The Pyrenean Shepherd is a small herding dog known for its amazing agility and its resourcefulness. The breed, which hails from the Pyrenees Mountains in France, is small-to-medium in size, and is muscular and shaggy in appearance. The breed has been around for many hundreds of years, and has been used for herding sheep and other livestock since medieval times. Pyrenean Shepherds became particularly popular after WWII, and have also been used as the basis for some breeds, such as the Australian Shepherd.
The appearance of the Pyrenean Shepherd
When compared with other herding dogs, the breed is relatively small in size, rarely reaching more than 50cm at the shoulder. This size, however, depends on the variety of the dog: rough-faced dogs are typically smaller than smooth-faced dogs.
Smooth-faced Pyreneans have a medium-length coat with fairly short hair in the face area, while rough-faced dogs have long hair all over, including on the face. The breed is most usually fawn in colour, although greys and brindles are common. Black dogs are also possible. The breed is very lithe and muscular, and is extremely lean in appearance. The dogs typically have a small head and a muzzle that is reminiscent of a terrier’s snout. They usually have dark eyes, although some dogs with fairer coats may have paler eyes. The ears are usually “rose” or “semi-prick” in shape, although they are traditionally cropped. The same is true for the tail, which is often docked; if the tail is left to grow, it is usually long and crooked in appearance.
The breed is both intelligent and energetic, and is best suited to owners who have time to spend with their pet. Pyrenean Shepherds tend to be fiercely loyal, and like to remain close to their owners. They’re also passionate about working and herding, and need to be kept active and entertained. Many Pyr Sheps are used as working dogs, or are entered into sports events. This ensures that they are kept active and busy, and prevents them from becoming bored. The breed is highly protective, and the dogs tend not to take well to strangers. This makes them valuable as watchdogs.
As they are robust and intelligent, they are prone to mischief, and a rigorous training regimen is recommended from an early age. Socialisation both with dogs and with humans is recommended as well.
Keeping your Pyrenean Shepherd active and entertained
Because Pyr Sheps need to be constantly active, many owners ensure that they are regularly engaged in work or in sporting activities. Fortunately Pyrenean Shepherds are extremely easy to train. Many of the breed are active in sports such as tracking events, flyball events, and agility trials. They are also used in herding events and trails, and in obedience trials as well.
Unlike many shaggy-coated dogs the Pyrenean Shepherd does not require daily grooming. They do, however, benefit from grooming on a weekly basis. If they are active and working, it is recommended that Pyrenean Shepherds have their coat checked over regularly, as matting may occur. Burrs and prickles should also be removed from the coat.