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Pyrenean Sheepdog: nature and diseases [Wet medicine Małgorzata Miłosz

Pyrenean sheepdogs They are shepherd dogs whose history has not been well described, so we know little about their ancestors.

Pyrenean sheepdog

It is a French breed, and its representatives, together with the Pyrenean mountain dogs, were mainly involved in grazing cattle and sheep on the slopes of the Pyrenees mountain range for many years and they do it to this day.

In addition, these dogs were used during the First World War for delivering messages and as paramedic dogs. The Pyrenean Shepherd reportedly accompanied Bernadette Soubirous during the apparition of Our Lady in Lourdes in 1858.

Due to the differences in appearance, the FCI recognized varieties with different hair length as separate breeds, hence the long-haired Pyrenean Sheepdog (Berger des Pyrénées à poil long) and the smooth-faced (Berger des Pyrénées a face rase).

The breeding of small, agile and independent dogs of the Pyrenean Sheepdog breed is not very popular in Poland yet.

According to the FCI classification, the Pyrenean Sheepdog belongs to group 1.

  • Pyrenean sheepdog in nature
  • What a Pyrenean sheepdog looks like?
  • Pyrenean sheepdog disease
    • Hip dysplasia
    • Elbow dysplasia
    • Botall's patent ductus arteriosus
    • Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA)
    • Patellar dislocation
  • For whom the Pyrenean Sheepdog will be the perfect dog?

Pyrenean sheepdog in nature

Pyrenean sheepdog in nature

The Pyrenean Sheepdog is primarily a cheerful and lively dog ​​that needs a lot of exercise to discharge the excess energy accumulated in it.

He loves all kinds of outdoor activities, preferably those that will also develop his mental qualities.

We can successfully practice dog sports with him, such as flyball, agility, or tracking, as well as run in the forest or go on long mountain hikes.

These dogs are intelligent and quick-witted, but not easy to train due to their independence.

They need a strong character, charismatic and experienced guide who can earn their trust, respect and sympathy, otherwise training may not be effective.

These quadrupeds are perfect not only in shepherding work, but also in home life. They like children and are also recommended for larger families.

They are loyal and devoted to their owners, and distrustful of strangers, which makes them good candidates for guardians of our property. If they are raised with other domestic pets, they accept them without much problem, although they like to lead a group, while when dealing with unfamiliar dogs they may be less friendly.

An important factor determining the future peaceful intercourse with the dog is the early socialization of a Pyrenean Shepherd puppy, which will reduce excessive suspicion and make it easier for the dog to find its way around the world around it.

What a Pyrenean sheepdog looks like?

Breed description

The Pyrenean Sheepdog is a medium-sized dog with a rectangular shape (longhaired sheepdog) or more square (smooth-mouthed sheepdog).

Size and weight

The height at the withers is:

  • for male longhaired shepherd dogs 40-48 cm and females 38-46 cm,
  • for a male shepherd dog with a smooth muzzle 40-54 cm, and a female 40-52 cm.

The body weight of an adult individual varies between 10 and 20 kilograms.

Pyrenean Sheepdog breed description

The appearance of the dog
HeadTriangular with a flattened skull with a slightly marked stop and an occipital tumor, covered with delicate, short hair in the a face rase variety.
The muzzleAngular, narrowing towards the black truffle nose, slightly longer for a smooth-mouthed sheepdog.
Mucous membranes and palateBlack pigmented.
TeethA set of strong teeth set in a scissor bite.
EyesAlmond-shaped, dark brown, with alert eyes, framed by a dark rim of the eyelids.
EarsSet close together, short, turning at 2/3 of their height.
NeckLong and muscular, it transforms into a muscular back.
WithersWell marked.
ChestModerately developed with slightly sprung ribs.
LoinsSlightly arched and the croup oblique.
TailSet on low, medium long, carried slightly above the back in action, covered with longer hair forming a feather.
Pectoral limbsLean and muscular, with a slightly sloped pastern.
Pelvic limbsWell angulated and strong.
PawsOval in shape, flat, covered with hair between the pads.


Longhair shepherd's hair is long or semi-long, slightly wavy or straight, more abundant on the rump and thighs.

The hair on the muzzle is less dense, but longer and matted on the cheeks and sides of the muzzle.

A shepherd dog with a smooth muzzle is half-long, the longest at the neck and withers.

It forms fringes on the forelegs and pants on the rear legs.

Color of the dog:

  • fawn with or without black / white hair,
  • gray with an admixture of white hair on the head, chest and limbs,
  • blue with black spots (harlequin),
  • brindle,
  • black,
  • black with white markings.

Solid colors are preferred.


The intensity of care for a Pyrenean Sheepdog's coat depends on the length of the hair.

Longhair variety requires more frequent brushing to keep the hair from tangling and tangling. In the smooth-mouthed variety, the hair is shorter and requires combing several times a month.

Dogs of this breed shed only a little, and we will notice more dead hair in the season of changing the coat for summer and winter.

We periodically check the cleanliness of the dog's ears, shorten the claws and bathe the dog as needed. It is also worth getting your dog used to brushing his teeth from the first months, which will significantly reduce the amount of plaque build-up.

Pyrenean sheepdog disease

Pyrenean sheepdog disease

Hip dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a degenerative disease which, apart from hereditary tendencies, is also caused by various additional factors, such as e.g. improper feeding of the puppy or too strenuous exercise performed during the period of skeletal growth.

As a result of the imbalance between the development of soft tissues and bones, the joint relaxes, and the instability created then favors subluxations and chronic inflammation, and, as a consequence, degenerative changes occurring in the hip joint.

The head of the femur is deformed and the acetabulum of the ilium becomes shallower, which disturbs the mechanics of the joint, and the dog feels pain when moving.

