Other names: Picardy Shepherd
The Picardy Shepherd is medium sized sheepdog with a long, shaggy coat. This ancient breed can be traced back to 800 AD, while the "modern" version was developed in France during the middle of the 19th Century. It's a close relative of the German shepherd, the Bearded Collie, and the Belgian shepherd, and shares many of the same personality traits. Like its cousins, the Picardy Shepherd is a highly intelligent animal, energetic, and very loyal. Although their numbers are growing, Picardy Shepherds are still rare. There are less than 4,000 registered in their home country.
Key facts about the Picardy Sheepdog
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Origins and history
Although it's hard to pinpoint its exact origins, references to long-haired herding dogs go back thousands and thousands of years. However, many experts suggest that cattle dogs originated in and around France during the 8th and 9th centuries. The modern-day Picardy Shepherd appeared in the mid 19th century and made its first appearance at a Parisian dog show in 1863. It was officially recognised as an independent breed during the 1920s. It was thought to be on the brink of extinction following World War II. Luckily, its numbers have been growing steadily since the late 1940s, although it is still a rare breed. It's estimated that there are less than 50 registered in the UK.
FCI breed nomenclature
Group 1 - Sheepdogs and Cattledogs (except Swiss Cattledogs)
Section 1 : Sheepdogs
Physical characteristics of the Picardy Sheepdog
Female : Between 22 and 24 in
Male : Between 24 and 26 in
Female : Between 44 and 66 lb
Male : Between 44 and 66 lb
Fawn. Brindle. Light or dark grey.
Type of coat
Short undercoat. Long wiry topcoat.
Double coated. Long, Can look a bit “scruffy.”
Dark brown or a light hazel colour.
The first thing you'll notice about these dogs is their long, shaggy coats. Although it can look "scruffy," it also gives them a friendly and endearing appearance. They have large, high set ears that permanently stand to attention, and a relatively long muzzle for a medium-sized dog. They don't look very athletic, but beneath all that fur there is a lean and muscular dog. It's lively expression reflects its overall personality.
Good to know
Picardy Shepherds are very rare. Any potential owners will have to contact a specialist breeder. You may have to wait a few months before finding a puppy. And they can be very expensive, especially from top breeders.
They do have a “naughty” side. Even a well-trained Picardy Shepherd will retain some of it's mischievous nature. This can be entertaining and will certainly keep you on your toes. However, it can lead to bad behaviour if you let them get away with too much.
It's important to note that the Picardy Shepherd is a working dog that hasn't been as domesticated as much as some other herding breeds. Keeping them as just a "pet" is not ideal. Their natural work ethic needs to be satisfied. This means you'll need to keep them entertained with interesting games and activities. Alternatively, you can enter them into obedience and herding competitions.
Although they like a bit of fuss, the Picardy Shepherd is an active and independent breed who would rather play than snuggle. However, once they’ve tired themselves out, these guys know how to chill and will become more receptive to some affection.
Loyal working dogs love nothing more than pleasing their pack leaders. This makes them alert, enthusiastic dogs that love to play. In fact, stimulating games and activities are vital for their long term health; it satisfies both their physical and mental needs.
The puppies can be a bit hyperactive; socialisation is really important during their first few years. As adult dogs, they remain fairly energetic, especially when it comes to playtime and "walkies." But these dogs do know when to”switch off." They become surprisingly docile once properly exercised.
These dogs are very smart. They’re right up with the smartest breeds, meaning they need the right kind of training and stimulation to be mentally satisfied. Walks and games need to be interesting and challenging.
The Picardy Shepherd is more of a herding dog than a hunting dog. That being said, they still have a fairly high prey drive.
Fearful / wary of strangers
The Picardy Shepherd is a social dog but they can be wary and suspicious of new people.
The Picardy Shepherd is a confident and independent animal.
Behaviour of the Picardy Sheepdog
Picardy Shepherds should never be left alone for long periods of time. Dogs need companionship, but these highly socials need it more than most. They form incredibly strong bonds with their owners, a trait developed after spending thousands of years working alongside their human masters.
Easy to train / obedience
These dogs will provide a bit of a challenge to the inexperienced dog owner. However, with the right training methods, and plenty of patience, they can learn how to handle these interesting and lively characters. Expert dog handles will find these animals a joy to train. Picardy Shepherds regularly perform in obedience training competitions and are capable of doing some pretty amazing things.
