Pyrenean Shepherd

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15-30 lbs
15-21"
France
Pyr Shep, Berger des Pyrenees

Originating in the Pyrenees Mountains of France as early as 6000 BC, Pyrenean Shepherds have been herding and protecting flocks of sheep and goats for thousands of years. During World War I, this French herding breed was used as messengers, guards, and rescue dogs. After the war, the energetic Pyr Shep continued to herd and guard, and began to appear in competitions and shows. This cheerful breed comes in two varieties, the rough-faced type that boasts thick, coarse hair, and the smooth-faced which produces contrasting soft and finer hair. The Pyrenean Shepherd will thrive with an active family.

Purpose
Sheep Herding
Date of Origin
6000 BC
Ancestry
Shepherd Dog

Pyrenean Shepherd Health

Average Size
Height: 15-21 inches Weight: 15-30 lbs
Height: 15-21 inches Weight: 15-30 lbs
Major Concerns
  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Epilepsy
Minor Concerns
  • Patellar Luxation
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy
  • Patent Ductus Arteriosus
  • Collie Eye Anomaly
Occasional Tests
  • Heart
  • Hip & Eye
  • X-Rays
  • Physical Examination

Pyrenean Shepherd Breed History

The origins of the Pyrenean Shepherd are unknown, but they have been living in the Pyrenees Mountains in Southern France for a very long time. This sheep herding breed has been shrouded in many myths, one of which says that they were the dog of Cro-Magnon peoples who created the famous Lascaux cave paintings. While this fact has remained unverified, archaeologists have found bones of small dogs in Neolithic fossil deposits. The region had also been transformed through overgrazing by 6000 BC, which indicates that sheep and goat herding were very well developed at this point in time. Medieval records and paintings have recorded the use of Pyrenean Shepherds in the Pyrenees Mountains for the last 6,000 years. All this evidence points to the fact that this breed has been around for thousands of years, where it has been used as a sheep herder alongside the Great Pyrenees who guarded the flocks. The intelligent and adaptive nature of the breed is naturally suited for herding, and often only two shepherds can manage a flock of up to 1000 sheep. In the 19th century, a few Pyrenean Shepherds found their way to the United States to herd flocks in the west, and may have had a hand in the development of Australian Shepherds. The breed was still mostly unknown to other parts of the world, but gained recognition during World War I for their work as couriers, guards, and search and rescue dogs for the French military. After the war, the numbers of dogs were greatly diminished, and shepherds worked to rebuild the breed. These dogs began to participate in herd trials and shows, and by 1923, an accurate standard for the breed was created in France. In the 1970s and 1980s, the breed was imported into the United States in greater numbers, but it wasn’t until 2009 when it recognized by the American Kennel Club.

Pyrenean Shepherd Breed Appearance

This small to medium breed is an athlete. A long neck flows smoothly into well-muscled shoulders that project above the level line of the back. The body is long and well supported on light-boned and sinewy legs, allowing for a graceful gait. Paws are oval shaped, and may have double or no dewclaws on the rear feet. The tail can be long or naturally bobbed, and may be cropped. The head is triangular with a nearly flat skull and gently rounded sides that lead into a short muzzle containing large, sharp teeth. Expressive, almond-shaped eyes can be dark brown or blue. Short ears are wide at the base , and often fall forward. Ears are sometimes cropped. Pyrenean Shepherds come in two varieties seen in their coat types, the rough-faced and smooth-faced varieties. The rough-faced dog has long or semi-long, thick hair that is flat or slightly wavy. The texture of the hair is coarse, similar to goats or sheep. Long haired dogs may have woolier hair that cords, especially on the thighs, croup, and elbows. Longer hair is also seen on the sides of the muzzle and cheeks, and is often swept back, giving a windblown appearance. The smooth-faced variety boasts shorter, finer hairs on the face and body which is fine and soft. The hair can be longer on the sides of the head, elbows, and thighs. Pyrenean Shepherds can exhibit a variety of colors, including fawn, tan, copper, brindle, merle, black, grey, and black and white. There can be white markings on the chest, head and feet.

Pyrenean Shepherd Breed Maintenance

The Pyr Shep does benefit from regular, weekly grooming. The hair does shed, but tends to collect within the coat. Brushing once to twice a week will remove loose hairs and prevent mats. An occasional bath will keep them clean and smelling nice, but given too frequently can dry out their skin. Pyrenean Shepherds have strong, fast-growing nails that need regular trimming to prevent splitting and cracking. Ears and teeth should also be cleaned regularly. These are highly active dogs who need exercise, or else they may bark excessively, dig, or engage in destructive behaviors. In his herding days, the Pyrenean Shepherd traversed up to 25 miles per day. At least one hour of exercise daily can help give today’s Pyrenean Shepherd an outlet for his boundless energy. Mental and physical activities can include agility trials, obedience training, flyball, herding, or tracking. If this dog gets enough exercise, he can be content in any type of home, including an apartment. This breed loves to work and will thrive with a job to do.

Pyrenean Shepherd Temperament

The Pyrenean Shepherd’s roots are deep, and those personality traits will be seen in every dog of the breed. This means a highly energetic dog who is enthusiastic, intelligent, and naturally protective. He has a cheery disposition, and is playful with his family, and often attaches himself to one special person to the exclusion of the rest. This is a dog who is involved in all of the day’s activities, and needs an active person or family who can match his energy. He can do well with children if he is raised with them, but often retains the herding behavior and will nip or chase them. The Pyr Shep can get along with other animals, but more often, he is too bossy to share the home. Being a natural guard dog, he is wary of strangers, but can acquire a more cheerful demeanor if he is socialized young. These are highly trainable dogs that require positive reinforcement and a consistent trainer. Without obedience training, he may become adept at nuisance barking. Give the Pyrenean Shepherd a job to do, such as tracking, coursing ability tests, dog shows, herding, rally, and other dog sports to keep him the happiest. This breed will do the best when paired with a family who can keep up and challenge him.

Pyrenean Shepherd Owner Experiences