The history of the Pyrenean Shepherd ? The First World War
It was the First World War that made the Pyrenean Shepherd known beyond its original mountains: from 1916 onwards, its flair and skill made it an excellent companion for patrols, and then an outstanding messenger. To the point of serving as a liaison officer.
As a counterpart of its contribution during the conflict, the Pyrenean Shepherd was also one of the most decimated dog breeds. It took the interest of two amateur clubs to perpetuate the breed, which became the current Réunion des amateurs de chiens pyrénéens (RACP).
The standard of this dog breed was stabilized in 2009, and that of the Pyrenean Shorthaired Shepherd in 2001.
What are Pyrenean dogs called?
There are 2 types of dogs that are selected in the Pyrenean valleys to watch and protect the herds and their owners.
The Pyrenean Mountain (Patou), a guard dog used both for the herds and to protect the buildings from people and animals that could invade the territory. It is a majestic dog (it can reach 80 cm in height and 60 kg in weight) with a “Pyrenean look”, composed of dark eyes, not very big, slightly almond-shaped, which give it a dreamy look. They have a very thick white coat with a lot of undercoat.
Pyrenean Shepherd straight and proud in front of a mounting lake
The Pyrenean Shepherd, of small to medium size (up to 45 cm high and 15 kg), is much more agile and lively. It was intended only for flocks, especially in summer when they are scattered in the valleys, generally unattended by shepherds. Its intelligence and independence make it a valuable helper. Its coat is a mixture of different colors, fawn, gray and black.
Pyrenean Shepherd sticking out his tongue
The appearance of the Pyrenean Shepherd, a question of hair
While we’re at it, there is not one, but two shepherds: both of average size (hardly more than 50 cm at the withers) even if :
the long-haired Pyrenean Shepherd is slightly smaller. The long-haired Pyrenean Shepherd has a woolly and smooth coat, with a fawn or grey color, then spotted with white on the chest and legs, or with a uniform black color.
The short-faced Pyrenean Shepherd is slightly larger and has a shorter, finer coat, reminiscent of goats and sheep, always smooth or slightly wavy, but always dense. The hair on the muzzle is not as long and is also less dense. His muzzle is a little longer and his body slightly shorter.
Both coats have a rough texture and must be combed several times a week to avoid tangles. The colors of the coat can vary: there is a fawn variant, with a little white on the chest and legs. And, in some cases, we can see black, tabby or black with white spots.
But whether it is long or short-haired, its triangular head is surmounted by a “cadenette”, a characteristic shepherd’s puff. As for the almond-shaped eyes, they reflect the vivacity of this dog.
Both accompanied the flocks, while the patou guarded them. A question of size!
Black Pyrenean Shepherd Dog
The Pyrenean Sheepdog is one of the smallest breeds of sheepdog and should not be confused with the much larger Pyrenean Mountain Dog with its long black and white coat.
The Shepherd is lean and athletic, with a long or semi-long coat that looks like it has been “blown by the wind”.
The standard can come in a variety of colors, including fawn, gray, robin blue, slate blue or tiger, black or black and white. And then there is also the harlequin version in different shades.
There is also, but it is rare, the Pyrenean dog with a black or black coat with white spots.
White Pyrenean Shepherd
There is no such thing as a white Pyrenean Shepherd. In fact, the colors admitted by the breed standard of the Pyrenean Shepherd are: more or less dark fawn, with also black and white spots on the chest and legs, more or less light gray, with white on the head, chest and legs.
Pyrenean Shepherd head and muzzle
The character of the Pyrenean Shepherd, V for voluntary
This dog is anything but a patsy with legs. Very lively, he is also very willing and loyal, hence his role as a working dog. Moreover, he is particularly intelligent.
He also has a great capacity of adaptation, which is an essential trait of character: of early well trained, he will adapt his energy to your way of life. He learns quickly, even if he is a bit stubborn.
Thus, he is a superb companion dog, especially in the presence of children, as long as you do not restrict his vital need to spend his energy. He is also very cuddly! Affectionate and, above all, very loyal, he is a dog that always likes to stay close to his master.
Although he “s always around the Pyrenean herds, we see him more and more on agility fields where he excels if he is well guided, in canicross, or in freestyle dance.
But, he is also an appreciated and performing auxiliary in the search in rubble or avalanche, as well as in the search for missing persons or drugs.
How to train a Pyrenean Shepherd puppy?
Curious, attentive and energetic, the Pyrenean Shepherd has retained strong gregarious instincts, which must be treated in a positive manner. He is naturally wary of strangers with whom he is then welcoming.
Very attached to his master, with whom he shares everything, he has however a remarkable character and his education must be strict: an iron hand in a velvet glove. It is not an ideal breed for a beginner, better that it is in the hands of more experienced owners with whom it will be able to appreciate the training.
However, this Pyrenean dog has excellent learning abilities and responds very positively to training.
Positive reinforcement is the best way to train him, thanks to the rewards. The dog learns in a more fun way and associates the correct behavior with the reward, so that he assimilates more easily what he is taught.
The clicker method is another interesting way to use with the Pyrenean Shepherd puppy, because instead of being rewarded with food every time he behaves well, the dog will associate the click with the positive behavior he has had.
Pyrenean Shepherd running in the grass
This breed is well suited to agility, given their ability to learn easily. This sport improves the animal’s obedience and concentration, as well as strengthening its muscle mass and providing it with the exercise it needs.
What is a Labrit?
The dog known as the Labrit is not the Pyrenean Shepherd, but its cousin from the plains, which is larger, but not recognized as a breed by the FCI. It takes its name from a town in the Landes region of France, but it is often confused with this one.
What is the breed of Belle and Sebastian’s dog?
Belle, Sebastian’s friend in the movie Belle & Sebastian, belongs to the Pyrenean Mountain breed, a huge dog with a beautiful white coat and a big heart.
It is an imposing dog, but well balanced and elegant, powerful but loose (minimum adult height of 70 cm, weight of 50 kg).
It is an affectionate companion, but it can become aggressive towards other dogs of similar size. This breed is wary of strangers, but it is very protective of its family, which it defends against unwanted strangers.
Breeding the Pyrenean Shepherd
Despite its relatively small size, the Shepherd is of solid constitution: well treated, it lives a good fifteen years. Just be sure to brush the hair of your long-haired specimen to avoid knots.
Another point, before cracking: the shepherd dog barks, it’s his nature. Think about it beforehand, especially if you live in an apartment.
Have you fallen for it? Why not choose a breeding in the cradle of the breed, or in a mountainous area? By finding a breeder who is not too productive. That exists!