French Guardian Adapts to Home and Field
The Beauceron is a French dog, bred to herd sheep and cattle during the early 19th century, although there is evidence the breed’s roots run deeper: a Renaissance manuscript from 1578 provides a written description of a dog closely resembling the Beauceron.
Named after the Beauceron region in France, the breed excelled as both a working dog and a hunting dog. As sheep production began to decline in the late 1800s, demand for canine herders followed suit. The Beauceron was used as a personal guard dog by early 1900, and then used during World War I and II as a messenger, mine detector and ammunition carrier.
The Beauceron made its first appearance in a dog show in France in 1900. In 2008, the breed made its debut in the American Kennel Association.
The large size of the Beauceron can be intimidating; however, this breed is known to be very affectionate and loving, forming a tight bond with its family.
That being said, the breed has deep roots as a watchdog and proves to be a diligent guardian of the house, always observant and listening for anything out of the ordinary.
Many Beauceron families describe their companions as “gentle giants,” easygoing with children. The breed will get along with other household pets as long as you raise them together from a young age. It is wise to be aware that the Beauceron is inherently a herding dog, so nipping at a child’s heels (or those of another household pet) is not uncommon during play time. These nips, however, can potentially cause injury to small children and pets.
Due to the breed’s working background, the Beauceron thrives on activities and exercise. This breed will not do well if kept indoors for long periods of time; boredom can lead to destructive behavior. The Beauceron makes an excellent outdoors companion, eager to accompany you on hikes, camping and even swimming.
The Beauceron is very intelligent and has a reputation for being somewhat independent, often thinking it’s in charge. Establishing dominance and control over your Beauceron with obedience and socialization training will help curb stubborn and aggressive behavior. Mental stimulation, such as training, performing in agility courses, and play time is well received by the breed.
While routine training from a young age is extremely important for a Beauceron, discuss your training regime with your veterinarian as this breed matures a slower pace than most, usually reaching maturation by age three. Short training exercises during the first few years are recommended.
The Beauceron is considered a large breed, weighing, on average, 66 to 100 pounds (up to 20 pounds heavier than the Doberman), depending on gender. While the breed is highly recognized for its standard coloring—black and tan, with tan markings on the face, throat, chest, legs and under its tail—its fur coat may also be gray or harlequin. Previous colors included tawny and a gray and black combination; however, those are no longer considered breed standards.
The breed’s fur coat is short and coarse to the touch, with a woolly undercoat which thickens during colder seasons.
One notable characteristic to the Beauceron is its unusual double dewclaw. While there are many dog breeds that still grow a single dewclaw on its paws, the Beauceron has a set of two on each rear leg, separated like fingers, each with its own nail.
While owners used to crop the breed’s ears (like the Doberman pinscher’s), ear cropping is no longer allowed in Europe and in the United Kingdom.
While these medical conditions are known to occur in the breed your Beauceron will not necessarily develop any of the conditions listed below. Choosing a reputable breeder from which to purchase your pet will help minimize the risks.
- Canine hip dysplasia is a hereditary malformation of the hip joint that is more commonly associated with large breed dogs. It can cause discomfort and lameness and result in arthritis. X-rays of the hips when dogs are young (about 2 years of age) can help identify if this problem is present and will allow owners to institute proper exercise, diet and treatment regimen if their dog is affected.
- Dilated cardiomyopathy occurs when the heart muscle becomes dysfunctional over time and can result in complete heart failure.
- Elbow dysplasia is a malformation of the elbow joints that causes lameness and arthritis. Screening for elbow and hip dysplasia is usually done at the same time. Because elbow and hip dysplasia are hereditary disorders, it is best to know if a puppy's parents have been screened and certified dysplasia free.
- Osteochondritis dissecans (OCD) is a localized abnormality of bone development within a joint resulting in thickened cartilage that is susceptible to injury and separation of the joint cartilage from the bone. OCD usually occurs in the shoulder although the condition can occur in other joints such as the elbow or hock. Separation of the joint cartilage from underlying bone causes pain and lameness in the joint. OCD tends to occur during the first year of the dog’s life. Caught early enough, the cartilage may heal with conservative treatment but surgical treatment is often necessary. Preventive measures include not allowing your Beauceron puppy to jump from heights or participate in other activities that put stress on the shoulders.
- Stomach bloat or torsion (also known as gastric dilatation and volvulus or GDV) is very serious and often deadly condition where the stomach becomes painfully distended, either due to food, water or gas. The distended stomach then has a tendency to rotate twisting off its own blood supply and the only exit routes for the gas inside. Symptoms include drooling, retching, abdominal distention, abdominal pain and sudden collapse following eating or exercise after eating. Immediate, urgent veterinary care is necessary.
You may mistake a Beauceron for a Doberman pinscher, and for a good reason: the Beauceron is one of the breeds used to create the Doberman during the late 19th century.
Embraced by families around the world, this one-time working-only dog excels in events for agility, flyball, and herding, and is sought after as a therapy, search-and-rescue, and police dog.