The Pyrenean Shepherd is not a dog breed with which most people in the U.S. are familiar. This breed became slightly better recognized when a Pyrenean Shepherd won the World Agility Championship for mid-sized dogs in 2003. These dogs are talented athletes and loving companions who deserve more recognition and popularity.
The Pyrenean Shepherd is a member of the AKC's Herding class since January of 2007.
History and Origin
The Pyrenean Shepherd, or Berger des Pyrenees, has resided in the Pyrenees Mountains of France serving as herding dogs for as long as history can recount. According to myth, this breed originated from the bears and foxes of the Pyrenees Mountains. Some believe that the Pyrenean Shepherd was the companion dog of Cro-Magnon people who inhabited the mountains 25,000 years ago.
The Great Pyrenees is a large, strong breed who guarded the flock and the Pyrenean Shepherd against predators. This allowed the Pyrenean Shepherd to focus solely on his herding, and it allowed the shepherds to safely use these small herding dogs, which were ideal for their speed.
The Pyrenean Shepherd gained recognition outside the Pyrenees Mountains as a hero during World War I, serving as search and rescue dogs, couriers, and protectors. Their work was highly respected and celebrated, as many gave their lives for the soldiers they served.
Today's sheep herds of the Pyrenees Mountains continue to be maintained by the Pyrenean Shepherds. Though the breed has not gained much popularity outside France, the Canadian Kennel Club has fully recognized the breed, and there is a small group of enthusiasts in the U.S. known as the Pyrenean Shepherd Club of America.
Appearance and Size
The Pyrenean Shepherd is a medium-sized, lean dog with a sweet, expressive face. The head is small with a short muzzle and ears that can be left natural or be cropped. The body is long and athletic. The tail can be left natural or be docked.
The Pyrenean Shepherd's coat has two varieties, smooth-faced (demi-long) and rough-faced (long-haired). The smooth-faced variety has short hairs on the face with feathering on the legs, body, and tail. The rough-faced dogs have shaggy, longer hair on the face and body. Fawn, grey, brindle, merle, and black are possible coat colors; fawn being the most common.
The Pyrenean Shepherd can be 15-21 inches tall at the shoulders and weigh between 15 and 35 pounds.
The Pyrenean Shepherd is an energetic athlete who loves exercise. This is a dog who would love to have a hobby, such as herding, agility, flyball, or other sports.
The Pyrenean Shepherds are often very attached to one person. They are loyal and will always be at your side. This dedication was even documented by the ancient shepherds of the Pyrenees Mountains. Many feel that these dogs are extremely in tune to their owner's emotions and seem to be able to read the mind of their human counterpart.
This breed is often distrusting of strangers, and may be shy or aggressive toward them.
Home and Family Relations
Pyrenean Shepherds are devoted family dogs, loving toward adults and children, and are also friendly toward other pets in the family, but are often leery of other pets they do not know. It is very important to socialize these dogs at a young age to help them be comfortable around strangers.
As it is their natural instinct to herd, the Pyrenean Shepherd may try to herd small children and pets.
Because their desire to be with their families is so strong, these dogs do NOT do well living outdoors or in a crate.
This breed can be quite mischievous and will keep their families on their toes! Regular exercise is critical to keep them happy and their minds occupied.
The Pyrenean Shepherd's coat is very manageable. It is fairly resistant to tangling and only requires weekly to bi-weekly brushing. If using this breed for herding or other outdoor sports, the coat may need additional grooming to keep the long hair free of debris.
Coat trimming is not necessary.
Because this breed is so intelligent, active, and eager to please, they are easily trained. Basic obedience, socialization, and athletic event training are all important to the well-being of the Pyrenean Shepherd, and they are also training exercises which the dog will enjoy.
Common Diseases and Disorders
Overall, the Pyrenean Shepherd is a very healthy breed; however, there are a few conditions some of these dogs may be prone to acquiring.
Hip Dysplasia is a malformation of the hip joint that results in pain, lameness and arthritis.
Epilepsy is a seizure disorder which develops between the ages of 2 and 5 years.
Luxating Patella is a disorder affecting the kneecap.
Patent Ductus Arteriosis (PDA) is a congenital heart defect.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy is characterized by premature degeneration of the retina.
The average Pyrenean Shepherd lives to be quite old, often into their late teens.
We realize that each dog is unique and may display other characteristics. This profile provides generally accepted breed information only.