History & Overview
The Pyrenean Shepherd is the smallest of the herding breeds of dogs. It only became known outside its native land (the Basque country lying between Spain and France), in the 20th century. The ancient occupation of raising sheep has always depended on two breeds: the guarding dogs which protected the flock from wild and human predators and herding dogs that helped move the flock from one pasture to another.
In the Basque country lying between Spain and France, those breeds were the Pyrenean Mountain Dog (more known in the United States as Great Pyrenees) and its smaller companion – the Pyrenean Shepherd. In France, this smaller breed is often called simply the Petit Berger, little shepherd.
With time, two varieties developed in the area – the long-haired and smooth-faced. In long-haired Pyrenean Shepherds the hair is long, or semi-long, but always dense, flat or slightly wavy. The muzzle has shorter, less dense hair. The French canine authorities recognized the Pyrenean Shepherd in 1926.
Many Pyrenean Shepherds of excellent type (but with no registered ancestors) still herd sheep every day in the Pyrenees Mountains. In the canine sporting dog world, these agile little sheepdogs excel in performance events such as Herding Trials, Agility Trials, Flyball, Cani-Cross, Search & Rescue and Tracking around the globe. In the United States, Pyrenean Shepherds can be registered with the AKC Foundation Stock Service.
At A Glance
Chien de berger des Pyrénées à poil long (Long-haired Pyrenean Sheepdog); Le Petit Berger (France), Pyrenean Sheepdog
Country of Origin:
Sheepdog used in the farms and pastures of the Pyrenean Mountains
FCI Classification: Group 1 – Sheepdogs and Cattle Dogs; Section 1 – Sheepdogs. With working trial.
AKC Classification: Foundation Stock Service (FSS)
Small/Medium (14 – 19 inches at the shoulders)
Pyrenean Shepherds come in a wide variety of colors:
- Dark or light fawn with or without a mixture of black hairs and a little white on the chest and on the limbs
- Dark or light gray with some white on the head, chest and limbs
- Harlequin (blue flecked with black, blue-merle)
- There are also brindle, black coats and black with white markings
- Solid colors are preferred.
3 – 6
9 – 12 years
The Pyrenean Shepherd’s coat is thick and dense that needs weekly brushing, although more frequent brushing will be needed when the coat sheds. If the hair is tangled or difficult, spray it with a grooming conditioner.
Intelligent, quick-witted, energetic, vivacious, totally devoted to his master.
The Pyrenean Shepherd will live in peace with other dogs and household animals. He is generally aloof with strangers.
Suitability for Children:
Pyrenean Shepherds are wonderful with children.
The Pyrenean Shepherds were bred to run all day long and need lots of exercise. They love to run off-leash.
The Pyrenean Shepherd is extremely easy to train and obedient, but can have a mind of its own.
Health & Behavioral Issues:
The Pyrenean Shepherd is a very healthy breed. The breeding stock must be screened for Hip Dysplasia.