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Pyrenean Shepherd

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Is the Pyrenean Shepherd right for you?

Species group:

Other name(s): Berger des Pyrenees; Pyr Shep; Berger des Pyrénées; Petit Berger; Pyrenees Sheepdog

The basics:
The Pyrenean Shepherd (Berger des Pyrénées) is an ancient herding breed developed in the Pyrenees Mountains of southern France. In the days before the automobile, each isolated valley bred its own version, leading to two distinct varieties-- the smooth-faced variety with a short coat and the rough-faced variety with a choice of medium or long coats. This intelligent animal traditionally worked as a team with the Great Pyrenees, with the smallish Pyrenean Shepherd actively herding the sheep, while the larger Great Pyrenees guarded against predators.

Today, while the Pyr Shep's use as a sheep dog has fallen, its sensitive nose makes it a fine search and rescue dog. You may have to perform your own search to find it outside Europe, although it has become well-established enough in the US to receive recognition from the American Kennel Club (AKC).

With its herding and teamwork background, it isn't surprising that the Pyr Shep is considered a highly intelligent and family friendly dog that may sometimes try to nudge or herd its people together. You will need to be an owner who can properly channel the energies of an agile breed that sometimes seems to be reading your mind-- or at least your body language.

Appearance / health:
The Pyrenean Shepherd is a small and sinewy dog with a singular working ability. The head is triangular, small in proportion to the body, and with an alert expression. The almond-shaped eyes are expressive. Ears are rather short, moderately wide at the base. The muzzle is straight and shorter than skull. Smooth-faced dogs have a slightly longer and more pointed muzzle.

The nose is black. The neck is rather long, flowing smoothly into the shoulders with a firm and strong topline. The back is level. The body is long and well supported. The loin is short, the croup is rather short and oblique, and the flank well tucked. The ribs are slightly rounded and extend well to the rear. The chest is of medium development, descending to the elbow. Both varieties have double dewclaws on their hind legs. The tail is docked, natural bob, or naturally long. The naturally long tail must not rise above the level of the back but continue along the slope of the croup.

Regular grooming is required to keep the coat of the Pyrenean Shepherd in good condition. A pin brush and rake used weekly can help keep the coat free of matted hair.

This breed requires regular exercise, without which it tends to become frustrated and destructive. An hour-long daily walk, along with other activities, helps to keep the Pyrenean Shepherd fit.

The Pyrenean Shepherd is a very healthy breed. However, like all breeds, it is predisposed to certain genetic disorders such as hip dysplasia (deformation of hip joints leading to lameness), epilepsy, and Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA or degeneration of retina causing visual impairment).

Behavior / temperament:
Pyrenean Shepherds have an unusual character. They are intelligent and cunning, and can be mischievous. They have a great deal of energy, and are always alert and ready for action. They are also are extremely devoted to their families, but sometimes may exhibit a slightly suspicious nature.

They are clever, alert, and quick-witted. Obedience training is very important to help the owner gain their respect. Lack of socialization may make this breed introverted. Proper socialization involves their learning to interact with people and pets in an appropriate manner.

If not controlled, the Pyrenean Shepherd’s barking can tend to become yappy.

wonderful

calm nature, great watchdogs, time outdoors, best family companion, walks

challenging

strangers, smelly problems, separation, long fur, hairballs

interesting

relatively rare breed

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