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Alice Van Kempen, Animal Photography
Tracy Morgan, Animal Photography
Expect to be herded by this stubborn French beauty. Highly versatile and intelligent, the protective Beauceron is an excellent watchdog for his family and home, but he's not for first-time dog owners. He is an athlete and will make sure you get outside for exercise and fun. His short coat is easy to groom.
The Beauceron is a French herding breed used on sheep. In his home country he is known as the Berger (bair-zhay) de Beauce (bohs). The name means “shepherd of the Beauce.”
The Beauceron is a shorthaired French herding breed. Like all farm dogs, he served multiple purposes, from driving flocks to guarding his property and family. The Beauceron is a large dog, weighing 70 to 110 pounds, with a protective personality. He is active, athletic, and versatile — qualities that make him perfect for only a small minority of dog owners.
The Beauceron is not an appropriate choice for a first-time dog owner. He is smart, assertive, and independent (read stubborn). He is an excellent watchdog and has the size and ability to defend his home and family if needed. Conversely he needs a firm hand to ensure he has appropriate training and socialization. He matures slowly and will be puppylike until he is about 3 years old.
When the Beauceron is raised with children, he can be good with them. But don’t forget that he is a herding breed and may chase or nip at children. This should never be permitted. He is best suited to a family with older children who can understand how to treat him with respect.
It's possible that a Beauceron will get along with cats. He has a strong prey drive and will likely chase cats or other small furry animals outdoors, but some Beaucerons can get along well with indoor cats if they have been raised with them.
It’s almost impossible to wear out a Beauceron. Choose this breed only if you are a high-energy person who enjoys active daily exercise such as running, bicycling, and hiking and can take your dog with you. He’s also well suited to just about any dog sport, including agility, flyball, herding, obedience, rally, search and rescue, and tracking. A bored Beauceron is a destructive Beauceron.
Begin socialization and training early to make the most of the Beauceron’s intelligence, rapid learning ability, and drive. Use positive reinforcement techniques such as praise, play, and food rewards. Be prepared for him to push back when you ask him to do something, testing whether you really mean what you say. It’s essential to be firm, fair, and consistent. Never respond with harsh treatment or force.
The Beauceron can be aggressive toward dogs or other animals he doesn’t know. If your home has a yard, it should be securely fenced to prevent the dog from leaving the premises as well as to prevent other dogs from coming onto the property and causing trouble. That doesn’t mean an underground electronic fence. If the Beauceron wants to leave the yard, a shock isn’t going to stop him.
This is an indoor/outdoor dog. Though the Beauceron should certainly have access to a securely fenced yard, he should be with his family when they are home.
Brush the Beauceron’s double coat weekly to remove dead hair. He sheds small amounts year-round and more heavily in spring and fall. He will need more frequent brushing during seasonal shedding periods to control the amount of loose hair floating around your house. Trim his nails as needed, and keep his ears clean and dry to prevent infections. Good dental hygiene is also important.
Little is known of the Beauceron’s history. The earliest mention of a dog that sounds like the Beauceron dates to 1578. The breed stands out for being the largest of the French sheepdogs. Besides sheep, he also herded cattle and guarded the home. His name comes from the area surrounding Paris known as La Beauce.
During the late 19th century, many dog clubs and organizations were formed, including the Society Central Canine in 1882. It registered the first Berger de Beauce in 1893, and soon a breed standard was written to set down the dog’s characteristics. The Club des Amis du Beauceron was formed in 1922.
The Beauceron’s work as a sheepdog began to disappear with the changes wrought by modern society, but he easily moved into police and military work and served heroically during both world wars as a messenger dog, trail finder, and mine detector. Beaucerons still perform that type of work today.
The American Kennel Club recognized the Beauceron in 2007. Today the breed ranks 153rd among the dogs registered by the AKC.
The Beauceron is a confident, smart, strong-willed dog. He is protective of his family and territory, and usually reserved with strangers. He is easily trained, but often shows his independent side. Though self-assured, the Beauceron should not be aggressive. He is gentle, but fearless.
The Beauceron is loyal to his people. When he is raised with children, he can be good with them. Don’t forget that he is a herding breed and might chase or nip at children. This should never be permitted. He is best suited to a family with older children who can understand how to treat him with respect.
The Beauceron might get along with cats. He has a strong prey drive and will likely chase cats or other small furry animals outdoors, but some Beaucerons can get along well with indoor cats if they have been raised with them. They can be aggressive toward dogs or other animals they don’t know.
It’s almost impossible to wear out a Beauceron. Choose this breed only if you are a high-energy person yourself who enjoys active daily exercise such as running, bicycling, and hiking and can take your dog with you. He’s also well suited to just about any dog sport, including agility, flyball, herding, obedience, rally, search and rescue, and tracking. A bored Beauceron is a destructive Beauceron.
