The official name of the breed is Beauce Shepherd, or Beauceron. But, it is popularly known as “bas rouge“, that is, “red stockings”, due to the tan color of the end of its legs. It is a very popular breed of sheepdog in France. A fantastic versatile, elegant, noble and faithful pet and companion animal. At Petlifey, we explain everything about the Beauceron or Beauce Shepherd.
Characteristics of the Beauceron breed
This breed was developed in the plains of central France, between the valleys of the Loire and the Seine.
Originally it was a large and strong shepherd dog, capable of leading herds over long distances, but it has adapted to modern times until it has become an extraordinary versatile, faithful, noble and elegant companion dog.
Nowadays it is easy to find beaucerones doing different jobs of social relevance, from guarding and defense to guiding the blind, and assisting people with a disability.
Its popularity has not stopped growing and it has been a long time since it stopped being a stranger beyond its traditional borders.
We are going to know in detail its physical characteristics and its character.
Physical characteristics of the Beauce Shepherd
- General appearance: It is a large, solid, powerful and muscular dog, but elegant. Solid, powerful, rustic, it is a well-built and muscular dog, without giving the appearance of heaviness.
- Size: Very large.
- Height at the withers : 65-70 cm (Male) and 61-68 cm (Female).
- Weight: 30-38 kg (Male) and 25-30 kg (Female).
- Body: It is a dog with a rectangular, solid and harmonious structure, and a height at the withers of about 67 cm in males and about 64 cm in females. The head is long, almost half the height at the withers, and the skull and muzzle are approximately the same.
- Head: Well molded, long, has harmonious lines and a slightly rounded skull, it has a slightly pronounced stop. Viewed in profile, the lines of the skull and the muzzle are parallel.
- Skull: Flat or slightly rounded, it has a slightly pronounced middle groove and an apparent occipital crest in the highest part of the skull.
- Muzzle: It is neither narrow nor pointed, and it has firm and well pigmented lips. The upper lip covers the lower lip without sagging and the corners form a slight pocket beginning that remains closed.
- Nose: In proportion to the muzzle, it is well developed, never split and is black.
- Eyes : Set horizontally, somewhat oval and dark brown in color. However, in the harlequin variety there may be specimens with different eyes. The iris is dark brown or dark hazel in color.
- Ears: They are high, flat and rather short. The dog wears them semi-erect or hanging. They are not usually flattened against the cheeks, they are flat, rather short, and are about half the length of the head.
- Nose-frontal depression (stop): Not very pronounced.
- Jaws: The jaws are strong and developed, with teeth well set in the dental arch. The teeth are healthy and complete with a scissor bite.
- Neck: It is very muscular and long, and is harmoniously attached to the shoulders, without forming a dewlap.
- Body: It is a harmoniously built dog; the length of the body from the shoulder to the point of the rump is greater than the height at the withers.
- Back: It is straight, with a short, broad and very muscular back. The croup is slightly sloping and the withers are well marked.
- Chest: Down to the tip of the elbow; it is wide, tall and long.
- Forelimbs: They are well poised, seen from the front and in profile. The shoulders are oblique and moderately long. The forearms and arms are muscular.
- Hind limbs: Also very poised, seen from the front and in profile. On its legs the thighs are strong, muscular and almost vertical. The hocks are strong and do not descend very close to the ground.
- Feet: They are strong and round, they are compact feet. The posterior ones have a double spur, which they traditionally keep, forming well-separated fingers, with nails perfectly adhered to the foot.
- Tail: Set low, descending straight at least to the point of the hock and forming a slight “J” hook. When the dog is in motion, the tail can rise to the highest part of the rump. Traditionally it is not cut.
- Skin: It is loosely fitted, without forming folds.
- Hair: The fur on the head is very short, and on the body it is strong, short, thick, dense and smooth, with a length of about 3 or 4 cm. and double layer. Instead, the buttocks and the lower part of the tail are provided with some fringes. The undercoat is fine, dense and velvety, almost always grey in color. The hairs are so close together that they cannot be seen through the top layer hair.
