Basque Shepherd

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37-66 lbs
18-23"
Spain
Basque Herder, Pastor Vasco, Euskal Artzain Txakurra

The Basque Shepherd is an ancient Spanish breed of dog known as a landrace breed, a breed that has been developed without any formal registry. Landrace breeds like the Basque Shepherd tend to have a greater variation in both appearance and temperament than more standardized breeds, and the Basque Shepherd, in particular, has developed two distinct varieties, the Gorbeiakoa and the Iletsua. While some of these dogs may be territorial or protective, in general, these are high-energy, high-intelligence canines who are friendly with people of all ages, although they may be less so with other animals. While ancient, only the Royal Canine Society of Spain formally recognizes the breed. 

Purpose
Herding
Date of Origin
Ancient Times
Ancestry
Unknown

Basque Shepherd Health

Average Size
Male Basque Shepherd size stats
Height: 19-25 inches Weight: 40-79 lbs
Female Basque Shepherd size stats
Height: 18-23 inches Weight: 37-66 lbs
Major Concerns
  • Canine Hip Dysplasia (Chd)
  • Gastric Dilation Volvulus (GDV) or Bloat
Minor Concerns
  • Ear Infections
  • Cataracts
  • Congenital Heart Defect (CHD)
Occasional Diagnoses
  • Dental Disorders
Occasional Tests
  • Hip X-Rays
  • Dental Examination
  • Ear Examination
  • Echocardiogram Tests
  • Chest X-rays

Basque Shepherd Breed History

The Basque Shepherd is an ancient breed of dog that developed with little human intervention and no formal registry. The breed is known in the Basque tongue as Euskal Artzain Txakurr and in Spanish as Pastor Vasco, and they have been working with humans for thousands of years. Skeletal remains that are believed to be from a Shepherd very much like the Basque Shepherd have been found in Neolithic caves and have been dated back as far as twelve thousand years ago, and paintings and frescoes of the 16th century contain depictions of canines that look very much like the Basque Shepherds of today. A comprehensive history of the breed is lost to history, however, the modern Basque Shepherd is believed to be a descendant of Shepherds that originated in Central Europe and while they have traditionally been used to herd sheep in the mountainous areas of Northern Spain where the majority of the Basque people can be found, these dogs are also quite adept at herding other animals including chickens, cows, and horses. Most experts believe that the Gorbeiakoa variety, rather than the bearded Iletsua variety, is the older of the two. The Basque Shepherd population declined heavily in the late 19th and early 20th centuries due to predation by wolves. In the 1950s and 60s, extermination campaigns eliminated many of the Iberian wolves in the area, and nearly all registered Basque Shepherds today still work livestock on a daily basis. Basque immigrants and travelers to America in the 1950s brought their herding dogs with them, and it is widely believed that these dogs were ancestors to the Australian Shepherd. 

Basque Shepherd Breed Appearance

There are two varieties of Basque Shepherd, the Gorbeiakoa variety and the Iletsua variety. The Basque Shepherd is a medium-sized dog that weighs an average of around fifty pounds and stands between eighteen and twenty-five inches tall. Basque Shepherds have a somewhat square build, a chest that is both moderately wide and deep, and strong, straight legs. They tend to have long wide skulls with muzzles that are fairly long and light. The Iletsua variety of Basque Shepherds tends to grow a little taller and are more slender than the Gorbeiakoa variety with slightly more rectangular heads. Basque Shepherds have medium-sized triangular ears which may stand erect but often fold forward and while both varieties have black noses and eyes in either brown or amber, the Gorbeiakoa variety has almond-shaped eyes and the Iletsua variety has oval eyes. The Gorbeiakoa Basque Shepherd has a slightly thick, short to medium-length coat that typically comes in shades of red, although some be more blonde or fawn colored, whereas the Iletsua Basque Shepherd has a slightly longer coat with coarser fur that is usually in blonde or fawn, but can come in shades of red as well.  

Eye Color Possibilities
brown Basque Shepherd eyes
Brown
amber Basque Shepherd eyes
Amber
Nose Color Possibilities
black Basque Shepherd nose
Black
Coat Color Possibilities
red Basque Shepherd coat
Red
isabella Basque Shepherd coat
Isabella
fawn Basque Shepherd coat
Fawn
Coat Length
Short Medium Long
Coat Density
Sparse Normal Dense
Coat Texture
Basque Shepherd wavy coat texture
Straight Wiry Wavy Curly Corded

Basque Shepherd Breed Maintenance

Although the two types of Basque Shepherd have coats that look and feel very different, they tend to have similar grooming requirements. These dogs should only be bathed a few times a year as bathing that is too frequent may strip the coat of oils needed to maintain the integrity of the fur and a quick daily brush is all that is typically required to remove any tangles and debris from their somewhat thick, dirt-resistant coats. Special attention should be paid to the ears of the Basque Shepherd, however, as many of these canines have hanging ears that can be prone to ear infections. Teeth and nail care should be introduced at a young age so that your canine cooperates on a weekly schedule for the teeth and monthly for nail clipping.

Brushes for Basque Shepherd
Pin Brush
Comb
Scissors
Nail Clipper
Brushing Frequency
Basque Shepherd requires daily brushing
Daily Weekly Monthly

Basque Shepherd Temperament

Basque Shepherd dogs are typically very affectionate and outgoing with family members of all ages and are happiest when they are physically close to their families. While they are generally extremely kind and loving towards children and very loyal towards all of the members of the family, they can sometimes become overly protective and may occasionally be too rambunctious for smaller children, causing spills and bumps. They are naturally somewhat territorial and do have some guarding instincts, so they can be quite wary of strangers but when they are introduced they quickly display their friendlier side. While generally amicable towards humans, Basque Shepherds typically require socialization to get along with other animals. This is an intelligent and easily trainable breed of dog that is generally quite willing to please, but they may get bored with training sessions that are overly repetitive and they have a mischievous side and a tendency to test their boundaries, making both innovation and consistency necessary to keep them challenged. 

Basque Shepherd Activity Requirements

The Basque Shepherd is an extremely active dog with both an agile mind and an agile body. These canines require a great deal of exercise and mental stimulation and can become bored, inducing behavioral problems which can be difficult to eradicate. This breed of dog requires some room to run and is not an appropriate choice for apartment living. In addition to their obvious talent for herding, these canines are well-suited to a number of other activities, including agility training, freestyle canine dance, and parkour. Despite not being particularly well-built for swimming, most of these dogs enjoy the water and manage to swim quite effectively.

Activity Level
Low Medium High
Rec. Walk Mileage Per Week
14 miles
Minutes of Activity Per Day
90 minutes

Basque Shepherd Food Consumption

Cups Per Day
2 cups
Daily Cost
$1.2 - $1.4
Monthly Cost
$34 - $45

Basque Shepherd Height & Weight

6 Months
Male Basque Shepherd size stats at six months
Height: 18 inches Weight: 41 lbs
Female Basque Shepherd size stats at six months
Height: 17 inches Weight: 36 lbs
12 Months
Male Basque Shepherd size stats at 12 months
Height: 21 inches Weight: 51 lbs
Female Basque Shepherd size stats at 12 months
Height: 19 inches Weight: 44 lbs
18 Months
Male Basque Shepherd size stats at 18 months
Height: 22 inches Weight: 59 lbs
Female Basque Shepherd size stats at 18 months
Height: 20 inches Weight: 51 lbs

Basque Shepherd Owner Experiences

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