The Beauceron is a shorthaired French herding breed. Like all farm dogs, he served multiple purposes, from driving flocks to guarding his property and family. The Beauceron is a large dog, weighing 70 to 110 pounds, with a protective personality. He is active, athletic and versatile, qualities that make him perfect for only a small minority of dog owners. Here’s what you need to know if you’re considering acquiring a Beauceron.

Traits, Personality and Behavior

The Beauceron is not an appropriate choice for a first-time dog owner. He is smart, assertive and independent (read stubborn). He is an excellent watchdog and has the size and ability to defend his home and family if needed, but conversely he needs a firm hand to ensure that he has appropriate training and socialization. He matures slowly and will be puppy-like until he is approximately 3 years old.

This is a "mouthy" dog. Be sure you have plenty of tough chew toys on hand for him to carry around and chew on. Don't let him use your hands, feet or other body parts.

When the Beauceron is raised with children, he can be good with them. Don't forget that he is a herding breed and may have the tendency to chase or nip at children. This should never be permitted. He is best suited to a family with older children who can understand how to treat him with respect.

The Beauceron may or may not get along with cats. He has a strong prey drive and will likely chase cats or other small furry animals outdoors, but some Beaucerons can get along well with indoor cats if they have been raised with them.

It's almost impossible to wear out a Beauceron. Choose this breed only if you are a high-energy person yourself who enjoys active daily exercise such as running, bicycling and hiking and can take your dog with you. He's also well suited to just about any dog sport or activity you can teach, including agility, flyball, herding, obedience, rally, search and rescue, and tracking. A bored Beauceron is a destructive Beauceron.

Begin socialization and training early to make the most of the Beauceron's intelligence, rapid learning ability, and drive. Use positive reinforcement techniques such as praise, play and food rewards. Be prepared for him to push back when you ask him to do something, testing whether you really mean what you say. It's essential to be firm, fair and consistent. Never respond with harsh treatment or force.

The Beauceron can be aggressive toward dogs or other animals he doesn't know. If your home has a yard, it should be securely fenced to prevent the dog from leaving the premises as well as to prevent other dogs from coming onto the property and causing trouble. That doesn't mean an underground electronic fence. If the Beauceron wants to leave the yard, a shock isn't going to stop him.

This is an indoor/outdoor dog. While the Beauceron should certainly have access to a securely fenced yard, he should be with his family when they are home.

Brush the Beauceron's double coat weekly to remove dead hair. He does shed and will need more frequent brushing during that time to control the amount of loose hair floating around your house. Trim his nails as needed, and keep his ears clean and dry to prevent infections. Good dental hygiene is also important.

Health Issues Common to Beauceron

All purebred dogs have the potential to develop genetic health problems, just as all people have the potential to inherit a particular disease. Run, don't walk, from any breeder who does not offer a health guarantee on puppies, who tells you that the breed is 100 percent healthy and has no known problems, or who tells you that her puppies are isolated from the main part of the household for health reasons. A reputable breeder will be honest and open about health problems in the breed and the incidence with which they occur in her lines.

Beauceron have some health conditions that can be a concern, especially if you aren't cautious about whom you buy from. They include hip dysplasia, osteochondritis dissecans, a heart condition called dilated cardiomyopathy and progressive retinal atrophy. They may also be prone to allergies and gastric torsion, also known as bloat.

Ask the breeder to show evidence that both of a puppy's parents have OFA or PennHIP clearances for the hips and up-to-date certification from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation that the eyes are free of disease.

Do not purchase a puppy from a breeder who cannot provide you with written documentation that the parents were cleared of health problems that affect the breed. Having the dogs "vet checked" is not a substitute for genetic health testing.

Condition Risk Profile Cost to Diagnose and Treat
Hip Dysplasia Medium $1,500-$6,000
Osteochondrosis Medium $2,000-$4,000
Cardiomyopathy Medium $500-$2,000
Bloat Medium $1,500-$7,500

5 Tips to Bring Home a Healthy Beauceron Puppy

Finding a good breeder is more important than finding the right puppy. A good breeder will match you with the right puppy, and will without question have done all the health certifications necessary to screen out health problems as much as possible. Information on purchasing a Beauceron can be found on the website of the American Beauceron Club.

Consider an adult dog from a shelter or a rescue group. Many of the health problems in Beauceron aren't apparent in puppyhood, but by adopting an adult dog, most of them can be ruled out. Since a Beauceron can live to be 10 to 12 years old, even an adult dog will be with your family for a long time.

Puppy or adult, take your Beauceron to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot visible problems, and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues.

Don't ever, ever, ever buy a puppy from a pet store or Internet site that offers many breeds and popular mixes, or that ships with no questions asked. If you buy a puppy from these sources, you'll be more likely to get an unhealthy, unsocialized and difficult to house-train puppy and will be supporting the cruelty of high-volume puppy mills.

Make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. In states with "puppy lemon laws," be sure you and the person you get the dog from both understand your rights and recourses.

Pet Insurance for Beauceron

Pet insurance for Beauceron costs more than for mixed breed dogs. This is because Beauceron are much more likely than mixed breed dogs to make claims for hereditary conditions that are expensive to treat.

Embrace dog insurance plans offer full coverage for all breed-specific conditions (excluding those that are pre-existing) to which Beauceron are susceptible. The best time to get pet insurance for your Beauceron is when he's a healthy puppy. You can't predict what will happen in the future, and pet insurance is the one thing you can't get when you need it the most.