As puppies, Picardy Shepherds can be a bit yappy. However, as they get older and calmer, they become much less vocal.They will rarely start barking for no reason.
Tendency to run away
As long as they're getting the exercise they need, these dogs won't run away. A well exercised Picardy Shepherd is a calm, relaxed animal. But if their physical needs aren't being met, they'll soon find other ways to satisfy them, such as running off on their own adventures.
The Picardy Shepherd is a gentle animal. But, like all dogs, any long periods of frustration and boredom will lead to bad behaviour, which can include becoming destructive around the home.
Greedy / Gluttony
Very greedy, this dog will not tire of being rewarded for his good behaviour by treats. However, be careful not to give too much, to avoid overweight.
These guys are natural born watch dogs. It’s what they did for a living for thousands of years. They're alert, watchful, and extremely protective over members of their pack. They’ll quickly sense anything they don’t like the look or the smell of, and then quickly raise the alarm.
The Picardy Shepherd is not the best first-time dog, but they're nowhere near the worst. They don't require huge amounts of exercise, but their physical activities need to be stimulating and challenging. Like most smart dogs, they can be quite stubborn and independent-minded, a trait which needs to be managed with the correct training methods. Any first-time owners should do plenty of research before adopting one of these dogs.
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Picardy Sheepdog in a flat
These lively dogs are not suited to living in a flat. Such environments have nowhere enough space for these active dogs and lack easy access to stimulating environments like large parks or woodland areas.
Need for exercise / Sporty
Some working breeds need at least two hours per day, but, providing they get the right kind of exercise, the Picardy Shepherd is satisfied with half of that. They prefer shorter, more intense walks and runs rather than long, sedate strolls. They ideally need to be exercised off the leash in wide open spaces.
Travelling / easy to transport
Picardy Shepherds aren’t too big and have a relaxed manner, making them a fairly decent travel companion. But do plenty of research before travelling by plane. Many airlines will only allow smaller dogs onto their flights. Speak to someone directly before purchasing any expensive plane tickets.
Picardy Sheepdog and cats
If you don’t want them chasing any strange cats, you’ll need to start socialising your dog from a very early age. Most dogs have a window of about two years after they’re born. This is when they’re most responsive to training. It becomes much harder after that.
Picardy Sheepdog and dogs
Picardy Shepherds are exceptionally loyal to their owners. While this makes them great pets, it means they can become quite hostile towards unfamiliar dogs. They also have a tendency to chase away or dominate smaller breeds, so take extra care when they come into contact with other dogs.
Picardy Sheepdog and children
Picardy Shepherds love being around children and have a real affection for toddlers and babies. However, they should never be left unsupervised, especially when they’re still puppies. Younger Picardy Shepherds are very boisterous, which can lead to accidents.
Picardy Sheepdog and the elderly
Elderly people living an active lifestyle will really enjoy these dogs. They’re a great way to stay active, maintain your own health, and they make very loyal and loving companions.
Because they’re quite a rare breed, Picardy Shepherds are more expensive than most dogs. A purebred puppy is hard to come by, especially in the UK. We do not have enough data to set an average price for the Picardy Sheepdog.
Despite their thick, long coats, these dogs don’t require much grooming. A weekly or bi-weekly brush is all they really need. And these self-cleaning dogs rarely need a bath. Picardy Shepherds have an extremely low oil content in their fur, meaning it rarely gets dirty or smelly.
The Picardy Shepherd is not prone to hair loss, although they do shed quite heavily during spring and autumn.
Nutrition of the Picardy Sheepdog
These high-energy dogs need 3-4 cups of high quality dog food split into two meals. As they become older and less active, it’s important to decrease the portion sizes. If not, they’ll soon start putting on some extra weight. They also need access to fresh drinking water.
Health of the Picardy Sheepdog
The average lifespan for a Picardy Shepherd is between 12-14 years.
Strong / robust
The Picardy Shepherd might look soft and fluffy, but these dogs are tough, sturdy and very robust. They're also very mentally strong and thrive of new and interesting challenges.
Its long shaggy topcoat and insulating underlay means that the Picardy Shepherd doesn’t do very well in hot climates.
These herding dogs deal with the cold extremely well. In fact, it’s what they were designed for. They have thick, double layered coats that keep in the warm, while the outer coat protects them from wind and rain.
Tendency to put on weight
They’re not prone to obesity or weight gain. But it’s still important to restrict their food intake. Obesity can lead to a host of health problem.