ORIGINS OF THE PYRENEAN SHEEPDOG
The Pyrenean Sheepdog or (to give it its correct name) Le Berger de Pyrénées was not officially recognised as a pedigree dog by the FCI and French Kennel Club until 1926. It had been used for hundreds of years as a working dog, particularly in the Pyrenees, but because of the isolation in the remote valleys many different types had developed. Some farmers wanted a strong, all purpose dog and the shepherds in the mountains wanted a smaller dog that was extremely hardy and agile. The dogs were also used during the two world wars for carrying messages and are now becoming known as search and rescue dogs, particularly in earthquake areas. They are now one of the most popular breeds in France and are becoming better known throughout Europe and North America and Canada. Many people still do not know of the breed and expect any 'Pyrenean' to be a large white mountain dog!
When the French Kennel Club agreed to register the Berger de Pyrénées in 1926, a standard was drawn up with the variation in coat (long, semi-long and smooth faced) and a wide range in height to accommodate all the different types of dogs seen in the Pyrenees. An unusual and unique characteristic requirement specific to this breed is the "windswept look'. Almost all dogs with long hair have the coat falling forward over the eyes. In the Pyrenean Sheepdog it should grow away from the muzzle and towards the back of the head, it should not cover the eyes and should not look like a moustache or beard.
The Berger de Pyrénées is a true courageous working dog with incredible stamina and energy for its size. It is extremely devoted to its owner and responds well to training. Because of its ancestry it can be wary of strangers, so to be a good family pet it is important that it is very well socialised and acclimatised at an early age. It can be dominant so needs firm handling. This is a dog that needs plenty of exercise so it is not suitable for the couch potato. Many of them are excellent jumpers and with their speed they can be very good at agility. They are hardy and healthy and although the coat is long, it is not very dense so it does not normally require more than a twice weekly brush.
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