- Color: The specimens may have different colors Black and tan (black with fawn markings). The extremities are very intense red and the tan markings are distributed over the eyes (round markings), on both sides of the muzzle, on the cheeks, without ever reaching the lower part of the ear, on the sill (two spots) , in the throat, in the lower part of the tail and on the extremities, gradually being lost as they rise.
- Harlequin (blue blackbird marked fawn). Gray, black and tan. The coat is black and tan in equal parts, since the spots are well distributed, although sometimes there is more black than gray. Tan stains occupy the same place as in the black and tan variety.
- Movement: The advance is elastic and loose. The dog walks with well aligned limbs and is characterized by a long, wide trot.
Character of the Beauce Shepherd
What character is the shepherd of Beauce ? Well, the most appropriate word to speak of the character of the beauceron is versatility.
From the beginning, the most common use of this dog has been to guard and herd herds, especially sheep, but also cows.
The breed has a natural ability to learn and carry out a wide variety of orders without hesitation, with courage and determination, which made it widely used by the French army during both world wars.
However, the adaptability of the beauceron and the combination of strength and intelligence that characterize it have meant that, over time, it has been gaining adherents as a guard and protection dog, as well as as a perfect family companion.
The beauceron has proven its worth at the highest level as a shepherd dog, but it is also perfectly comfortable doing activities as diverse as therapy dog, thanks to its temperance and security (it is, in addition, very tolerant of children and the elderly, with whom it is both loving and protective ).
Guard and defense dog, because its physical strength is joined by an undeniable courage that, in the time of its ancestors, allowed it to face wolves and other predators in defense of the herds.
In sports work, such as agility and shooting, where it is no less excellent, as it is not only a brave dog, it is also strong and fast and shows an extraordinary capacity for learning.
Finally, it stands out among its peers in tracking and detecting drugs and explosives, thanks to its great memory and powerful smell.
Another word that is constantly linked to the breed is “rustic”. As such, it is understood that it is a natural, frank and noble dog, which does not show recesses in its temperament or special complications.
It never behaves with a fold or sibylline way, but always goes face-to-face and shows its presence unambiguously, which makes it very useful as a deterrent dog, but somewhat less as a vigilante, since it does not usually act by surprise.
- Energy: High level. It is a very active dog that needs regular exercise
- Temperament: They have a sensible and daring demeanour, they are accessible and courageous, with frank expression, never aggressive, fearful or restless. Accessible, frank, bold, brave and lacking in aggressiveness.
- Adaptability: Very high. Very suitable for life in the city.
- Sociability: Very high. It is a good companion dog. It obeys a single master if it guides them with a firm hand, but it needs constant contact with the members of the family it lives with. It is good with children and affectionate with the elderly.
- Health: Good. It is not prone to inherited diseases.
- Longevity: Low. It can live between 8 and 10 years on average in good condition.
- Utility: Very versatile. Due to its adaptable nature, it is a useful animal in many activities: shepherd dog, companion dog, tracking dog, explosives detection, assistance for the disabled, therapy dog, guard and defence dog, disaster rescue, shooting or agility.
- Utilization: Grazing and guarding.
- Other names: Beauceron / Berger de Beauce.
This breed has a haughty and natural appeal that grabs attention when it enters the scene anywhere. Large, strong and traditionally with the ears cropped and erect, it is the living stamp of the courage and it seems to understand that the same admiration that awakens in the people who contemplate it turns into fear in their enemies or in the enemies of the animals or goods that it protects.
This natural essence of the breed and its temperament reaches even the modern and more sophisticated scene of dog shows, where the beauceron is displayed in a relaxed way, with the loose strap and without forcing any type of pose.
In this sense, the long sessions of trotting movement that the judges demand of the specimens of the race that compete also attract the attention of the fans.
The “beauceron trot ” is a very characteristic movement. In which there is a hyperextension of the extremities, coupling the body to a comfortable displacement by lowering the dorsal line a little. So you can move as fast as possible, but without being subjected to the stresses of the gallop.
The reason for this need to perform the movement intensively is very simple. The beauceron worked with cattle on huge areas of land, unlike other shepherd dogs, which carry out their work in confined spaces, and had to be able to move daily long distances, with lines that often covered more than 50 km.
