Why Lines?

Origins and evolution of OUR Barbet

The Barbet we are dealing with here is OUR Barbet, whichever “one” we believe in, not the historical reference that anyone can read about in a book from several hundred years ago…because what is below is NOT in a book but concerns people we know or hopefully have heard of and the dogs WE are making.
Two reasons for research on the breed Barbet since 2003:
I got my first Barbet, Molly, in 2000. That year, there were 7 births in France. In 2002; I got my second Barbet, Thelma, who was so different from Molly that I started asking questions as to how come? Thelma’s breeder said ask Molly’s breeder. We did not get very far, let me tell you!

Being my normal curious self,
I started doing research on the Barbet, breed of dogs, around 2003, when I then saw a picture of a Barbet, in a magazine: VOS CHIENS. It looked so totally different from the one I had and more like Thelma, a griffon-type…. and more like the one I had seen on the cover of COUNTRY LIFE ,back in 1992. The next point I became aware of, very soon thereafter, was the open warfare between 2 groups of people supporting what they called a “Barbet”. The plot was thickening and it appeared challenge was worth it since very little or no information was available in English and no one had ever documented the breed’s (real) history before, other than the generic reference to Buffon in 1760 and we all know dog breeds have evolved since then! We still see that reference on several official sites.
As far as research was concerned, over a rather long period of time I went through the basics as a few others and found there was a parallel with the poodle and what we all were calling a “Barbet”:

and the research I had done and the link below

That Barbet being a Poodle anywhere outside of France, and a rather misleading word.
My research was centralized in France and French references/books to start( just like everyone else’s). The Barbet is French and the Poodle too and were the same dog for a very long time, so why were there 2 standards?!The Barbet d’arrêt standard was written in 1886 in France and the Poodle’s was written in Germany, not France about the same time. When a Jean Claude Hermans set out to re-incarnate the Barbet de Buffon in 1980, calling it the Barbet Moderne, as he said himself, he,  had set aside the already registered SCC/LOF dogs named Barbet d’arrêt (let’s call them Vieux Barbet) as if they had never existed. He then proceeded to cross 2 rescues together he had found in SPAs around Paris, so the story goes. One was a griffon-type and the other a poodle-type. After that, it would appear that creativity took over in the pedigrees to integrate several poodles crosses and call them Barbets. They were confirmed in first generation as Barbets and not F1 crosses. An all out war started that went on for several years, with both clans continuing their way and battle with more and more animosity which is still going on today with more modern techniques as social media to carry on the tradition and make sure they stay on top or get to the top fast as was hoped back in the early 80’s to start a club. 10 years of hard work to set up a Barbet Moderne type which very much ressembled a grand-poodle most often shave down due to difficulty in keeping a long coat.
Iit’s easy to understand the protectionism that had set it after a certain amount of work having been done since 1980, when things were rolling for the Barbet Modern team in 1990 when pedigrees were finally being filled in with generations. These dogs( many LOF Poodles) have been since drowned in the pedigrees…but nevertheless, they must not be overlooked.

I would add that the Barbet Moderne is a rare breed and that to make it less rare, suffice to sell more and make more. The Vieux Barbet is a breed that is rare for one, but threatened with extinction and that is very much different, since a major point called selection comes in to perpetrate the line threatened with extinction, to keep it going and looking as much like the “original” one from the standard.

Keep in mind that, in the meantime, the other clan was still trying to carry on the old line, with much difficulty since Jean Claude Hermans had founded his own club, and he was president of it. He was therefore able to deal with everyone and every dog the way he wanted to. He was refusing confirmations right, left and center. Letters were being sent regularly to the SCC complaining about how matters were being handled. Nothing doing, a club president can do what he wants or doesn’t want and no one else can say or do anything. That holds true to this day. It’s called club spirit. The standard was modified several times without ever consulting with breeders, as it appears to be the case today, and the breeders were facing the fait accompli with a modified standard and changes effective immediately.


To survive, the dogs which were very much typed Vieux Barbet were slandered ( along with their owners and breeders) and refused existence, so the breeders went “underground” and used the few dogs’ names who did managed to get confirmed, in lieu of the ones refused and this went on for long enough that we have what we have on our hands. A bit of a mess which has taken me years to put back right side up. I am not done, yet. That work is all entered in a database that was supposed to be used at the Symposium in 2012 for the Barbet. Well, Mrs Elaine FICHTER’s database got thrashed and so did she…so as not to unveil an information( Database was put together by Tomasz Targowski)
In the Barbet Moderne clan, some odd things were going on since the SCC had allowed one crossbreeding with a poodle…to bring new blood to the breed. However, more poodle blood was added under ATI’s ( dogs with no known ancestry, which some may really have had ancestry) and that was that, but they were still poodles regardless, no matter what anyone said. We are now at sometimes 11 generations of selection to maintain the Poodle type for some and selection has always been on poodle types. As Gayot or Castaing and several others have said and it is common knowledge: keep selection on the side of the F1 you like and by recrossing it continually with the same type, you get back to the original breed, meaning the poodle.
The Barbet Moderne was built from scratch, like the Auroch cow, so it is absolutely not threatened with extinction. It is just “rare” whereas the Vieux Barbet is. Unfortunately some people believe they are helping the breed…which is not at all the case. There is a big difference!
That being said, it is still said there is only ONE Barbet….suffice to look at the 2 side by side and to make the difference. Some foreign sites promote a Buffon Barbet Moderne type, extremely curly, very tall and generously cut extremely short, whilst the Vieux Barbet “friends” are for a more griffon-type dog, shredded by Jean Claude Hermans. These sites support, without any evidence or research on the breed, a dog which over the centuries became the Poodle as we know it today. Below are 2 examples and pictures that show we are not at all talking about the same dogbreed.

