Pyrenean Shepherd

A Hard-Working Dog that Thrives on Serving a Purpose, Keep Busy To Keep Happy

Pyrenean Shepherd

A Hard-Working Dog that Thrives on Serving a Purpose, Keep This Dog Busy To Keep It Happy

Also known as the Pyrenean Shepherd, the Berger Des Pyrenees is the smallest of the French herding dogs that originate in the Pyrenees Mountains of southern France and northern Spain. This ancient breed has been around for perhaps thousands of years, given that it may have even been the ancient dog kept by the Cro-Magnon people of more than 25,000 years ago. These dogs have worked in tandem with the much larger Pyrenees Mountain Dogs, used to control flocks of sheep during the warm months in the Pyrenees Mountains. The breed remains rare outside of its native regions, although it has been recognized as part of the Herding Group by the American Kennel Club as of January 1, 2009, with open registration until 2012.


One of the most ancient of dog breeds, canines resembling the Pyrenean Shepherd were used by the primitive ancestors of homo sapiens, the Cro-Magnon people, more than 25,000 years ago. Having been a resident of the Pyrenees Mountains of southern France and northern Spain since at least medieval times, and perhaps even earlier, some believe that the breed is descended from native Pyrenean foxes and bears, based on findings of small dogs' bones in Neolithic fossil deposits. By 6000 BC, the Pyrenees regions had been overgrazed, which indicates that it is most certainly possible that the Pyrenean Shepherd dog’s ancestors were herding sheep at that time. And, these little dogs are still herding sheep in the Pyrenees Mountains today.

Medieval history shows this breed as a constant companion to shepherds. Depictions resembling the modern Pyrenean Shepherd show up in paintings, lithographs, and engravings from early times. Citizens of the High Pyrenees region claim that the Virgin Mary appeared to shepherdess Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes in 1858, at which time she had her Pyrenean Shepherd dog nearby. 18th century representations show the same cropping of the breed’s ear as used today. The lineage has naturally been kept pure throughout the centuries because it was an important partner to the large Great Pyrenees Mountain dog, who protected and guarded flocks against predators, while the small Pyrenean Shepherd concentrated on herding.

It might seem counterintuitive that this small dog was so valued, but in fact, its small size was very important because it could subsist on relatively little food, leaving poor farmers more money to amass more sheep. Because of that, the Pyrenean Shepherd population has stayed high throughout the centuries. Selective breeding has also been important in limiting any genetic defects which could have affected the Pyrenean Shepherd's ability to work.

Outside of the Pyrenees Mountains, the Pyrenean Shepherd played a key role as a service dog during World War I, used in search-and-rescue missions and to accompany guards on their rounds. Afterward, the Reunion des Amateurs des Chiens Pyreneens (RACP) was founded to preserve both the Pyrenean Shepherd and Great Pyrenees Mountain Dog breeds. Some of these dogs made their way to North America in the 19th century to herd sheep that were imported from the Pyrenees Mountains.

Of the two varieties of the Pyrenean Shepherd dog, Smooth-Faced and Rough-Faced, the former may have had an influence in the breeding of the Australian Shepherd.

Other fanciers of the breed began to import breeding stock in the 1970s and 1980s, which is the foundation for the breed in America today. The Pyrenean Shepherd Club of America was founded in 1987 in the interest of protecting and preserving the original breed type. The breed was entered in the American Kennel Club's Foundation Stock Service in 2001, and began to show in the Miscellaneous class in 2006. It joined the Herding Group in 2009. The AKC today recognizes both the Rough- and Smooth-Faced varieties as two types of the same breed, while the Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI) records them as two distinctly different breeds.

Although still a relative rarity outside of France, the Pyrenean Shepherd has today also become a beloved family companion and pet in addition to being an excellent working dog.


Energetic, cheerful and ambitious, the Pyrenean Shepherd is every bit an intelligent and hard worker. Brave, driven and surefooted on steep mountain pastures, the Pyrenean Shepherd is unsurpassed as a herding dog. Not surprisingly, it's also incredibly attached to its owners, and should you choose to adopt one as a pet, it will love you to the utmost, forsaking all others.

This little dog is very sensitive to owners' moods, and will be devoted to family members without question. Although small for a herding dog, it will also be unflinchingly protective if it thinks you're in danger. If you are an active person, this makes an excellent companion dog for you and your family, as applicable, as long as you involve your pet in everything you do.

Despite or perhaps because of this dog’s extremely devoted nature, your pet will be suspicious and guarded around strangers. Make sure you expose your puppy to a wide variety of people, places and other pets from the very beginning, as soon as you bring it home, so that it will be comfortable and trusting around even unfamiliar people and animals in your household.

As you might expect, your pet is a very active dog with a lot of boundless energy. For this reason, it needs a job to do, and needs to work. Always alert and ready to "go," you need to make sure that this dog gets lots of exercise to stay both mentally and physically fit. With such great stamina, in fact, it can easily cover 30 miles of terrain in a day when working. If you don't have sheep to herd, you must find other ways to use your pet's unlimited energy, or it may become unhappy, bored, noisy, and even destructive. If you cannot keep a dog of this breed very engaged in activity at all times, you should choose another, since an unhappy Pyrenean Shepherd will not be pleasant to have around.

That said, if you can keep this dog suitably occupied, your pet will live to obey and love you. As long as you can keep your pet working and happy, you'll have a devoted friend for life.


Small, lean, and light-boned, your pet will stand about 15 to 21 inches at the shoulder and weigh between 15 and 32 pounds. Since the breed actually comes in two varieties, the Smooth-Faced and the Rough-Faced, the dog’s coat varies accordingly. The Rough-Faced variety has a coat that is either long or "demi long" (of medium length) to resemble a Benji-like Terrier in some respects, while the Smooth-Faced variety has short hair on the face and body. The Rough-Faced variety's facial hair cannot be so long that it hides the eyes. Puppies of both types appear in the same litters. The Smooth- Faced variety is generally larger, 15 to 21 inches at the shoulders, while the Rough-Faced variety is smaller, standing 15 to 18.5 inches at the shoulders. The standard for the breed states that the dogs should be as lean as possible, with the ribs readily felt.


With a lifespan of 10 to 14 years, this dog is very hardy, although there can be some problems with hip dysplasia, epilepsy, or patellar luxation (dislocation of the knee).


Both the Smooth-Faced and Rough-Faced varieties of Pyrenean Shepherd require very little grooming. A good brushing every couple of weeks to discourage mats from developing is necessary especially for a Rough-Faced dog. If not brushed regularly, the Rough-Faced Pyrenean will develop "cords," or a ropelike texture to the fur. Neither variety sheds to any great degree. Trim dewclaws to avoid overgrowth.


AKC Meet the Breeds®:

Retrieved September 7, 2013.

History of the Pyrenean Shepherd.

Retrieved September 7, 2013.

Pyrenean Shepherd.

Retrieved September 7, 2013.

Pyrenean Shepherd (Berger des Pyrenees) (Petit Berger) (Labrit) (Berger Des Pyrenees) (Pyr Shep)

Retrieved September 7, 2013.

For Buyers

  • Dog breeders
  • Cat breeders
  • For Breeders

  • Advertise with us
  • Our Company

  • Home
  • About us
  • Question
    If you have any questions call us at 619-374-1438, Chat with us or send us an email.
    If you have any questions call us at 619-374-1438, Chat with us or send us an email.
    Follow Us:facebookinstagramtwitterpinterest