Pyrenean Shepherd Breed Summary
Intelligent, Energetic, Protective, Alert and Devoted
These Sheepdogs, as you may have figured out, originate from the Pyrenees Mountain Range in France and were originally bred as herding dogs. It's thought that they were developed to have a huge amount of stamina and to also be very robust as this would allow them to carry out their work over the harsh mountainous terrains in extreme forms of weather. Even to this day they can be seen working, particularly amongst their larger cousins the Great Pyrenees dogs. In the 19th century, they made their way to America via Shepherds who went to work over there and were quickly recognised as being an excellent working doggy! They also worked during WW1 as messenger dogs, and in some cases to find injured soldiers on the front line! It's thought that these guys may have also helped in the development of Australian Shepherd dogs. They became a recognised breed in 1988 and have since become a popular breed across the world, even gaining a strong fan base in the UK!
|Lifespan||12 - 16 years|
|Height (at the withers)||Males and Females 38cm - 54cm|
|Weight||Males and Females 7kg - 14kg|
|Coat||Pyrenean Shepherds come in two varieties seen in their coat types, the rough-faced and smooth-faced varieties which will have long or semi-long, thick hair that is flat or slightly wavy and coarse, similar to goats or sheep. Whilst the long haired dogs may have woolier hair that cords, especially on the thighs, croup, and elbows.|
|Colour||Brown, Fawn, Black, Grey, Cream or White|
|Common health issues||Hip Dysplasia, Epilepsy|
|Other Names||Pyr Shep, Berger des Pyrénées, Pastor de los Pirineos, Petit Berger, Pyrenees Shepherd|
Pyrenean Shepherds are known for being highly intelligent and high energy dogs. They're not the best choice for first time owners as they need to be properly handled and trained. Additionally, they're not the best breed for families who lead more sedentary lives. But for individuals with breed experience and knowledge, who also lead very active lives, they make fantastic pets! These dogs also need lots of socialisation from a young age to ensure they grow into happy and well-rounded pooches! Additionally, they form extremely strong bonds with their families that remain unbreakable. Their suspicion of strangers and high alertness makes them excellent watch dogs. They would never act out on aggression but would always let their owners know if something was going on that they didn't like.
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 of 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.