The Pyrenean Shepherd is the smallest of the French herding dog breeds. Lively and energetic, it has an intelligent and alert look. There are two varieties: the long-haired and the flat-faced. At Petlifey, we explain everything about the Pyrenean Shepherd breed.
Character of the breed Shepherd of the Pyrenees
With regard to temperament and basic behaviour, the two varieties (long hair and a flat or smooth face) work in a similar way.
They are cheerful and playful dogs, but they are suspicious and distrustful of strangers, and therefore need intensive socialization work that must begin in the first weeks of life and that is the first step to turn them into extraordinary dogs. of family.
Likewise, it is essential that they build a close relationship with the person who will end up being their “shepherd”, their guide. If this strong bond is created, they become for life the most devoted servants of their master, of whom they will always be aware and whom they will want to please at all times.
The Pyrenean shepherd likes to be present at all events. Nothing is alien to them and it wants to participate in everything, so it can be included in any type of activity developed by the family. The Pyrenean Shepherd does not present major problems in the presence of other dogs , especially if it has been accustomed to such company since it was a puppy.
With strange dogs it is not aggressive , but ignores them, and only relates to those it considers “family”. This facet of its character is reminiscent of its isolated ancestral life in the Pyrenean valleys, where its only companions were the other dogs that accompanied the shepherd, its family and the herd.
In any case, its jovial character and outgoing personality make them a potentially very sociable dog , as long as it knows how to handle its upbringing from a puppy. It is charming with the elderly and adores children , but it is not good to leave the dog in the company of a large number of creatures: its natural instinct can lead them to behave in a somewhat authoritarian way, trying to control the situation as if of a flock involved.
- Energy: high level. As a good shepherd dog, this breed needs a lot of physical exercise.
- Temperament: brave, outgoing and with initiative, it is wilful, but malleable and easy to train.
- Adaptability: medium / low. Prefers open spaces.
- Sociability: High. If properly educated, it can be an excellent companion dog, as it will turn to its master. But it is suspicious of strangers.
- Health: very good. It suffers from few inherited diseases.
- Longevity: high / very high. It can live for about 15 years.
- Utility: very versatile. It is a very useful animal as a shepherd dog, companion dog, flyball, tracking, obedience or agility.
- Utilization: Grazing, guarding and service.
- Other names: Pyrenean Sheepdog / Berger des Pyrénées / Pyrenáen-Scháferhund.
Characteristics of the Pyrenean Shepherd
There are two different varieties : the one with long hair and the one with a flat or smooth face . It is a cheerful, active dog, always attentive to everything that happens around it. It can become an ideal pet if given adequate time, space, and exercise.
Related to the Catalan shepherd or gos d’atura , its Catalan neighbour on the other side of the mountains, the Pyrenean shepherd breed is characterized by its physiognomy .
Always alert, with a cunning and distrustful air, and a great vivacity of movements. Let’s see in detail its physical characteristics and its character:
Physical characteristics of the Pyrenean Shepherd
One of the great peculiarities of the Pyrenean shepherd is that there are two well differentiated varieties within this same breed. The shepherd with long hair and the one with a flat or smooth face. In fact, both varieties can be crossed with each other, and specimens of one type or another can be born indistinctly in the same litter.
However, the first, the long-haired one, is much more popular than the second all over the world. The main difference between them is that one has abundant long, flowing hair on the face and muzzle , while the other has short, tight hair .
Also, the long-haired Pyrenean shepherd is slightly larger and has more substance than the second. It has a rather rectangular structure , since it is a little longer than it is high, and has a slightly sloping rump.
The flat-faced Pyrenean Shepherd has a more square body , with slightly higher hocks, a more level back and a slightly longer snout.On the other hand, although the breed, in its two versions, is rich and varied in color , since the specimens can present almost all imaginable colors, there are predominant coats in each of the varieties.
Thus, the most common in the long-haired variety is that the dog is fawn or sand , in a wide range of shades, while the most popular tone among those with a white face is blackbird blue .
Both must be light but not light, with enough bone but never excessive or heavy, since they are, in both varieties, dogs with fast and agile movements.
- General appearance: Both the long-haired and the flat-faced varieties have identical characteristics. They are small and light dogs, but enormously vigorous, with an always alert physiognomy, an astute and distrustful air and a great liveliness in their movements, qualities that give them a characteristic appearance that has no equal.