There is a long history of the French breed club harassing some of its members to stop them from perpetrating the old line. That is carried on today by some club members. It’s called “copinage” or “club spirit”.
Hence the reason for me doing what I am doing and keep it existing. I am the only person now to carry on the work accomplished by Mrs Pêtre (Barbochos Reiau de Prouvenco) and Mr Rainier T Georgii, who continued her work and had to have a lot of dogs registered in Germany since he was not able to do so in France. ( read the document concerning Longchamps 1994/TAN). His companion, Mrs Inge Fischer of IWS Donais breeding, has kindly shared many documents, photos and facts with me to help the survival of the old breed (Vieux Barbet). It is my duty to share them with you.

As far as the Barbet and the Poodle are concerned,
At some point in time, my horizons were expanded thanks to a German friend of mine. That very long weekend spent with her going through tons of books was an eye-opener, brought everything home with the logical proof, finally! The barbet is NOT the ancestor to the poodle. It is JUST a French word referring to any dog with a long coat and a beard.
As often the case one person says something and others repeat it and like tumbleweed, it grows and grows until most everyone believes it. In a very small nutshell: IF the Barbet were the ancestor to the Poodle, and it had come up through Spain with los Moros, then what about the Spanish Water Dog or the Portuguese Water Dog? How did the Barbet skip over them? They were and are their country’s pride…and the other point being that even the Poodle appears to only be French because the standard probably written by the Germans was registered in France, “”just like that”!
That’s another story, and not my objective here.
Thanks to the help of some people supporting the old breed (Vieux Barbet), its history has been documented. This research is long, of course, but with internet, it is readily available to he who looks for it. The link below is a tremendous source of factual information.
The rest of the facts about our breed, I have in my possession.
Like a card game “le jeu des 4 familles”, I began to collect all Barbet photos I could. I was lucky to have access to family archives from the 2 oldest French breeds for a reference to what the breed was and looked like in the 1930’s. The more photos I had, the more I saw some major differences between the Moderne version and the Vieux Barbet. My objective was to show that through lines there was continuity that we could trace back through the photos and establish lines. I can as of now go back to 1970 and that is my main reason for carrying on…to prove that what Mrs Pêtre had done and what Mr Georgii fought for was for a reason.

Eyes, shape of eye, color, heads, ears, tails or what you would call general morphology, which basically is what a standard is all about.
The book below is very interesting because it asks the basic questions, meaning, when you look at a dog, can you see what is “in” it? The author writes 11 essays on how to look at (analyse?) the different characteristics of a dog.

Why lines?

At first, I started putting lines together by color and by type. Below, is a link to what I had done at the time.It was elementary, but nothing else had been done!

I had to go further, since the Barbet world became a bit more aware of the fact that pedigrees were often homemade and that other breeds had brought genetic diversity to the breed. However it is “hidden” in the pedigrees. Portuguese Water Dog (with ancestry), Spanish Water Dog ( with ancestry) and also Irish Water Spaniel ( with ancestry, never hidden, but in the closed Barbet world). As a few have experienced it, the IWS, being a spaniel…is in a category of its own. When you have IWS ( through Verveine) on both sides of your pedigree, you run the risk of having IWS types in the litter. Those things are not really known by new breeders and some have chosen to ignore the facts of Barbet life.

Research evolves as we know and it takes time to have births and let the pups grow into their bodies. A Barbet pup, a poodle pup and an IWS pup look very similar and the differences show up later. Later is when photos are difficult to come by. People think the breed starts with their extraordinary combination and some 0% inbreeding, but 0% inbreeding of what? F1hybrids and crosses?

Health problems well hidden in someone’s archives and never shared with anyone except “those who need to know”, are finally coming out also since again, social medias are here to ask and have questions answered.

The same goes with why dogs look like this or that and why there are so many differences: heads, and tails and how lines go back to this or that founding father…or another breed’s!
Here are a couple of lines that go back to Mrs Pêtre. I will be working on more heads to show you, but this is a start. Enjoy and try to start looking at lines yourself and guessing what is in the pedigrees! It’s fascinating.
At present, we are waiting for the standard to be maybe modified in 2016, but as usual the club is deciding on its own without consulting any of the breeders involved in France( or elsewhere) and we will be mostly put again in front of the “fait accompli”, for lack of any type of communicatioon effort.

And so it goes why in France no one knows what a Barbet is…

Copyright Elaine FICHTER 2014 Document cannot be reproduced without written permission of the author.


Translate »