The Pyrenean Shepherd is a small French breed that is lively and athletic with an ever present show of energy. There are two different varieties for this breed: Smooth-Faced and Rough-Faced. This is an ancient herding breed that for as long as memory serves has lived in the Pyrenees Mountains of Southern France, but unfortunately details surrounding its origin have been forever lost in time.
There is a myth that Pyrenean Shepherds were owned by Cro-Magnon people – the oldest modern people in Europe which date back more than 25,000 years. Another myth tells us the Pryrenean Shepherd descended from Pyrenean foxes and bears.
Of all the French herding breeds, the Pyrenean Shepherd is the smallest. In addition to its natural instinct to herd and guard flocks, this breed is an extremely devoted and loyal companion. In 1926, both varieties of Pyrenean Shepherd were fully recognized in France. The breed (mostly smooth-faced blue merles) first entered the United States when accompanying sheep imported from Pyrenees Mountains in the 19th century. In the 1930s, Mary Crane who was the founder of the Great Pyrenees in America, imported more Pyrs Sheps, but it was not until the 1970s and again in the early ’80s these dogs were imported for the purpose of breeding.
In 1987, the Pyrenean Shepherd Club of America was established and in 2009, the American Kennel Club recognized this breed in the Herding Group.
Height: The height for a Pyrenean Shepherd is between 15 – 19 inches (38-48cm).
Weight: The weight of Pyrenean Shepherd averages between 15 – 30 pounds (7-14kg).
Coat Type: The Pyrenean Shepherd has two different types of coat – the Rough-Faced and Smooth-Faced. The Rough-Faced coat is long or demi-long and dense which can be slightly wavy or just about flat. If the long coat is not brushed, the mixture of the woolly and harsh, course hair will naturally form strands or cords. The texture is often referred to as being a cross between sheep’s wool and goat’s hair. The Smooth-Faced type has short, fine hairs that covers the muzzle as well as on the body which is soft to the touch. Longer hair forms around the sides of the face and down the neck somewhat forming a ruff. Keeping the longer haired coat in good condition is easy if it is left in a natural, corded state. You will need to keep the cords separated (by hand) and will only have to brush the shoulders, neck, head and front legs every few weeks. If the Pyrenean Shepherd’s long coat is not left to cord, give it a thorough brushing a couple times a month. A demi-long coat or the Short-Faced coat only needs to be brushed once a month. Neither coat needs trimming.
Color: The color of the Pyrenean Shepherd’s coat can be various shades of fawn or fawn with an overlay of black. Other coat colors are: brindle, grey, solid black or blue merle.
Temperament: The Pyrenean Shepherd is friendly, lively and affectionate. They make an outstanding companion and have always had the solid reputation of being thoroughly devoted and attached to their owner. The Pyrenean Shepherd is usually wary of strangers, however, early and consistent socialization can help them overcome this. They are also good with well behaved and respectful children, but if not raised with them, proper introduction is necessary. Socialization is also important for this reason as well. These dogs are natural herders and are always ready for a job to fulfill. Pyrenean Shepherds can be headstrong or bossy therefore needs a firm, confident and dominant master. These dogs are alert and have a very good sense of hearing making them a great watchdog. They may however, bark unnecessarily, but can be trained to stop this behavior. Pyrenean Shepherds are fearless and courageous. They need daily exercise such as walking, running, free play and playing games such as Frisbee.
Health Problems: The Pyrenean Shepherd is a healthy breed that has a long life expectancy. Some are known to live well into its teens. Although not considered common among the Pyrenean Shepherd breed, some health concerns include progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), epilepsy, hip dysplasia, PDA and sub-luxated patellas.
• The French name for the Pyrenean Shepherd is Berger des Pyrénées.
• A shortened version of Pyrenean Shepherd is simply “Pyr Shep”.
• The Pyrenean Shepherd is the smallest of all French herding breeds.
• The Pyrenean Shepherd is thought to have contributed to Australian Shepherd.
• The Pyrenean Shepherd works alongside the larger Great Pyrenees while herding flocks.
• Pyrenean Shepherds were used during WWI as couriers, traveling guardians as well as in search and rescue. Their outstanding services were duly noted and considered best of all breeds during this war.
AKC: Herding Group
CKC:Herding Group 7
FCI: Group 1 Section 1 Sheepdogs
UKC: Herding Dog