Beauceron Temperament

“Rustic” is word you will hear Beauceron fanciers use.  Rustic is defined as rural, simple, or plain, in other words – no frills. When a Beauceron walks into a room, it commands attention; a large dog, not too sleek, ears erect, eyes bright, almost wolf like.

Part of the rustic scene with the Beauceron owners is the way they show their dogs.  There is no stacking in the ring, and the dogs are shown on a loose lead.  Beauceron handlers are often asked to trot their dogs for extended periods of time in the show ring.  Why extended trotting sessions?  In its rustic setting as a herder, the Beauceron was, and is required to move to 30 miles a day, acting as a “living fence” around a flock, or herd.

The “Beauceron trot” is an extension of the normal trot in which the dog’s back becomes lower, its legs extend, and the feet barely skim the ground.  If in the show ring two Beaucerons are tied structurally, the first place dog will be the animal who is judged to hold and have the best “Beauceron trot.”

Beaucerons go through a unique process in reaching breed goals. This process begins when the dog is at least one  year old, and is presented to more than one judge at a Journee du Beauceron (“day of the Beauceron”); this is the equivalent to a Regional show in France. At the Journee, the dog is first measured with a “toise”, an instrument that takes extremely accurate measurements at specific points on a dog’s body. The Beauceron’s measurements are recorded, and the dog moves on to the next station. Here the animal goes “one on one” with a very experienced judge, who examines the dog meticulously and checks its movement.  At this juncture, the judge is insuring the Beauceron meets the standard.

The Beauceron and its handler then move on to the next station: Temperament Testing.  An experienced working dog judge who is well versed in reading dogs’ body language will fire shots, threaten the dog with a baton, and observe the dog’s interaction with the judge and its handler.

The Beaucerons to this point have been measured, judged to insure they meet the standard, and have been temperament tested.  During the judging and testing the dogs have been rated insufficient, good, very good, or excellent.

Only dogs rated excellent in conformation, and temperament move on to the final step, that of competing in various classes i.e. young male, working dog, open male, open female etc. All Beaucerons in this phase are rated against the standard, and as mentioned before are trotted for an extended period of time.

The dog most exemplifying the standard and with the best trot wins!  All Beaucerons entering this final ring phase are awarded a Cotation 3.

So You Think You Want A Beauceron

The Beauceron is a wonderful and versatile breed. Before deciding whether the Beauceron is  the right breed for you, take the time to meet some dogs and speak to their owners. One way to learn about the breed is to join the American Beauceron Club (AKC parent club), which provides members the opportunity to meet and discuss the breed with fellow Beauceron owners and fanciers from across the country.

The ABC holds a yearly Journee du Beauceron (“Day of The Beauceron”). This French style dog show, exclusively for Beaucerons, is held at various locations each year. At the Journee, Beaucerons are rated and critiqued on their structure and temperament by expert French judges. Attending a Journee will give you the opportunity to meet many Beaucerons and  help you decide if this is the right breed for you.

If you cannot attend the Journee, learn about the breed by talking with as many breeders and owners as you can. Be sure to meet Beaucerons of various ages to get an overall sense of the breed as well as the energy levels of both young and mature Beaucerons.

Although they are obedient and relatively easy to train, the Beauceron requires an experienced, dedicated and active owner. They can  be overwhelming for a novice owner.. Beaucerons have strong personalities and a need for both physical exercise and mental stimulation. Under-stimulated dogs can become destructive as well as difficult to handle, and may exercise their frustrations on you or your home. The decision to add a Beauceron to your household should be well thought out and agreed to by every family member.

Health Concerns in Beaucerons

No breed is completely without health problems. Ask the breeder what health testing they have done on the sire and dam and if they are aware of any health issues in their lines (parents, grandparents and great-grandparents). Even among the most responsible breeders, health issues may arise. How a breeder responds to such problems is a more accurate indication of how reputable the breeder is.