- Size: Medium / large.
- Height at the withers: in the long-haired variety they measure 40-48 cm (males) or 38-46 cm (females. In the cara ras variety they measure 40-54 cm (males) or 40-52 cm (females).
- Weight: 10-15 kg (long-haired male) and 8-12 kg (bare-faced male). On the other hand, between 8-13 kg (long-haired females) and 8-10 kg (bare-faced females).
- Body: Solid bones, without heaviness, and the muscles are thin. The upper line of the body is uniform, with the prominent cross. The length of the body is greater than the height at the withers in the long-haired specimens, but in the flat-faced ones both proportions are almost equal. Both are characterized by being small, light, vigorous animals with a cunning air.
- Head: It is triangular in shape; the one with a flat face has it covered with fine hairs, which is where its name comes from. On the other hand, the long-haired one has the entire head well covered with long fur. It has a slightly marked stop and a straight muzzle that tapers towards the nose, but without being pointed.
- Skull: Medium developed, almost flat and with a poorly marked central groove. It has a harmoniously rounded shape on both sides of the face and is almost the same length as width. The front part joins the muzzle on a slight slope.
- Muzzle: It is straight, a little shorter than the skull, and gradually tapers into a wedge shape, although its tip is not pointed.
- Nose: It is black.
- Nose-frontal depression (stop): Little apparent.
- Eyes: They are expressive, slightly almond-shaped and dark brown in color, although in dogs with harlequin (blue and black) or slate grey fur they may be of another color. The eyelids are always rimmed with black.
- Ears: Quite short and moderately wide at the base, set on the upper part of the skull not far apart from each other. The lower part is very mobile and stands upright. The upper third of the ear falls to the front or to the side.
- Jaws: The teeth are strong, especially the canines, with a complete pincer bite.
- Neck: It is rather long, quite muscular and well separated from the shoulders.
- Back: Quite long and solid, it has a short and slightly arched loin, and a short and sloping croup.
- Chest: It is moderately developed and descends to the level of the elbows. The ribs are a bit rounded.
- Forelimbs: Well vertical, are thin, vigorous and well covered with fringes. The shoulders are quite long and moderately oblique. The forearms are straight, and the arms are oblique and of medium length.
- Hind limbs: The angulations are quite closed. Medium-long haired dogs do not have fringes on the limbs. The legs are quite long and oblique, with the well angled knees located in the axis of the body. The hocks are thin and well bent, they are low. Sometimes they are a bit closed.
- Feet: They are thin, quite flat and have an accentuated oval shape. The pads are dark, and the nails, small and hard, are covered by the same hair that is under the foot.
- Tail: It is well provided with fringes and it is not very long. Rather low set, forms a hook at the end. When the dog is in motion, the tail does not extend beyond the line of the back. Many specimens have a docked tail, and some have a rudimentary tail.
- Skin: It is fine and is often streaked with dark spots, whatever the color and type of coat.
- Hair: In the long-haired variety, the coat is always dense and almost smooth or slightly wavy. It is denser and woolly on the rump and thighs, with a texture between goat hair and sheep wool. Some dogs have tufts called “chains.” In the flat-faced variety, the coat is semi-short or short on the body, and the points where it reaches its greatest length are the neck, the withers and on the midline of the back.
- Color: More or less dark fawn; more or less light grey, or harlequin (blue mixed with black). There are also mottled and black coats. Therefore it can present several shades: fawn, grey, harlequin, black, sometimes with white spots, or mottled.
- Movement: The preferred movement of this breed is the trot, which is loose and vigorous. During the short trot, the dog holds its head a little high, while in the long trot, it is kept in the line of the back. It does not lift its feet much, so the movement is loose, brushing the ground. When walking, it has a much slower gait.
Pyrenean Shepherd puppies
There are various methods to acquire a young specimen of this breed of sheepdog. We are not going to enter into the convenience of doing it in one place or another, but whether you are going to buy a Pyrenean shepherd puppy in a kennel, buy it online, in a store or as a gift, there are some aspects that you should consider.
First you must make sure that the pet has the maximum guarantees of health and that it has been treated properly. Ask everything you think is appropriate and avoid those places that do not offer you confidence.
