Appearance and Character
Breed Characteristics and Misconceptions
Health Concerns
Tail Docking and Ear Cropping
Books available
Software available
Conformation Standards CKC & FCI


Visit the Pyrenean Shepherd Club of America web site OR the AKC web site for an in-depth articles on the breed history and "THE DOG WHO SAW GOD".

The French breed club has a nice selection of photos of the Rough-faced variety   and the  Smooth-faced variety

In Canada the breed gained full recognition by the Canadian Kennel Club in 1992.  There was only one breeder, Mme Demarais, in Quebec from the late 80's until the late 90's and she has since retired from breeding regularly. Rachel Demarais of Val Belair, Quebec had her first Berger des Pyrenees registered at with the Canadian Kennel Club in 1984. She was one of the first to import these dogs for the purposes of breeding.  Her kennel, D'Ory, started with Great Pyrenees and the enlarged to include the Berger des Pyrenees.  Her first two dogs were: Vagabond Clos des Gervalines (Rustaud de l'Estaube X Syra du Clos des Hortioux) and Vague Blonde du Close des Gervalines (Ravin X Penelope II de la Dame de Fer). Then in 1985 she returned to France and imported two more dogs: Argenté  de l'Estaube (Tourmalet Bleu de l'Estaube x Saki) et Aury du Clos des Gervalines (Ubac X Urielle des Abatilles), both  from du Clos des Gervalines. In 1990 she obtained France . In 1992 she was instrumental in the breed's recognition by the Canadian Kennel Club . In 1996 and 2001 she obtained Mendes des trois Frënes  and Opale de la Vallée des Cognasses des Effruches .
In 1995  I obtained my first Berger des Pyrenees and have since taken up breeding and working with the these wonderful p'tit bergers.

APPEARANCE AND CHARACTER --  see photo pages mentioned above

INTELLIGENT:  clever, alert, quick-witted, knowing, mentally keen or quick.

ARDENT:  characterized by warmth of feeling typically expressed in eager zealous support or activity.

IMPULSIVE:  a wave of excitation transmitted through tissues, fibers and muscles that results in physiological activity:  a force so communicated as to produce motion suddenly.

    The Berger des Pyrénées or Pyr Shep could easily be described with those three words.  He  looks as mischievous and lively as his personality. Always at the ready, he is continually alert with his ears moving independent of one another, in this direction and that, so as not to miss a single thing going on around him. .

The Pyrenean Shepherd  is seen in two coat varieties; the rough-faced (museau normal) and smooth-faced (face-rase), with minimal physical characteristics distinguishing the two. Both can be born within the same litter. The rough-faced variety has a long or semi-long coat covering the body and legs or a long-coat with slightly longer length.  The coat patterning on his face should look as though he is always facing into the wind. Sometimes this coat will be of the texture to form "cadenettes" or naturally cord (click to view the process).  The smooth-faced should have no traces of long hair on his face at all. The body coat is shorter with fringes on the back of the legs.  Both varieties generally have double dew claws on their back legs (click on the link for more information about rear double dew claws).  This anomaly is seen though out many of the French breeds.  Their tails are usually docked and ears cropped, but that is a personal preference. A good natural ear should not appear any different than a cropped ear and a undocked tail should not unbalance the appearance of the dog by being carried too high.   Averaging 42 cm tall (16-17”) at the shoulder, he is light of frame and should only weigh approximately 12 kilo. (25 pounds)

Rough-Faced & Smooth-Faced Fawn Dogs pictured

    He is still used today as a useful farm dog and sheep herder and displays the same devotion to his master as most herding breeds. He wants to please you and be with you above all else. This has its drawbacks if not properly socialized.  He tends to become introverted as he sees no need to involve the rest of the world in his family's affairs. Proper socialization does not just involve occasionally taking him out; he must learn to behave among people he does not know and the goings-on of civilized society in an appropriate manner. The need for this type of socialization cannot be stressed enough. Your puppy needs to know that you are completely in charge of his world and this type of structure comes with boundaries and limitations.  A properly socialized Pyr Shep will respect other people enjoy meeting people and dogs and will be a pleasure to take along with you wherever you go. This is not accomplished immediately but if you have shown your puppy from the beginning how to handle new situations then by the time he is two years old he will readily integrate into new surroundings and have the confidence to be a happy pet.
     It is not unusual to see a puppy turn his/her head or back the other way to ignore the advances of a stranger as if to say, "if I don’t look at it , it will go away". On the other hand, when ignored by a stranger it gives the puppy the time it needs to assess a new situation and it will often approach on it's own terms and nudge the hand for a pat.  Take advantage of your pup's desire to ignore others around him and teach him to keep his focus on you and to ignore distractions in a calm manner.  If he learns that he does not have to deal with the familiarities of strangers and strange dogs and that you are there to deal with it for him then he will remain calm and as a result, will grow up sitting quietly by your side or looking to you for guidance when he is accompanying you throughout your daily routine.  A well socialized and stable natured Pyr Shep is an absolute joy to own!

