Catalan Sheepdog

Canis lupus

Last updated: September 30, 2022
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff
© Anne Zwagers/

This breed is called the Gos d’Atura Catala in native Catalan and Pastor Catalan in Spanish, both of which roughly translate to mean Catalan Sheepdog


Catalan Sheepdog Scientific Classification

Scientific Name
Canis lupus

Read our Complete Guide to Classification of Animals.

Catalan Sheepdog Conservation Status

Catalan Sheepdog Locations

Catalan Sheepdog Locations

Catalan Sheepdog Facts

Name Of Young
Fun Fact
This breed is called the Gos d’Atura Catala in native Catalan and Pastor Catalan in Spanish, both of which roughly translate to mean Catalan Sheepdog
Litter Size
3-6 puppies

Catalan Sheepdog Physical Characteristics

  • Brown
  • Grey
  • Fawn
  • Red
  • Black
  • Tan
13 years

Catalan Sheepdog as a Pet:

General Health
Energy Level
Tendency to Chew
Family and kid friendliness
Yappiness / Barking
Separation Anxiety
Preferred Temperature
Average climate
Exercise Needs
Friendly With Other Dogs
Pure bred cost to own
$1,200 or more
Dog group
Male weight
- lbs
Female weight
- lbs

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This breed is thought to share close ancestry with other Pyrenees dogs. The Pyrenees is the mountain range that separates Spain and France along the northern edge of Catalonia. Several different herding dogs have sprung from the region.

The Catalan Sheepdog is a big, shaggy breed, lovable in appearance and temperament but driven by an insatiable desire to herd livestock. It hails from the Catalonia region in the northeast of Spain, which encompasses the city of Barcelona. The origins of the Catalan Sheepdog are unfortunately shrouded in mystery. One (implausible) tale suggests that it descended from two shaggy dogs belonging to Emperor Charlemagne, one of the most important figures of post-Roman Europe. A more likely theory suggests that this breed was produced from a mix of Roman herding dogs and local Spanish breeds.

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Either way, this breed is highly bound up with the history of Catalonia, a semi-autonomous region of Spain with its language and culture. In the 1930s, this breed played an important role as messenger and guard during the Spanish Civil War on the Republican side. The victory of Francisco Franco in the war coincided with a period of decline for the breed. Despite a revival in its fortunes from the 1970s onward, it remains a rare but beloved pet in many parts of Europe. Unfortunately, it is less known in the United States. The American Kennel Club does not recognize this breed at all.

The Catalan Sheepdog is characterized by a long and wavy double coat, particularly soft and dense underneath. This coat is so long that it obscures the eyes, the head, and the muscular body. There are several accepted color combinations, including fawn, gray/white, black/tan, gray/black, and white/black/sable. A short-coat variation also exists, but it is considered to be nearly extinct.

3 pros and cons of owning a Catalan Sheepdog

Gentle and Affectionate: The Catalan Sheepdog is a great family companion.Demanding: Owners will find much of their time occupied by caring for this dog.
Hard-working: This breed thrives best when it has a task to do.Requires Lots of Space: This breed needs plenty of physical space to run around in and play.
Excellent Health: This breed has few inheritable disorders and a good life span.Long, Shaggy Hair: This dog will need to be trimmed fairly frequently.
Catalan Sheepdogs have a soft, double coat that needs to be trimmed frequently.


CSize and Weight

The Catalan Sheepdog is a medium-sized breed with a fairly muscular frame. Males are quite a bit larger than females.

Height (Male):18 to 22 inches
Height (Female): 17 to 21 inches
Weight (Male):44 to 55 pounds
Weight (Female):37 to 46 pounds

Common Health Issues

All reports indicate that this is a very healthy breed with a life span of 12 to 14 years, but it does suffer from few inheritable conditions. One of the most common is hip dysplasia, a developmental disorder in which a malformed hip may fit poorly in the socket, causing lameness and pain. Other problems include glaucoma, progressive retinal atrophy, epilepsy, and dental issues. Cancers and heart diseases are also leading causes of death in just about any dog breed. Talk with your breeder to ensure that all the proper medical tests have been done. Regular checks at the vet are also necessary to ensure the best possible health. In summation, these are the most common health problems:

Health and Entertainment for your Catalan Sheepdog

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  • Glaucoma
  • Progressive retinal atrophy
  • Dental problems
  • Cancer
  • Hip dysplasia


The Catalan Sheepdog has many of the personality traits of a proper herder: it is intelligent, protective, and devoted, always working to keep the herd together. While it was originally bred to be independent and free-roaming, this breed also exhibits extraordinary tenderness and gentleness toward the family. Keep in mind that this breed is very active both mentally and physically. It needs something or someone to interact with frequently throughout the day. If they don’t receive enough stimulation, then they might find an outlet for their energy in annoying and destructive behavior.

