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The Beauceron was developed as a breed in Northern France and has been used for hundreds of years primarily as a guard or herding dog. It is sometimes called the 'Berger de Beauce' (sheepdog from Beauce) or the Bas Rouge (red stockings).
One of the foundation breeds for the Doberman pinscher, the Beauceron has been used for centuries in France as a guard dog, farm helper and ring sport dog. Interestingly, the name Beauceron is somewhat misleading as the breed was developed generally in Northern France, not just around the region of Beauce. The dog is closely related to the long-haired Briard and both breeds boast a double dew claw on their hind legs.
The Beauceron is an extremely versatile animal and as well as its uses as a guard and herd dog, it was also used against wolves and during both wars as a messenger animal, in rescuing injured personnel and in the detection of land mines.
The breed standards were defined in 1922, with the official French breed club established in the same year. In 2008 the dog made its first appearance at a UK show as an entrant at a Westminster Kennel club event.
Average height to withers: 24" - 27.5"
Average weight: 30 - 45kg
A large dog, the standards state that the animal must be black and tan or harlequin (grey, black and tan). The breed did once show a grey/ black colourway and a tawny hue, but these are now banned by the breed standards.
The Beauceron has a short rough outer coat, while the fur underneath is silky and soft. The black and tan examples must display tan markings in the following areas: two dots above the eyes, on the edges of the muzzle, throat area, chest, legs and the underside of the tail. The harlequin examples should have more black areas than grey and should show no white patches.
Although many owners remove dewclaws - especially if their animals are used for field work or hunting, the breed standards state that the Beauceron must have both its dewclaws present.
Contrary to its abilities as a hunting and guard dog, the Beauceron is known as a calm, intelligent and gentle dog. It is however, agile, athletic and brave. The breed is also particularly long-lived for a large animal.
Adults can be shy with strangers but will take their lead from the owner when greeting new people and they thrive if brought up with the family. On the other hand, the Beauceron is an ideal kennel dog as its thick coat will protect it from even the toughest weather conditions.
Their mental development is quite slow compared to other breeds - they don't reach mental maturity until they are about three years old, however they are very intelligent and learn easily. Their training must not be rushed and should be broken down into short play/learn sessions rather than large chunks of training which they will find tiring.
As a large dog that can live between 10-12 years, the Beauceron is quite hardy and robust. However as with many large breeds, it is prone to hip and elbow dysplasia - generic term that refers to many problems with the joints such as dislocation and abnormalities.
Another condition that is relatively common in larger dogs is gastric torsion or 'bloat'. Although the condition does not appear regularly in the breed, it is certainly worth any new owner considering how they feed and exercise their new dog. Meals should be broken down into small portions and offered at least twice a day instead of the usual once, while intense activity should not take place until an hour has passed since their last meal.
Osteochondritis Dissecans or OCD is a condition usually found in larger dogs that presents itself in a weakness in the cartilage which can separate from the bone. This condition can be seen primarily in the shoulder joints in the Beauceron and other large, fast-growing breeds and utmost care should be taken to avoid letting your young dog (up to 12 months) jump from heights or take part in any other activity that puts stress on the shoulders. Affected dogs can be treated with rest, but if the condition is severe surgery may be required.
A hereditary condition, Dilated Cardiomyopathy, can also be seen in the Beauceron breed. This illness causes enlargement and weakening of the heart muscle. Little is known about what causes the condition and there are no genetic tests to determine the presence of it in any dog. The disease can occur at any age and therefore any testing may be of little merit.
The Beauceron is certainly not a breed for the first-time owner. As it is slow to reach maturity, it can be boisterous and requires lots of stimulation when young. It will calm as it ages, but it will still require plenty of physical and mental stimulation. It is worth considering introducing your dog to agility or other regular activity to keep him entertained.
With its thick, weather-resistant coat the dog's grooming requirements are fairly straightforward. A bath once a month will keep him clean and preserve the natural oils that keep him warm and dry, however the Beauceron is a constant shedder and many experts recommend a programme of blowing. Blowing is used rather than brushing as it removes loose hair more effectively. Blow dryers can be bought from grooming suppliers and although they may seem expensive, blowing is preferable to brushing as it is an easy way of removing lots of loose hair. Using a domestic hairdryer is not recommended as they are too hot to use on a dog.
As already mentioned the Beauceron should be fed little and often - at least two meals per day - to avoid bloat. A good commercial feed which is high in protein and low in cereals will keep him satisfied.