(aka: Berger de Beauce, Bas-Rouge)
The Beauceron is an old and distinct French breed of herding dog, developed solely in France with no foreign crosses. Dogs were bred and selected for their aptitude to herd and guard large flocks of sheep as well as for their structure and endurance. Beaucerons were used to move herds of 200 to 300 head traveling up to 50 miles per day without showing signs of exhaustion.
The ideal Beauceron is a well balanced, solid dog of good height and well muscled without heaviness or coarseness. The whole conformation gives the impression of depth and solidity without bulkiness, exhibiting the strength, endurance and agility required of the herding dog. He is alert and energetic with a noble carriage.
A formidable dog with a frank and unwavering expression, he always demands respect wherever he goes. Dogs are characteristically larger throughout with a larger frame and heavier bone than bitches. Bitches are distinctly feminine, but without weakness in substance or structure.
The Beauceron should be discerning and confident. He is a dog with spirit and initiative, wise and fearless with no trace of timidity. Intelligent, easily trained, faithful, gentle and obedient. The Beauceron possesses an excellent memory and an ardent desire to please his master. He retains a high degree of his inherited instinct to guard home and master. Although he can be reserved with strangers, he is loving and loyal to those he knows. Some will display a certain independence. He should be easily approached without showing signs of fear.
Beaucerons are nearly as proud of themselves as their owners are of them. They are known for their combination of reserve and frankness when meeting strangers, and are not known for overly aggressive barking or violence when confronting the unknown. They're also known for their strong leadership abilities within the animal kingdom, a necessary quality when herding large numbers of sheep or warding off predators, and one which gives the Beauceron a great deal of its noble bearing.
The problem with this noble temperament, however, is this: the Beauceron is an incredibly noble, commanding dog, and he or she always knows it. If you, as the owner, don't know it, and don't show it, the Beauceron has a tendency to assume that he or she is at a higher place in the pack hierarchy than you, and to act accordingly. This can lead to aggressive behavior, destructive activities, or simply a lack of respect and an inability to properly train the breed.
This leadership ability and reserve makes the Beauceron ideal as a watchdog simply because it "splits the difference" between the faults of smaller, aggressive terriers and the faults of larger, more sedate retriever-type dogs. Beaucerons are a natural deterrent to dangerous individuals due to their menacing appearance and pure size, of course, but they also tend to regard strangers with openness rather than with terrified barking or jostling for territory. If strangers start to become openly hostile, of course--if they break into your home, if they threaten your family, if they appear to be highly suspicious or frightened, the Beauceron will take charge of the situation and defend his people with maximum ferocity. This is a useful quality, of course, but it also means that you need to be careful about raising your voice to any family members when a Beauceron is in the area, no matter how highly the dog might think of you.
Beaucerons will work well with other animals and children, provided that the children learn fairly early on how to handle the Beauceron, and provided that the animals don't mind being pushed to a lower place within the animal hierarchy of your house. If children tease or harm the Beauceron, he's unlikely to take well to them, and almost certain not to take orders from them, even when they get older and bigger. This can lead to serious discipline problems from your Beauceron, and should be avoided. If children are respectful yet firm with their Beauceron, however, the Beauceron can be an excellent companion and guardian, even for very young children.
The coat of the Beauceron does not require a great deal of attention. An occasional grooming with more attention during the time when the dog is shedding is sufficient. Beauceron are average shedders.
A French herding breed known for centuries in western Europe, the Beauceron is noted as one of the breeds used to create the Doberman Pinscher.
The regional name is somewhat misleading. The breed was found throughout northern France, rather than just in the Beauce region. Although quite different in appearance, the Beauceron and the long-haired sheep dog, the Briard, stem from similar ancestral stock, sharing the trait of double dewclaws on the hind legs. Both were used to herd sheep and cattle. Like the Beauceron, the Briard is found throughout northern France, and despite implications from its name, also did not come exclusively from the Brie region. Its nickname is Briad de Beau.
In 1809, Abbé Rozier wrote an article on these French herding dogs, in which he described the differences in type and used the terms Berger de Brie and Berger de Beauce.
In 1893, the veterinarian Paul Megnin differentiated between the long-haired Berger de la Brie and the short-haired Berger de Beauce. He defined the standard of the breed, with the assistance of M. Emmanuel Ball. In 1922, the Club des Amis du Beauceron was formed under the guidance of Dr. Megnin.
The Beauceron breed requires early obedience and socialization. Training must be done with fairness, firmness, and consistency. It is important that owners of this breed prevent the Beauceron from attempting to become the boss.
One of the keys to successfully training a Beauceron is to train it early. But for the Beauceron, the early training policy isn't merely a good idea, it's absolutely vital--for the simple reason that the Beauceron, who can be a fairly cute puppy of only a few pounds, will inevitably grow into a massive, hundred-pound dog with powerful limbs and a powerful personality. And if you haven't taught the Beauceron how to curb that personality early on, all of that weight and power will be used, but not in a way that you'll enjoy, we guarantee.
Once your training program has begun, remember to follow two rules: keep it up, and be consistent. The Beauceron's inherent nobility and arrogance makes it less likely to obey your commands at first, or to be interested in a training program. It's vital to gain the dog's respect through positive training messages and some light negative methods--probably limited to a harsh tone of voice to discourage negative behavior, consistently applied. Consistency is the key here: the Beauceron needs to know, from constant, repeated examples, exactly which behaviors are rewarded and which behaviors are punished. If the Beauceron perceives the slightest leeway in your policy--if, for example, you punish your dog whenever you see him chewing the furniture, but then leave him alone for twelve hours a day to chew the furniture unmolested--then the Beauceron won't perceive you with respect, won't follow your commands, and will gradually become more aggressive and hostile toward the human beings who, in the dog's mind, he or she rules over.
Does this mean that a Beauceron can't be trained? Absolutely not--but be aware of the commitment it takes to effectively train a dog of this breed, be willing to take the time to train it, and be patient. If you can do all of these things, it's only a matter of time before you reap your noble reward.
The Beauceron is generally a healthy, hardy breed. Some lines are prone to bloat and like any breed over 40 pounds, the Beaucerons are prone to hip dysplasia.