French Style Herding
The French course, an introduction
The Belgian Sheepdog was created, first and foremost, as a non boundary tending dog for both docile cattle and for sheep flocks of up to 200. The first known official herding trial in continental Europe took place on the 1st and 2nd of May, 1892, on the premises of the market and slaughterhouse of Cureghem, Brussels. While Belgium discontinued herding trials, the same types of events were continued in France, and Belgians have participated in these French trials since their inception.
Within the United States, the AKC started its herding program in 1991 and Belgians have been participants in this program since its inception. However, the existing AKC courses are not specific to Belgian Sheepdogs. AKC has specifically stated that the only herding course allowing 15 or more head of stock is specifically a boundary course and therefore it is not reflective of the traditional herding performed by Belgians. Moreover, the AKC does not permit the use of more than 5 head of cattle on any course. This creates a problem for the Belgian Sheepdog. While Belgians are certainly talented enough that the first dog to obtain an advanced title in all the AKC herding courses and stock was a Belgian Sheepdog, none of these courses and stock duplicate the kind of work that Belgians were originally selected to perform.
In August of 2010, AKC agreed to recognize Parent Club administered Performance events through the issuance of an AKC title certificate and the recording of these titles on AKC pedigrees. This gives the BSCA an opportunity to establish a certificate for herding evaluation that does duplicate the kind of work Belgians were selected for. BSCA has asked for and been granted a chance to establish a herding trial based on the traditional tending skills of our dogs and has obtained permission from AKC to do this. The trial rules are based on those still used in Europe for tending rules pdf for the sheep and here rules pdf (in French) for both sheep and cattle.
The initial approval is for a five year experimental project – AKC has agreed to allow BSCA to administer French style herding events. If, at the end of the five year period, enough dogs have participated and enough interest has been generated to demonstrate that this is a viable program, AKC will formalize the program. If AKC approves the program on a permanent basis, those dogs that participated in the experimental phase will have their passing scores and titles recognized.
BSCA is dedicated to promoting, preserving, and protecting our Belgian Sheepdogs. One of the primary ways to do that is to provide a venue for demonstration of the talent and inherent characteristics of the Belgian and to provide a selection tool for breeders. It’s hoped that this trial program becomes one that does this for herding.
Check our events page for upcoming French Style Herding events.