This need to combine strength and mobility, power and resistance, are the fundamental reasons for the morphological evolution of the Beauce Shepherd.
Despite being defined, even in its original name, as a shepherd dog, it must be made clear that it is not an animal that is dedicated to moving the herd, helping to stable it or direct it and keep it under control at all times.
The beauceron feels a natural affinity with other animals, especially with livestock, which it tirelessly accompanies at all times and whom, rather than grazing, it protects from any possible external aggression.
Their job is, therefore, to guard and defend the herd, in the same way that most of the existing mastiff breeds in the world act, but with the difference that they maintain a calm attitude and watch from a position high predator intrusion, while the beauceron performs its work much more dynamically, actively controlling the terrain and herd.
Beauceron Education and Training
The intelligence of the Beauce Shepherd is manifested in the rapid understanding and learning of the wishes of its guide or master, as well as by its excellent memory and its ancestral instinct to guard the people, animals and property of its family.
Its main qualities are obedience, vigilance, calm, courage, toughness and patience. It is, without a doubt, one of the most intelligent canine breeds and both its expression and its temperament are a demonstration of these attributes.
After its apparent austerity, the beauceron is always ready to intervene, quickly and automatically, like a spring, in any situation. Therefore, it requires a trainer or educator who is calm and at least as tempered as it is, since it is able to discern when to take the initiative and obey the orders that are given and when to remain calm, even in situations more tense.
It possesses an extraordinary character and its value is only surpassed by its loyalty and the desire to please its owner to the extreme. But, even in the case of a rustic, brave and tough dog, it is also sensitive and needs a firm and delicate guiding hand at the same time, strong but fair.
The temperament of the Beauce Shepherd has an immediate and absolute reflection in its morphology. It is a large and strong dog, but it never gives the appearance of heaviness, on the contrary, the sensations it transmits are those of power combined with agility and courage, and of fierceness combined with nobility and goodness.
Despite its somewhat fierce appearance, the Beauceron is a tolerant dog by nature that does well within the family.
It can be totally trusted as a companion dog for children, and treats the weaker people with whom it relates with extreme sensitivity, as if it understands who only needs its company and who also requires its guardianship and protection.
In any case, as it is a large and powerful animal, its contact with children must always be supervised by an adult, in anticipation, essentially, of the treatment that children may give the beauceron and that it can become a source of conflict.
Despite its nobility, this is not a dog for just any owner. You need an owner who is disciplined and committed to its education, who has enough time to work and get to know this precious animal in depth.
It is not the best choice for a novice owner, as its intelligence can make them become a dominant dog if it sees the slightest loophole through which to impose its judgment.
The best way to educate a beauceron is with an iron fist in a silk glove, but always acting knowingly and consistently.
As with many working breeds, one of the fundamental aspects in the education and development of the beauceron is to subject it from an early age to an intense process of socialization.
It is important to educate the beauceron from a young age to make them understand that all members of the family are located above them in the family hierarchy, because, if not, it will only obey its direct master and will try to impose themselves on others.
It is not a noisy breed, but it is an animal of great strength and with an intimidating presence, so it should be used to all kinds of situations, noises, the presence of other people and animals, car traffic, etc.
If acquired as a puppy, these habits will help minimize the possible appearance of stress that could lead to undesirable hostile attitudes in the breed.
The beauceron tolerates the presence of strangers very well as long as it is in the company of its owner, but it is suspicious of them and keeps its distance.
This breed accepts other animals, even other dogs, without problems and does not show symptoms of excessive territoriality, like other herding breeds.
Feeding the Beauceron
A fundamental pillar to be able to enjoy a healthy Beauce Shepherd for many years is food. In the market you can find a wide variety of diets adapted to all dogs. Some are even designed specifically for working breeds.
When choosing the most suitable food for the beauceron, it must be taken into account that it is a large and active animal, with high energy needs, so it would be ideal to emphasize the quality of the “noble” elements of the diet sources of protein and fats, fundamentally.
