PetMD Editorial
By PetMD Editorial on May 14, 2009

An old breed of herding dog developed solely in France with no foreign crosses, the Beauceron is known for its ability to herd and guard large flocks of sheep, as well as for being able to move the flock up to 50 miles per day without showing signs of exhaustion.

Physical Characteristics

The Beauceron is a powerful dog with a sturdy physique, enabling it to work for long hours at a time. One of its distinct physical features is the presence of double dewclaws on the hind legs, which is normally seen in French herding and flock dogs. When it moves, the head remains down at the back level instead of being held high -- a feature common in herding breeds.

The Beauceron also has strong jaws and a body that moves quickly. Its gait is ground-covering and easy. In addition, its coat (consisting of a dense undercoat and a coarse, straight, average length outer coat) is waterproof and black, tan, or harlequin in color.

Personality and Temperament

The Beauceron is bold yet gentle and highly intelligent. Although loving with children, the Beauceron is a bit wary of strangers and other dogs. The breed, in fact, does not get along well with most pets. One of its distinguishing characteristics is that the Beauceron can very easily memorize tasks, making it a loyal and competent companion.


The Beauceron loves spending time with its human family and performs best when kept inside the house with access to the outdoors. It is highly active and enthusiastic in nature. Exercise on a regular basis is essential, otherwise they tend to get bored and frustrated. But exercise does not mean only physical exercise, a great deal of mental exercise is also required to keep them absolutely fit and fine.


The Beauceron, which has a lifespan of 8 to 10 years, does not have any major health problems. It is, however, susceptible to some minor health concerns such as gastric torsion and canine hip dysplasia (CHD). Beaucerons, therefore, should be taken to the veterinarian for regular hip exams.

History and Background

The Beauceron is a superb herding breed that is very obedient and excellent at tracking. It is the biggest of the French sheepdogs and is well-known for its obedience. As for the history of the Beauceron, it is a purely French breed whose origin dates back to the late 16th century on the plains of Paris, called La Beauce. First used as a farm dog for protecting cattle and sheep, the Beauceron was separated into two working types in 1863: the guard dog and plains flock herder. The long-coated variety were known as Berger de Brie (or Briard) and the short-coated type came to be identified as Berger de Beauce (or Beauceron).

The first Berger de Beauce was enrolled by the Société Centrale Canine in 1893. It was in 1922 that the first club for this breed was established, but they were not that popular outside of France. Beaucerons were used by the French army during the First and the Second World War, and they continue to serve as police and military dogs, as well as guard dogs for families.

The popularity of the Beauceron began may have begun in France, but it later spread to other regions when an effort was made to preserve the qualities of the native breed in the 1960s. The Beauceron Club of America was established in 1980, and only recently received recognition by the American Kennel Club (as part of the Miscellaneous class in 2001).

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