Don't Buy a Beauceron!
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We would like to thank our co-breeder, Anne Sharpe of St. Sacrement Beaucerons, for the wonderful piece below. We believe it should be required reading before anyone adds a Beauceron to their household!

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You've done your homework. You took the online 'tests' to match your personality and lifestyle to a breed. You've read all you can find, and called every breed organization, breeder and owner you can unearth. You have had confirmed  your suspicion that the Beauceron is as near a perfect dog as the Great Spirit and man could have created. Of course, we devotees feel that way, but before it is too late, there is another side to the 'perfect' breed. This side is seldom presented in  glossy ads or breeder packets, but needs to be said anyhow...before it is too late. 

      The regal, noble, confident bearing that so attracts people to the Beauceron  is a product of both the genetics behind type and the confidence that careful breeding and rearing produces. Rearing does not stop when the puppy leaves the  breeder. The 'look' is materially diminished if your 'loyal protector' is barking  over his shoulder while running from a stranger or lunging at the gate with every  passing child. The 'looks' will also cause relatives, friends and neighbors less dog  wise to cross the street rather than pass you on the sidewalk, in some cases prevent  their children from playing at your home. Remember-'commanding' can also be 'frightening.' The true beauty of the Beauceron shines outward from his character-and some will  always feel uncomfortable in such a presence. 

      Dogs are pack animals. Beaucerons very much so. They have spent centuries as intimate companions and helpmates and today's dog is no different. A dog who lives  in the yard and not the house will require that YOU spend a great deal of time outdoors  with him to bond, train, socialize and meet the companionship needs. Yes-you could get  another and have 2 dogs living outside, but then you have a dog pack and not pet dogs. Beaucerons are territorial-if the yard is HIS, will he allow the meter man, paper boy carpenters, lawn service, mailmen to enter?
       Dogs that live outdoors are often subject to an unnaturally short lifespan  due to dog fights, car accidents, shot by farmers, consuming poison or harmful substances or easy theft targets. Yes, dogs are stolen every day-for laboratory  experimentation, dog fights, nefarious breeding practices. Even aggressive dogs can  be stolen using drugs and nooses. The aggressive ones don't end up in labs.
       Dogs that live outdoors, experiencing less socially structured interaction  often are shy or aggressive. They have no frame of reference for polite interaction  with humans. This is particularly unappealing in a jumping, nipping, dirty 100# dog. Lonely outdoor dogs will re-landscape THEIR yard, digging, chewing and converting  what was once your ornamentals into chew toys. When they weary of those pastimes, they will bark at every passing dog, person, bird, airplane. This will further endear them to your neighbors, by the way. 

    Dogs do not view life as a democracy. Dog packs have clear rules, hierarchies  and consequences. Pack leaders lead by posture, predictability, eye contact, and  many other subtleties and nuances. Leaders often become leaders through force of will  and sometimes physically backing that will up. While a Beauceron is not necessarily a socially dominant personality, in the absence of a strong leader it will assume the role to maintain order. Establishing and maintaining leadership is a lifetime job. If you begin the process with a dog you have indulged or ignored for a year or two, one or both of you may be seriously injured. 

