The Beauceron is a large sheepdog with a commanding presence, taking its name from the La Beauce region surrounding Paris, France. It's a well-muscled, strongly built breed, but the dog is not bulky and instead, presents a balanced and proportioned appearance. It's known to carry its head proudly and carries its tail down forming a "J" except when it runs and the tail is trailing straight out from the body. This breed's most distinctive feature is its hind double dewclaws, forming a pair of independent "thumbs" on the rear legs.
HEIGHT: 24 to 27.5 inches
WEIGHT: 70 to 110 pounds
COAT: Short, coarse, and dense coat no more than 1.5 inches in length
COAT COLOR: Two color combinations of black and tan and harlequin (a mix of gray, black, and tan)
LIFE SPAN: 10 to 12 years
TEMPERAMENT: Intelligent, friendly, fearless, calm, protective
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Characteristics of the Beauceron
The desire of a herding dog to keep its "flock" together, be it children, the neighborhood cats, or sheep, oftentimes frustrates an owner, but it is what a Beauceron was bred to do. In general, the breed is generally tolerant with children, affectionate with its family, and protective of its flock, both human and animal.
|Friendliness||Low to Medium|
|Tendency to Bark||Medium|
|Amount of Shedding||Medium to High|
History of the Beauceron
Developed in France, the Beauceron is the largest French sheepdog, and possibly one of the oldest as well, with mentions in historical documents dating as far back as the 1500s. The breed was found throughout France and not just in the Beauce region. The double declaws on the hind leg suggest the breed came from the same ancestors as the long-haired Briard sheepdog, although many times it is often mistaken for a mixed breed of Rottweiler and German shepherd parentage. This breed is also known as berger de Beauce (shepherd of Beauce) and bas rouge (red stockings—for the dog's reddish accents).
The Beauceron has long served farms in France herding sheep and cattle. During the world wars, Beaucerons were used by the French army, especially as messengers due to their ability to follow commands. They also were used in mine detection and tracking. These canines continue to be used as police dogs and in search and rescue operations.
The Beauceron was virtually unknown outside of France until World War II. The French Ministry of Agriculture asked the Society Central Canine to write a confirmation examination in the 1960s to ensure the qualities of the breed were preserved. There was a concern that with modernization, the breed would die out or be diluted. The breed was fully inducted into the American Kennel Club's Herding Group in 2007 and first appeared at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in 2008.
The Beauceron is watchful, loyal, energetic, and protective. Having one is like having a shadow follow you around all day. The dog will often stay very close at your heels and it will want to be with family on the couch or bed. Like many dogs, herding breeds can be destructive and irritating when bored. The Beauceron likes to mouth things, so have plenty of durable chew toys available.
Lots—and lots—of exercise is the key to a happy and healthy herder like a Beauceron. Experts recommend this breed needs at least two to three hours of daily vigorous exercise a day which should include walks and other activities such as running, cycling, and hiking. The Beauceron can be an ideal companion for a committed physically active owner.
The dog's double coat needs only minimal grooming. Brush your dog regularly and give it a bath every three or four months. You will see the most shedding in the spring and fall and just a little the rest of the year. Be sure to trim your dog's nails about once a month to keep them tidy and prevent painful splitting. Don't forget about the hind double dewclaws. Be sure to help your dog with oral hygiene by brushing its teeth at least twice a week.
An intelligent breed, the Beauceron is often described by owners as an independent thinking dog. It is highly trainable and can put its energy to good use in dog sports and obedience competitions. This dog has a high, strong drive to work and it needs to be given a job to do in order to thrive. Socialize your dog from a young age to expose it to a variety of situations so it is not shy or aggressive.
Common Health Problems
While any dog breed can develop health problems, responsible breeders take care to maintain the highest breed standards as established by kennel clubs, like the American Kennel Club. Dogs bred by these standards are less likely to inherit health conditions. Some hereditary health problems that can occur in the Beauceron breed include the following conditions:
- Hip Dysplasia: Abnormal development of one or both hip joints
- Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM): Enlarged or dilated heart chambers
- Gastric Dilation-Volvulus (Bloat): A bloated stomach can twist, cut off the blood supply, and may cause a medical emergency
Diet and Nutrition
Allow access to fresh, clean water and feed your Beauceron a veterinary-recommended diet. The amount will vary depending on your dog's size, age, activity level, and other factors. This breed may be prone to gastric dilation and bloat if the dog gulps its food or eats too fast, which can be fatal.
Monitor your dog's weight and discuss nutritional needs with your veterinarian so your dog doesn't become overweight, as this can increase health risks and shorten life span.
Where to Adopt or Buy a Beauceron
Because this is a rare dog breed, there are relatively few Beauceron breeders in the United States. Be patient if this is the breed you really want. The puppy closest to your home may not be the best one for you, so you may have to be willing to travel or expand your search for a breeder in other areas. If you work with a breeder, expect to pay around $2,500 for a puppy. Consider these sources to begin your search for a Beauceron.
Loyal and intelligent dog
Active dog, requiring mental and physical stimulation
Herding behavior can be overwhelming
May not be appropriate for a family with small children
Boredom can lead to destructive behavior
More Dog Breeds and Further Research
The Beauceron is a loyal companion, but the breed demands some serious daily exercise. So before you decide whether the Beauceron is the right dog for you, do plenty of research and talk to other owners, reputable breeders, and rescue groups to learn more about what it's like to successfully live with this breed.
If you’re interested in the Beauceron, you may also want to read about similar breeds to compare the pros and cons:
There’s a whole world of dog breeds out there. With a little research, you can find the right one to bring home.
Why is the Beauceron a rare dog breed?
The Beauceron is still considered a full-fledged working dog and the breed is popular within the French police and military. The dog is gaining awareness as a watchdog and companion in the United States, but it is still a rare find in this country.
Is the Beauceron dog good with children?
A Beauceron can be a good family dog for people with older children who can respect the animal and tolerate natural herding behavior. Be aware that this can include nipping a child and be sure your kids and any visitors understand this.
Is this dog breed aggressive?
No, this gentle dog is not considered aggressive to humans, but it can be aggressive with other dogs so it's best to walk a Beauceron on a leash. However, with people, the dog will be courageous, yet cautious. The dog will be approachable, but it will not be overly eager to make new friends. It will instead reserve judgment and hold strangers at arm's length.
Beauceron dog breed information. American Kennel Club.