Hailing from the mountainous border between France and Spain known as the Pyrenees, the Pyrenean Shepherd has been living and working in this craggy region for as long as people are able to remember. Though the Pyrenean Shepherd shares a long and successful history as a proficient herding breed alongside the Great Pyrenees, the former is far less common, landing at the 181st position for popularity among 193 total American Kennel Club breeds. Nevertheless, the Pyrenean Shepherd is an expert herder and a great companion capable of both working hard and enjoying some down time with its family.
Pyrenean Shepherd Appearance
The Pyrenean Shepherd falls into the AKC’s medium-sized herding group of dogs. Pyrenean Shepherds stand between 15 and 21 inches tall, and are either smooth-faced or rough-faced; in general, the smooth-faced Pyrenean Shepherd is a couple of inches taller than its rough-faced counterpart. The Pyrenean Shepherd is also relatively lightweight, weighing between 15 and 30 pounds.
A Pyrenean Shepherd is a specimen of athleticism. It has a long body that is lean and muscular, and a head that is triangular in shape. An alert expression and dark, intelligent, expressive eyes are present, which are common in many of the herding breeds.
The coat of a rough-faced Pyrenean Shepherd is longer on the face and harsh to the touch, with the smooth-faced Pyrenean Shepherd identifiable by its shorter facial hair, a finer coat, and a muzzle that is slightly longer than the rough-faced. Pyrenean Shepherds come in black, white, black and white, blue merle, brindle, brindle merle, fawn, fawn merle, and gray or slate gray.
Pyrenean Shepherds are true herders with both the brains and brawn to do their job expertly and a pair of these impressive dogs can herd as many as 1,000 sheep. With energy enough to exhaust just about any other dog, the Pyrenean Shepherd can easily cover close to a marathon’s distance over the course of a day.
The Pyrenean Shepherd is as good a family dog as it is a working dog and is generally very affectionate with its family. Pyrenean Shepherds are also quite playful, and will often enjoy interacting with and playing alongside with children in the family. It should be noted, however, that these dogs may not trust unfamiliar children and should never be left alone with young children. Early socialization with children is recommended to ensure proper, polite behavior around young ones.
While the Pyrenean Shepherd will be gentle and loving toward its own family, this dog is a vigilant and capable sentry. Unannounced visitors will likely be treated with hostility, barking and howling. The Pyrenean Shepherd can be very territorial, making it a great watchdog, but also a high risk of nuisance barking when living in an apartment community.
Pyrenean Shepherds are generally not interested in other dogs, and prefer to be the center of attention in their own homes. While the Pyrenean Shepherd may be civil around other animals, it will likely want to take charge over the others, and prefers to do its socializing with the human members of its family.
A hardy breed, the Pyrenean Shepherd can be expected to live between 12 and 16 years and, if properly cared for, it’s not uncommon for this breed to live well into its late teens.
Caring for a Pyrenean Shepherd
As one of the rarer dog breeds recognized by the AKC, don’t expect your neighbors to be experts on the Pyrenean Shepherd. Instead, learn about how best to care for these incredible dogs with the information below.
A highly active dog breed, the Pyrenean Shepherd eats a surprising amount for its size. Speaking to a veterinarian about making sure the Pyrenean Shepherd gets all the nutrients it needs to sustain its active lifestyle is very important to ensuring its health and happiness. As one of the oldest dog breeds, the Pyrenean Shepherd will be happy to eat a grain free dog food or wet dog food with a high-quality protein like chicken, fish, or turkey. As with any dog, the Pyrenean Shepherd should be a fed an age-appropriate diet, such as a senior dog food or a food made specifically for puppies.
While the Pyrenean Shepherd would love to do what it does best and herd hundreds of livestock through hilly fields, most people do not live an agrarian life. Nevertheless, the Pyrenean Shepherd has a surplus of energy that needs to be directed somewhere productive. If there aren’t any jobs for the Pyrenean Shepherd to do, it will still enjoy any type of running, walking, or hiking. For runners and cyclists, this may be the perfect running companion. The Pyrenean Shepherd also enjoys indoor activities and mental exercises such as puzzle toys for dogs and interactive dog toys.
The Pyrenean Shepherd is a quick learner and can be taught just about anything. Intuitive, alert, and intelligent, the Pyrenean Shepherd is a great student when encouraged with positive reinforcement and reward-based training. Clicker training can be helpful with these dogs, who excel in just about any challenge they undertake. From obedience training to rally, dock diving, working, and canine sports, the Pyrenean Shepherd can be trained to perform at a high level, provided a confident owner offers the respect, patience, consistency, and positivity this dog needs to succeed.
The Pyrenean Shepherd’s life expectancy is long and this breed enjoys a healthy life overall. Ordering a dog DNA test is a good idea for any dog owner, and can be crucial in early detection and treatment of any genetic diseases. Reputable breeders should always provide information on any health concerns related to the breed, as well as offering documentation and health certificates for all of its dogs.
Pyrenean Shepherds are predisposed to very few health conditions, but there are still a few concerns to be aware of. Among the more serious issues affecting the Pyrenean Shepherd are hip dysplasia and epileptic seizures, while minor issues that can be seen in the breed include eye problems like progressive retinal atrophy, and the well-known knee problem known as patellar luxation. Though uncommon, it’s also possible for the Pyrenean Shepherd to suffer from patent ductus arteriosus, a congenital heart condition.
Best practices for preventive care include regular baths with a natural dog shampoo and brushing the Pyrenean Shepherds teeth with a toothpaste for dogs. The Pyrenean Shepherd should also be screened for hip, eye, and heart problems, and taken to a veterinarian at least once per year for a routine checkup. Owners should also periodically check the Pyrenean Shepherd’s ears for any sign of infection, and clean them with a gentle ear solution for dogs.
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