Beaucerons: My French Red Stockings
By KATHLEEN HUNTER, Freelancer
The Beauceron is such an elegant dog and how can it not be with a French name like, Beauceron? Until fairly recently this breed was only commonly known in France, and more specifically, northern France. According to the American Beauceron Club – “a membership association comprised of dedicated Beauceron fanciers” with the goal of educating the public on Beaucerons and providing a forum for breed lovers – it’s “a very old breed developed solely in France with no foreign crosses.” In France they are the Bas Rouge which translates to “red stockings” or a Berger de Beauce (sheepdog from Beauce) noted for their red hued legs in an otherwise dark, nearly black coat. However, they can also have a harlequin colored coat in gray, black and rust which is gaining in acceptance and popularity. The breed is mentioned in a Renaissance manuscript dating back to 1578. However, some references take them as far back as the Stone Age. More lineage shows the Beauceron to be an ancestor of the Doberman.
This occasional red stockings wearer is a member of the herding group of dogs and their primary job has been to herd flocks of sheep and also cattle. It is believed the Beaucerons were used as war dogs during the Napoleonic wars and then again during WWI and WWII. Their main job was to sniff out mines and to perform sentry duties and to act as messengers. They have a very keen sense of smell and are excellent at following directions. Unfortunately, due to the nature of their work, they nearly became extinct during their service. Fortunately, the breed was revived after WWII “… primarily from approximately 50 select specimens.”
The Beauceron is a large breed dog, standing up to 27 inches at the shoulder and weigh from 70 to 110 pounds which lends to their commanding look and demeanor. When they enter a room their presence is felt rather than heard.
The Beauceron is ideally suited for an individual or family that has considerable space for him to exercise. This breed is very intelligent and consequently, likes to have a variety of jobs to do like nose work or agility. However, do keep in mind they “… are not well suited to competition…” according to the American Kennel Club, but they do enjoy the physical and mental challenge. The Beauceron is also very well-suited to be a family dog. They are very loyal and protective of their home and people of all ages. Cover dog owner, Robin Chartier says, “Mia is a beautiful, sweet, loving and loyal dog.” Chartier notes her dog’s protective nature but says Mia is extremely gentle with her disabled daughter. “People often stop me and ask questions about her when we take walks.” Beaucerons also play well with other dogs if you happen to have another dog at home.
Due to their intelligence and need to work, they are highly trainable. This makes them excellent search and rescue dogs, service dogs and military and police dogs for instance. The ABC recommends that if you are not an experienced trainer and you really desire a Beauceron, then “… stay away from high drive males.” Furthermore, dominant male puppies, although cute and easy to handle, will grow up to be dominant male adults that can be a lot of dog for even the most experienced dog handler. So keep in mind the size of your home, yard and ability to train your Beauceron so that everyone is happy.
Just because a dog is a pure breed does not mean he comes without propensities for certain genetic ailments. The Beauceron is no different. The most commonly known are “looseness of the hip joint, … partial dislocation of the hip joint, and severe arthritic change…” Heart disease, eye problems, allergies, either food or environmental, gastric dilation and bloat and lastly, osteochondrosis desiccans which is a “… defect in the cartilage overlying the head of one of the long bones,” according to the ABC. As you can see, these ailments are not necessarily any more unique to the Beauceron than to any other breed.
The Beauceron is very low maintenance when it comes to keeping their coat looking great. A bath once a month is about all they need to keep their coat looking and feeling handsome. Because they have more natural oils in their coat than other breeds, their coat repels water and dirt more readily and acts as insulation. Washing your Beauceron more often will remove these protective oils. When you bathe your Beauceron it is recommended that you either brush or blow-dry his hair in order to thoroughly remove the loose hair. But don’t use the same blow dryer you use for yourself. Blow dryers for dogs have a lower heat setting and a more powerful force of air. You don’t want to burn your pups and you will more assuredly blow out all the loose hair. Keep in mind that dogs turn over their coat and they will shed more than normal usually in the fall and early spring. You will want to brush at least two times a week or give your dog a blow out to facilitate the shedding process.
Of special note about the Beauceron are their double dewclaws on the rear legs. These are a must if you plan to show your dog. But even if you choose not to show your Beauceron and you choose to keep the double dewclaws, keep in mind they also need to be trimmed just like the rest of his claws. Chartier confirms that many people do notice her dog’s double dewclaws, but she says that almost no one knows about the breed.
“I’m very proud to show off Mia, who not only is beautiful, but a rarity in this area.”
The Beauceron has gained popularity outside of France in recent years. And, they have been accepted into the American Kennel Club as their 157th breed.
If you are interested in owning a Beauceron, a good place to start is the American Beauceron Club that also posts listings for rescues. (beauce.org)
Size: Males 25½ to 27½ inches, Females 24 to 26½ inches
Appearance: Well-balanced, alert & energetic with a noble carriage
Job: Herd & guard large flocks of sheep
Temperament: Faithful, gentle & obedient