How to Take Care of the Catalan Sheepdog

The Catalan Sheepdog is probably not a good choice for casual or inexperienced owners. Their active, roaming minds and boundless reserves of energy require an owner who knows how to deal with a breed of this kind. A large house with a big yard is also recommended.

The Best Dog Food for Catalan Sheepdogs

The Catalan Sheepdog will need about three cups of high-quality dog food every day. The exact amount should be based on the dog’s size, age, and activity level. As with any dog prone to dental health issues, always feed your Catalan Sheepdog a dry, kibble dog food.

With this in mind, A-Z Animals recommends Eukanuba Adult Large Breed Lamb 1st Ingredient Adult Dry Dog Food as the best dog food for Catalan Sheepdogs.

Here’s a hearty lamb kibble with added poultry ingredients for supplemental chondroitin and glucosamine to prevent conditions like hip dysplasia. It also has beta-carotene for clear eyes. All this is wrapped into crunchy pieces with a shape and texture engineered to remove plaque and tartar for healthier gums and teeth.

Eukanuba Large Breed dog food is available on Chewy and Amazon.

Best for Large Breed
Eukanuba Adult Large Breed Dry Dog Food
  • Adult large breed dry dog food for large breed dogs 15 months or older, weighing over 55 lb.
  • Promotes lean muscle development and joint health in active adult dogs with a combination of animal protein, chondroitin sulfate, and glucosamine.
  • Helps keep dogs sharp and supports healthy brain function with DHA and vitamin E.
  • Fuels an active lifestyle with optimal levels of fats and carbohydrates.

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Maintenance and Grooming

The Catalan Sheepdog has a long, dense coat that naturally takes care of itself. It still needs to be combed about two or three times a week, but the coat is otherwise very resistant to weather and dirt. The most difficult aspect of its grooming might be the need to trim the coat from time to time to prevent it from becoming too long and unwieldy. A professional groomer is recommended if you don’t want to take care of it yourself. Owners should also trim the nails about once a month to prevent them from cracking and clicking on the floor. Brush the teeth with a vet-approved product to prevent gum and teeth disease. Finally, check the ears regularly for signs of wax buildup or infection.


The Catalan Sheepdog should be a breeze to train. Owners will need to set clear and consistent boundaries without being harsh or mean, but these dogs enjoy having a task to perform and take to training with a certain amount of gusto. They’re also incredibly whip-smart.


The Catalan Sheepdog will probably need at least an hour of exercise per day. Long walks, while highly recommended, will not be enough to satisfy its needs. This breed will also benefit from vigorous exercise, games, fetching, agility challenges, and herding trials.


Like all puppies, the Catalan Shepherd will benefit immensely from early training and socialization. Training classes and daycare can help improve the dog’s overall behavior, but any positive interactions are beneficial. Owners might want to consider crate training as well. This can provide a safe space to help puppies with house training and behavioral issues. The one issue you need to keep in mind is that this breed does tend to herd both people and pets. This behavior can be recognized when the dog starts circling and nipping at heels. Since the dog can sometimes accidentally bite, owners should probably try to dissuade this behavior by setting clear boundaries and then channeling its energies into other pursuits.

Catalan Sheepdogs are easy to train and do best if training starts young.


The Catalan Sheepdog and Children

The Catalan Sheepdog is a gentle and loving companion for children of all ages. As mentioned previously, they do tend to nip at people. While this shouldn’t be mistaken for aggressive behavior, some children might not enjoy being nipped at. An adult should always be present to supervise interactions with children.

