Where does the Beauceron come from?
As its name suggests, the Berger de Beauce stems from the Beauce-region in Central France, where this stunning breed was developed in the 16th century. The largest of all the French sheepdog breeds, the Beauceron is a close relative of the popular long-haired Briard. Since the beginnings of their history as a breed, Beaucerons have been employed in three main roles: As herding dogs for sheep and cattle, as livestock guardians, and as farm- and property guardians. During both World Wars, these proud protectors were used by the French army to carry messages between trenches, and to alert them to ambushes of enemy forces. Today, the Beauceron’s career as service dog for military and police continues. Apart from that, the breed continues to serve in the fields of property guarding and flock herding.
In its general appearance, the Beauceron is a large and muscular dog whose intimidation factor is close to that of the Rottweiler. In fact, with its short, coarse and usually black-and-tan coloured coat, the Beauceron strongly resembles the Rottie. In its body structure and built, however, the breed bears an uncanny likeness to the working line German Shepherd.
Adult males can reach heights up to impressive 71 cm at the wither and weigh up to 45 kilos. Which amounts to 28 inches with a weight of 99 pounds.
Females reach a height of up to 66 cm and a weight of up to 39 kilos when fully grown. That is 26 inches with a weight of 86 pounds.
What is their temperament like?
When it comes to their temperament, Beaucerons are somewhere in between the breeds they bear such a close resemblance to: The Rottweiler and the working line German Shepherd. These are very energetic utility dogs who absolutely love to work. And even though Beaucerons can make excellent family companions, they are best suited for active owners who want a dog they can take along on outings. Ever ready for action, Beaucerons are the perfect companions for avid hikers, joggers or bicycle enthusiasts. Shorter walks on a leash will not satisfy these energetic utility dogs – they need to run and play quite a lot.
But despite for their need for exercise and stimulation, Beaucerons are quite attached to their owners and want to participate in the lives of their family. Which makes them the perfect dogs for people who have a large garden or backyard, but who are also willing to allow the dog to spend part of the day in the home.
Beaucerons are naturally confident, courageous, protective and fiercely loyal – which all are amazing traits in a guard dog.
How intelligent and trainable are Beaucerons?
Apart from excelling in all herding- and guarding duties, Beaucerons also make outstanding sports dogs: Large, athletic and agile, Beaucerons are exceptionally intelligent and highly trainable. These versatile and adaptable dogs can participate successfully in all kinds of canine activities, such as Agility, sheepherding trials, Schutzhund-programs or even the demanding French Ring competitions. They make outstanding personal protection and guard dogs, especially when fine-tuned for such a role by means of professional training. But even without any such training, a Beauceron will typically protect its owners and its territory.
However, these French multi-talents do have certain independent tendencies that are typical for large livestock herding- and guardian breeds. Which is why Beaucerons greatly benefit from an experienced handler who can provide them with firm and fair guidance and direction. If their owner cannot establish leadership over a Beauceron, the dog will attempt to assume that leadership position itself. Which is never desirable – especially not with such a large and powerful breed.
Are Beauceron healthy dogs?
The Berger de Beauce is a robust and healthy breed that suffers from no breed-specific ailments. Of course, the dogs’ size makes them prone to health issues typical for large breeds, such as bloat, elbow- and hip dysplasia. But apart from that, the Beauceron still benefits from the natural selection process the breed was submitted to for hundreds of years: Out there “on the job” of herding and guarding livestock, only the strongest, healthiest dogs would survive and thus get the chance to procreate. And because the Beauceron has never been a “fashion breed”, it has been spared the many health issues that several more popular guardian breeds suffer from today.
The life-expectancy of this robust French breed usually ranges from 10 to 12 years.
How much exercise does the Beauceron need?
As we mentioned before, these large, athletic dogs do need plenty of work-outs and stimulation to stay healthy and well-balanced. Being utility dogs by nature, Beaucerons are quite high in their energy levels and exercise requirements. They enjoy their walks and playtimes, but for them, nothing beats an opportunity to actively work – even if that work just consists in performing obedience drills, bite-work, tracking or any other kind of canine sports.
Beaucerons should be provided with lots of space to run around in: for example, a fenced-in plot of land, a large garden or a spacious backyard. As they are used to working in teams in their original jobs as livestock guardians, they thrive in company. Which is why Beaucerons should be given the opportunity to regularly play with other friendly dogs. Of course, the ideal setting for a Beauceron would be to have its own little flock of animals that it can watch over, in tandem with another dog. In the absence of farm animals, adding a friendly second dog to the family is an excellent way to ensure your Beauceron is getting its needs met.
What are their grooming requirements?
The very good news is that the short, dark and coarse coat of the Beauceron hardly requires any grooming. In essence, one to two short brushes twice a week are enough to keep them clean. The best tools for the short coats of the Beauceron are plastic grooming mitts and soft natural bristle brushes. During shedding season in spring and autumn, more frequent brushing might be required to keep those short hairs from getting onto the floor.
Apart from brushing your Beauceron, you should check their ears once a week for any residue or built-up. If they do not run on concrete regularly, their claws will get quite long and thus prone to injury. Which is why cutting your Beauceron’s nails once every 4 to 6 weeks is recommended.
The beautiful Beauceron is one of the most reliable and intelligent livestock guardian breeds of today. At the same time, when socialized and trained well, these strong and loyal dogs make devoted family guardians: With the proper guidance and leadership, Beaucerons are active and fun companions who are a joy to live with.