When it comes to having Pyrenean Shepherd puppies at home, you should know that despite their enormous jovial character, their energy, desire to play and their outgoing personality, you should encourage contact with other animals and people from the beginning. To make it as sociable a pet as possible.
Education and training of the Pyrenean Shepherd
Although jovial in character, the Pyrenean Shepherd can be a very stubborn dog , so it needs a firm hand to guide it, but at the same time always behave fairly.
The best way to educate the Pyrenean Shepherd is to use training methods based on positive reinforcement . For this reason, the clicker is a fundamental work tool and is very useful in the education of the puppy .
In the same way that, despite its small size and its jovial and outgoing nature, it is not a suitable breed for beginners , as it requires a skilled and experienced hand in its education.
Nor is it the ideal pet for those families who live in small flats in the center of a city, or who do not have the adequate time and space to provide their dog with the essential expansion and exercise that complement their physical development and, what it is more important, psychological.
Despite these innate characteristics of this breed, it is necessary to insist that the most important part of the education of a Pyrenean shepherd is socialization . It is what allows you to learn to interact with strange animals and people , and to become familiar with the daily events of modern life.
It is essential to bear in mind that a dog that has not been properly socialized can become a shy and nervous dog with relative ease. In rare cases, you can develop aggressive responses to unexpected situations.
On the other hand, being an active, nervous, energetic and herding breed, it can be noisy and barking, which does not make it the best neighbor in a city.
On the other hand, families that live in the country and that have adequate space and enough time will find in this breed a loyal and very fun companion. They will be able to share any activity that is undertaken in their free time.
It is important to remember that this breed loves games. And given that it is a small earthquake, a constant and tireless accumulation of energy , anyone who owns a specimen and does not want to dedicate it to its original herding function can find it in disciplines such as agility , flyball . Even obedience and tracking, the ideal way to channel that energy.
Food of the Pyrenean Shepherd breed
Being a dog with explosive movements, tireless worker and endowed with a high level of energy, its nutritional requirements are also special .
It is necessary to provide a daily ration appropriate to its size that guarantees the level of nutrients necessary to keep it in optimal conditions.
It is important to pay attention to the protein level in the diet , which has to be high, but especially to the source of said proteins.
In the winter diet it may also be convenient or necessary to increase the intake of fats , as long as the quality of the same is maintained.
The Pyrenean Shepherd is a lean, small and very active dog. For this reason, it does not accumulate large reserves that allow it to spend very long periods working without rest, as is the case with other breeds of shepherd, which are, along with sleds, the most used to coping with the rigors of the climate.
Therefore, it is necessary to provide enough energy to ensure a quality diet .
Likewise, experts in this breed of sheepdog indicate that it is convenient to divide the daily intake into two doses when the dog is in the development, gestation or work stages, since its energy and nutritional needs increase during these vital stages.
Caring for the Pyrenean Shepherd breed
As for the specific external care , they are the same as for other shepherd dogs. It should not be bathed if it is not strictly necessary , for example, when it has gotten into a quagmire.
In this case, it is advisable to use a tar shampoo that helps to keep the feel of the hair rough and natural and once or twice a week it is advisable to brush it , in order to keep the undercoat healthy. The dog must be clean and neat , but always keeping the rustic appearance that characterizes it.
The Pyrenean Shepherd has experienced very little variation since its origin. Perhaps, and due to the many care it receives today, the quantity, quality and length of the hair of modern dogs can only be cited as an appreciable change.
In both varieties, the body hair is rustic in appearance and touch, but the shedding is very light. Which makes its maintenance very easy .
It does not require more than a weekly brushing that should not be neglected. Especially in dogs that live or work in the field, as annoying knots can form on their legs, flanks and ear area, which would imply unwanted shearing.
Pyrenean Shepherd Health
Despite everything, the Pyrenean shepherd still enjoys the well-deserved reputation of being a healthy and strong breed of dog that is long-lived at the same time.
It can easily live a little more than 15 years as long as its master takes care to keep it in perfect condition. And although it is true that there are very old specimens affected by disorders typical of old age, such as arthritis or some problem in the feet, for them palliative care is available that allows the animal of this breed to maintain an excellent quality of life until the last stages of its existence.