A few health issues to be aware of include:

Canine hip dysplasia (CHD)
The primary abnormality in canine hip dysplasia is varying degrees of hip joint laxity, (looseness of hip joint), subluxation (partial dislocation of the hip joint), and severe arthritic change (a degenerative condition).

Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM)
A disease of the heart muscle which causes the heart to enlarge and not function properly. Typically, both the ventricle (lower chamber) and  the atria (upper chamber) enlarge and the ventricle loses its ability to contract and pump blood out to the body or the lungs.

Eye Problems
There is a range of eye problems that can affect dogs. A yearly ophthalmologic examination by a certified veterinarian eye specialist is recommended for all breeds of dogs.

Allergies
Allergies can be either food-based or environmental. The most common food allergens are beef and milk products, cereals (wheat, corn, soy), chicken and eggs.

Gastric Dilation and Bloat
This condition occurs mostly in large breed dogs with deep chest cavities. Gas in the stomach causes it to swell. In some cases, the stomach rotates on its axis (known as torsion), closing off both ends of it. This condition can be life threatening to the dog if not treated immediately, usually through surgical intervention.

Osteochondrosis Desiccans (OCD)
OCD is a hereditary disease due to a defect in the cartilage overlying the head of one of the long bones. It is usually found in the shoulder or elbow joints and rarely affects the hocks or stifles. The condition is characterized by cracks and flaps in articular cartilage, which cause inflammation, joint instability, pain, lameness, and degenerative joint disease.

The Beauceron

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.

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 for 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.

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.

GIF
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 competition partner.

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.

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.

History of the Beauceron

GIF
The Beauceron is the largest of the French sheepdogs. Though almost unknown outside of France, the Beauceron has a long history. It is a very old breed developed solely in France with no foreign crosses. It is thought that a passage in a manuscript, written in 1587, is the first specific mention of a dog of the Beauceron’s description.

The Beauceron was a general-purpose dog. Worked and selected for a very long time, the Beauceron was used to drive and protect the herd (Sheep or Cattle), guard the house, and defend the family. Originating in the plains region surrounding Paris known as La Beauce, the Beauceron is also known as Berger de Beauce (Shepherd of the Beauce) or Bas Rouge (Red Stockings). The Beauceron is closely related to its longhaired cousin, the Briard or Berger de Brie.

In 1809, a priest, Abe Rosier, wrote an article on these French herding dogs.  It was he who first described the differences in type and used the terms Berger de la Brie and Berger de la Beauce.

In 1809, a priest, Abe Rosier, wrote an article on these French herding dogs.  It was he who first described the differences in type and used the terms Berger de la Brie and Berger de la Beauce.

The Society Central Canine was founded in 1882, and it registered in the Livres Origines Francais (LOF) the first ‘Berger de Beauce’ in September 1893. Bergere de la Chapelle, born in 1891 obtained the title of Champion of Beauty. Toward the end of the 1800s, M. Paul Mégnin differentiated between the Shepherd of the Brie and the Shepherd of Beauce. Assisted by M. Emmanuel Ball, M. Paul Megnin started to define the standard of the breed. In 1922, the Club des Amis du Beauceron was formed under the guidance of the respected M. Paul Megnin.

The French army also used the Beauceron. Their ability to follow commands without hesitation was well utilized during both wars in Europe, where the military used them on the front lines to run messages. Beaucerons were also used to pick up trails, detect mines and support commando activity. Today Beaucerons are still used as military dogs as well as police dogs.

In the 1960s the Ministry for Agriculture required that the S.C.C. create a confirmation examination with the goal of preserving the qualities of the ancient sheepdogs. There were concerns that because of the demands of modern day life, the Beauceron breed could well disappear. Fortunately, the adaptable Beauceron found work in protecting the home and family of his master, despite the disappearing flocks.

GIF
The last modification to the French standard for the Beauceron was in 2006 and has been applied since November 9th, 2006. The minimum 5 year wait period made it possible for the breeders to adapt their breeding stock to the new standard. This is only the 6th time the standard has changed in 100 years.

