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  • Temperament: Affectionate, Active, Enthusiastic
  • AKC Breed Popularity: Ranks 176 of 194
  • Height: 15.5-18.5 inches (male rough-faced), 15-18 inches (female rough-faced), 15.5-21 inches (male smooth-faced), 15.5-20.5 inches (female smooth-faced)
  • Weight: 15-30 pounds
  • Life Expectancy: Late teens
  • Group: Herding Group

    The AKC has grouped all of the breeds that it registers into seven categories, or groups, roughly based on function and heritage. Breeds are grouped together because they share traits of form and function or a common heritage.

Pyrenean Shepherd standing sideways facing left
Pyrenean Shepherd lying in three-quarter view facing forward
Pyrenean Shepherd sitting in three-quarter view facing forward
Two Pyrenean Shepherds: a smooth-faced dog sitting on the left and a rough-faced dog lying on the right

GENERAL APPEARANCE

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.

HEAD

The head is generally triangular in shape, rather small in proportion to the size of the dog, well-filled-in under the eyes; the top skull is nearly flat. Expression – Intelligent, alert, and cunning, even a little mischievous. Eyes – The eyes are almond-shaped, open, and very expressive. They are neither prominent nor deeply set. They are dark brown in color. Partially or completely blue eyes are acceptable only in merles. Eye rims are black no matter what color the coat. Disqualification – Missing pigment on the eye rims. Disqualification – Blue eyes in a dog of coat color other than merle.

BODY

Cleanly boned, the body is rather long and well supported, the loin is short, the croup is rather short and oblique, flank well tucked up, ribs slightly rounded and extending well to the rear. The chest is of medium development and descends only to the elbow.

FOREQUARTERS

Shoulder blades are rather long, of moderate angulation. Upper Arm – Oblique and moderately long. Forelegs – Light-boned, sinewy, rather finely made. Rough-Faced: Fringed with rather long hair in long-haired dogs, rather shorter hair in the demi-long haired dog. Smooth-Faced: The hair is short on the fronts of the legs, and may be furnished with feathering along the back of the leg from elbow to pastern. Pasterns – Strong, sloping. Dewclaws – The front legs should carry single dewclaws, not to be removed. Feet – Oval shaped. The foot of the Smooth-Faced dog is a little shorter and more cupped than in the Rough-Faced dog. The pads of the feet are dark. Nails – The nails are hard and dark.

COAT

Coat quality is more important than abundance. Rough-Faced – The Rough-Faced dog’s coat can be of long or demi-long hair, almost flat or slightly wavy. Demi-long dogs have culottes on the rump, while the long-haired dogs are often more heavily furnished with woollier hair that may cord, especially on the elbows, croup, and thighs, but never on the head. The texture is harsh, being halfway between the hair of a goat and the wool of a sheep. The undercoat is minimal. The hair on the end of the muzzle and the chin must be naturally short and it lengthens as the muzzle widens toward the skull. The longer hair on the sides of the muzzle and cheeks is swept back giving a windblown look.

HINDQUARTERS

Hind Legs – The stifle is well bent. The upper thigh is rather short. The lower thigh is long. The hocks are clean, well let down, well angulated and often close together. When viewed from the rear, the legs present parallel columns of support from hip to hock. Rough-Faced dogs with demi-long coat are generally not as heavily furnished in the rear as the long-haired dogs. Feet – The foot of the Smooth-Faced dog is a little shorter and more cupped than in the Rough-Faced dog.

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About the Pyrenean Shepherd

These tough, lean, and lively herders, famous for their vigorous and free-flowing movement, come in two coat varieties: rough-faced and smooth-faced. Roughs have profuse, “windswept” hair above the muzzle and a generally harsh coat; smooths have short facial hair, a finer-textured coat, and a slightly longer, pointier muzzle. Both varieties of this sinewy, rectangular breed come in many colors and patterns. Pyr Sheps see the world through dark almond-shaped eyes conveying an alert and cunning expression.

Breed Clubs and Rescue

Want to connect with other people who love the same breed as much as you do? We have plenty of opportunities to get involved in your local community, thanks to AKC Breed Clubs located in every state, and more than 450 AKC Rescue Network groups across the country.
Pyrenean Shepherd

Find a Puppy: Pyrenean Shepherd

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Care

NUTRITION

A high-quality dog food appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior) will have all the nutrients the breed needs. Because of his athletic nature, the Pyrenean Shepherd will need a food high in protein and calories. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity or digestive disorders. Give table scraps sparingly, if at all, especially avoiding cooked bones and foods with excessively high fat content. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet.

GROOMING

The Pyr Shep needs weekly brushing to keep his coat free from mats and tangles and looking its best. His scruffy appearance comes from his double coat—a soft undercoat and a protective outer coat—which features a combination of straight and short-to-moderately-long hair. The harsh outer coat may shed quite a bit, while the soft undercoat can mat very easily. The coat can be kept combed out and left as it grows, or can be corded as desired. Cleaning ears and trimming nails are an important part of his grooming routine.

Grooming Frequency

Occasional Bath/Brush
Specialty/Professional
Weekly Brushing

Shedding

Infrequent
Frequent
Seasonal

EXERCISE

The Pyr Shep is a high-energy dog who is always on alert and ready for action. Since many Pyr Sheps today don’t get the chance to do what they were originally bred for—herding livestock—they are always eager to channel their abundant energy into other interesting challenges and activities. Lots of activity and a job to do are vital to the breed’s mental, emotional, and physical health.

