The Breed Standard
General Appearance: The Beauceron is an old and distinct French breed of herding dog, developed solely in France with no foreign crosses. Dogs were bred and selected for their aptitude to herd and guard large flocks of sheep as well as for their structure and endurance. Beaucerons were used to move herds of 200 to 300 head traveling up to 50 miles per day without showing signs of exhaustion. The ideal Beauceron is a well balanced, solid dog of good height and well muscled without heaviness or coarseness. The whole conformation gives the impression of depth and solidity without bulkiness, exhibiting the strength, endurance and agility required of the herding dog. 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. Dogs are characteristically larger throughout with a larger frame and heavier bone than bitches. Bitches are distinctly feminine, but without weakness in substance or structure. 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.
Size, Proportion, Substance: Size - males 251⁄2 to 271⁄2 inches; bitches 24 to 261⁄2 inches at the withers. Disqualification - Height outside of maximum or minimum limits. Proportion - The Beauceron is medium in all its proportions, harmoniously built with none of its regions exaggerated in shortness or length. The length of body, measured from the point of the shoulder to the point of the buttock, is slightly greater than the height at the withers. Bitches can be slightly longer than dogs. Correct proportion is of primary importance, as long as size is within the standard's range. Substance - Powerful, well built, well muscled, without any sign of heaviness or clumsiness. Dogs lacking substance should be severely penalized.Head: The head is long, well chiseled with harmonious lines without weakness. The head must be in proportion with the body, measured from the tip of the nose to the occiput it is about 40 percent of the height at the withers. The height and width of the head are each slightly less than half its total length. The skull and muzzle are of equal length. Expression - The gaze is frank, alert, and confident. Eyes - The eyes are horizontal and slightly oval in shape. The eyes must be dark brown, never lighter than dark hazel. For the Harlequin, walleye is acceptable. Disqualifications - Yellow eyes. Walleye in the Black and Tan. Ears - The ears are set high, and may be cropped or natural. The cropped ear is carried upright and is neither convergent nor divergent, pointing slightly forward. The well-carried ear is one whose middle falls on an imaginary line in prolongation of the sides of the neck. The natural ears are half pricked or drop- ears, they stand off the cheeks. Natural ears are flat and rather short, their length is equal to half the length of the head. Disqualification - Natural ears carried upright and rigid. Skull - The skull is flat or slightly rounded near the sides of the head. The median groove is only slightly marked and the occipital protuberance can be seen on the summit of the skull. Stop - The stop is only slightly pronounced and equidistant from the occiput and the tip of the nose. Muzzle - The muzzle must not be narrow, pointed, or excessively broad in width. Planes - Seen in profile the top lines of the skull and muzzle are parallel, and the junction of the two forms a slightly pronounced stop midway between the occiput and the tip of the nose. Nose - The nose is proportionate to the muzzle, well developed and always black. In profile, the nose must be in line with the upper lip. Disqualifications - Split nose, nose color other than black or with unpigmented areas. Lips - The lips are firm and always well pigmented. The upper lip overlaps the lower lip without any looseness. At their juncture, the lips form very slight but firm flews. Teeth - A full complement of strong white teeth, evenly set, and meeting in a scissors bite. Disqualifications - Overshot or undershot with loss of contact; absence of three or more teeth (the first premolars not counting).
Neck, Topline and Body: Neck - The neck is muscular, of good length, united harmoniously with the shoulders, enabling the head to be carried proudly while standing in an alert posture. Topline - The back is straight and strong. The withers are well defined. The loin is broad, short and muscular. The croup is well muscled and slightly sloped in the direction of the attachment of the tail. Body - The length of the body from the point of the shoulder to the point of the buttock is slightly more than the height of the dog at the withers. Chest - The chest is wide, deep, long, and descends to the point of the elbow. The girth of the chest is greater than the height at the withers by more than 20 percent. Ribs - The ribcage extends well back with long, flexible, and moderately curved ribs. The abdomen is moderately drawn up but still presents good volume. Tail - The tail is strong at the base, carried down, descending at least to the point of the hock, forming into a slight J without deviating to the right or to the left. In action, the tail can be carried higher, becoming an extension of the topline. Disqualification - Docked tail, or tail carried over the back.
