Pyrenean Shepherd: Characteristics, Appearance, Price and Pictures

pyrenean shepherd sitting

Never heard of the amazing Pyrenean Shepherd (or the Pyrenean Sheepdog as they’re also called)? You’re not alone. In fact, according to the American Kennel Club’s 2022 list of the most popular pooches, these pups were way down the popularity scale at number 190. Bearing in mind there are only 199 breeds recognized, that’s not exactly in the same league as the Golden Retriever or Lab.

But just because not much is known about these excellent herders, doesn’t mean they’re not the dog for you and your family. They’re athletic, witty, soft around those they love, and very protective. They’re one of the best herding breeds, working tirelessly to protect their flock in the snowy Pyrenees Mountains. 

If you’re looking for a fun herding dog (or simply just want to know more about the lesser-known breeds) then this blog will help. It’s full of everything you need to know about the Pyrenean Shepherd so you can be prepared if you adopt one!

Characteristics of the Pyrenean Shepherd

Life in an apartment
Good first dog
Tolerates solitude
Tolerates cold weather
Tolerates hot weather
Friendly with children
Friendly with strangers
Friendly with other animals
Hair loss
Drooling level
Easy to care for
Robust health
Easy to train
Tendency to bark
Tendency to nibble
Instinct to hunt
Adventurous spirit
Energy level
Level of intensity
Need for exercise

History and Origin of the Pyrenean Shepherd

As is the case with lots of ancient breeds, there’s some guesswork involved when it comes to the Pyrenean Shepherd’s origin. In fact, according to the breed club for the Pyrenean Shepherd, there’s a myth that they’re actually the descendants of Pyrenean bears and foxes.  


But they are distantly related to a dog that looks like a bear and one that’s much more famous around the world – the Great Pyrenees. Experts think Great Pyrenees were bred with other, likely extinct, herding dogs in the area to create the Pyrenean Shepherd.

The two breeds then worked closely together to become the perfect team. The larger and fluffier one of the two could protect the flock from bears and other large predators, whilst the Pyrenean Shepherd could easily herd them.

The Great Pyrenees actually had a large impact on the popularity of its herding cousin. It allowed the Pyrenean Shepherd to be much smaller (because the Great Pyrenees would do all the protecting) meaning the Pyrenean Shepherd could be much faster and sure-footed on difficult terrain.

It also meant they needed less food, which made them more affordable for the average shepherd.

These dogs were also used a lot during World War I as messengers, search and rescue dogs, and guard dogs. Their numbers dropped dramatically and it wasn’t until the Reunion des Amateurs des Chiens Pyreneens (RACP) was founded that numbers started to arise again.

The Pyrenean Shepherd Club of America was founded in 1987 and these pups were recognized as a breed by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 2009.

Personality and Character of the Pyrenean Shepherd

pyrenean shepherd laying on a dock

The Pyrenean Shepherd is a witty, fun-loving, and hard-working pup that absolutely needs to be part of an active family. A couple of walks a day are not enough for this pooch. They need canine classes or preferably an entire flock to care for.

They’re very energetic yet when they get enough exercise, they can be calm and happy to relax with their owners too. Their guarding instincts can make them wary around new people and animals and this might come across as standoffish. But, with your guidance, they can quickly warm up and get along well with others.

Early socialization is a must with these dogs – especially if you want them to be a well-rounded member of your family as well as a great working dog. Mental stimulation is very important too, a bored Pyrenean Shepherd can easily get destructive and overly active.

Can the Pyrenean Shepherd Live in an Apartment? 

These dogs are not the best choice if you live in an apartment. They’re used to herding livestock and having mountain ranges to roam – so adjusting to a small, urban apartment will be a challenge. But not necessarily impossible.

If you’re willing to take them out for even more walks, enroll them in canine classes (especially agility and herding), and give them lots of fun things to do at home, then Pyrenean Shepherds can adjust. 

But these dogs definitely prefer to have a farm to work on, fields to explore, and endless hours outside running around.

Can the Pyrenean Shepherd Live with Children?

Pyrenees Sheepdogs love children. Because they’re such an energetic breed, they enjoy having someone to constantly play with and keep them entertained. Their natural guarding instinct means they’re also protective of their human friends and happily keep a watchful eye out for them. 

Kids and dogs should always be taught how to play with each other. As with any other dog breed, playtime should always be monitored by an adult, regardless of whether they’re small dogs or not.

Are They Aggressive Dogs?

Pyrenean Shepherds are not aggressive dogs naturally. Of course, all pups are different and, for example with rescue dogs, you may not know their past experiences which could cause them to act aggressively in certain situations.

But, a loved, trained, and socialized dog won’t be aggressive. They’re not, however, the warmest pooch when you first meet them. Pyrenean Shepherds have strong guarding instincts and can be reserved around strangers or in unusual situations. 

