Enthusiastic, mischievous, and whip-smart, the Pyrenean Shepherd is an indefatigable herder descended from ancient sheepdogs of the Pyrenees mountains. Tough and sinewy Pyr Sheps come in ‘rough-faced’ and ‘smooth-faced’ coat varieties.
These tough, lean, and lively herders, famous for their vigorous and free-flowing movement, come in two coat varieties: rough-faced and smooth-faced. Roughs have profuse, ‘windswept’ hair above the muzzle and a generally harsh coat; smooths have short facial hair, a finer-textured coat, and a slightly longer, pointier muzzle. Both varieties of this sinewy, rectangular breed come in many colors and patterns. Pyr Sheps see the world through dark almond-shaped eyes conveying an alert and cunning expression.
Pyrenean Shepherds descend from an ancient line of herding dogs known among shepherds of the Pyrenees (the mountains forming the natural border between France and Spain) since time immemorial. No one can say for certain how long Pyr Sheps have been moving flocks from one grazing area to another amid the Pyrenean slopes and valleys, but it’s a job they still perform in their homeland today. Pyr Sheps often worked in tandem with the Great Pyrenees, the region’s mighty flock-guardian breed.
The Pyrenean Shepherd is a healthy breed with a long expected lifespan. Responsible breeders screen their stock for health conditions such as hip dysplasia, patellar subluxation, patent ductus arteriosus (PDA), epilepsy, and eye defects such as choroidal hypoplasia (CH) and progressive retinal atrophy (PRA). Dedicated breeders do genetic testing on all potential breeding stock with the aim of reducing and hopefully ultimately eliminating certain conditions from the breed’s gene pool.
Recommended Health Tests From the National Breed Club:
- Patella Evaluation
- Hip Evaluation
- Ophthalmologist Evaluation
The Pyr Shep needs weekly brushing to keep his coat free from mats and tangles and looking its best. His scruffy appearance comes from his double coat’¿a soft undercoat and a protective outer coat’¿which features a combination of straight and short to moderately long hair. The harsh outer coat may shed quite a bit, while the soft undercoat can mat very easily. The coat can be kept combed out and left as it grows, or can be corded as desired. Cleaning ears and trimming nails are an important part of his grooming routine.
The Pyr Shep is a high-energy dog who is always on alert and ready for action. Since many Pyr Sheps today don’t get the chance to do what they were originally bred for’¿herding livestock’¿they are always eager to channel their abundant energy into other interesting challenges and activities. Lots of activity and a job to do are vital to the breed’s mental, emotional, and physical health.
The Pyr Shep is very smart, energetic, and trainable. They strive to please and are extremely connected with their owners. They love games and opportunities for intense activity. Pyr Sheps were bred to herd using their bodies, instead of with eye contact as some other breeds do. With an intuitive sense about their owner’s desires, they will respond enthusiastically to clicker training and other positive, reward-based methods. The breed is a great candidate for agility, rally, obedience, dock diving, freestyle work, and almost any fun dog sport.
The Pyrenean Shepherd should do well on a high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior). Some dogs are prone to getting overweight, so watch your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.