Have you seen the movie Because of Winn Dixie? We watched it recently and fell in love with the big, scruffy mutt that played the title role. But wait – was the role of Winn Dixie really played by a mixed breed? Many famous animal actors really are mutts. For instance, the famous Higgins of Petticoat Junction and Benji fame was a rescued shelter mutt, so it’s entirely possible that Winn Dixie was too. Curious, I decided to research it and discovered that he wasn’t a mutt at all. Even though the dog that played Winn Dixie looked like a shaggy, loveable cross between several breeds, he was actually a Berger Picard.
Pronounced “bare ZHAY pee CARR,” the Berger Picard is a rare French purebred dog whose origins date back to the ninth century. This herding breed is also referred to as a Picardy Shepherd.
The breed was introduced to northern France by the Celts in the ninth century. The Berger Picard became useful for herding sheep and cattle as well as for smuggling tobacco and other contraband across the borders between France and Belgium. In the early 1900s, the Berger Picard was considered a legitimate breed and the first breed standards were written.