Black/Tan is the only acceptable color. Various alternate colorings, including Gray and Gray/Black, are not considered viable under the Beauceron breed standard.
24 -27.5 in (32-70 cm),
24- 26.75 in (61-67 cm)
Beaucerons have been herders for centuries, and it would be best to let them stay that way. Urban areas aren't suitable to most Beaucerons, and any suburban Beaucerons should have access to wide open areas as often as is possible. Rural areas--or anywhere with a great deal of open space for dogs to run freely--are the ideal environment for this breed.
The Beauceron is one of France's most ancient and most beloved dogs, with a history dating back as far as the sixteenth century and a crucial role in some of the greatest conflicts of the twentieth century--as well as a peaceful yet no less crucial role in peaceful matters of everyday rural life.
Beaucerons bear a passing resemblance to German Shepherds--part of their value as watchdogs depends on exactly this fairly large, threatening appearance. Considering the strong resemblance, it's surprising that the Beauceron is one of the major purebred dogs of the world--the breed developed exclusively in France, with no known cross-breeding occuring between the Beauceron and dogs of foreign nations. It's this strange quality of purity that gives the breed its special place in the French heart--not to mention the Beauceron's other qualities of loyalty, nobility, friendliness, and undeniable energy for herding and working.
The Beauceron is invariably black-and-tan, with some black-and-gray dogs in existence that aren't considered an official part of the breed. They are very muscular, with a perfect scissor bite and an imposing profile whether their ears are cropped or uncropped. Their hind legs are highly distinctive, with a double dewclaw on each foot--leaving them with six toes, some of which resemble "thumbs". Far from being a defect, this is one of the hallmarks of the Beauceron, and dogs with anything less than the standard six rear toes are not considered to be true Beaucerons.
Whatever their general living environment is, however, it's best to let Beaucerons live indoors in order to let them bond more fully with humans--as long as they have the opportunity to get out and run freely whenever they need to.
A Beauceron's coat is fairly coarse and short, a little over one inch in length. They boast tan markings in various spots on their body, commonly along their muzzles, underneath their muzzles, near their tails, on their legs, and on their chests. Beaucerons also have a fine, gray undercoat that is usually covered entirely by their overcoat.
The name "Beauceron" is actually a misnomer: the breed doesn't come from the historical region of Beauce, but from the region of Brie. But as the name "Briard" was already taken by another breed, the misleading name "Beauceron" was applied to the herding dogs in 1898.
Despite their misleading name and heritage, the Beauceron has been one of the most beloved and popular dogs in France throughout its long history (the dog currently called "Beauceron" was noted by French naturalists as early as the 1700s, with one possible mention of the breed appearing in a manuscript dated 1578.) Beaucerons were used as messenger dogs during the World Wars--and they were also used, tragically, as a device for finding land mines in the field. But this ill treatment is hardly the norm for Beaucerons--and the fact that the Beaucerons were willing to march into minefields for their beloved humans gives some compelling evidence for their noble, admirable character.
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.
As Herding dogs, Beaucerons have few major Health Problems. There are some things that a responsible Beauceron owner will watch out for, however, including the following:
Gastric torsion / Bloat. Many large dogs can suffer from this last condition, and it needs to be treated as quickly as possible in order to avoid a life-threatening emergency. If your Beauceron starts pacing, Drooling or Vomiting uncontrollably, or otherwise acting upset and agitated, take him or her to the vet as quickly as possible
Beaucerons present few problems as far as grooming goes. Their dewclaws will require some amount of trimming, of course, but only when they get too long or cause damage to the dogs. As far as their coats go, the only grooming you might need to do in order to keep your Beauceron in good health is to brush the dog more often than normal during shedding season, which happens at the usual rate for dogs of the Beauceron's size and type (not enough to cause significant problems for any allergy sufferers in your house).
Of course, one thing that any good Beauceron owner should know (and given enough time, will know): the Beauceron, with its rambunctious personality and outdoor lifestyle, can sometimes smell perfectly awful. More than that, they often make your house smell perfectly awful--and become perfectly dirty as well. Specific Beaucerons have been known to leave mud markings along the walls as they brush past, and their legs, freshly wet from romping through the fields, will no doubt track dirt and slop all over your furniture.
So even though the Beauceron itself doesn't require frequent grooming for health purposes, it does require frequent grooming for the sake of your health, your possessions, and your sanity. If the Beauceron is trained to be patient with humans and water, you can probably wash one in a bathtub or outside using a hose and some dog shampoo. Using the hose may be the better option in the long run, simply because the smell of a wet Beauceron isn't on most people's list of "Favorite Animal Smells", and leaving the Beauceron outside gives it some opportunity to get dry while still enjoying itself--though hopefully in a fenced, reasonably clean area so that the Beauceron doesn't get itself dirty again--and require yet another bath and shampoo. (Of course, if you're willing to accept a little bit of destruction--and if you can get used to the smell--you can always leave the Beauceron to its own devices and groom it minimally with no real problems for the dog.)
Beaucerons were bred as herding dogs--which means, above all, outdoor dogs. That means in turn that they're going to want to spend as much time outdoors as possible--and in order to build the strongest possible relationship with your dog, you'll want to spend time outdoors with them as well.
Long walks are a given, and a bare minimum as far as exercising a Beauceron goes. You'll also want to take some time to go jogging, to take long bike rides, to play elaborate games of fetching, and possibly even some swimming or other strenuous activity. (One activity to avoid is probably chasing--Beaucerons, being herding dogs, will no doubt love it, but you, being chased by a one hundred-plus pound dog, will no doubt have some reservations about engaging in this kind of play more than once.)
Beaucerons are highly trainable dogs, and can be considered among the most impressive of dog breeds when well-trained: noble, imposing, helpful toward human beings, and with few problems related to discipline. The problem, however, is that few people actually know how to take full advantage of the Beauceron through training. Worse yet, many people think that a Beauceron can be trained with just a few hours of work every week, leaving the Beauceron completely alone in the house for the rest of the time. This will inevitably result in an untrained Beauceron--meaning a destructive, neurotic, and aggressive Beauceron--and will obliterate many of the qualities of nobility and gentleness that make the Beauceron so attractive as a breed in the first place.
Despite the difficulty of training a Beauceron, it's vital to learn how to train the Beauceron yourself--and to devote a great deal of time to this training--if you think that this breed is ultimately for you. Hiring a professional trainer may result in a well-trained, obedient Beauceron, it's true--but that Beauceron will be well-trained and obedient when his or her trainer is around, and will be another kind of dog altogether when it's simply you in the drivers' seat. So if you're interested in owning a Beauceron, make sure that you're willing to learn how to train it--and make sure that you're willing to spend the time to train it effectively as well.
One of the keys to successfully training a Beauceron is to train it early. This holds true for all dogs, of course--one of the easiest ways to ensure that a dog behaves in a desirable fashion is to ensure that desirable habits are formed before the dog has a chance to form less desirable habits--that he learns to chew his bone before he learns to chew your sofa, for example. 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.