The contribution of fatty acids is also essential to maintain the structure and characteristic nature of the Beauce shepherd’s hair.
The coat is the first barrier that the breed has to stop the aggression of the adversities of the climate, but it also represents the only protection that the most extensive organ of the beauceron has: its skin.
Another alternative to feed this breed is to choose a diet based on the use of raw food, especially meat and offal, with the addition of some noble grains, such as rice.
If it is complemented with an adequate amount of vegetables and oils, this type of diet is perfect, since the contribution of nutrients and vitamins from fresh foods of which the origin and quality is known is guaranteed .
The problem is that, in addition to the fact that not everyone knows how to design a balanced diet, the fact of supplying this type of diet multiplies the need for time and dedication to the task and considerably reduces the operability provided by the use of a dry and healthy food. full.
In any case, this is an option that exists, which can be excellent and which, ultimately, is left to the choice of the owner of the animal.
Caring for the Beauce Shepherd
The Beauce Shepherd’s coat is short and double, with a dense protective undercoat and a strong textured, waterproof outer coat. This is due to the high presence of natural oils in the skin and hair of this breed.
Despite this, this dog gives off very little body odour, so it only needs to be bathed when it is really dirty. For all this, the care of the coat is quite simple.
The mentioned natural oils act as a protective barrier, water repellants and activators of thermal insulation, ideal for both winter and summer.
Instead, these oils are also the cause of a greater attraction of dust and dirt, which remain impregnated in the hair.
Even so, the frequency of the bath should not be more than once a month, because, otherwise, these natural oils would be lost, causing a worsening of the state of the hair and, especially, of the skin.
The beauceron has a little intense, but very extensive molt; in fact, you are shedding hair most of the year, so you will benefit greatly from a regular and consistent brushing routine .
As it has a double coat, it is recommended to first work the undercoat with the help of a king coat or a rake, which will help to eliminate dead hair, and then use a metallic card for the covering layer.
Brushing can be finished by passing a horsehair glove, or a chamois, which will help to extract all the shine of the natural oils from the coat. However, despite the fact that the breed has a continuous molt, one or two much more intense seasonal molts can occur throughout the year.
In these circumstances, a bath is also useful to speed up the process and, in addition to brushing, to remove a large amount of dead hair, a high-powered air dryer can be used.
One of the hallmarks of this breed is the double spur on its hind legs. This means that when cutting the nails you should have four more than normal.
Beauce Shepherd’s Health
It is well known that, in the wild, canids eat meat, offal and bones. This, apart from feeding them, helps them to maintain proper dental hygiene, since by gnawing the bones, the accumulations of tartar disappear from the teeth.
With domestic dogs, commercial diets do not produce the same effect, so it is necessary to include a periodic dental check-up in the hygiene and health routines.
Also, the logical intervention of the veterinarian, when necessary, to remove said tartar and ensure that the beauceron maintains a complete and perfect denture for as long a period of time as possible.
In fact, the mouth can be the source of many health problems, so it should not be thought that controlling the teeth of the beauceron is an eccentricity.
You can also help keep the mouth in good condition by providing the dog with some special type of gnaw toy that acts as a makeshift bone.
Under normal conditions, a beauceron has a life expectancy of between 8 and 10 years, although there are many cases of older dogs, especially since they are not subjected to the continuous stresses of life in the open air and work as a guardian and protector of livestock.
It often happens that, when it exceeds these ages, the Beauce Shepherd maintains the poise and energy of adulthood. However, as always when it comes to a large breed, it is necessary to monitor the appearance of joint conditions typical of age, and to emphasize the need to breed exclusively with healthy dogs.
The beauceron must follow a vaccination and deworming program prescribed by its veterinarian, like the rest of the breeds.
In addition, it is convenient that this program is strictly adhered to, especially in the case of dogs that work in the fields and live with other animals, including rodents, vermin and some birds that can carry diseases.
Owning a beauceron is always rewarding. Full of vital force, noble, with well sculpted lines, the Beauce Shepherd is a force of nature, an animal capable of worshiping its master with all the intensity of its passionate and faithful character.