Meet the Breed: The Pyrenean Shepherd



  • Height: 15"- 19”
  • Weight: 15-30 pounds
  • Historical function: Herding
  • Modern function: Herding, companion
  • AKC classification: Herding

Physical Characteristics:

The Pyrenean Shepherd is also known by its French name, Berger des Pyrénées (pronounced ber-JAE day pyr-ay-NAE). It is often shortened to "Pyr Shep" by their American fans. This dog is light, slender, agile, and very active. The coat comes in two styles - rough faced and smooth faced. Both styles come in a variety of colors including fawn which may have a black mask and black shadings. Brindles are also common in many shades of grey. Merle coats are also available as well as black. Some white is permissible but solid colors are preferred. 

smooth-faced pyrenean shepherd

This is the Smooth-Faced variety of the Pyr Shep.

History of the Breed:

The Pyrenean Shepherd has been a sheep herder in the mountainous regions of France from which they are named after since at least the Medieval times. They are the traditional working companion of the much larger Great Pyrenees. These two dogs worked in tandem to manage sheep for centuries with the agile, fast little Shepherd performing the herding work and the Great Pyrenees being the guard. The Pyrenean Shepherd was recognized for its valiant work during World War I where they gave their lives as couriers, watchdogs, and search and rescue dogs for French troops. The blue merle smooth-faced variety that were imported to the U.S. along with sheep from France in the early 1940s were foundational to the creation of the Australian Shepherd. 


The Pyrenean Shepherd is a lively, bright, watchful, active dog. It is highly intelligent. As long as this dog is given proper mental and physical exercise, this is an adaptable dog able to live in cities or rural areas. Early socialization is a must as they are naturally wary of strangers as herding watchdogs. This dog gets along well with children and pets he is raised with and other children and guests after a supervised introduction. Though small in stature, this dog has been taking on large threats for centuries and has more of a terrier-type personality. A natural alarm, so must be taught when to quit barking.   

  • Best suited for: Active families willing to allow this adventurous pup to participate in as many family activities as possible. 
  • Preferred living conditions: This dog adapts to any climate but prefers to be with their people if at all possible. Can become destructive if left alone without exercise. 

Care and Health:

  • Grooming requirements: Easy-care coat needs brushing a few times a month. 
  • Exercise needs: Daily walk, jog. Excellent contestant in sports such as flyball and agility.
  • Life expectancy: 15+ years.
  • Health concerns: Generally healthy but some deal with hip dysplasia.

Breed Club Links: Pyrenean Shepherd Club of America. Perfect Pairings: Dog agility Starter Kit

Have any stories about a Pyrenean Shepherd? Please share!

Photos courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

This entry was posted by Mary.
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