Since the Sixties, the Beauceron’s popularity has grown in France. But it wasn’t until recently that the breed has become known outside of France. The Beauceron is gaining in popularity in many different countries, including here in the United States. Here he has attracted much attention due to his appearance and temperament.

The French writer Colette was a devotee of the breed and labeled the Beauceron “the country gentleman”. He 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.”

Due to its great versatility, Beaucerons are utilized in a variety of areas. They are an eager and willing worker, whose intelligence and obedience, make them an extremely versatile and superior working dog. Today’s Beauceron is being used much in the same fashion as the German Shepherd dog in this country. While still tending sheep and cattle, the Beauceron is utilized for military and police work, Search & Rescue, handicapped assistance work, canine sports such as Agility, French Ring, Schutzhund, Obedience, Tracking, Skijoring, and of course as a family companion.

 

© Copyright 2014 American Beauceron Club. All Rights Reserved

The Country Gentleman (AKC Gazette)

For many past and present, to Beauceron authorities and fanciers, the words “Country Gentleman” have summed up the essence of the breed.  Many have indeed noticed the strong and noble carriage of the Beauceron.  Many have experienced the qualities, which earned him this epithet – his dignity, loyalty, work ethic and stoicism.

Today, I want to focus on a trait that may be disconcerting to some.  I am alluding to the gentlemanly aloofness Beaucerons can display.  It has nothing to do with being timid and insecure, yet, it is often thought of as such.

A Beauceron is primarily a working dog.  Being a shepherd, he focuses on his surroundings with an alert and watchful attitude.  He will respond with great seriousness and dedication to what needs to be done out there.  Drive, courage, steadiness and intelligence will come into play when a task is at hand.  However, the same Beauceron can display a reserved demeanor and manifest a total lack of interest in being a social, outgoing dog.  He will be polite, acknowledge the presence of a stranger with calm.  He will accept with detachment or indifference the attention that comes from unknown parties, but it does not necessarily mean he enjoys the spotlight.  In his mind, he has better things to do than to respond to the fuss lavished on him.

I have witnessed a visiting stranger jump out of a jeep, bend over a large Beauceron male that had come over to greet him, and slap him hard on both sides of his chest.  This dog did not respond in an aggressive way, he simply took one hard look at the man, walked away a few steps and never let his eyes off this “rude human.”  The dog followed his every move closely, ever so watchful. Was he timid? No!  He was vigilant, at the ready, and he clearly showed he was not interested in such familiarity.

Beauceron owners are encouraged to socialize their dogs extensively.  However, their dogs may still embarrass them by being aloof and seemingly antisocial.  Some Beaucerons have been labeled timid because they object to being touched by strangers; some may get tense; others may recoil or turn their heads away.  Who says that one has to pet dogs that you meet?  There are many ways to interact with strange dogs of any breed without having to touch them and push yourself onto them.

The serious minded Beauceron is perfectly content to be a polite, civilized companion, accepting of total strangers, as long as he is treated like the gentleman he is.

The above was originally published in the AKC GAZETTE, June 2009, and is reprinted with permission.  The author, Claudia Batson, is the AKC Gazette columnist for the American Beauceron Club. 

French Dog Ratings

Some of our members subscribe to the Bas Rouge and as they read the show results. They may wonder about the numbers sometimes added to the dogs’ names.  These numbers are ratings, on a scale of 1 to 6, with 6 being the highest rating a dog can earn.



0:
Dog is registered on L.O.F. and not yet confirmed.

1: Confirm or confirmed: is given to a dog that has passed confirmation.  Confirmation is the first evaluation a dog is given, at a year of age at the earliest.  At that time, the dog only has a Certificat de naissance, he will be issued a final pedigree that will allow the animal to be bred if he is deemed conform to the standard and shows a stable temperament.

