to resemble a butterfly due to their wing shaped ears. Papillon means butterfly in French.

The Papillon is between 8-11 inches tall and weighs only 5-10 pounds. Papillons are spaniels by nature and will chase after anything that moves, even insects are fair game. They are a little dog with a big dog attitude and sometimes don’t realize they aren’t so big. They may chase after something they can’t handle, like a cat.

We’ve only scratched the surface of French dog breeds. There are over 50 breeds tied to France in total. They each have the jobs they were bred to do and are from very different regions of the country. There are city dogs and farm dogs, high mountain dogs and water dogs. The one thing all these dogs have in common is they are French.