Beaucerons: A Complete Guide to France’s Lesser Known Breed

The French Beauceron might not get the most press, but these energetic herding dogs make highly trainable furry companions.

Jan 24, 2024byJessica Montes
say bonjour to the beauceron

If you were asked which dogs you associate with France, you might say French Bulldogs or Poodles. While these are often the poster pups for French canines, there are equally amazing and lesser-known breeds like the Beauceron. Say bonjour to this breed and familiarize yourself with their exercise levels, grooming needs, roles as service dogs, and health concerns.

The Beauceron Comes From France

Photo by: Henry de Bylandt

Beaucerons (pronounced bo-sir-ron) were first mentioned in a French manuscript in the late 1500s. They were developed in and earned their name from the La Beauce area of Central France. There, these pups worked as sheepdogs and would herd and protect livestock while also acting as guards for their families.

They have two French nicknames: Berger de Beauce, which means “shepherd of Beauce,” and Bas Rouge, which translates to “red stockings” for their red-furred feet. Beaucerons weren’t officially registered in France until they made the ​​Livres Origines Francais (LOF) roster in 1893. Beaucerons have gained more attention from North American breeders in the last 30 years, and they received American Kennel Club (AKC) recognition in 2007.

The Beauceron Comes in Many Colors

Beauceron smile
Photo by: Jack Wehrlin

These pups are gentle giant breeds, weighing between 70 to 110 pounds and standing between 24 to 28 inches tall at the shoulder. Beaucerons come in black and tan, gray black and tan, black and red, and harlequin (with gray patches on the fur) varieties. It’s common for them to have red feet, red spots on their eyebrows and face, and red chests regardless of dominant fur color.

They also have muscular bodies, high-set ears, and fluffy, J-shaped tails. A Beauceron has a fine, short undercoat and dense outer coat. While these are typical physical appearances, the American Beauceron Club and American Kennel Club have stricter standards for the ideal dog, including harlequin coats without too much gray.

These Dogs Have Double Dew Claws

Dew claw
Photo by: Wellness Veterinary Hospital & Diagnostic Centre

Dew claws sit higher up on the inner side of a dog’s paw, like thumbs for humans. These are common in the front paws, but few breeds, like Beaucerons, have dew claws on their hind legs. This makes them an even rarer dog with an athletic advantage. It’s believed that dogs developed dew claws to help them climb trees or cliffs. Most dogs don’t use them for monkeying around anymore, but dew claws increase stability, as they help dogs run and turn swiftly.

Sometimes, their front or hind “thumbs” are removed after birth to prevent injuries or for aesthetic reasons. However, dew claw injuries are uncommon. As long as you clean and trim the nails regularly, leaving the extra claw shouldn’t harm your furry friend.

The Beauceron Is an Energetic Breed

Beauceron play
Photo by: Gwgrind

The AKC describes this breed as faithful, gentle, and obedient. Beaucerons can get along with

children and other pets if they are introduced early on; they are also moderately affectionate with their family. However, they are less open to meeting strangers and embrace their ancestral role of watchdogs and guarding the home.

Despite taking their protective roles seriously, Beaucerons are a high-energy breed that enjoys playtime and needs mental stimulation to avoid some common behavioral problems. Other key facts include their average adaptability to changes in living spaces or routines and typical barking levels.

These Dogs Need Exercise

Beauceron park
Photo by: Gwgrind

While their appearance has changed since they were first developed, Beaucerons haven’t given up their energetic behavior. You can expect to take them out on multiple, fast-paced walks a day to meet your dog’s exercise demands. An ideal owner enjoys a variety of outdoor activities like hiking or running and leads an active lifestyle. This can be supplemented at home with games like fetch or doggy puzzles.

Another outlet for their unending playfulness is with breed-specific sports, like agility courses. There, your pup moves with speed, has changing obstacles to keep them engaged, and stays mentally absorbed by wondering what’s next.

Like All Dogs, the Beauceron Needs Training

Beauceron training
Photo by: Canarian

A loyal, easily trainable Beauceron would love nothing more than challenging training sessions. If you live on a farm or large open area with animals, you can assign them to herd cattle and roam the land. They also have success as protection and detection dogs and in obedience competitions. Even if you don’t intend to compete with your pup, basic commands are necessary. You’ll likely need to train them to discourage problem behaviors, such as jumping on people.

Remember that a patient, firm approach, positive reinforcement, and a mix of verbal and visual cues are the best methods for effective training.

You Can Train Your Beauceron in French!

