Pyrenean Shepherd

Canis lupus familiaris

Last updated: November 17, 2022
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff
© lynea/Shutterstock.com

Pyrenean Shepherd Scientific Classification

Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Chordata
Class
Mammalia
Order
Carnivora
Family
Canidae
Genus
Canis
Scientific Name
Canis lupus familiaris

Read our Complete Guide to Classification of Animals.

Pyrenean Shepherd Locations

Pyrenean Shepherd Locations

Pyrenean Shepherd Facts

Diet
Omnivore

Pyrenean Shepherd Physical Characteristics

Color
  • Grey
  • Fawn
  • Blue
  • Black
  • White
  • Brindle

Pyrenean Shepherd as a Pet:

General Health
Energy Level
Shedability
Trainability
Intelligence
Tendency to Chew
Size
Family and kid friendliness
Yappiness / Barking
High
Separation Anxiety
High
Preferred Temperature
Average climate
Exercise Needs
High
Friendly With Other Dogs
Moderate
Pure bred cost to own
Initial purchase: $500-$800; upkeep: $650 a year.
Dog group
Herding
Male weight
18-33 lbs
Female weight
18-33 lbs

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“This breed is an energetic, ‘ball of fire!’”

Pyrenean Shepherd Summary

The Pyrenean shepherd, also known as the Pyrenean sheepdog or the Pyr shep, is a small-to-medium-sized breed that may have existed in Europe for over 4,000 years. They are the smallest and most popular herding breed with sheep ranchers in the Pyrenees Mountains of France.

Pyrenean shepherds are energetic and have great stamina, which enables them to run long distances at high altitudes. They are intelligent and mischievous, with a great deal of nervous energy. They are shy around strangers but devoted to their families and excellent with children. Their coats come in long, medium, and short lengths in a variety of colors and do not require very much care. The long-haired variety has an endearing “scruffy dog” appearance that makes them look charming and mischievous. This breed does need a lot of mental and physical stimulation, so they do best with a family that can give them the time and attention they need. They are not great pets for inexperienced dog owners.

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3 Pros and Cons of Owning a Pyrenean Shepherd

ProsCons
Can be good with children.  Pyrenean shepherds are shy around strangers but are known to be affectionate and playful with children. Given their high energy level, they can be a good fit for an active household. They need to be trained not to “herd” children by chasing and nipping at them.Excitable and “barky.” These dogs have a great deal of nervous energy, and they bark a lot. They are alert, excitable, and protective. These are great qualities if you need to be alerted to the approach of strangers, but not if you or your neighbors require a quiet pet.
Healthy and long-lived. This is considered a generally healthy breed with few endemic health conditions. They may live to 17 years or more.Crave stimulation. Pyrenean shepherds have abundant energy that needs to be worked off with running, playing fetch, and performing obedience and agility tasks. They will become anxious, bark, and destroy things if left alone too long.
Choices of low-care coats. Pyrenean shepherds may have long, medium, or short hair in a wide range of color combinations. Their coats are coarse and shed minimally, requiring only brushing every week or two.“Iffy” with strangers and pets. Pyrenean shepherds are wary of strangers and other animals. Their herding instincts make them protective of their family and can cause dominant behaviors toward other animals.

The Best Dog Food for a Pyrenean Shepherd

Regardless of breed, your dog should be provided with high-quality dog food, manufactured or home-prepared from the most natural ingredients possible, without artificial additives or poor-quality fillers. Spending a little more for higher quality can save you from expensive vet bills as your dog gets older.

Because Pyrenean shepherds are a particularly active breed, it is especially important to provide them with a high-protein diet. Wet or dry dog food will work, along with a small amount of meat scraps or meat broth to make their food savory and protein rich.

For dogs with high protein requirements, A-Z Animals recommends Instinct Grain Free Dry Dog Food. It is 40% protein, minimally processed, and sourced responsibly from cage-free chicken. It contains no grain products, artificial colors, or preservatives. It’s available in five flavors and is suitable for dogs of all ages.

Pyrenean Shepherd Size and Weight

The Pyrenean shepherd is a small-to-medium-sized dog with an average height of 16-21 inches tall for males and 15-20 inches tall for females. Males and females can weigh anywhere from 18-33 lbs when fully grown.

SexSize
Male16-21’ Tall, 18-33 lbs., fully grown
Female15-20’ Tall, 18-33 lbs., fully grown

Pyrenean Shepherd Common Health Issues

Pyrenean shepherds are a healthy breed with few known health issues. They can have a long lifespan of 17 or more years. The American Kennel Club recommends that they receive evaluations for potential problems with the patella, hips, or eyes. Some of their common conditions are:  

Pyrenean Shepherd Temperament and Behavior

True to their origins as outstanding herding dogs, Pyrenean shepherds have strong traits of intelligence, independence, courage, loyalty, and versatility. Their typical personality is exuberant, playful, enthusiastic, and affectionate. Their behavior with children is excellent: they enjoy playing and performing tricks.

Another positive behavior is that they are good protectors, being wary of strangers and vocal about any perceived threats. No one will be able to approach your yard or door without your dog keeping you well-informed! This trait can also make them tricky to deal with if you have other pets. Their herding instincts may make them hyper-protective or want to dominate and herd other animals.