The first symptoms occur in several months old puppies, and they mainly include:

  • reluctance to move,
  • frequent lying down and preferring to lying down,
  • rabbit jumping,
  • hind limb muscle atrophy,
  • pain in the hip joints when manipulated.

For HD diagnostics, an interview, orthopedic examination and an X-ray performed under sedation are necessary to assess the degree of advancement of the lesions.

In dogs of breeds with a predisposition to hip dysplasia, prophylactic X-rays are performed at a young age, even if they do not have any of the above-mentioned symptoms.

The methods of treating dysplasia depend on many factors - primarily the age of the dog and the severity of the changes. Dietary management, physiotherapy, anti-inflammatory and analgesic drugs as well as surgical treatment are used.

Elbow dysplasia

Elbow dysplasia is an inherited disease that occurs on one or both sides.

The term includes four sub-units:

  1. Unfixed accessory ulnar (UAP).
  2. Fragmentation of the medial coronary process (FMCP).
  3. Osteochondrosis of the medial epicondyle of the humerus (OCD).
  4. Articular Mismatch (INC).

The first symptoms, i.e. lameness, lifting the diseased limb, or swelling of the elbow joints, are noticeable in puppies around 6 months old.

For the diagnosis of dysplasia, data from the history, clinical examination and X-ray performed in various projections are necessary.

Surgery is the treatment of choice. The gold standard for OCD and FMCP is arthroscopy.

Conservative treatment in the form of restriction of movement and the use of painkillers rarely brings the expected results.

Botall's patent ductus arteriosus

Botalla's patent ductus arteriosus is one of the congenital malformations. The so-called Botalla arterial duct connects the aorta (the artery that carries oxygenated blood from the heart) to the pulmonary artery (that carries non-oxygenated blood to the lungs) in the fetal life of mammals, and its patency allows the pulmonary circulation, which is inoperative in the fetus to be bypassed.

Shortly after the animal is born, this tube contracts as a result of the increase in the partial pressure of oxygen in the blood, and blood begins to flow through the lungs.

If it is not closed, the so-called. left-right leakage, resulting in pulmonary hypertension and heart overload.

During auscultation of a puppy with this defect, a characteristic continuous murmur called a machine murmur is heard. The only method of treatment is the surgical closure of Botalla's ductus arteriosus.

Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA)

PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy), or progressive retinal atrophy, is a term encompassing a group of hereditary diseases, the common feature of which is the degeneration of the photosensitive cells of the retina over time.

Dogs with this disease first lose their ability to see at dusk, which the owners observe as reduced activity during night walks and tripping over objects.

As the disease progresses, as the cones degenerate, vision becomes impaired during the day as well, and over time leads to total blindness.

An electroretinograph is used for the diagnosis of PRA, which allows the assessment of the reaction of the retinal photoreceptors to light stimuli.

Genetic tests for PRA are also available on the veterinary market, thanks to which it is possible to identify the carriers of the defective gene.

PRA is an incurable disease.

Patellar dislocation

Patellar dislocation is the displacement of the patella to the lateral or medial side of the knee joint, i.e. it falls out of the "track ", on which it moves physiologically.

Correctly, the kneecap is placed in the femoral block and connected to the tibial tuberosity by a ligament, which is an element of the quadriceps tendon.

In order for the knee joint to bend and straighten properly, all its elements must be aligned in one axis, and if these requirements are not met, the kneecap is pulled to one side during the straightening movement.

The most common symptom reported by owners is spontaneous and transient lameness. The severity of the dislocation is determined on a four-point scale:

  1. Absence or rarely occurring lameness and loss of the kneecap under pressure.
  2. Temporary lameness.
  3. Permanent lameness - the kneecap can be adjusted, but it falls out spontaneously.
  4. Permanent lameness - the kneecap is out of the block and cannot be adjusted.

Mild cases, i.e. first-degree cases, can be treated with physiotherapy techniques, but significant lameness requires surgery.

For whom the Pyrenean Sheepdog will be the perfect dog?

Pyrenean Sheepdog disposition

Pyrenean Sheepdog, despite many positive character traits, is not very popular in Poland and it is in vain to look for a kennel in our country that offers the sale of puppies of this breed.

It's a pity, because these dogs are very versatile and are suitable for both hard work and a relatively quiet family life.

These sheepdogs, due to their great temperament and huge amounts of energy, need an active owner who will spend time outdoors with them.

They do not like being left alone at home, so they are unlikely to be suitable for long-working people. They must constantly have something to do, and the frustration at the lack of it can express very bluntly through the destructive tendencies.

With strangers and other dogs, they are suspicious and do not make friends very quickly. Their master is the most important for them and they can walk at him all day long, looking for approval and encouragement to go crazy.

In relation to children, they can also be overly protective, so when our children play with their peers, we should pay more attention to the dog who is also closely watching the situation.

Each form of training and learning is a good opportunity to tighten the bonds that are formed between the owner and the dog and allows you to get the best features from our four-legged friend.

Early and intensive socialization in the case of Pyrenean Shepherds is a key element in their upbringing, so meeting them in their youth with as many new situations as possible will result in a more sensible reaction to various events in the future.

What kind of character for a Pyrenean sheepdog?

The Pyrenean Sheepdog is a very intelligent but stubborn breed of dogs. He likes children and other animals as long as he is raised with them.

What do Pyrenean sheepdogs most often suffer from??

Pyrenean sheepdogs are predisposed to diseases such as dysplasia, PRA, patent Botalla duct, patellar dislocation.

For whom the Pyrenean Sheepdog will be the perfect dog?

The Pyrenean Sheepdog is a dog for an active person who will be able to devote enough time to it.

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