The best way to ensure they’re happy and non-aggressive is to socialize them from a young age and train them to respond in different situations.

Do They Get Along Well With Other Animals?

This really depends on your pup. Generally speaking, Pyrenean Shepherds are gentle souls that can be very loving and protective – ideal for other pets in the home! They naturally want to care for animals and keep them safe but what they want might not always suit your poor cat. Especially if they don’t like being herded. 

There are a couple of things you can do to make introducing a dog to a cat easier, but the best is to talk to the staff in the shelter or the breeder to understand how strong your individual pup’s herding instincts are.

Appearance of the Pyrenean Shepherd

Pyrenean shepherd

There are two different types of Pyrenean Shepherds – smooth-faced pups and rough-faced ones and both can be born in the same litter. Smooth-faced dogs tend to have softer hairs on their face, a slightly longer muzzle, and a finer-textured coat. 

Rough-coated dogs generally have a more wiry-textured coat that’s a little more unkempt but just as cute.

Size and Weight

It’s not just the coat texture that varies between the two varieties of Pyrenean Shepherds. They’re also different sizes.

Smooth-faced dogs tend to be slightly bigger than their rougher cousins and can grow to 21 inches tall and weigh up to 30 pounds. Rough-faced dogs can be 18.5 inches and weigh less.

As is the case with many other dog breeds, females are usually smaller than males.

How Long Does It Take for a Pyrenean Shepherd to Reach Adult Size?

This breed usually takes up to 24 months to reach full maturity and size. Interestingly, puppies very rarely grow bigger than their biggest parent.


The American Kennel Club (as well as the French Kennel Club) recognises 9 colors for these beautiful dogs. Both varieties can be all 9 colors, including fawn, blue merle, brindle merle, and black and white.

White markings are accepted but they must not cover more than 30% of the dog’s body. Black pups with tan points and dogs with more than 50% of their body in white will be disqualified.


Rough-Faced Pyrenean Shepherds

Rough-faced Pyrenean Shepherds are longhaired dogs with slightly wavy hair. They may have culottes on the rump and they can even have longer hair that cords. The texture is wooly and protective, allowing them to spend hours at a time working in the mountains. They have a minimal undercoat but a harsh outer coat. The longer hair on their face is swept back, giving them a bit of a windswept look. 

Smooth-Facte Pyrenean Shepherds

These dogs have much smoother, shorter hairs on their face – hence the name. The rest of the hair on their body should be no longer than 3 inches (on the culottes and legs) and 2 inches on their back.


Pyrenean Shepherds have strong and athletic bodies with clearly visible shoulder blades. Rough-faced dogs have a stockier build, thanks to their coat, and smooth-faced canines can look leaner. 


These dogs have almond-shaped eyes that are very expressive. According to the breed standard, they should neither be too prominent nor deeply set. Most dogs should have brown eyes, but merle dogs can have partially or completely blue eyes. Eye rims should be dark regardless of coat color.


Pyrenean Sheepdogs have a head that looks a little small for the size of their bodies. It’s usually triangular in shape and the top skull is nearly flat.


This breed can have a cropped, bobbed, or long tail and all three are equally desirable. A long tail should not rise above the pooch’s back.

Grooming and Hygiene of the Pyrenean Shepherd

Pyrenean Shepherds have moderate grooming needs. They need to be brushed weekly to stop mats from forming – they have a minimal but very soft undercoat that can easily mat. Their harsh outer coat sheds moderately.

Some Pyrenean Shepherd owners decide to let their dog’s medium-length hair grow longer and then chord it. This can be time-consuming at the beginning, but you won’t need to brush it later on!

As well as brushing your dog, it’s also very important to brush their teeth and clip their nails. You should also regularly check their ears and remove any wax or debris.

Whilst we’re talking about grooming, it’s worth mentioning that you shouldn’t cut the hair around a smooth-faced dog – especially not if you want to enter them into a competition. Dogs can be disqualified for trimmed hair on their faces!

How to Brush a Pyrenean Shepherd?

If you decide to brush your pup rather than let them chord, it’s important you do it thoroughly and gently. Their harsh outer coat can easily combine with the inner coat which creates mats. When not gently brushed out, these can become painful to later remove.

Pay particular attention to their culottes, feet, and the hair on their chest as these can easily become matted. 

What Brush for a Pyrenean Shepherd?

The best brush for this breed’s coat is a pin brush or slicker brush. These help you get down to the undercoat but also safely remove any dead outer coat hairs.

You might also find it useful to have a wide-toothed comb to gently ease out any mats that form.

How Do You Wash a Pyrenean Shepherd?

These dogs only need the occasional bath and how you wash them really depends on their coat texture and whether you’ve left their coat to become corded or not.