How To Take Care of Pyrenean Shepherds

Maintenance and Grooming

Because Pyrenean shepherds have been developed as working dogs, not for a desired appearance, there is great variation in their coats. The coloration can be fawn, grey, blue, brindle, or black, and they sometimes have white on their chest and legs. Their coats may be long, medium (goat-haired), or short (smooth-faced). The coat may lay flat or be slightly wavy and charmingly scruffy-looking.

Their coats feel coarse and they do not have much of an undercoat. Their fur does not mat or shed very much. The fur of those with long coats may cord naturally. Owners should brush medium and short-haired varieties every two weeks or so. Long-haired Pyrenean shepherds should be brushed weekly. All breeds of dogs should have their nails regularly trimmed and their teeth brushed to maintain their appearance and prevent potentially life-threatening infection.

Training

Bred as herding dogs, Pyrenean shepherds like having a job or activity to do. Because they have such high energy and are eager to please their owners, they are a very trainable breed. An interesting trait of these dogs is that they were bred to herd using their bodies, not using eye contact as some other breeds do. As a result, they can more easily develop an intuitive sense of what they should do. Reward-based methods using clickers, verbal praise, and small treats work very well with them. Because of their high training needs, these dogs are not a good match for inexperienced dog owners.  

Exercise

Pyrenean shepherds are extremely energetic! Owners who like running and would enjoy teaching a dog to play fetch and performing obedience and agility tasks will appreciate the personality traits of this breed. They can be trained to run alongside a bicycle, which is a win-win for cycling enthusiasts. These dogs will become anxious and will bark excessively, dig, and create general mayhem if left alone too long. They can adapt to life in either a home or apartment, if given enough stimulation, attention, and opportunities to exercise vigorously.

Puppies

Pyrenean shepherds tend to be suspicious and reserved toward strangers and other animals. This means as puppies they need a great deal of socialization to become well-mannered family pets.

They reach full maturity at about three years old. They bond intensely with their families, so it is difficult for them to form new attachments to another family if they are rehomed. Prospective owners should not choose this breed unless they are firmly committed to the dog for life, which can be more than 15 years.

Pyrenean shepherd puppy
Pyrenean shepherd puppies need a great deal of socialization to become well-mannered family pets.

©Eric Isselee/Shutterstock.com

Pyrenean Shepherds And Children

This breed can be an outstanding companion to children, and is more than able to keep up with their level of activity. Pyrenean shepherds are nervous, hyper-alert dogs, though, so they can easily become alarmed by unexpected movements and noises from unfamiliar children. These dogs may chase and nip at children as they would sheep. Owners should correct this behavior immediately and consistently so the dog learns its subordinate place in the hierarchy of the family.

Dogs Similar to the Pyrenean Shepherd

  • Great Pyrenees – This breed is from the same region of France and is used to guard flocks rather than herd them. It is larger and not as well suited to apartment life as the Pyrenean shepherd, but it does get along better with strangers and other dogs.
  • Australian Shepherd – This is a herding dog larger than the Pyrenean shepherd with similar requirements for attention and exercise but is easier to acclimate to a household with children.
  • Border Collie – This breed is similar in size and weight to a Pyrenean shepherd and also a herding dog with similar personality. It is the most intelligent dog breed. They are popular family dogs that are less expensive than similar breeds.

Popular Names for Pyrenean Shepherds

Names for males include:

  • Bastien – “Revered”
  • Max – “Greatest”
  • Marc – “Mars, Roman god of war”
  • Theo – “Theodore; God”
  • Enzo – “Giant one”

Names for females include:

  • Sophie – “Having great wisdom or skill”
  • Linette – “Little lion”
  • Eva – “Full of life”
  • Nina – “Little girl”
  • Iris – “Greek goddess of the rainbow”
  • Max – “Greatest”

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About the Author

I'm a freelance writer and a lifelong animal lover. I've traveled the world, but the high point for me was riding an elephant in Nepal. Currently I'm an "Emotional Support Human" to 2 dogs, 1 cat, and 3 guinea pigs. My favorite wild animal is the quokka. If you've never heard of it look it up . . . and smile!

Pyrenean Shepherd FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

How much does the Pyrenean Shepherd cost to own?

A Pyrenean Shepherd puppy costs on average $500-$800. Yearly expenditures for food, veterinary care, medicine, and supplies commonly costs about $650 a year.

Is the Pyrenean Shepherd good with kids?

Yes, with proper training. Pyrenean Shepherds are shy with strangers and can be domineering toward other animals. With children of their own family, they are playful, energetic and affectionate. They need to be trained and supervised so that they do not chase or nip at children, acting out on their herding instincts.

How long does the Pyrenean Shepherd live

This small-to-medium sized breed has a life expectancy of 15-17 years.

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Sources
  1. Wikipedia, Available here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pyrenean_Sheepdog
  2. BreedTips, Available here: https://www.breedtips.com/breed/Pyrenean-Shepherd.html/?msclkid=d6e58b4cd07e185a4490e83988e8dfbc&utm_source=bing&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=breedtip-search-us-breed-desk-pyreneanshepherd&utm_term=pyrenean%20shepherd&utm_content=pyrenean%20shepherd
  3. American Kennel Club, Available here: https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/pyrenean-shepherd/
  4. VetStreet, Available here: https://www.vetstreet.com/dogs/pyrenean-shepherd
  5. Wag! (1970) Wagwalking.com/daily/names
  6. Pet Net ID, Available here: https://petnetid.com/breed/

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