Begin socialization and training early to make the most of the Beauceron’s intelligence, rapid learning ability, and drive. Use positive reinforcement techniques such as praise, play, and food rewards. Remember that he is an independent thinker. Be prepared for him to push back when you ask him to do something, testing whether you really mean what you say. It’s essential to be firm, fair, and consistent. Never use harsh treatment or force.
Start training your puppy the day you bring him home. Even at eight weeks old, he is capable of soaking up everything you can teach him. Don’t wait until he is 6 months old to begin training or you will have a more headstrong dog to deal with. If possible, get him into puppy kindergarten class by the time he is 10 to 12 weeks old, and socialize, socialize, socialize. However, be aware that many puppy training classes require certain vaccines (like kennel cough) to be up to date, and many veterinarians recommend limited exposure to other dogs and public places until puppy vaccines (including rabies, distemper and parvovirus) have been completed. In lieu of formal training, you can begin training your puppy at home and socializing him among family and friends until puppy vaccines are completed.
Talk with a reputable, experienced Beauceron breeder. Describe exactly what you’re looking for in a canine companion and ask for assistance in selecting a puppy. Breeders see their puppies daily and can make uncannily accurate recommendations once they know something about your lifestyle and personality. Choose a puppy whose parents have nice personalities and who has been well socialized by the breeder from birth.
All purebred dogs have the potential to develop genetic health problems, just as all people have the potential to inherit a particular disease. Run, don’t walk, from any breeder who does not offer a health guarantee on puppies, who tells you that the breed is 100 percent healthy and has no known problems, or who tells you that her puppies are isolated from the main part of the household for health reasons. A reputable breeder will be honest and open about health problems in the breed and the incidence with which they occur in her lines.
Health conditions that have been seen in the Beauceron include allergies and dermatomyositis, an inflammatory condition that can affect the skin, muscles, blood vessels and fat. They may also be prone to gastric torsion.
The American Beauceron Club participates in the Canine Health Information Center, a health database. Before individual Beaucerons can be CHIC certified, breeders must submit hip and heart evaluations from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) and eye test results from the Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF). PennHip certification of hips is also accepted. The cardiac exam must be performed by a board-certified cardiologist and include an echocardiogram. Eye exams must be performed annually beginning at age 2 and continue until the dog is 8 years old. Optional CHIC test results that can be submitted are OFA elbow and thyroid evaluations and an OFA test for von Willebrand’s disease. According to CHIC recommendations, the thyroid test should be done annually until the dog is 5 years old and then every two years.
Breeders must agree to have all test results, positive or negative, published in the CHIC database. A dog need not receive good or even passing scores on the evaluations to obtain a CHIC number, so CHIC registration alone is not proof of soundness or absence of disease, but all test results are posted on the CHIC website and can be accessed by anyone who wants to check the health of a puppy’s parents.
Do not purchase a puppy from a breeder who cannot provide you with written documentation that the parents were cleared of health problems that affect the breed. Having the dogs vet checked is not a substitute for genetic health testing.
Remember that after you’ve taken a new puppy into your home, you have the power to protect him from one of the more common health problems: obesity. Keeping a Beauceron at an appropriate weight is one of the easiest ways to extend his life. Make the most of diet and exercise to help ensure a healthier dog for life.
When it comes to grooming, the Beauceron is an easy keeper thanks to his short, double coat. A bath every three to four months with a mild shampoo is all that is needed. Brush his sleek coat with a natural bristle brush or rubber hound mitt several times a week to remove dead hair.
The Beauceron sheds small amounts year-round and more heavily in spring and fall. He will need more frequent brushing during seasonal shedding periods to control the amount of loose hair floating around your house.
The rest is basic care. His ears need to be checked every week and cleaned if needed. Trim his toenails once a month. Brush the teeth frequently for good overall health and fresh breath.
Put at least as much effort into researching your puppy as you would into choosing a new car or expensive appliance. It will save you money in the long run. Whether you want to go with a breeder or get your dog from a shelter or rescue, here are some things to keep in mind.
Finding a good breeder is the key to finding the right puppy. A good breeder will match you with the right puppy and will, without question, have done all the health certifications necessary to screen out health problems as much as possible. She is more interested in placing pups in the right homes than making big bucks.
Good breeders will welcome your questions about temperament, health clearances, and what the dogs are like to live with, and come right back at you with questions of their own about what you’re looking for in a dog and what kind of life you can provide for him. A good breeder can tell you about the history of the breed, explain why one puppy is considered pet quality while another is not, and discuss what health problems affect the breed and the steps she takes take to avoid those problems. And remember that breeders who offer puppies at one price “with papers” and at a lower price “without papers” are unethical.