Dogs Similar to the Catalan Sheepdog

The Catalan Sheepdog resembles many other types of herding breeds:

  • Basque Shepherd Dog: This medium-sized herding dog originated from the Basque region of Spain, directly to the west of Catalonia. Two variations are recognized: a smooth coated dog and a rough or wiry haired dog. Both of them have cinnamon or fawn-colored hair.
  • Pyrenean Mountain Dog: Also known as the Great Pyrenees, this massive livestock guardian can weigh up to 165 pounds. Despite its large size and protective temperament, it is quite gentle and friendly toward members of its own family. This breed has a long, thick double coat of white with dark patches possible.
  • Bearded Collie: This medium-sized herding dog from Scotland has a long double coat of black, blue, brown, or fawn fur with white or tan markings. It is gentle, protective, even-tempered, and affectionate.

Famous Catalan Sheepdog Dogs

The Catalan Sheepdog is something of an important symbol in its native Catalonia. A dog named Cobi was the official mascot of the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. Outside of Spain, this breed is probably best known from the film “Back to the Future” as Doc Brown’s canine assistant. Einstein, obviously named after the famous physicist, was the first test subject of Brown’s time machine in 1985. Copernicus, named after the Renaissance astronomer, was the dog Doc Brown owned in 1955. A Catalan Sheepdog named Colonel was also a character in “101 Dalmatians.”

If you’re still unsure about what to name your new Catalan Sheepdog, then you might want to consider one of the following options:

  • Einstein
  • Pau
  • Beau
  • Marti
  • Clara
  • Laia
  • Caterina
  • Nicolau
  • Shaggy
  • Belle

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What's the right dog for you?

Dogs are our best friends but which breed is your perfect match?


If you have kids or existing dogs select:

Other Dogs

Should they be Hypoallergenic?

How important is health?
Which dog groups do you like?
How much exercise should your dog require?
What climate?
How much seperation anxiety?
How much yappiness/barking?

How much energy should they have?

The lower energy the better.
I want a cuddle buddy!
About average energy.
I want a dog that I have to chase after constantly!
All energy levels are great -- I just love dogs!
How much should they shed?
How trainable/obedient does the dog need to be?
How intelligent does the dog need to be?
How much chewing will allow?
About the Author

AZ Animals is a growing team of animals experts, researchers, farmers, conservationists, writers, editors, and -- of course -- pet owners who have come together to help you better understand the animal kingdom and how we interact.

Catalan Sheepdog FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What is a Catalan Sheepdog?

The Catalan Sheepdog is a shaggy-haired herding breed from the Spanish region of Catalonia. It has many appealing qualities, including a gentle and affectionate temperament, a loyal sense of devotion to its owner, an active and intelligent mind, a hard-working physicality, and excellent health with a life span of 12 to 14 years. On the downside, they do require a lot of time and effort to care for.

How much does a Catalan Sheepdog cost?

The price of a new puppy will depend on the overall health and pedigree of the dog. If you plan to do business with a high-quality breeder, as you certainly should, then you will probably pay somewhere around $1,200 – and even more for a dog with a particularly excellent pedigree. Price conscious consumers might want to try adoption as an appealing alternative. The price for an adopted dog is usually no more than a few hundred dollars. Rescues are probably your best bet for adoption. However, since the Catalan Shepherd is fairly rare within the United States, there are fewer rescues and organizations specifically devoted to this breed. Europeans will probably have better luck finding a rescue organization or dog club.

How big do Catalan Sheepdogs get?

The Catalan Sheepdog normally grows no larger than 22 inches at the shoulders and weighs up to 55 pounds. The hair can make them look bigger than they are.

Do Catalan Sheepdogs shed?

Yes, owners should expect this breed to shed its entire coat at least once a year. This is when matting is most likely to occur.

Is a Catalan Sheepdog hypoallergenic?

No, the Catalan Sheepdog is not considered to be hypoallergenic. While individual reactions will always vary, most allergy sufferers should probably avoid this breed.

How do you groom a Catalan Sheepdog?

Owners should expect to set aside some of their time to grooming. This breed should be brushed with a comb about two or three times a week. Since the coat remains naturally clean, bathing is rarely necessary. But you will probably need to trim the coat every month or two.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.


  1. / Accessed September 24, 2021
  2. dogster / Accessed September 24, 2021

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