The Beauceron, also known as Berger de Beauce and Bas Rouge,
is the largest of the French sheepdogs and was developed
solely in France with no foreign crosses. The Beauceron is
closely related to the longhaired Briard or Berger de Brie.
During the early part of the 19th century large
flocks of sheep were common and the Beauceron was
indispensable for the shepherds of France; two dogs were
sufficient to tend to flocks of 200 to 300 head of sheep.
Sheep production experienced a sharp decline during the
later half of the 19th century and by the second
half of the 20th century was only a phantom of
its past. With the decline in sheep and advent of
corralling them rather than moving them from graze to graze,
sheepdogs became for the most part obsolete. In an effort
to preserve and save the breed, the French breed club for
the Beauceron, Club Les Amis du Beauceron (CAB), promoted
the breed in other fields, specifically in the area of
protection of home and family. The breed served valiantly
during both World Wars as messenger and mine detection dogs
and has experienced a significant increase in popularity
post World War II.
Today, the breed is still utilized as a herding dog, working
both sheep and cattle, but is also used as a personal
protection dog, for tracking, police and military service
and Search and Rescue. Looking for a true athlete with a
steady disposition, uncanny ability to focus on the task at
hand, agility and obedience enthusiasts in Europe and in the
United States have successfully turned to the Beauceron as a
The Beauceron is a dog of substance, is an active and
serious working dog, with exceptional endurance, keen
intelligence and obedience. Loyal and strongly devoted to
his master, he is also a faithful family companion. Since
the Beauceron has a well developed guarding instinct and is
naturally distrusting of strangers, he lends himself well as
a protector of house and home. His build, bearing, frank
and unwavering expression demand respect wherever he goes.
Although easily trainable and obedient, the Beauceron is
not a dog for novice owners. These dogs have strong
personalities and coupled with a strong need for both
physical and mental outlets, this breed more often than not
requires an experienced, dedicated and active owner.
Under-stimulated dogs become difficult to live with and
destructive. The decision of adding a Beauceron to ones
household should be a well-contemplated one and although
puppies are not readily available it is advisable to remain
patient when selecting a breeder and puppy.
The first mention of a dog which matches the Beauceron’s
description is found in a manuscript dated 1587. In 1809
Abbé Rozier wrote an article on French herding dogs. It was
he who first described the differences in type and used the
terms Berger de la Brie
for long coated dogs and
Berger de la Beauce
short coated dogs. The name Beauceron was used for the
first time by Pierre Megnin in his 1888 book on war dogs and
the first Berger de Beauce was registered with the Societe
Central Canine in September 1893. The French Club Les Amis
du Beauceron (CAB), was founded in 1922 by Pierre Megnin and
he together with Emmanuel Boulet developed the original
breed standard for the Beauceron. The CAB has since guided
the development of the breed in its native
France, always keeping a watchful eye on the preservation of
the breed’s herding and working ability.
Today’s Beaucerons physically bear little resemblance to the
dogs of the late 19th century. The Beauceron of yesteryear
was more petit in its build, with a shorter, hard and close
lying outer coat. Next to black-and-rust and harlequins a
variety of coat colors existed, such as reds. Today’s
standard recognizes only black-and-tan and harlequin as coat
colors and the breed has added substance to its build.
Although heavier in build today, the breed remains a natural
athlete, without bulk or heaviness, moving effortlessly and
with a noble carriage.
The French writer Colette was a devotee of the breed and
labeled the Beauceron “the country gentleman”. She
described them as “affectionate, playful, superb with
children, absolutely and deeply attached to their masters.
But at the same time, there is something mysterious about a
Beauceron. They are like some people who don’t talk much
but have a strong presence. They have a dimension, a depth,
I have not found in other dogs.” This is the essence of the
Beauceron, then and now.