Several faults will prevent the dog to be confirmed:

  • Lack of type
  • Size above or under the limits of the standard
  • Insufficient build and structure making the dog unable to work cowhocked hindlegs with an angle over 150 degrees tail curled up on back lack of double dewclaws
  • Color and texture of coat not conform to the standard white spot on chest superior in size to 5 square cms very light eyes monorchid, croptorchid prognathism with loss of contact
  • Absence of three teeth or more (except for pm1) dog very aggressive or very timid

2: Premier choix or First choice: goes to a dog that has been confirmed and has earned an excellent in temperament test.  The dog must have received a Très Bon (very good) or an Excellent in conformation.

3: Excellent.  The dog earned an excellent both in conformation and in temperament in a National Specialty Show.

4: Recommended on the appearance.  The dog has been selected among the best dogs rated excellent (3) in a National Specialty Show and has also been rated A (free of dysplasia), see the caption dys. A on recent pedigrees.

5: Elite B.  Recommended on the progeny. The dog is not rated 4 but is free of hip dysplasia and is rated for the quality of its progeny, see explanation that follows “6 – Elite A”.

6: Elite A.  Recommended on the progeny. The dog is rated 4 (on his own quality) and also on the quality of its progeny.

  • The male’s progeny is evaluated on animals produced out of a minimum of 2 females and a maximum of 5 females.  His progeny must include a minimum of 8 dogs of high quality:  2 rated Cot. 4 (recommandé) and 6 rated Cot. 3 – Excellent
  • The female progeny is evaluated on 5 offspring with a minimum of 2 rated 4 (recommandé) and 3 rated Cot. 3 – Excellent

N.B.: The above ratings do not apply to animals that are registered with no known background.  Such dogs can only receive the rating 1 (confirmed) and the rating 5 if their progeny has proved to be of the quality described above.

Cotation 2: Premier Choix dogs must be dysplasia free.

 

© 2005 C. Batson. Used with permission.

French Show Ratings

Only the rating counts.  Whether the dog is placed second or fourth, if he/she has obtained the rating excellent, he/she is very close in quality to the dog placed first and is of far superior quality to the first dog rated Very Good.

Excellent: Must only be awarded to a dog that is extremely close to the standard of the breed, that is in perfect condition, thus presenting a harmonious and balanced image, a dog that has “class” and splendid presentation.  The overall superiority of his/her qualities will rule out minor faults. He/she will be representative of his/her sex. 

 Très Bon (Very Good): will be given to a typey dog, well proportioned, in good physical condition.  Some small faults -however not major conformational- will be tolerated.  This rating only applies to a dog of quality worthy of being used for breeding.

Bon (Good): must be given to a dog possessing the characteristics of the breed, but that shows some faults i.e. eyes too light, provided that they are not disqualifying i.e. lack of dewclaws.

Assez Bon (Average): Is awarded to a dog sufficiently typey i.e. that can be recognized as a Beauceron but that does not show any outstanding quality and is not in good physical condition i.e. poor coat condition.  

The CAC (Certificat d’Aptitude au Championnat – Certificate of Aptitude to the Championship) can only be awarded to the dog placed first among the Excellent group, but this award is not automatically granted.  It is possible that the dog placed first can only be given the Excellent and nothing more.  The CAC is only awarded to the exceptional animal worthy of becoming a champion.

The title of Champion de Conformité au Standard (Champion of Conformity to the Standard) is awarded to dogs that have obtained all of the following distinctions:

  • The rating of 4 (see Beauceron Ratings in France)
  • The CACS (Certificat d’Aptitude de Conformité au Standard-Certificate of Aptitude of Conformity to the Standard) awarded at the National Specialty Show (Nationale d’élevage) or the Championship Show (championnat de France).
  • A CACS in an International Show where the CACIB (Certificat d’Aptitude au Championnat International de Beauté- Certificate of Aptitude to the Championship of International Beauty) is awarded.
  • A CACS in a National Show

The three CACS must have been earned under three different judges.

© 2005 C. Batson. Used with permission.

Pedigree Terms and Abbreviations

Elite A: The dog is rated 4 (Recommandé) and is rated for the quality of its progeny.