    Although some Pyr Sheps can do well when left alone during the day, I would not recommend it. Only an experienced dog owner willing to spend his limited evening hours socializing his young Pyr Shep should tackle this type of situation and the breed requires a good amount of physical exercise as well.  They are a very high energy dog.  If you enjoy the outdoors and have a spare hour each day to take a walk in the countryside the Pyrenean Shepherd is an ideal companion.

    Their propensity for barking makes them good watch dogs, they are not guard dogs by nature and, if pressed, will usually run in the other direction. Nature has instilled a strong flight reflex which was needed for survival in the mountains. Their barking must be controlled by you or you will end up with a yappy dog!  On the other hand, if someone or something runs away from them their herding instinct kicks in and they take chase.  All these instincts need to be harnessed by you in a positive manner to mold the Pyr Shep into the wonderful family member they are capable of becoming.  Obedience training is very important as is you gaining his respect, and a young dog should not be allowed to take matters into his own hands but be guided by your expertise.

    Playful and impish by nature, he gets along well with children as well as with other family pets, although he often sees the need to take control and be a little bossy. Again, this stems from his background as a herder. He needs to be kept busy and feel he has a job and purpose which makes him a valuable asset to his owner. His world is focused on his family and to be left out is distressing for him. He excels in performance events such as obedience, agility trialing, tracking, truffle hunting, cani-cross, ring sport, etc. and is renowned for holding many working and performance titles in France and other countries.

    I encourage you to meet the parents of a prospective litter of puppies.  Most likely, if the parents display the characteristics you are looking for in your Pyrenean Shepherd companion,  the puppies will also possess the solid foundations needed to build an exemplary companion.

Article:  HEAD AND EXPRESSION by Olivier Matz, du Picourlet Kennel, France


    If you are purchasing a Pyr Shep discuss health issues with the breeder to learn how you can raise your shepherd with the best intentions towards his well-being.  A breeder that has the best interests of the breed at heart will be happy to discuss these issues with you. If your Pyr Shep is affected by any malady your breeder would appreciate hearing from you and may be of assistance to you and your veterinarian.

        Health issues occasionally found to be affecting the Pyr Shep are heart anomalies, seizures, eye anomalies and hip dysplasia.  Many heart problems and eye anomalies can be detected before a puppy leaves the breeder and all breeders should have their pups thoroughly examined by a suitable veterinarian.  Do not be fooled by claims of adult dogs  having a "CERF" test or "CHIC" title accompanying their name as both of these only show that the dog has been tested and met the requirements of receiving the actual examination but may not have received "normal" results. Many of these health issues may not affect the life span or lifestyle of a dog and can be a wonderful companion to you and your family.

Canine Ophthalmologist
          Some Pyrenean Shepherds have been examined by a canine ophthalmologists and found to have eye anomalies such as persistent pupillary membranes,  choroidal hypoplasia (CH) and coloboma and therefore all puppies should have their eyes tested before 8 weeks of age by the breeder before placing the puppy in their new homes.  Choroidal Hypoplasia is the inadequate development of the choroid present at birth and non-progressive.  Many of these conditions will not affect normal sight of the dog or grow worse with age, but breeders need to be aware of what is being produced by their dogs.   
More info about this can be found at and
I am also linking to this web site which has information on the genetics and inheritance of CEA
In 2018 another breeder in the U.S.A. has brought to my attention that there is an increase in dogs affected by CEA -- Collie Eye Anomaly.  This can produce blindness or retinal detachment but as yet I am unaware of any dogs that are suffering in this respect.  Since our first litter of puppies our puppies have been tested for this anomaly before they leave our home and in the early 2000s one of our male dogs was tested as affected but since then.  It is carried by a recessive gene so two carriers must be bred to produce an affected dog.  We are confident with the health of our breeding dogs and continue to keep abreast of any other affected dogs in the breeding population. In order to help us keep track of this anomaly we appreciate any affected dogs being reported to us. Any or all information will remain confidential unless you wish it shared with other breeders through the Health Committee of the Pyrenean Shepherd Club of America (which I recommend).    All affected individuals are very valuable to the general welfare of the future generations and can contribute to more knowledge and the eventual development of a DNA test for this eye anomaly.