Look for more information about the Beauceron and start your search for a good breeder on the website of the American Beauceron Club. Choose a breeder who has agreed to abide by the ABC’s code of ethics, which prohibits the sale of puppies to or through pet stores, calls for the breeder to obtain recommended health clearances on dogs before breeding them, and says breeders should be willing to take back dogs they have bred at any time in their lives for any reason.
Avoid breeders who seem interested only in how quickly they can unload a puppy on you and whether your credit card will go through. You should also bear in mind that buying a puppy from a website that offers to ship your dog to you immediately can be a risky venture, as it leaves you no recourse if what you get isn’t exactly what you expected.
Lots of reputable breeders have websites, so how can you tell who’s good and who’s not? Red flags include puppies always being available, multiple litters on the premises, having your choice of any puppy, and the ability to pay online with a credit card. Quickie online purchases are convenient, but they are almost never associated with reputable breeders.
Whether you’re planning to get your new best friend from a breeder, a pet store, or another source, don’t forget that old adage “let the buyer beware”. Disreputable breeders and facilities that deal with puppy mills can be hard to distinguish from reliable operations. There’s no 100% guaranteed way to make sure you’ll never purchase a sick puppy, but researching the breed (so you know what to expect), checking out the facility (to identify unhealthy conditions or sick animals), and asking the right questions can reduce the chances of heading into a disastrous situation. And don’t forget to ask your veterinarian, who can often refer you to a reputable breeder, breed rescue organization, or other reliable source for healthy puppies.
The cost of a Beauceron puppy varies depending on the breeder’s locale, whether the pup is male or female, what titles his parents have, and whether he is best suited for the show ring or a pet home. The puppy you buy should have been raised in a clean home environment, from parents with health clearances and conformation (show) and, ideally, working titles to prove that they are good specimens of the breed. Puppies should be temperament tested, vetted, dewormed, and socialized to give them a healthy, confident start in life.
And before you decide to buy a puppy, consider whether an adult Beauceron might better suit your needs and lifestyle. Puppies are loads of fun, but they require a lot of time and effort before they grow up to become the dogs of your dreams. An adult Beauceron may already have some training and will probably be less active, destructive, and demanding than a puppy. With an adult, you know more about what you’re getting in terms of personality and health and you can find adults through breeders or shelters. If you are interested in acquiring an older dog through breeders, ask them about purchasing a retired show dog or if they know of an adult dog who needs a new home. If you want to adopt a dog, read the advice below on how to do that.
There are many great options available if you want to adopt a dog from an animal shelter or breed rescue organization. Here is how to get started.
1. Use the Web
Sites like Petfinder.com and Adopt-a-Pet.com can have you searching for a Beauceron in your area in no time flat. The site allows you to be very specific in your requests (housetraining status, for example) or very general (all the Beauceron available on Petfinder across the country). AnimalShelter.org can help you find animal rescue groups in your area. Also some local newspapers have “pets looking for homes” sections you can review.
Social media is another great way to find a dog. Post on your Facebook page that you are looking for a specific breed so that your entire community can be your eyes and ears.
2. Reach Out to Local Experts
Start talking with all the pet pros in your area about your desire for a Beauceron.That includes vets, dog walkers, and groomers. When someone has to make the tough decision to give up a dog, that person will often ask her own trusted network for recommendations.
3. Talk to Breed Rescue
Most people who Beauceron love all Beauceron. That’s why breed clubs have rescue organizations devoted to taking care of homeless dogs. The American Beauceron Club can help you find a dog that may be the perfect companion for your family. You can also search online for other Beauceron rescues in your area.
The great thing about breed rescue groups is that they tend to be very upfront about any health conditions the dogs may have and are a valuable resource for advice. They also often offer fostering opportunities so, with training, you could bring a Beauceron home for a trial to see what the experience is like.
4. Key Questions to Ask
You now know the things to discuss with a breeder, but there are also questions you should discuss with shelter or rescue group staff or volunteers before you bring home a pup. These include:
What is his energy level?
How is he around other animals?
How does he respond to shelter workers, visitors and children?
What is his personality like?
What is his age?
Is he housetrained?
Has he ever bitten or hurt anyone that they know of?
Are there any known health issues?
Wherever you acquire your Beauceron, make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter, or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. Petfinder offers an Adopters Bill of Rights that helps you understand what you can consider normal and appropriate when you get a dog from a shelter. In states with puppy lemon laws, be sure you and the person you get the dog from both understand your rights and recourses.
Puppy or adult, a breeder purchase or a rescue, take your Beauceron to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot problems and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues.
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