Eiffel tower
Photo by: Yovan Verman

Will your dog learn commands more easily if you speak French? The answer depends on your native language and location. If it’s your first language and you feel the most comfortable making commands with it, then speak to your dog in French. In addition, if you live in a predominantly French-speaking area and adopt your dog from a shelter, they will be most familiar with that language.

Even if you are a non-native French speaker, there are benefits to training your dog in another language. This method can lead to less confusion as the pup will likely only hear the French words used as commands, not in everyday speech at home. Second, French commands can be a mentally stimulating learning opportunity for both owner and canine.

Beaucerons Make Great Service Dogs

Service dog
Photo by: Dominic Thomé

This breed’s obedient personality made them popular with the French army in the early 1900s. Beaucerons bravely assisted French soldiers with sending messages during both World Wars. They also identified scent trails and helped with mine detection. In the present day, Beaucerons are still used for military support, police services, and search-and-rescue teams.

These intelligent dogs can also be trained in tracking, obedience drills, and as service dogs for people with disabilities. This breed is committed to helping its human companions at home and beyond.

The Beauceron’s Grooming Needs

Happy beauceron
Photo by: A. Josef Dernbecher

Sorry to those with dog allergies; Beaucerons are not an ideal choice for pet lovers with allergies. They are massive shedders, and your furniture or clothing will remain covered under a layer of fur, especially during the biannual shedding periods. They’ll need daily brushes during that time, but one to three brushes per week works for the rest of the year.

Additionally, these French dogs need baths once a month. For outdoor adventurers, keep your dog clean between baths by wiping the paws and brushing dust from their coat. Complete the grooming session by clipping their nails, brushing their teeth, and cleaning their ears.

Beaucerons Have Some Health Concerns

Beauceron face
Photo by: zenera

Owners must speak with their vet if their pet shows any physical symptoms or discomfort. Some breed-specific health conditions with Beaucerons include:

  • Bloat, a potentially fatal condition when a dog’s stomach swells and painfully twists in on itself
  • Canine hip dysplasia (CHD), referring to the looseness, dislocation, or degeneration of the hip joint
  • Dilated cardiomyopathy, involving an enlarged heart that cannot efficiently pump blood throughout the body
  • Allergies, such as to seasonal changes or certain types of foods

It’s best to gather as much of your furry friend’s family history, and visit the vet regularly or when you notice abnormal symptoms.

Finding an Ethical Beauceron Breeder

Beauceron puppy
Photo by: Orphée

Because Beaucerons are rare in North America, it might be tricky to adopt one immediately. You can try your luck finding one at a shelter or browsing online databases, but purebred Beaucerons aren’t common. Most likely, you’ll contact a breeder. Find an ethical breeder who specializes in one breed and prioritizes health and temperament over looks. Breeder red flags to look out for include:

  • Someone without much knowledge about their dogs
  • A breeder with dozens of pups and breeds to choose from
  • Lack of medical history and testing
  • Puppies who are taken away from their moms shortly after birth (before eight weeks)

Your best bet is to find websites of established clubs and organizations, such as the American Beauceron Club and look at its list of approved breeders.

Other French Dog Breeds

Photo by: Blue Bird

Beaucerons share their country of origin with other French favorites. One of these includes the Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen, a hunting dog that was developed in the 1600s and claimed the Best in Show title at this year’s Westminster Dog Show. Bichon Frise is another cheerful, hypoallergenic pup with silky fur and minimal shedding. Of course, we can’t forget the French Bulldog, one of the world’s most popular dog breeds.

Other doggos with French origins are:

  • Basset Hounds
  • Papillons
  • Briards
  • Great Pyrenees
  • French Spaniels

Although they developed in France, many of these breeds are popular with enthusiasts and breeders across the globe.

Other Dog Breeds Like the Beauceron

Photo by: RDNE Stock Project

Don’t the black fur and orangey-red patches on the Beauceron’s feet and face look familiar? You’re not the only one who couldn’t help thinking about the classic Doberman Pinscher appearance. In addition to their coat patterns, both dogs have pointy ears, tall bodies, and a watchdog personality.

However, Dobermans have a leaner build, longer necks, and stubby tails. Beaucerons also have fuller, shorter faces and less compact fur. Another contrast lies in their work. The French dogs primarily helped with herding and were then used in public services whereas Doberman’s were strictly bred for protecting their humans. As an uncommon breed, you’re more likely to mistake a Beauceron for a Doberman than the other way around!

Jessica Montes
byJessica Montes

Jessica is a California-based writer, journalist, lover of animals, and vegan of 17 years. Growing up, she owned parakeets, fish, a rabbit, and a red-eared slider turtle. She currently has a black cat named Marty and a tabby named Jellybean. In her free time, she enjoys reading, baking, camping, and roller skating to funky tunes.