        In 2018 a new DNA test kit was made available for the Pyrenean Shepherd to be tested for PRA-- Progressive Retinal Atrophy.  This is very, very rare in the breed but test results will be helpful for the scientists studying the disease.  All our breeding dogs will have been tested and results published.   Any affected Pyr Sheps with PRA can contribute to the research of this anomaly and are urged to contact us for more information.
All information will remain confidential unless you wish it shared with other breeders through the Health Committee of the Pyrenean Shepherd Club of America (which I recommend).

Canine Epilepsy Network
          To read more about the genetic research into epilepsy go to 
The problem of seizures in the Berger des Pyrenees is not a secret and research into epilepsy is being done by
in an effort to understand the disease, symptoms and eventually be able to influence the occurrence of the problem. At this time breeders do their best by the breed by keeping track of dogs that are affected and making informed breeding decisions to reduce and hopefully eliminate this problem.  In general, those                 Pyr Sheps that do experience seizures usually experience very mild attacks and do not need to be medicated.
This is an excellent website about seizures  in  dogs.
Blood samples of affected dogs can be submited here:
Hip Dysplasia & Legg Calves Perthes (and excellent explanation of Hip Dysplasia)
            This is a problem in all breeds and all breeding stock should be assessed. More information regarding Hip Dysplasia and hip x-ray results can be found on our Health_Page.
The Institute for Canine Biology displays charts with regard to the incidence of hip dysplasia in the Pyrenean Shepherd. 

Legg Calves Perthes which causes hind end lameness, usually at a young age (4 months to 1 year), and can be diagnosed with a simple hip x-ray by a veterinarian. 

Excellent article about the inheritance of Hip and Elbow Dysplasia:

An extensive Blog by a Pyrenean Shepherd owner regarding the genetic makeup of the Pyr Shep from what genes contribute to the variety of colour, to the length of hair and to their health.
Berger des Pyrenees Gallery

    Tail docking and ear cropping has been the norm for the Pyrenean Shepherd for centuries, mainly done for health reasons.  Today most Pyr Shep fanciers have been attracted to the breed by the "look" of their perky, foxy face which the cropped ears lend themselves to.  But, many people now feel that it is unnecessary surgery.  This is a debate which will long go on, I'm sure.  In the meantime, many countries have now banned these procedures so the emphasis has been put on the breeder to become more conscious of a good natural ear-set, a well balanced, symmetrical natural ear and a well set tail. 
    Originally, the tail and ears was taken off the Pyrenean Shepherd to reduce the area in which the dog may receive an injury and infection set in and for reasons of hygiene.  These were very valid reasons as there were no veterinarians available for these mountain shepherds and a valuable herder, such as the pyr shep, could be lost from a mild infection becoming much worse.  Also, the long hair on the pyr sheps tail would quickly become matted and dirty if not attended to regularly.  Today these operations are still performed, but as the pyr shep is becoming more popular as a pet than a herding dog, the operation is done mostly for cosmetic reasons.
The tail docking is done right after birth. The preferred procedure of "banding" the tail is used and, from all indications from the puppies, is quite painless.  An elastic band is tied tightly approximately 1cm (¼") down the tail from the anus.  The tail loses blood supply and within 2-3 days drops off.
The other method is to have a veterinary surgeon cut the tail off within a couple of days of birth. 
    Ear cropping is done at various ages. Because the ear crop of the Pyrenean Shepherd is unique the added complications of taping and dressing that other breeds experience is not required.  The straight cut of approximately 1/3 off the top of the ear is quite simple.  I have never seen a puppy display any discomfort other than a few shakes of his head. The operation should only be performed by your veterinarian. It can take place anywhere from 5 weeks old to a year old.  Some breeders will have the ears cropped before the puppy is ready to go to his new home, others will let the new owners decide if they want the operation done at a later date.  It is recommended; however, that the puppy not have his ears cropped while he is in the midst of adjusting to his new owners and environment. The Pyr Shep needs a lot of socializing and handling in these formative months and freshly cropped ears could accidentally be knocked.

