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The Furry Critter Network
Pyrenean Shepherd Dog Breed Description
Berger de Pyrenees, Berger des Pyrenees, Labrit, Petit Berger, Pyr Shep, PyreShep
Approximately 9-15 Years
Average 3-5 Puppies
The Pyrenean Sheepdog is a small to medium-sized breed (it is the smallest French herding breed) that resembles as small Berger Picard; they usually stand between 38 and 56 centimetres (15 and 22 in); the breed standards state the long-haired dogs are 40 to 50 centimetres (16 to 20 in) and bitches 38 to 48 centimetres (15 to 19 in) whilst smooth-faced dogs are 40 to 54 centimetres (16 to 21 in) and bitches 40–52 centimetres (16–20 in). The breed weighs between 8 and 15 kilograms (18 and 33 lb). The breed has a lean, athletic build which gives them both speed and endurance as is typical of smaller herding dogs; the varieties are anatomically almost identical, although the smooth-faced variety is described as being slightly shorter in the body and having more compact feet. The breed is considered very hardy and its build gives it impressive stamina, particularly so given the altitudes it works in, it easily covers over 32 kilometres (20 mi) in a day.
The Pyrenean Sheepdog's coat can be medium (known as goat-haired) or long, the long-haired varieties have longer hair on the face whilst the smooth-faced variety has much shorter hair on its face. The breed's coat provides excellent protection from extreme weather, particularly the long-haired variety, the variations seen in the breed's coats is an indication that the breed is primarily bred for working ability and not appearance. The breed can be fawn, grey, blue, brindle or black in colour which can be overlaid with black and also can have some white on the chest and limbs.
Traditionally the Pyrenean Sheepdog's ears and tail were docked although this custom is no longer common due to the procedures being restricted/ banned in numerous countries.
Head: Wedge-shaped, like that of the brown bear. Stop not accentuated. Long-haired variety has a fairly short muzzle. Smooth-muzzled variety has a longer muzzle.
Ears: Short, generally cropped. Carried three-fourths erect with tips breaking forward or to the side.
Eyes: Dark brown color. Black rims. Walleyes are permitted in dogs with harlequin or slate-gray coat.
Body: The body of the smooth-muzzled variety is slightly shorter than that of the long-haired variety. Strong neck. Deep, broad chest. Long back. Oblique croup.
Tail: Long-haired variety: not too long, full fringe, attached low and forming a hook at the tip; often docked. Smooth-muzzled variety: Fairly long, thick hair forming a flag, carried low; hook at the tip; tail circles over the back making a wheel when dog is alerted.
Hair: Long-haired variety: long- or medium-length, thick, almost flat or slightly wavy; more wooly on the croup and thighs; hair on muzzle and cheeks falls backward. Texture between wool and goat hair. Smooth-muzzled variety: thick, flat, fairly long and flexible; longer on the tail and around the neck; head covered with short, fine hair; short hair on legs and culottes on the thighs.
Coat: Long-haired variety: dark fawn with or without a mixture of black hairs, occasionally with white spots on the chest and feet; light gray with white on the head, chest, and legs; shades of harlequin. White coat is a disqualification. Smooth-muzzled variety: white or white with gray (badger), pale yellow, wolf gray, or tan spots on the head, ears, and base of the tail. Badger coat preferred.
Size: Long-haired variety - Dog: 40 to 48 cm; Bitch: 38 to 46 cm.Smooth-muzzled variety - Dog: 40 to 54 cm; Bitch: 40 to 52 cm.
Weight: Both varieties: 8 to 15 kg.
The history of the smallest French sheepdog traces back many years. It is thought that he descended from local breeds and never left the high valleys of the Pyrenees mountains until the late 19th century. During WW I, the Pyrenean Shepherd Dog was used as a lookout and messenger dog and to search for wounded. The breed was standardized in 1936. This breed was called by various names, which reflected its region of origin, such as the Labrit, the Landes Shepherd, the Bagn res Shepherd, the Auzun Shepherd, the Arbazzi Shepherd, etc. The Labrit, the largest and most rustic looking, measuring 50 to 55 cm at the withers, was almost recognized as a separate breed in 1935. Today, the Labrit no longer exists; it is considered a Pyrenean Shepherd Dog. There are two varieties of this breed, the very common long-haired variety and the rarer smooth-muzzled variety, which has short hair on the head and has a shorter body than the long-haired variety. After the first World War, the Pyrenean Shepherd gained national recognition in France for their valiant work as couriers, search and rescue dogs, watch dogs, and company mascots.
The smooth-faced Pyrenean Shepherd in its harlequin or blue merle coloration may have been one of the foundation breeds for the Australian Shepherd when sheep herders brought their sheepdogs to the American West when they flew to the United States as contract herders for the Western Range Association in the 1940s until the early 1970s.
It is not yet a well-known breed outside of its native France, but its size, intelligence, and attractive coat make it appealing. After one of its breed won the World Agility Championship for midsized dogs in 2003, it gained more attention as an intelligent performance dog for dog sports.
The smooth-muzzled Pyrenean Shepherd Dog is a less nervous, more trainable dog than the long-haired variety. Hyperactive, energetic, and having an excessively nervous disposition, this dog needs constant exercise. This is not an easy breed. This courageous dog is rather vocal, is wary of anything unknown, and is constantly on guard. He needs a strong-minded owner.
This dog is not suited to apartment-living. If left alone, he will destroy everything within reach. If not given enough exercise, he will become aggressive. Weekly brushing is adequate.
Sheepdog, Guard Dog, Pet, Utility Dog: search-and-rescue (in wreckage), drug and explosives dog.
All adult dogs should be evaluated for hip dysplasia and eye problems, though. Elbows and hearing may also be checked.
"Don't Shop ... Please Adopt"
If you can’t find the pet you’re looking for on Petfinder, don’t give up. Some shelters maintain waiting lists for specific breeds, so don’t be afraid to ask! There are also breed-specific rescues for just about every breed, and most of them post their pets on Petfinder. (Petfinder can even e-mail you when a pet that fits your criteria is posted — just click “Save this Search” at the top of your search results page.)
Jeff Gold, Founder, Rescue Me! Animal Rescue Network
Jeff Gold lives in Watkinsville, Georgia on the same property as Rescue Me's Animal Rehabilitation Center, with 18 rescue animals. Shown with him in the photo to the left are Maggie, Izzie and Cortez. In 2003, after learning there was nobody doing boxer rescue work in Georgia, Gold founded Boxertown, an organization which helped find homes for over 500 boxers during its first two years. Based upon this success, Gold came up with the vision for Rescue Me! ― a network which helps all breeds of dogs, cats and other animals find good homes, anywhere in the world. RescueShelter.com is also a free service of Rescue Me! and provides the world's largest and most up-to-date directory of animal rescue organizations for all breeds of dogs, cats and other animals, including a comprehensive directory of wildlife rehabilitators in over 150 countries.