One of two breeds of sheepdogs from the Pyrenees, the Pyrenean Shepherd serves as a herder rather than as a protector of livestock. Believed to have descended from French sheepdogs, it played a major role in locating injured soldiers during European wars.
Also known as the Pyrenees Sheepdog, the Pyrenean Shepherd Dog, the Labrit, the Labri, the Chien de Berger des Pyrenees or the Berger des Pyrenees, this breed is used for controlling the flocks of sheep in the Pyrenean Mountains during the five warmer months, when the livestock is grazing on higher ground. Its friends often refer to it as the Petit Berger (Little Shepherd).History
This is a smaller version of the Catalan Sheepdog. The Pyrenean Shepherd usually works in tandem with the larger Pyrenean Mountain Dog. The smaller dog controls the movements of the flocks and the bigger one acts as a guard against predators and thieves.
In origin, it has been argued in the past that this breed, the smallest of the French sheepdogs, is a descendant of the Briard, but recent opinion is against this and suggests instead that this is an indigenous breed of great antiquity.
The range of its operations stretches right along the Pyrenees, and it is also known in the Basque country to the west. Working with the mountain shepherds it is capable of covering over 20 miles (32 miles) a day. It is renowned for its speed and its quick reactions. One observer described it as a "ball of fire".
It was first formally recognized as a breed in 1926. The Kennel Club in London registered it in 1988. Two forms exist - the goat-haired and the long-haired. The goat-haired has a medium-length coat and is viewed as no more than a minor variation of the long-haired form. These two are lumped together under the title of the Pyrenean Shepherd. A third, smooth-faced type is considered sufficiently different to be classed as a separate breed.Appearance
The height at the withers is approximately 15-19 inches/38-48 cm. The body should be rectangular, well muscled but never heavy or strong. The head should be triangular, not too long in the muzzle. The ears are usually cropped and the tail docked or with a natural bobtail. Double dewclaws on the hind legs are typical. Medium sized, with sturdy limbs and well-developed thigh muscles, this breed has a black nose and chestnut eyes surrounded by black rims. The long, heavy, and coarse woolly coat is slightly wavy on the back. Its color is basically gray, often tipped with grayish silver, white, or yellow. All colors of Pyrenean Sheepdog are permitted with or without slight white markings. Black pigmentation is essential.Temperament
The Pyrenean Shepherd is a hardy dog with a great deal of nervous energy – vivacious, quick-witted, mischievous, intelligent, brave and sure-footed. It shows impressive stamina even at high altitudes. Like many herding dogs, it is rather wary of strangers.
Quite fearless and healthy, the Pyrenean Shepherd is well known for its ability to withstand fierce weather conditions and adversity.
Its active and very energetic temperament requires that it be kept occupied with purposeful activities. The breed is known for its agility and is very quick to respond to noise or any movement.Care and Exercise
Brushing is necessary once every two to three days. Regular daily exercise is also required.Puppies and Training
The three to six puppies born in each litter are easily whelped and very strong, and quite actively play with one another as they grow. They are easy to train, as they are highly intelligent.