Other names: Berger des Pyrenees, Pastor de los Pirineos, Petit Berger, Pyrenean Shepherd
The Pyrenean Shepherd is an endearing, faithful, very intelligent and active herding dog. He is not intended for owners leading a sedentary life, and requires heaps of exercise and activities to remain content. Not the most docile at times, especially if he does not perceive much intentionality in the orders he gets, this dog needs a firm, fair, and coherent training to fulfil his full potential.
Key facts about the Pyrenean Sheepdog
Life expectancy :
Temperament :Playful Intelligent
Origins and history
These are very old dogs, the oldest, in fact, among all the french Shepherds, but their origins are not known in detail. General theory proposes that their origins and history are the same as all the other European Shepherd- that is, that they are descendants of Asian breeds. It is only in the twenties that the first official standard of the breed was established. This was no easy feat since types vary widely from one valley to the next: the constitution or coat could differ significantly, only the personality remained a stable vector. Ever since, many modifications have been introduced to narrow down and stabilise the standard.
FCI breed nomenclature
Group 1 - Sheepdogs and Cattledogs (except Swiss Cattledogs)
Section 1 : Sheepdogs
Physical characteristics of the Pyrenean Sheepdog
Female : Between 16 and 20 in
Male : Between 16 and 21 in
Female : Between 18 and 22 lb
Male : Between 18 and 22 lb
The coat can be a solid colour: every shade of grey and fawn, or black.
For the black Pyrenean dogs, considerable patching is authorised, whereas in the case of other colours, the patching must be limited.
There also exists some cases of harlequin (variegated blue-black) as well as brindle colouring.
Despite a certain consumer interest in the white Pyrenean Shepherd, white coats are not admitted by official standards, and considered a shortcoming.
Type of coat
The coat is long or medium-long.
Quite luscious, the hair is smooth or slightly wavy in the long-haired variety. Official standards stipulate that the coat texture waver between goat hair and sheep wool.
This mix between coarse and wooly hair may entail some strands or cords, they look like little braids. They are usually to be found on the croup, chest, around the elbows and thighs.
In the rough-faced variety, the head is covered in short and thin hair, hence where its name comes from.
The eyes are dark brown.
Pyrenean Shepherds may be small dogs, but they are definitely full of energy. His alert appearance, clever and cautious expression, and his vivid way of carrying himself, make this dog very distinct. The head, in its overall shape, resembles that of a brown bear’s. The skull is averagely developed, almost flat, harmoniously round at the sides. The stop is very modest. The most known and widespread variety by far is the smooth-faced Pyrenean Shepherd: his standard begs to remind us that he is ‘unlike any other’. The muzzle is straight, rather short, slightly conical. The ears are large at the base and their extremities are usually amputated. The rough-faced Pyrenean Shepherd has a slightly longer muzzle than the smooth-faced variety. The torso is robust. The limbs are straight. The tail remains quite short.
Good to know
During the first world war, Pyrenean Shepherds were used by the army as liaison dogs because of their resourcefulness, adaptability and big intelligence.
The Pyr Shep, as is also commonly referred to, is a dog full of energy that is difficult to channel at times. Still, when it remains at rest, he is a good companion dog who brings joy to both the little and big ones alike, not least because of his more-than-endearing pretty face.
Enthusiastic and very lively, this sheepdog is a great playmate, especially to children.
Tranquility is not part of the Pyr Shep’s vocabulary. He is a very lively and active dog who requires plenty of exercise in order not to become a burden in day-to-day life.
Particularly clever, this little dog is not the last one in line to come up with tricks and strategies in order to get out of a predicament he’s not comfortable with. He is actually excellent in his specialisation as sheepdog and has just as much work potential as his bigger fellows in the same category.
Chasing clearly isn’t this sheepdog’s activity of choice. He nevertheless does possess a certain predatory instinct, which can actually also be sharpened, through games such as throwing ball.
Fearful / wary of strangers
As is the case of many dogs in this breed category, the Pyrenean Shepherd is often wary of strangers. He does not trust quickly, and can even show signs of aggressivity if he hasn’t been properly socialised from a young age.
Of course, the very wary or aggressive individuals are excluded from the official standards as they constitute a highly deficient sample. But unfortunately, many owners do not approach socialisation diligently enough and render their dogs socially unstable.
At its core, the Pyrenean Shepherd is a sheepdog capable of initiative. He did, in fact, back in the days, work far away from his master, in the high pastures for instance. His functioning does include some propensity to initiative but he nevertheless remains, nowadays, a dog completely devoted to his master.
Behaviour of the Pyrenean Sheepdog
If he has had plenty of exercise ahead of time, and has been gradually and positively conditioned to staying alone, the Pyrenean Shepherd, is quite tolerant towards his owners’ absences. But be careful, these should nevertheless never be extended.
Boredom is this work dog’s biggest enemy, as he needs to be constantly stimulated in order to be fully content. Therefore, when he is alone, he needs to have access to toys that will keep him busy and distract him from the time going by.
Easy to train / obedience
Both stubborn and sensitive at the same time, the Pyr Shep is not the most docile of sheepdogs. His size and scoundrel-like appearance often (unfortunately) get him a free pass in certain situations in which it absolutely shouldn’t be the case.
Owners that are too permissive or lenient will procure themselves a little demon dog who will always get his way. His owners must in fact demonstrate strictness coupled with gentleness for best results.
Luckily, this is still an incredible sheepdog who- with a precocious, firm, coherent and steady education- will love to obey and please his master.
As soon as the Pyrenean Shepherd pup integrates the home, certain rules of conduct must be implemented to avoid bad habits from developing.
Last but not least, the training process will be greatly enriched by meeting the dog’s various expenditure needs. If his energy is not channeled, it is futile to hope for a functioning cooperation with this little sheepdog.
The Pyrenean Shepherd has a tendency to bark quite often and this can actually become tiresome, unless his energy has been properly channeled ahead of time. With a firm, respectful training process and a fulfilment of this dog’s expenditure needs, the barking will not become as excessive and can be reined in.
Tendency to run away
As is the case of many highly active dogs, the lack of outdoor walks- beyond the confines of the garden- can push this dog towards solo escapades. In short, boredom and lack of sufficient external stimulation are the main reasons for which the dog might take off.