I was taken by surprise, this weekend at the AKC Dog Agility Championships, by a Pyrenean Shepherd.
I came around a corner and this most adorable little dog was sitting at the end of a leash, tongue out, looking at me, waiting to be petted. Of course I immediately asked what kind of dog it was, thinking it was a small bearded collie or something. Imagine my surprise when the owner said it was Pyrenean!
Sure enough, the dog had soft, silky hair like a Great Pyrenees. It also had a sweet, laid back disposition. Let’s find out a little more about this cousin to one of my favorite dogs.
All About the Pyrenean Shepherd
The AKC Breed Page has this to say about the Pyrenean Shepherd:
The Pyrenean Shepherd or “Pyr Shep” has herded sheep in the Pyrenees Mountains of Southern France for centuries. The breed comes in two coat types – Rough-Faced and Smooth-Faced. Colors include shades of fawn from tan to copper, as well as charcoal to silver to pearl grey. Although tentative with strangers, the Pyrenean Shepherd has a very lively, cheerful disposition, and is a superb canine athlete who excels at agility and other dog sports.
So the Pyrenean Shepherd comes in a variety of colors, and there is a rough coat variety. Hm. Like their much larger cousins, the Pyr Shep works the fields, herding where the Great Pyreneans guard. Tag team, huh? I think so. Where the smaller dog received its kudos, though, was on the battlefields of World War I, finding injured French soldiers and doing guard duty with the men. What an amazing little bundle of fur!
Like any herding dog, the Pyrenean Shepherd is a beauty when it comes to agility (hence my finding one at the agility championships). This also means that the Pyr Shep is an active dog, meant for either working or an active family. I love a dog who is designed to work!
If you click over to the AKC Breed Page, you’ll see a photo of the Pyrenean Shepherd in motion, hurdling a bar at an AKC agility event. Maybe it’s even the one I met. 🙂
A few more quick facts before we get to the pros and cons – the Pyr Shep is considered a medium sized dog (the small end of medium), about a foot and a half tall at the shoulder, averaging about 25 pounds. This breed is great for training in agility, herding, flyball, anything vigorous and athletic. They don’t fully mature until they’re about three years old.
Pros and Cons for This Breed
- Excel at agility, dog sports, learning all manner of cool tricks – it’s the perfect dog for frat guys who have time and energy and are looking for a companion who’ll help them pick up girls, but won’t eat all their pizza and drink all their beer
- Fantastic farm dog, great for herding cattle or sheep – pretty AND useful
- Low maintenance coat – the Pyrenean Shepherd doesn’t require a lot of grooming
- Reserved, good watchdog – this breed will alert you to intruders in a heartbeat
- One of the healthiest breeds of dogs
Before moving on to the cons, let’s see a video featuring the Pyrenean Shepherd at Westminster just a couple of years back:
- Very, very active, requiring tons of space and exercise – if you’re a couch potato, this is NOT the dog for you
- Wary – the natural wariness of the Pyr Shep makes for a good watchdog both for your home and a flock, but they need to be socialized constantly to avoid excessive shyness or aggression
- Not the best dog if you have cats, or even another dog – the Pyr Shep tends to be bossy and will herd other animals in the home – raise the puppy with other animals if you plan to always have other animals in the home
- Can be loud and destructive – as with any high energy, very intelligent breed, the Pyrenean Shepherd will bark excessively, dig and destroy if not well trained and extensively exercised daily
That looks like a lot of cons, huh? My point here is that I do not want you to get a cute, active Pyr Shep puppy without being informed. These dogs do not rehome well. Know what you’re getting into. This is a GREAT dog, but definitely not the breed for every home.
Oh, and if I had a Pyr Shep? I would stock up on Jones Natural Chews hooves, Other Ears and beef liver taffy. As long as this dog is getting plenty of exercise, a nightly treat shouldn’t be an issue. And the taffy is great for breaking into small pieces as rewards when training.
Speaking of Other Ears, we’re currently hosting a giveaway for Jones Natural Chews Other Ears. Simply click this sentence, then scroll down, in the new window, to the giveaway box at the bottom of the post and click. Your dog will thank you.
If you enjoy our Wednesday breed of the week, please subscribe to this blog. And to learn a little more about me and my own dogs, check out my interview on Coffee with a Canine!
Spreading the good chews …
P.S. This post has been gently recycled. Which means I need to meet some new breeds and take their photos! So if you have a dog breed which we haven’t featured, drop me a line!