In France, the beaucerons are judged based on 2 separate exams. Morphology (conformation) and temperament. They must compete in both portions in order to move on to the overall show, and to receive cotation ratings through the French Beauceron Club. Each Beauceron must first receive an excellent temperament test rating before it can receive a conformation rating. A dog not receiving an excellent in temperament, cannot receive an overall evaluation of Excellent +. A dog without an overall rating of Excellent + is not considered for placements. An excellent rating means that they scored an excellent in each of the four portions of the temperament test.
France puts a lot of emphasis on temperament, and without a specific rating in France dogs are not to be bred. It is important that the temperament of the Beauceron be maintained, and carefully selected for.
“So how does the French temperament test work?”
“What are the four sections of the test?”
The evaluation of the dog’s temperament begins when the dog is walked into the temperament testing area, or ring. Upon entering, the judge places a special collar and lead on the dog and the judge has begins the evaluation of sociability of the dog, which is one of the four areas of evaluation. The handler and judge continue to check the dog in, by checking for a tattoo or microchip. Then the dog is lead to the center of the ring where the next phases of evaluation begins.
At no point in time is the owner allowed to give commands to the dog, or interfere with their behavior or reactions during the testing. They should remain on a loose lead in the ring at all times.
The second phase of the testing is the dog’s reaction to gunfire. The judge stands a certain distance from the dog and fires the gun. The judge is evaluating the initial reaction, as well as the recovery behaviors of the dog.
Next, the dog is evaluated by being threatened by a stick. The judge will approach the dog in a threatening manner while waving and tapping the stick. Again, the judge evaluates the initial reactions, and any recovery actions the dog might exhibit.
Lastly, the dog is scored on general behavior. This is evaluated the entire time the dog is in the ring, until the judge removes the special collar and lead at the end of the test.
“He is alert and energetic with a noble carriage. A formidable dog with a frank and unwavering expression, he always demands respect wherever he goes.” “The Beauceron should be discerning and confident. He is a dog with spirit and initiative, wise and fearless with no trace of timidity. Intelligent, easily trained, faithful, gentle and obedient. The Beauceron possesses an excellent memory and an ardent desire to please his master. He retains a high degree of his inherited instinct to guard home and master. Although he can be reserved with strangers, he is loving and loyal to those he knows. Some will display a certain independence. He should be easily approached without showing signs of fear.” –The AKC Written Standard
The written standard for the Beauceron has the exact short excerpt above to describe the Beauceron temperament. The American Beauceron Club, its members, and breeders should all strive to maintain not only health, structure and function of the Beauceron, but also correct temperaments.
Beaucerons should never be aggressive or fearful when presented to judges in the show ring. Recently there has been cases of questionable temperaments being awarded within the AKC show ring, and this is something we need to be very conscious of.
When judging Beaucerons it is important to not just consider structure and function but also temperament. The standard states, “Temperament: Frank approach and self-assured; never mean, timid, or worried. Although reserved with strangers, the character of the Beauceron should be gentle and fearless. Any display of fear or unjustifiable aggression is not to be tolerated.”
An incorrect temperament should be faulted. If there are 2 dogs of equal quality, the dog with the correct temperament shall be awarded the win. An incorrect temperament would be considered a severe fault.
In the case of puppies, it is always important to be patient. Beauceron puppies can sometimes be quite stubborn about showing their teeth, or a bit over exuberant and do not like to stand still. Again, they should never be fearful or aggressive, but remember to take your time and remain calm. Sometimes giving the puppy a moment to do something else, such as the down and back, might take their mind off the dental exam enough that they come back and perform it like a seasoned show dog.
Please also see the page discussing appropriate exam techniques and approaches.
“How should I judge the white spot? Is it the area created by fur or should I judge skin pigmentation?” I have been approached by several judges lately, who have voiced concerns about how they should evaluate white on the breed’s forechest. There has also been some social media discussion on the subject.
First, while white does not affect the dog’s ability to work, it should be noted that the Beauceron is genetically a black dog and white is the single most undesirable outcome – a lack of pigmentation. Some discreet white is generally permissible as there are varied reasons for why lack of pigmentation can occur. However, breeders should pay attention in their breeding stock, as the cause for prominent spots or patches is genetic and far more common in our breed than one should want; worse, the trait can express itself drastically from one generation to the next. Using hair dyes to hide such faults is neither permitted in the show ring nor does it aid in maintaining a quality breeding program.
What is too much? What amount of white is permissible?
The standard states: Disqualification: Any color other than Black and Tan or Harlequin. Complete absence of markings. Well-defined, quite visible white spot on the chest 1″ in diameter or larger.
When some white is present, the spot must remain discreet, and should be faulted with increasing prominence. White in the form of a spot is easily sized – if it fits under a US quarter coin it does not exceed the standard. However, we often see stripes running from the forechest to the sternum. A slender strip on the forechest – the width of a pencil or less – may be 3 inches long and still be considered discreet. Such marking is more obvious in a black and tan dog than a harlequin; however, both coat colors must be treated equally and judges should pay attention to it. Any white on the chest should be penalized. the thicker a stripe becomes the more (severely) it must be penalized, up to, and including, a disqualification (at 1” width).
When judging the Beauceron, presence of white must be considered when deciding between two dogs of equal quality and preference must be given to the dog with the least amount of white.
By Alain Thevenon,
Multiple French National Specialty CAB judge
The standard describes the distinctive features specific to the Beauceron. But one must be able to comprehend the “whole” dog because each individual trait put together does not constitute general breed type.
The Beauceron is a rustic breed, “in the raw” as you would say. He doesn’t require any care or grooming. A quick brushing session can be useful when the dog is shedding or if the dog got dirty.
The coat is a major characteristic. The cover must be dense. Undercoat must be easily visible on the shoulder or on the thigh for example. The coat is short but not “Doberman short” and it is neither fine nor soft. The markings are characteristic. The Beauceron is also named “Bas Rouge”. The length of the coat is clearly defined in the standard and the Beauceron must have fringes on both sides of the neck, on the back of the front legs, on the back of the thighs and under the tail. Thinking of a Beauceron without the required fringes would lead to a drift downward in the breed and encourage promoting and producing a dog whose appearance has lost its distinctive breed type.
I see pictures of cropped Beaucerons in countries where this practice is still allowed. I often deplore the many bad crops that are done on some of these dogs. So, for instance, if we combine flared-up ears [i.e. crops seen in Boxers and Dobermans] with a soft coat and an excessive size, you can only imagine what kind of dog this will be. Certainly not a Beauceron.
The Beauceron is not a gazelle. It is of a substantial size but not a giant. One must abide by the standard and be respectful of its definitions.
The movement is easy and natural. No need for exaggerated strides. The head is carried forward and must be accompanied by a good ground covering.
Regardless of the dog being static or in movement, the presentation must remain plain, simple and natural. The presentation of a dog stacked on his front with an exaggerated protruding elongated neck is not typical of this breed. One must imagine a working dog with a harmonious and plain silhouette.