Pyrenean Sheepdog

(Smooth Faced)

  • Alert, lively, mischievious & enquiring

  • May be wary of strangers but never nervous

    or aggressive

  • More biddable than it’s Long Haired cousin

  • More substance/bone and typically bigger in

    size

  • More open angulation front and rear than the Long Haired

  • Body Shape almost square

  • Fine type hair/ dense and fairly short/ shaved

    appearance on head/face and fronts of legs

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Who is the Smooth Faced Pyrenean Sheepdog?

The Smooth Faced Pyrenean Sheepdog shares many similar character traits to its Long Haired cousin but significantly differs in structure, size and coat. Intelligent, resourceful, capable of initiative and entirely devoted to their owner. They are alert and inquisitive and may be wary of strangers but they are in general more easy going and more biddable than the Long Haired variant. They have a fairly independent nature and good training is needed to make the most of their intelligence and alertness. They can be sensitive which when combined with their intelligence, independence and athleticism means that a patient and knowledgable owner is required to train them well. They are generally larger with more substance than the Long Haired type and are more of a medium sized sheepdog in reality. They naturally want to work and need some way of channeling their intelligence and energy. Totally focused on their owners they need a partnership approach that earns their respect along with plenty of exercise. This is a dog that can excel at Canine sports - tracking, obedience, agility, working trials, herding as well as exhibiting in show competition.

What do they look like?

The body shape is almost square - with length only slightly longer than height. Head is triangular shaped with mobile triangular ears, muzzle is quite long defining a different head profile to the Long Haired. More substance/bone and typically bigger in size than the Long Haired. Upright in stance with moderate angulation which generates a free, vigorous, fairly short striding gait. Medium to short coat, smooth hair on face and muzzle, modest ruff on the neck. Hair on the front of the limbs must be short. Front legs fringed behind, hind legs have breeches.

The predominant coat colour of the breed is fawn of varying
shades; other colours are light to dark grey, black, blue merle,
slate blue or brindle.
Height: Dogs 40-54 cms (15 1⁄2 - 21 ins); Bitches: 40-52 cms (15 1⁄2 - 20 1⁄2 ins).

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What health problems do they have?

Currently the UK has a small population of Smooth Faced (25 dogs) registered in the UK. Based on the wider European population the breed is considered to share the same health profile and issues as the Long Haired variant. In general both breeds are considered to be very healthy but some issues occasionally crop up. Hip dysplasia and PDA (Patent Ductus Arteriosis) have been found within the breed. All breeding stock must have their hips x-rayed and scored under the BVA/KC scheme and all puppies must be screened for PDA before they leave the breeder. There has been an incidence of epilepsy in the UK and the club is continuing to gather information to monitor this.

 

Is the Smooth Faced Pyrenean Sheepdog for You?

Both variants of the Pyrenean Sheepdog are truly unique and remarkable dogs, but can be quite demanding. Ideally this is a dog best suited to an active country lifestyle, but with adequate exercise and companionship can cope in more urban environments. The most important thing for a Pyrenean Sheepdog is to be with their owner – this is not a dog suited to being left alone for long periods. This is a dog that must be occupied or they can become noisy and difficult to live with. Having said that given enough exercise and plenty to do it is a dog that you can take anywhere with you. They can become very possessive of their owners and members of the family, so needs very good socialisation from a very young age. They should not be nervous or aggressive even if they can appear “stand-offish” with those they don’t know. These dogs require a lot of exercise, at least an hour free running every day. The coat of the Smooth Faced is not hard to care for and can be managed with a short grooming session once a week. You will need to have the time to commit to this dog and knowledge and patience to train him well. In general, we don’t recommend this as a dog for a first time owner.

History and Origins of the Breed

The Smooth Faced Pyrenean Sheepdog is known in its native country as Le Berger des Pyrénées à Face Rase. It is an old indigenous breed that has always remained in its place of origin, the mountainous region of the Haute Pyrénées in the Central Pyrenees. In ancient history a small indigenous sheepdog operating in the mountain communities of
the Pyrenees is believed to pre-date Roman times. As a humble peasant dog historical written records largely do not exist however Basque cultural folklore and lithographs from the early 18th century do identify a small type sheepdog that we would certainly identify as the Pyrenean Sheepdog of today. The individual evolution of the Smooth Faced variant is difficult to establish but it is likely that it is a result of outcrossing the Long Haired type with dogs from the Sub Pyrenean Region which would explain the differences in size, construction and coat type. Early records do note that the Smooth Face variant was particularly valued by the horse traders and livestock dealers, of the region, as a drovers dog. The larger size and more upright stance and working gait would certainly be valued for driving larger livestock (horses and cattle) on the very long journeys to market.

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Formal recognition of the breed outside of this really began at the turn of the last century when during the 1914-18 war both variants were used by the French Army as a messenger dog where they excelled due to their speed and intelligence, although the very high losses took their toll on breed numbers. French Army records identify “no other French breed has paid such a high ransom of blood as he”.

Smooth Faced numbers in the Pyrenees have always been significantly smaller than the Long Haired variant. Current breed databases in Europe identify Smooth Faced numbers at about 15% in comparison to the long Haired type.

The Smooth Faced Pyrenean Sheepdog received formal recognition from the SCC (French Kennel Club) in 1937 (Long Haired recognised in 1926). FCI recognition for both variants was in 1955. More recently the Smooth Faced was formally recognised by our own KC in January of 2021. A breed standard has been agreed and from the 1st September 2021 the breed has been eligible to compete in the show ring. Their is much to do to build up numbers of both variants but the PSD club of GB looks forward to the time when both variants will be seen in UK Pastoral Group Ring.