Its origins lost in the mists of time, the Pyrenean Shepherd has resided in the Pyrenees Mountains of Southern France since time immemorial. Myths abound – that the breed is descended from native Pyrenean bears and foxes; and that this was the original dog of the Cro-Magnon people who painted the cave at Lascaux. What we can know is that bones of small dogs abound in Neolithic sub-fossil deposits, and that sheep and goat herding were so well developed in the Pyrenees that by 4000 BC, the ecology of the region had been transformed by overgrazing. Throughout the centuries, transhumance herding has been the mainstay of the economy of the High Pyrenees, and this ancient lifestyle persists even into the twenty-first century. Many Pyr Sheps of excellent type (but with no registered ancestors) still herd sheep every day in the Pyrenees Mountains.
A small, sinewy, lean, lively dog whose sparkling personality and quicksilver intelligence are reflected in the vibrant expression of his unique triangular head and windswept face. A superb athlete, his beautiful, flowing gait “shaves the earth.” Uncoiffed, light- boned and built as a horizontal rectangle, his high energy and intelligent, cunning, mischievous attitude show that he is always on alert, suspicious, ready for action. An ardent herder of all kinds of livestock, his vigilant attitude and great vivacity of movement give this little dog a highly singular gait and appearance, characteristic of no other breed. The Pyr Shep is naturally distrustful of strangers, but when well-socialized from a young age, he or she has a very lively, cheerful disposition. The two varieties, Smooth-Faced and Rough-Faced (including both demi- long and long-haired coat types) are born in the same litters.
The Pyrenean Shepherd is not merely a header or a drover. Such a division of labor is unknown to him. He is a versatile herder to his very soul and has the intelligent initiative to adapt to all manner of changing circumstances in order to fulfill the human shepherd’s every need with unequalable prowess. The powerful herding instinct is so strong in him that from the very youngest age he knows how to manage the flock even without the example of an older dog. He is dominated by his love for his work. He has the tendency to become passionately attached to his owner to the complete exclusion of all others and is astonishingly sensitive to his owner’s moods. As a companion, he is very active and enthusiastic and insists upon being involved in the day’s activities whatever they may be. He is very affectionate with the members of his immediate family, but is distrustful of strangers.
Rough-Faced: males: 15 1⁄2 to 18 1⁄2 inches at the withers, females: 15 to 18 inches. Smooth-Faced: males 15 1⁄2 to 21 inches at the withers, females 15 1⁄2 to 20 1⁄2 inches at the withers.
Various shades of fawn from tan to copper, with or without a mixture of black hairs; grey, ranging from charcoal to silver to pearl grey; merles of diverse tones; brindle; black; black with white markings not exceeding 30% of the body surface. A little white is acceptable on the chest, head, and feet. Faults – Too many white patches or white patches that are too big; black with tan points.
Learn more at the Pyreneau Shepherd Club of America.