Elite B: The dog is not rated 4, but is rated on the quality of its progeny.

Recommandé or REC., COT. 4: The dog has earned a Cotation 4 at the Nationale d’Elevage, this entails earning an Exc. Plus in conformation, Exc. in temperament, and dys. A, dysplasia free rating).

Excellent: The dog has earned a Cotation 3 (Exc. in conformation, Exc. in temperament, and is rated dys. A).

CH T: Dog is a champion working dog.

CH B or CH.CS: (Champion conformité au standard). The dog is a breed Champion.

To be a Champion, the dog must earn a minimum of:

  • 2 CAC-IB
  • 1 CAC
  • These must occur under three different judges
  • One of the CAC has to have been won at either The Nationale d’Elevage (National Specialty Show) or The Paris Championship Show

IB: International Beauty.

Brevet, BR: Brevet de défense (French Ring level that allows the dog to continue to Ring I level).

RI, Ring I:    Dog is a Ring I.

RII, Ring II:  Dog is a Ring II.

RIII, Ring III: Dog is a Ring III.

RCI: Dog works in an event that includes Ring and Tracking.

PIS (Pistage): Titled Tracking dog.

BREV-MOUTONS (Brevet Moutons): Herding dog titled on sheep.

DYS A, DYS G: The dog is dysplasia free.

 

This Glossary of Terms and Abbreviations Used in Pedigrees  is
(c) 2005 C. Batson, Kennel du Berger Noir, and is used with permission.

France’s “Country Gentleman” (Dog Fancy)

Scene 1: The International Dog Show in Marseille, France. Four dogs, tense, alert, at their masters’ knees: two German Shepherds, an Airedale, a Beauceron. Padded men approach, menacing, swinging their clubs high, and the order is given: “Attack!” In a flash, the Beauceron lunges and fixes his jaws on the assailant’s arm, while the other dogs are still taking off.

Scene 2: The Beauceron ring at the same show. Off to the side, two massive adult males roll around, playing like puppies. Nearby, a 10-year-old girl pets and scratches another Beauceron that she holds on a loose leash. In the ring, a 70-pound female gently places her paws on the shoulders of her 12-year-old owner and licks her face.

With these images, you have the essence of the Beauceron: enormous physical strength coupled with a profound strength of character.

AN EXTRAORDINARY CHARACTER

Madame Vizzari, a breeder of Beaucerons in southern France, got started with the breed by chance. She rescued a Beauceron pup, raised it, fell in love, and has since raised dozens of Beaucerons.

Apparently, it is not uncommon for a Beauceron to win over an owner by its extraordinary character. “I got a Beauceron by accident,” a woman told me. “I was never really attracted to the breed. You look at it, it’s a dog. I mean, they’re good looking, but for me, nothing really special. Someone gave me one though, and he was so wonderful, so intelligent, and so good with the children, that when he died, I got another Beauceron. Same thing happened to my brother,” she went on. “I left my dog with him for two weeks. After I picked up my dog, he went out and bought a Beauceron of his own.”

Madame Vizzari agrees with the woman’s assessment of the Beauceron’s character but not that of its looks. “Noble,” she describes it, “but much more.”

When people first see a Beauce, they are afraid,” she said. “The massive head and jaw, the dark coat, the direct, frank, unwavering look. People assume the dog is mean. That is what makes the Beauce so, how shall I say? Dissuasive. That is the best word. Dissuasive. You don’t just walk up and pet one.”

Its character, though, is anything but mean. The French writer Colette was a devotee of the breed and labeled the Beauceron “the country gentleman.” The dogs are rugged and rustic looking, yet gentle and loyal, proud, serious and steady in their mission of protection and devotion.

“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’re quiet, and bark only to threaten, alert, or warn. . . . They have a dimension, a depth, I have not found in other dogs.”

