Beauceron: The French Sheepdog

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May 25, 2011
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The Beauceron is a guard dog and herding dog with its origins in France. It’s also known as Berger de Beauce or Bas Rouge. This breed is not very well known outside of Northern France, and many of us, if we saw this dog, might think it was a mix between a shepherd and doberman due to its coloring and body due to its black and tan coloring and guard hairs with softer undercoat.

History

The Beauceron is the largest of all the French sheepdogs and has been around for hundreds of years. There is documentation dating back to 1587 that mentions the Beauceron. This dog is a working dog and would drive sheep and cattle around the farm, guard the house, and defend its family. The French army also recruited the Beauceron because of their intelligence and ability to pick up trails, detect mines, and defend their army troop. Today, the dog is still used in law enforcement, search and rescue, handicap service dogs, and does well in agility competitions, and of course, makes a great family pet.

Appearance

The Beauceron resembles the Belgian Malinois in appearance but is slightly larger, about the same size as a Doberman. They have muscular bodies and are heavy but move lightly with grace. They are strong dogs with chests that are slightly wide and a neck that is muscular and long. They look as if they are holding their heads high when standing.

The muzzles are long and a little wide and their eyes are deep and expressive. The ears sit high on the head and they have thick “J” shaped tails. Many Beaucerons are about 26 inches high and their weight tends to range from 65 to 100 lbs. Their coats are short and are double coats with the outer fur being rough with guard hairs and the under coat being softer, finer, and downy. The colors of the Beaucerons vary from black and tan to harlequin.

Because of their double coat, they need to be brushed regularly and will blow coat during the warmer months. Beaucerons shed lightly year round and will need to have their loose, dead fur removed with a weekly brushing and the occasional bath.

Temperament

Beaucerons are confident dogs that always look like they are thinking and studying their environment. They have a gaze that gives them an air of intelligence and deep thought. They are excellent watchdogs and great for families because they are loyal. They are also problem solvers so a bored Beauceron may figure out how to open the cabinet and steal treats or open the front door and take themselves for a walk! This breed requires exercise, play time, and toys that are brain teasers. If you are an outdoorsy type of person, the Beauceron could be a great hiking companion or jogging partner.

They are easy to train but can be stubborn and may try to train you! It’s important to establish that you are their owner and leader with positive reinforcement, routines, and commands. Once the roles are established, this dog can excel at learning and be a top contender in agility courses, tracking, and doing tricks on command.

Beaucerons need a lot of socialization as puppies because they have a tendency to bond only with their family and will be wary of strangers. This breed sometimes suffers from separation anxiety due to their history of always being next to or working with their owners. These dogs need a lot of activities to stave off boredom, anxiety, and destructive tendencies. They aren’t often aggressive but may nip at the heels of children during play and herd them. They may also chase small animals but if raised with other animals in the house, can live harmoniously.

Health

The average lifespan of the Beauceron is 10 to 12 years and have relatively few health problems but because they are a larger breed dog, they could have hip dysplasia or bloat. Some dogs may suffer from heart disease. Regular vet checks can help detect and intervene any health problems.

Overall, the Beauceron is an active dog that requires a lot of time, exercise, and would do great with a family that understands the need for mental and physical stimulation that this breed needs. If you can find a “job” for your dog such as carrying something in a doggie backpack or put this dog to work on your farm, you’ll have a happy friend.

Are you unsure if you’ve ever seen a Beauceron? The dog name Bosco in the movie “Marmaduke” was a Beauceron!

Photo courtesy of the Westminster Kennel Club

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