Energy Level

Couch Potato
Needs Lots of Activity
Regular Exercise

TRAINING

The Pyr Shep is very smart, energetic, and trainable. They strive to please and are extremely connected with their owners. They love games and opportunities for intense activity. Pyr Sheps were bred to herd using their bodies, instead of with eye contact as some other breeds do. With an intuitive sense about their owner’s desires, they will respond enthusiastically to clicker training and other positive, reward-based methods. The breed is a great candidate for agility, rally, obedience, dock diving, freestyle work, and almost any fun dog sport.

Trainability

May be Stubborn
Eager to Please
Agreeable

Temperament/Demeanor

Aloof/Wary
Outgoing
Reserved with Strangers

HEALTH

The Pyrenean Shepherd is a healthy breed with a long expected lifespan. As with all breeds, there are some conditions that the breed may be prone to. The Pyr Shep is known to be subject to hip dysplasia, patellar subluxation, patent ductus arteriosus (PDA), epilepsy, and some eye defects, including choroidal hypoplasia (CH) and progressive retinal atrophy (PRA). Dedicated breeders do genetic testing on all potential breeding stock with the aim of reducing and hopefully ultimately eliminating certain conditions from the breed’s gene pool.

Recommended Health Tests from the National Breed Club:

  • Hip Evaluation
  • Ophthalmologist Evaluation
  • Patella Evaluation

Read the Official Breed Club Health Statement.

Pyrenean Shepherd
Pyrenean Shepherd
Pyrenean Shepherd
Pyrenean Shepherd
Pyrenean Shepherd

History

Pyr Sheps descend from an ancient line of herding dogs known among shepherds of the Pyrenees (the mountains forming the natural border between France and Spain) since time immemorial. No one can say for certain how long Pyr Sheps have been moving flocks from one grazing area to another amid the Pyrenean slopes and valleys, but it’s a job they still perform in their homeland today. Pyr Sheps often worked in tandem with the Great Pyrenees, the region’s mighty flock-guardian breed.

Did You Know?

The breed originated in the French Pyrenees Mountains as a sheep herding dog, working along side of the Great Pyrenees who were used to guard the flocks.
Two Pyrenean Shepherds are enough to manage a flock of 1000 sheep.
Members of the breed first distinguished themselves outside the Pyrenees Mountains by dint of their service during World War I.
It is estimated that the Pyrenean Shepherd may cover 25 miles a day doing chores with the shepherd or farmer.
It is believed among residents of the high Pyrenees that when the Virgin Mary appeared to the young shepherdess Bernadette Soubirous in the grotto at Lourdes in 1858, Bernadette had her little Pyrenean shepherd by her side.
A Pyrenean Shepherd was the 2003 Midi World Agility Champion! Sylvia Trkman's smooth-faced blue merle girl "Simply the Best de Loubajac" aka "La" ran a full 6 seconds faster than any other dog!

The Breed Standard

GENERAL APPEARANCE

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.

HEAD

The head is generally triangular in shape, rather small in proportion to the size of the dog, well-filled-in under the eyes; the top skull is nearly flat. Expression – Intelligent, alert, and cunning, even a little mischievous. Eyes – The eyes are almond-shaped, open, and very expressive. They are neither prominent nor deeply set. They are dark brown in color. Partially or completely blue eyes are acceptable only in merles. Eye rims are black no matter what color the coat. Disqualification – Missing pigment on the eye rims. Disqualification – Blue eyes in a dog of coat color other than merle.

BODY

Cleanly boned, the body is rather long and well supported, the loin is short, the croup is rather short and oblique, flank well tucked up, ribs slightly rounded and extending well to the rear. The chest is of medium development and descends only to the elbow.

FOREQUARTERS

Shoulder blades are rather long, of moderate angulation. Upper Arm – Oblique and moderately long. Forelegs – Light-boned, sinewy, rather finely made. Rough-Faced: Fringed with rather long hair in long-haired dogs, rather shorter hair in the demi-long haired dog. Smooth-Faced: The hair is short on the fronts of the legs, and may be furnished with feathering along the back of the leg from elbow to pastern. Pasterns – Strong, sloping. Dewclaws – The front legs should carry single dewclaws, not to be removed. Feet – Oval shaped. The foot of the Smooth-Faced dog is a little shorter and more cupped than in the Rough-Faced dog. The pads of the feet are dark. Nails – The nails are hard and dark.

COAT

Coat quality is more important than abundance. Rough-Faced – The Rough-Faced dog’s coat can be of long or demi-long hair, almost flat or slightly wavy. Demi-long dogs have culottes on the rump, while the long-haired dogs are often more heavily furnished with woollier hair that may cord, especially on the elbows, croup, and thighs, but never on the head. The texture is harsh, being halfway between the hair of a goat and the wool of a sheep. The undercoat is minimal. The hair on the end of the muzzle and the chin must be naturally short and it lengthens as the muzzle widens toward the skull. The longer hair on the sides of the muzzle and cheeks is swept back giving a windblown look.

HINDQUARTERS

Hind Legs – The stifle is well bent. The upper thigh is rather short. The lower thigh is long. The hocks are clean, well let down, well angulated and often close together. When viewed from the rear, the legs present parallel columns of support from hip to hock. Rough-Faced dogs with demi-long coat are generally not as heavily furnished in the rear as the long-haired dogs. Feet – The foot of the Smooth-Faced dog is a little shorter and more cupped than in the Rough-Faced dog.

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Colors & Markings

Colors

Description Standard Colors Registration Code
BLACK Check Mark For Standard Color 007
BLACK & WHITE Check Mark For Standard Color 019
BLUE MERLE Check Mark For Standard Color 050
BRINDLE Check Mark For Standard Color 057
BRINDLE MERLE Check Mark For Standard Color 465
FAWN Check Mark For Standard Color 082
FAWN MERLE Check Mark For Standard Color 464
GRAY Check Mark For Standard Color 100
SLATE GRAY Check Mark For Standard Color 463
WHITE 199

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