Direct descendants of ancient sheepdogs of the Pyrenees Mountains, Pyrenean Shepherds are a unique breed of herding dog. They are endowed with significant features and characteristics which truly make them one-of-a-kind.
Although not very large (15-21inches), don’t let their medium size fool you, as they are generally pretty tough. Their tough nature allows them to be lively and vigorous herders. Beyond their herding qualities, however, these shepherds are full of personality, as well.
Pyreneans are predominately smart, enthusiastic, affectionate, and sometimes rather mischievous. As far as physical characteristics go, these scruffy-looking dogs come in either ‘rough-face’ or ‘smooth-face’ coat features.
Rough-faces have ‘windswept’. Longer hair and a generally harsh coat. Whereas, smooth-faces have short hair, a finer coat, and a slight pointer snout.
So, if you’re looking for an intelligent, alert, but all-around good dog, then the Pyrenean Shepherd just maybe it. But, read over these ten fun facts to help you decide if the Pyrenean is right for you.
A companion to Cro-Magnon
Ancient pictographs prove Pyreneans, or at least a similar breed to them, date back to over 6,000 years. They are among the oldest of the herding breeds. Some speculate they are descendants of the French Catalan Sheepdog, as the Pyr Shepherd resembles a smaller version.
However, another speculation is they might be descendants of the Briard, but it’s still uncertain. It’s possible these dogs even came into contact with the Cro-Magnon.
The great Pyrenees are their much larger cousin
Although the Pyrenean Shepherd herds the flocks, the much larger version of their breed, the Great Pyrenees, protects them.
However, these shepherds still share common traits with their larger ancestor, even if it isn’t their size. For example, both are very vocal dogs, frequently barking/howling, and they both tend to be quite affectionate but stubborn.
Yet, while the Great Pyrenees large size makes them better at protecting, Pyrenean’s smaller size makes them better at navigating.
Pyrenean Shepherds are relatively healthy dogs
Typically, pure-breed dogs are prone to more diseases and health problems, but Pyreneans are not. As they age, they could be subject to hip dysplasia, epilepsy, and certain eye defects, but these issues are preventable.
Their lifespan tends to be significantly longer than other pure-breeds, around 12 to 16 years.
They cover a lot of ground
Though they might be smaller, Pyr Shepherds are extremely energetic and expect their freedom to frolic around. In fact, these energetic herding dogs were originally bred to cover up to 25 miles per day.
Their herding days may be over, but they tend to channel the gene through a number of other various activities. So, these shepherds benefit more when they have access to larger plots of land to run about.
No matter what, however, giving Pyreneans the space and freedom for running is vital to their health and well-being.
They are very trainable
Because of their nature to herd and their innate intelligence, Pyr Shepherds tend to be good at the following command. They can quickly pick up on specific tasks and routines by watching others.
They love to engage in various sports, perform obedience trials, and they do well in search and rescue missions. In addition, they tend to make great watchdogs from their alert and cautious nature.
They require frequent grooming
Pyrenean’s rather thick coats (particularly the rough-faces) have a tendency to mat and tangle, so they demand frequent grooming. They possess a double-coat–a soft undercoat and a thicker outer coat– which leads to some major shedding.
So, these dogs require a consistent brushing routine about once a week. Particularly, if your dog’s coat starts forming cords, they will need to be split a few times a year to prevent coat over-growth.
Among other grooming routines, these dogs require frequent ear cleanings and nail trimming to maintain tip-top health.
They sometimes can be wary toward strangers
The Pyr Shepherd’s cautious and brave demeanor makes them ideal watchdogs. However, proper socialization is crucial for these kinds of dogs. They have a tendency to become wary, or sometimes even aggressive around newcomers if they’ve never been taught to socialize.
To prevent such tendencies, it’s important you expose and familiarize your dog with other animals and people during puppyhood. A common characteristic of Pyreneans is being reserved around new faces, but showing aggression towards them is not.
If you didn’t raise them since puppyhood and you sense aggression from them around strangers, it’s important you acknowledge it. Luckily, however, because Pyr Sheps are easily trainable, they should respond well to gradual social training.
They have unique features
Along with these dogs’ rough and smooth coat textures, they come in a variety of interesting colors, as well. Pyr Shepherd’s coat colors include fawn, black, black and white, brindle, merle, and gray.
Their almond-shaped eyes are predominately dark brown, however, Merle-coated dogs often tend to have blue eyes. In addition, Pyreneans possess triangular-shaped heads and oval-shaped feet.
They can sometimes be hard to find
If you’re looking to adopt a Pyrenean Shepherd, you may have to do some searching. Check around at local animal shelters, but if you can’t find one there, then contacting a breeder is your best bet.
However, you then might have to do some more searching to find the right breeder. Obviously, it’s important you find a course of adoption where the dogs have been well-taken care for and seem healthy.
They make a good family dog
These dogs may be difficult to come by but are certainly worth finding. Pyrenean Shepherds not only make loyal companions but loving additions to the family dynamic.
While many dogs like them can get along well with kids, not as many can get along with other dogs. However, these unique shepherds have the ability to get along with both.
From their strength to their affection, Pyrenean Shepherds have many excellent qualities. They are truly a pure breed like no other, and certainly one to consider for your next beloved canine companion.