Beauceron (Berger de Beauce, French Shepherd)
The Beauceron is an athletic and formidable shepherd dog with its homeland in France. It has been managing livestock on the vast French plains since at least XVI century. Being a potentially aggressive canine variety it needs extensive socialisation and serious obedience training in order to play the part of a companion animal.
The exact origin of the Beauceron is a mystery although it’s a common knowledge that this breed was entirely developed on the territory of France. A Renaissance manuscript of 1587 contains a detailed description of a canine, which shows striking resemblance to the modern day Beauceron.
In 1809 French newspaper issued an article devoted to two French herding breeds. Its author, a clergyman named Abbe Rozier was the first person who defined the long-haired type as the Berger de la Brie (the Briard) and the short-haired type as the Berger de la Beauce (the Beauceron) – both called in honour of the areas in France. Nonetheless this name wasn’t officially assigned to the breed until around 1888.
In 1882 the Société Centrale Canine (SCC) was established and in 1893 it granted the Beauceron the status of a pedigreed dog. Shortly afterwards the standard was developed to outline the dog’s prominent features.
Cattle-breeding was flourishing in France during the XIX century and the Beauceron was considered as an irreplaceable helper to men who superintended flocks of sheep and herds of other livestock. Originally the dog was also utilised to hunt a wild boar. However at the dawn of the XX century sheep farming in France started slipping into gradual decline so the need for shepherd dogs greatly reduced. Fortunately the breed found numerous fanciers in the role of a personal and property guardian. Moreover the Beauceron proved to be an outstanding army dog and was widely used during both World Wars to fetch parcels to the front lines, find concealed explosives and deliver new munitions belts to battlefields.
In the late XX century the Beauceron acquired considerable popularity in Holland, Belgium and Germany and to a lesser degree in the United States. The American Kennel Club (AKC) gave its complete recognition to the breed in 2007. Nowadays thanks to its versatility this dog won its fame as a police, military, search-and-rescue and tracking animal. The Beauceron is extremely faithful to its family so it’s frequently kept as a combination of a family pet and undaunted guardian.
The Beauceron is a self-assured, intelligent and somewhat wilful dog with strong propensity to independent thinking. It develops strong bonds with its human companions and once properly socialised it makes a lovable family dog. It is caring and gentle with familiar children although it may occasionally attempt to herd them by nipping on the heels. This type of behaviour must be crushed in the bud otherwise it would be unwise to keep this dog together with small kids.
In most situations the Beauceron is highly distrustful of strangers. Socialise your pet as early as possible in order to prevent such suspiciousness from evolving into outright aggression. This dog is endowed with exceptionally strong protective instinct, which makes it a courageous guardian. It’s also very sensitive to its surroundings and can be turned into a wonderful watcher. Be mindful that without some meaningful daily work this dog tends to become destructive and unruly indoors.
The Beauceron is fairly aggressive towards other canines, especially of the same sex. It won’t be a good idea to introduce other dogs to the household with pre-existing specimen of this breed. It’s keen on chasing small animals (including small dogs) so it should be always kept on a secure leash unless in a well-fenced area. The dog usually lives peacefully with other non-canine pets especially if they have been brought up together since an early age.
The most common problems for the breed include:
· canine hip dysplasia;
· bloat / gastric torsion.
The Beauceron needs very basic maintenance. It possesses a short coat, which should be carefully brushed only once or twice a week. A natural bristle brush or rubber hound mitt cope with this work splendidly. The master should bathe this dog every three to four months with a vet-approved shampoo.
The Beauceron sheds very lightly all the year around and more intensely during autumn and spring. In shedding times more frequent brushing will help to reduce the amount of dead hair floating around the house. Remember to trim the dog’s nails every other month, regularly check/wash its ears and clean its teeth.
The training of the Beauceron is usually connected with serious difficulties since this dog has well-developed independent streak. It should understand who is in charge from the very first lesson otherwise it will quickly take control over the situation. Moreover your training efforts have better chances to pay off if you encourage your pet to work with kind words and its favourite food.
Once the Beauceron masters basic tricks it should be advanced to more sophisticated commands and even sequences of commands. It will help to preclude any destructive behaviour, which usually results from boredom. The master should never shout at his dog during training sessions as it reacts to such handling with total disobedience.
The exercise regimen of the Beauceron should include a daily long walk and several hours of playtime in a securely enclosed territory. Because of its demands to physical activity this dog isn’t suited for keeping in an apartment. On the other hand it will make an ideal companion for a sport-minded person who loves to bike, jog, hike and swim.
In general this breed does best in rural surroundings where it will have plentiful opportunities to spend its excessive energy. Without physical as well as mental stimulation the Beauceron tends to become restless, hyper active and highly destructive indoors.