DON'T BUY A BEAUCERON IF YOU LACK TIME TO TRAIN AND ENRICH HIM       Your darling, bouncing Beauceron puppy will grow to be a very powerful 70-110# adult. Even 70# Beaucerons in weight pulling competition can pull 1200# in  competitive times. They can easily take a 200# man off their feet in a lunge  on a leash. House manners and basic obedience are the bare minimum this breed needs. Basic obedience includes a SOLID recall, sit, down, stay and walk at your side on  and off leash. House manners include not only toilet training but also rules  regarding furniture, forbidden areas, counter surfing, respect for other household creatures, walking rather than racing, begging at the table, stealing food from kids, greeting guests, resting quietly in a crate, grooming routines, when to bark and  when not to.
       Puppy kindergartens are excellent places to socialize the dog with other dogs and brush up on his dog language. They are also good places for you to learn  about how your dog views his position in that dog world. Is he a social butterfly? Does he hate sporting dogs? Is he terrified of all but the smallest? Does he like any dog that will submit-as long as it is submissive? These innate traits, once identified will show you what areas of exposure and management you will need to  work on.
       Sending a dog 'out to be trained' defeats one of the most important  components of the training-your relationship. In reality, it is YOU being trained along with the dog. You are learning the delicate counterpoint of interaction,  learning how to communicate with your dog, shaping him to attend to you. A good trainer can polish your dog's 'performance' but will you get the same results? Not unless you are trained as well. Once you and the dog are 'trained,' the rest  of your household must be trained as well, and the dog must understand he must  obey them too.
       ONE CAUTION--do not skimp on early training. Classes that emphasize  punishment, harsh physical correction are NOT appropriate. Visit your local pet supermart for socializing, but research and invest in top quality training. One of the best ways to assess this is to attend without your dog and observe. Are the trainers communicating effectively? Are the owners succeeding? Are the  dogs behaving like you would like yours to behave? A good education is worth the initial investment-and always cheaper than a sour dog and lousy relationship. 

      Beauceron are robust, athletic dogs. Those big feet find mud anywhere it lurks in the yard and bring it indoors. They enjoy playing with water-even if it is  indoors. Some owners suspect that makes it especially enjoyable. Wet dogs at best smell like a wet sweater. At worst... well you get the idea. When they lie against  furniture or a wall, a 'grease line' can appear-just as fingerprints and wear on  furniture arms occurs with human use.
       Wet dog odors are not the only odors a Beauceron emits. Certain foods or even moods can fill a room quickly with 'eau de barnyard.' While this is unlikely  to appear in ads or breeder literature, it is frequently a topic of conversation when owners gather so it is a general enough trait to merit mentioning. 

DON'T BUY A BEAUCERON IF YOU DON'T ENJOY OUTDOORS EXERCISE     Beauceron, like many dogs, enjoy the exhilaration of outdoor exercise. This can be walks, jogging, swimming, chasing balls, bike jogging. There is no one formula for how much or how often, but setting aside a daily time will keep  you both fitter, build more 'quality time' into your relationship, and reduce  boredom related misbehavior. If you have physical limitations, carting, weight pulling, bike jogging etc can suit you both. 

      First some simple premises. Dogs eat. Big dogs eat more. You feed more cheap food than premium food [and clean up more indigestible remains in the  yard.] Dogs need both preventive vet care and care for disease or accident. Big dogs cost more in anesthesia, boarding, grooming, heartworm meds, neutering. Call the vet practice you think you will be using and prepare a budget. Factor  in a 'fudge' factor for accidents or illnesses that fall outside preventive care and neutering. A figure of $100 per month is not unreasonable. If this is going  to strain the budget this is not the time for a big dog in your life. Being realistic about this point can be very difficult-but being unable to care for a dog you love is painful too.
       These simple premises apply also (and maybe more so) to 'rescue' or  backyard bred Beauceron. It is unreasonable to assume that pups bred without reserved, screened, waiting homes by thorough breeders who do health screenings and maintain contact with their buyers about health trends and issues will not also perhaps be more expensive in the end. There truly are no 'bargains' in dogs, only differing degrees of calculated risk.
        In this category as well, make sure your landlord, covenants, deeds  allow pets and be aware that dog bite insurance settlements currently range in  the hundreds of thousands of dollars per incident. Then you are cancelled. Will your mortgage continue without homeowners?

       Beauceron live 9-13 years. 

      Most well bred, properly socialized Beauceron will guard their  territory and protect their pack (if they feel they are part of a pack.) Managing this trait requires a skilled handler, one who can anticipate what a  dog views as a threat, as well as understanding that avoiding confrontation is also a very adaptive behavior for a dog. Not all dog squabbles are settled with  a fight.
        There are Beauceron that enjoy protection sports, but most are 'qualifiers' rather than high in trial dogs. If you are a competitor, there are better breeds  to compete with, with a higher probability of scoring well. Be honest about your goals and abilities in this area. The area of protection trained dog liability is very dynamic, but even a successful defense is costly-so add considerably more to that $100 per month figure. If you want to buy a sport dog, choose your breeder very carefully, and realize puppies are PROSPECTS. By the way, if the  puppy doesn't 'work' like you had hoped, will it still have a lifetime home? 