Smooth-faced dogs can be bathed with regular shampoo every couple of months (or when they’ve rolled in something). Start by wetting their coat and gently applying shampoo all over – paying attention to their feet and underbelly. Rinse well and apply conditioner if using. Once you’ve washed out the conditioner, dry your pup well to avoid skin irritation.

If your dog has a corded coat, the best way to wash them is to let them soak in a bath for half an hour. This allows the water to penetrate the chords and clean them. Make sure you wash the frizzy, new hair but don’t scrub the cords.

This breed can be quite complicated to bathe, so you might prefer to take them to a professional groomer instead.

Is It a Hypoallergenic Dog?

Many dogs with dreads shed minimally and are often considered to be hypoallergenic. But, unfortunately, that’s not the case for the Pyrenean Shepherd. Not all of these dogs are corded and, even the ones that are aren’t corded all over. So, they’re not considered a hypoallergenic breed.

Pyrenean Shepherd Training and Education

pyrenean shepherd puppy
A Pyrenean Shepherd Puppy

These dogs have been bred over hundreds of years to work closely with humans. This has resulted in a breed that is energetic, intelligent, and highly trainable

They respond best to positive reinforcement training and many Pyrenean Shepherd owners see good results with clicker training. These pooches are very enthusiastic and enjoy pleasing their owners.

They’re really active and loving and training is a great way for you to bond with them and also for them to use up some energy. If you don’t have the time to put into daily training, consider dog sports or a professional trainer.

What is the Price of a Pyrenean Shepherd?

With any breed, it’s really important you research an ethical breeder in your area. This helps to ensure your pup is healthy and happy and secure the welfare of the breed in the future.

A Pyrenean Shepherd puppy from a reputable breeder will cost between $700-$1200. This price will depend on demand, breeding stock, and breeders in your area. As we mentioned right at the beginning, they’re not a particularly popular dog breed in the US, so you might have to wait a while or travel to find a puppy.

The good news is that you probably won’t have much competition!

Pyrenean Shepherd Feeding

These dogs should be fed high-quality dog food that contains enough calories for such an active dog breed. Because they do love to run around everywhere, they’re less likely to become overweight, but it’s still a risk. 

Follow the feeding guidelines on the food packet and check with your vet if you’re worried about your pup’s weight.

Whilst a useful training tool, treats can quickly lead to weight-related issues. Try to opt for healthier treats or toys as rewards instead.

Pyrenean Shepherd Health

Pyrenean Shepherds are usually healthy dogs, especially if they get enough exercise, love, and are fed a balanced diet. Even so, there are a couple of conditions common in this breed.

  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
  • Patellar Subluxation
  • Epilepsy
  • Patent Ductus Arteriosus

The breed club recommends the following health checks when adopting a Pyrenean Shepherd puppy:

  • Patellar Evaluation
  • Hip Evaluation
  • Ophthalmologist Evaluation

What is the Life Expectancy of the Pyrenean Shepherd?

One of the best things about these dogs is their life expectancy. With lots of care and regular vet visits, your pooch could live to be between 17 and 19 years!

That’s a long time in the dog kingdom and even more time for you to spend with your pup.

What is the Best Climate for a Pyrenean Shepherd?

These dogs are quite adaptable and can live in colder and moderate climates. Even though we think of the Pyrenees as being very cold, it actually gets pretty hot in summer, so these pups have had to adapt.

They have warm coats that protect them from cold weather but they will still need lots of shade and fresh water to keep them cool in the warmer months. It’s best to take your Pyrenean Shepherd out for walks early in the morning and late at night during summer.

Breeds Similar to Pyrenean Shepherds

Because these dogs aren’t particularly popular or very well-known in the US, it might be difficult for you to find one in your area. But don’t worry! There are a couple of other breeds similar to the Pyrenean Shepherd in both appearance and personality.

Belgian Laekenois. These pups are also herding dogs and have a similar wooly and harsh coat to the Pyrenean Shepherd. They’re also excellent guarding dogs.

Bearded Collie. Bearded Collies are amazing herding dogs that are black and white, shaggy, and great herders. They’re quite a lot bigger than Pyrenean Shepherds.

Komondor. This breed is iconic, for both its amazing herding skills and corded coat! A smooth-faced Pyrenean Shepherd won’t look too similar, but ones with a couple of cords might. They also have similar temperaments.


The Pyrenean Shepherd is an amazing dog, full of energy and charm. They need to be part of an active family that will give them plenty of jobs to do and keep them both mentally and physically stimulated. Both varieties make amazing pets for the right owner but they do differ in appearance and grooming needs.

Not sure the Pyrenean Shepherd is the right dog for you? Why don’t you take our quiz to find your forever furry friend?

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