Forequarters: The construction of the forequarters is of the utmost importance, determining the dog's ability to work and his resistance to fatigue. The legs are vertical when viewed from the front or in profile. Shoulder - The shoulders are moderately long, muscular but not loaded, with good layback. Forearm - The forearms are muscular. Feet - The feet are large, round, and compact with black nails. The pads are firm yet supple.
Hindquarters: The angulation of the hindquarters is balanced with the forequarters. The hindquarters are powerful, providing flexible, almost tireless movement. They are vertical when viewed from profile and from behind. Legs - The thighs are wide and muscled. Hock joint is substantial, not too close to the ground, the point situated roughly at 1⁄4 the height at the withers, forming a well open angle with the second thigh. Metatarsals are upright, slightly further back than the point of the buttock. When viewed from behind, metatarsals are perpendicular to the ground and parallel to each other. Feet - The feet are large, round, compact, and the rear toes turn out very slightly. Dewclaws - Double dewclaws form well separated "thumbs" with nails, placed rather close to the foot. Disqualification - Anything less than double dewclaws on each rear leg.
Coat: Outer coat is 11⁄4 to 11⁄2 inches, coarse, dense and lying close to the body. It is short and smooth on the head, ears and lower legs. The hair is somewhat longer around the neck. The tail and back of thighs are lightly fringed. The undercoat is short, fine, dense and downy, mouse gray in color and does not show through the outer coat. The Beauceron is exhibited in the natural condition with no trimming. Disqualification - Shaggy coat.
Colors: Black and Tan - The black is very pure; the tan markings are squirrel red; the markings are: dots above the eyes; on the sides of the muzzle, fading off on the cheeks, never reaching the underside of the ears; two spots on the chest are preferred to a breastplate; on the throat; under the tail; on the legs the markings extend from the feet to the pasterns, progressively lessening, though never covering more than one-third of the leg, rising slightly higher on the inside of the leg. Some white hairs on the chest are tolerated. Gray, Black and Tan (Harlequin) - Black and Tan base color with a pattern of blue-gray patches distributed evenly over the body and balanced with the base color, sometimes with a predominance of black. Disqualifications - Any color other than Black and Tan or Harlequin. Complete absence of markings. Well-defined, quite visible white spot on the chest 1 inch in diameter or larger. In the Harlequin: too much gray; black on one side of body and gray on the other; head entirely gray.Gait: Movement is fluid and effortless, covering ground in long reaching strides (extended trot). Strong, supple movement is essential to the sheepdog. In movement the head is lowered approaching the level of the topline. Dogs with clumsy or inefficient gait must be penalized.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.Faults: Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree.Note: Males must have two normal testicles properly descended into the scrotum.Disqualifications: Height outside of maximum or minimum limits. Split nose, nose color other than black or with unpigmented areas. Overshot or undershot with loss of contact; absence of three or more teeth (first premolars not counting). Yellow eyes. Walleye in the Black and Tan. Natural ears carried upright and rigid. Docked tail, or tail carried over the back. Anything less than double dewclaws on each rear leg. Shaggy coat. Any color other than Black and Tan or Harlequin. Complete absence of markings. Well-defined, quite visible white spot on the chest 1 inch in diameter or larger. In the Harlequin: too much gray; black on one side of body and gray on the other; head entirely gray.
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 1578, 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 it's long-haired cousin, the Briard or Berger de Brie.
The Societe 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. Pierre Megnin differentiated between the Shepherd of the Brie and the Shepherd of Beauce. Assisted by M. Emmanuel Ball, M. Pierre 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. Pierre Megnin.
The Beauceron was also used by the French army. 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.
The last modification to the standard for the Beauceron was in 1965 and has been applied since 1972**. The 5 year wait period made it possible for the breeders to adapt their breeding stock to the new standard. This is only the 5th 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 the breed has become known outside of France. The Beauceron is gaining in popularity in many different countries.