Category Archives: About the Beauceron

Beauceron Health Considerations

The following information is based on personal experience and information from other sources. We are not qualified veterinarians; you should do your own research as well as talking with your own veterinarian. All information given is to the best of our knowledge and we are not responsible for any misinformation.

Genetic Disorders In Dogs

Dogs are no different than humans when it comes to getting sick and having health problems. All dogs come from a single source; their heritage can be traced back to the wolf. As dogs developed they sometimes had physical variations that humans found desirable. As an example, there may have been a dog with spots that were attractive. That dog was then bred with other dogs that had a similar genetic variation. As these dogs continued to be bred, the recessive gene that caused the spots was concentrated in the offspring until all of them had the same characteristics. In other words, spots. This is the way that all purebred dogs were developed and is what gives us the individual breeds. Unfortunately, not only are the desirable genes concentrated but also some undesirable ones as well. This is why some breeds are more prone to genetic problems than others.

When a dog has a recessive gene for deafness, that doesn’t mean the dog will be deaf. However, if that dog is bred to another dog that has the recessive gene for deafness, the probability of the offspring having deafness is increased. When two dogs with the same recessive gene are bred, then, according to averages, one half of the litter will carry the deafness gene but not become deaf. One fourth of the litter will have the deafness gene and be deaf. Another one fourth of the litter will not have the gene and will not be deaf. When responsible breeders test their dogs for genetic defects such as deafness, they do not breed dogs that display deafness and increase the chances that their offspring will not carry the gene.

This is  a very simplified explanation of how different breeds of dogs are created genetic defects are passed to offspring. All pure bred dogs have genetic defects that are more prone to occur in their specific breed. When you consider getting a dog, you should be aware of the individual breed’s propensity to produce specific genetic defects. Do not consider getting a puppy whose parents have not been screened for the common genetic defects in that breed.

Genetic Disorders In Beaucerons

Beaucerons are no different than any other pure bred dog and have certain issues that should be screened for when possible.

Like many large breeds, the Beauceron is prone to hip and elbow dysplasia. This is a genetic defect that causes pain and lameness. Some dogs are only slightly dysplastic and no action is required; others may require surgery or even euthanasia.  Dysplasia in the Beauceron occurs in about 14 percent of the breed. A reliable check for dysplasia cannot be done before the age of 24 months and there should be a record of it with the Orthopedic Foundation For Animals or OFA. When buying a puppy, check to ensure the parents have been screened for hip dysplasia. This doesn’t mean that your puppy will not develop dysplasia but your odds are better.

While no significant genetic eye problems are known in the Beauceron, it is a good idea to make sure that the parents had a CERF exam before breeding. The Canine Eye Registration Foundation records the results of eye exams for dogs and maintains the record for one year after which time the dog should be reexamined.

Dilated Cardiomyopathy or DCM is a serious disease that causes inflammation and weakening of the heart muscle. Although there is evidence that the condition is hereditary, there are still many things unknown about the condition. DCM can occur at any age and as of yet, there is no genetic test. Some breeders have their dogs tested for heart disease but since it may not show up until late in life, testing is of limited value. It is more important to know the health history of ancestors and if any have DCM problems then a decision must be made based on prevalence and how far back it occurred. Of course this will depend on the cooperation of the breeder and if your dog develops the disease, it doesn’t mean the breeder was aware of any issues.

Bloat or Gastric Torsion is commonly found in large breeds of dogs. Some breeds like the Great Dane have a high likelihood of developing this serious problem. It is the second highest cause of death in many breeds, and would be the highest if we could eliminate cancer. Fortunately, Bloat is not highly prevalent in the Beauceron. However, to reduce the risk of Bloat, feed your dog smaller amounts at least twice a day. Keep activity levels low for a least an hour after meals. Keep a close watch for swelling in the abdomen. If Bloat does develop, medical attention is critical and should be given within the first hour. After an hour, the chance of survival is poor. There is no known genetic test for Bloat and you should consider ancestry before obtaining a puppy.

Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD) is a separation of the joint cartilage from the bone, usually in the shoulder although it can happen in other joints. It is believed to be a genetic defect that causes a weakness where the cartilage attaches to the bone. It is prevalent in large fast growing dogs and occurs during the first year. Caught early enough the effected dog can be kept confined and activity limited so the cartilage may heal. However, a condition that has progressed requires surgery. It is important during the first year of life that a puppy not be allowed to jump from heights or other activities that put stress on the shoulders since this can bring on the condition in a growing puppy. Ask your breeder about history.

The Beauceron is a fairly healthy dog and you should not be discouraged by the health issues mentioned here. Beaucerons do have other issues but they are relatively minor in occurrence. It is best to ask your breeder about history and any known problems with their particular line of dogs.

Beauceron Breed Standard (2006)

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 25½ to 27½ inches; bitches 24 to 26½ 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% 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. Disqualification: 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. Disqualification: 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. Disqualification: 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%.
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.
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.

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 ¼ 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.

Outer coat is 1¼” to 1½”, 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.

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 1/3 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. 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. In the Harlequin: too much gray; black on one side of body and gray on the other; head entirely gray.

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.

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.

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.
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″ in diameter or larger.
In the Harlequin: too much gray; black on one side of body and gray on the other; head entirely gray.

Approved: August 8, 2006