      The Beauceron standard describes the dog as 'always ready to intervene.' You can rightfully expect this from even the most peaceable dog. Dogs with  less socialization or weaker characters may also bite if afraid, threatened or demanded of. It is a dead wrong assumption to believe a Beauceron will never  bite because he is 'laid back' or 'so friendly.' If your couch potato mistakenly thinks your neighbor's son is assaulting your son with a baseball bat, or you and  your spouse are fighting rather than horseplay, there may be some 'intervention.' Be aware and PREPARED.  

      Did you know that the IRS's preferred position on dog breeding is that  it is a hobby? If breeding dogs was such a lucrative, money making opportunity why are they not cashing in on it? Respected dog breeders who have actually kept  books for their kennel mostly show losses annually. This is because as demonstrated above, $100 a month per dog is not an unrealistic budget figure. To that figure (in order to command the princely sums we receive) you must add health  certifications, show and advanced training expenses, traveling to these events,  advertising, club dues and donations, and sometimes (as often as half the time) a dog you raised for 2 yrs at minimum $100 per month fails to make the grade as  a quality breeding dog. Then you either have a pet-or must place this one for  little or no compensation.
      This is just the beginning. The average litter size is about 7. Price ear crops locally-they usually range from $100-400 per pup. Can you do your own vaccines and worming or will that be another vet bill? What do c-sections cost in your area? Would you know if your bitch needs one? Do you have experience  hand raising orphaned or abandoned pups? Will your employer allow you time off for whelping-or 3 weeks minimum for hand rearing (feeding every 2-3 hours around the clock?) Do you know that even established breeders often have  several left over pups-due to last minute cancellations, wrong sex, 12 born in the litter...? Can you raise and train as your own these 'left overs' until good homes are found? (Also apply the $100 per month per dog figure to left overs. They eat too.] If your puppies are dumped by the buyer (who probably didn't read or believe this missive) can you retrieve them from rescue or a shelter (usually more fees) and continue your responsibility to them? Most club codes of ethics REQUIRE you do this. 

*if your life and available time is better suited to a goldfish
*if your life is unstable in job or location
*if your children's activities and demands will put the dog's on 'hold'
*if no one is home 10-14 hrs a day, and the remaining time overbooked.
*as your first dog
*to have a different dog, lawn ornament or trophy of success
*if you find it hard to make commitments in your life
*because a spouse is pressuring you for a dog you will end up being primary care taker for.
*for the kids as a 'playmate.'

        If the plain talk about the breed hasn't discouraged you, you are likely to embark on a most intense, rewarding relationship with a remarkable breed. The information provided here is the flip side of what living with an intelligent,  demanding, enthusiastic dog can be like. As you set out to find your perfect  Beauceron expect to be quizzed by responsible breeders about some of these issues. You will also be better prepared to notice warning flags with some litters/breeders.  Please remember some of the caveats about 'bargain Beauceron.' After reading this,  you will be better prepared to represent yourself, your needs, your situation and a  breeder can better select a puppy for you-guaranteeing success for all. If I have succeeded in making you long for your own wonderful, comical companion-welcome to the fraternity! 

      Many breeds that have enjoyed their moment in the spotlight have a  similar article somewhere, chronicling the trials and tribulations not usually presented in the marketing material for the breed. My inspiration has been  the too-many rescues I have helped, as well as some I could not help. While rescue can be ennobling and rewarding, it is a job I'd dearly like to see made  obsolete by responsible stewardship by breeders and breed clubs and dedicated  buyers and owners. If your life is currently not well suited to the rigors of  raising a puppy, perhaps you will consider inviting a rescued dog into your home and life.  

2000, all rights reserved 
Anne Sharpe
St Sacrement Beaucerons
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