But because of its intelligence, independence and sensitivity, the Beauceron is not a breed for the novice dog owner. According to Sue Bulanda, secretary of the North American Beauceron Club, the Beauceron is a high-energy working dog that is not suitable for an apartment or a kennel situation. The dogs do not tolerate harsh treatment from adults, and mishandling could lead to a dangerous situation, she says. Nor are the dogs suitable for a family in which everyone is gone during the day. Bulanda says Beaucerons are very sociable and don’t like being left behind.

BREED HISTORY

“The Beauceron is pure, ancient, French,” Mr. Vizzari told me. “It was formerly known as the Chien de Tourbieres. then the Bas-Rouge [because of the red, stocking-like markings on its legs]. At the first dog show in Paris in 1863. It was there as the Berger de Beauce [shepherd of the Beauce region]. It has never been crossed with anything.

“Originally, the dog worked sheep. The dog traveled 60 to 90 miles each day, trotting most of the way. He guided the sheep during long cross-country treks, and at the same time, guarded them from bears and wolves. Most sheep dogs are either guides or guards; the Beauce did both.” The Beauceron’s talents are not limited to the farm and field. In both world wars, the dogs served as ambulance, messenger and sentry dogs.

Sheep farmers no longer need dogs to guard against bears and wolves, but the Beauceron has in no way outlived its usefulness. Shepherds still use them, to be sure, but by far their biggest role now is guarding people, not sheep, and most Beauceron buyers acquire them as family guard dogs.

SIZE AND CONFORMATION

Weighing only a pound at birth, Beaucerons reach 45 to 50 pounds at 6 months and become a block of 90 to 110 pounds of muscle as adults. Males stand 25/ inches to 27/2 inches at the withers; females, 24% inches to 26% inches. The Beauceron should move with a long, ground-covering stride. It is a sleek, agile dog, able to turn on a dime.

The short, smooth coat is typically noir etfeu (black and fire), but a harlequin of reddish brown, gray and black also occurs. Though ears are usually cropped, it is not mandatory for showing, and dogs with uncropped ears are not penalized. [Cropping requirements vary from country to country.—Ed.] Shepherds originally cropped the ears of the Beauceron to avoid problems with bites from other dogs or tears from brambles.

Like its relative the Briard, another French herding breed, the Beauceron must have dewclaws: single dewclaws on the front legs and double dewclaws on the hind legs.

STRICT STANDARDS

The Vizzari’s dogs are first registered with the French equivalent of the American Kennel Club: the Societe Centrale de Canine. At 12 months, the dogs are judged for conformation to get their permanent pedigree. Beyond that, they can achieve higher rankings by going through levels of character and conformation judging. Proof of absence of hip dysplasia is also required.

In the character tests, judges look for gentleness and sociability. The judge must be able to handle a dog’s ears, feet and legs with no sign of protest from the dog. The dog is then walked on a long, loose leash. The judge suddenly fires a gun and the dog must show no fear. Finally, the judge threatens the dog with a stick. The dog can look menacing, curious or even bored, but it may not take a step back or show timidity in any way. When a dog ranks highest in a difficult series of these tests, it is classified as Elite A.

The breed is still somewhat rare, and little known outside of France. Bulanda estimates that there are fewer than 200 in the United States. “You do not see it on every street corner, and I would not want it to become that way,” Madame Vizzari said. “He has to stay mysterious, special, loved for his qualities, not popularized because of some fashion.

“I would be happy to have the Beauceron known in America,” she went on. “The Beauceron is what I think Americans are like: frank, open, honest and direct.

“They have all the qualities you look for in a dog: protection, company, sociability, gentleness, willingness, passion. “Perhaps it is the heart that is speaking,” she said, smiling at herself, “but I think not. C’est une race merveilleuse. It is a wonderful breed.”

Claudia Weisburd has written many articles about dogs and other animals. She lives in Ithaca, New York, and travels to France whenever she can.

The following article was originally published in the August 1993 issue of Dog Fancy. It is presented unchanged, although for copyright purposes, the photographs that original accompanied the article have been omitted.