    If you decide to have your Pyr Shep's ears cropped post surgical treatment only requires a daily application of polysporin to the cut edge. After 10 days the stitches may be removed by the veterinarian.  Another successful method is the use of surgical glue together with taping the cropped ear.

    It should be noted that most EU countries have now banned ear cropping and tail docking so dog with these surgeries cannot compete in overseas events or be registered by their country's kennel clubs.  Many breeders in North America are now leaving the Berger in it's natural state.

Books,  DVDs, Software


Les Quatre Saisons du Berger - DVD

French with English subtitles - plays on PAL systems and most computers.
(This beautiful DVD should not be missed by anyone interested in the breed.)

Pyrenean Partners:  Herding and Guarding Dogs in the French Pyrenees by Bryan Cummins  (English)
Pyrenean Partners is not only a book of exceptional beauty, it is an important contribution to the growing field of ethnocynology — the study of dogs in their particular cultural contexts. The authors take us on a historical and photographic journey into the development and contemporary use of livestock protection dogs and herding dogs — in particular, the Great Pyrenees (Pyrenean Mountain Dog) and Pyrenean Shepherd — as they ply their ancient trades in the French Pyrenees today. Illustrated with magnificent full color photographs of the dogs at work and at rest, Pyrenean Partners examines the distinctly unique relationship each breed has with its owner and their crucial roles in the pastoral economy of the region.  Excellent pictures of the Berger des Pyrenees doing his work in his homeland.
Available at or

 Le Berger des Pyrénées (French) by Martine Casteran
 Editions de Vecchi S.A.,  20 rue de la Trémoille, 75008 Paris, France
 ISBN 2-7328-0322-7

Le Berger des Pyrénées (French) by Joel Herreros
Editions de Vecchi,  20 rue de la Trémoille, 75008 Paris, France

Le Berger des Pyrénées (French)
Le Grand Livre des Chiens de Berger Français (French) by Dauvergne et Casteran, Edition DE VECCHI

 Französische Schäferhunde by Christian Janes and Angelo Steccanella
 (German)  108 pages about all French Herding Breeds.
 30,00 DM, ISBN 3-275-01258-4

      PHENOTYPE PRIMER:  This software helps predict colours.



Berger Des Pyrenees (Pyrenean Shepherd Dog) Origin and Purpose ROUGH-FACED VARIETY Coming from humble beginnings as working farm dogs in the isolated farms of the French Pyrenees Mountains, it was practically unknown to the official dog scene until the early 20th century. Its type varies considerably from one valley to the next, its shape and coat can be very different, but its character and behaviour never vary. SMOOTH-FACED VARIETY This variety of Berger des Pyrenees was principally found in the foothills of the French Pyrenees Mountains where it was much appreciated by horse-dealers and cattle-drovers. The two varieties, Smooth-Faced and Rough-Faced (including both demi-long and long-haired coat types) are born in the same litters.

General Appearance Dog displaying a maximum of excitable energy in a minimum of size and weight.

Temperament A courageous and resourceful little dog showing initiative and total devotion to its master. It is headstrong by nature and firm control is usually needed to channel its energy and bring out the best of its intelligence liveliness. His always alert expression, cunning and wary looks, together with great liveliness are giving this dog a personal stamp that is not to be compared with any other. Sometimes wary of strangers.

Size ROUGH-FACED VARIETY Height at withers : Males - 42- 48 cm. (16.5” -19 in.) Females - 40 - 46 cm. (15.5” – 18 in.) A tolerance of + or - 2 cm (1”) is allowed for perfectly typed specimens. SMOOTH-FACED VARIETY Height at withers : Males - 40-54 cm. (15.5” – 21 in.) Females - 40-52 cm. (15.5” – 20.5 in.)

Coat & Colour
The body hair is long, or demi-long, but always dense, almost flat or slightly wavy, thicker and more wooly on the croup and the upper thighs, the texture somewhere between goat’s hair and sheep’s wool. In some dogs the mixture of coarse and woolly hair can produce sorts of strands or cords called “cadenettes” found on the chest and the forelegs at elbow level; and sometimes matted or felted hair called “matelotes” which overlap like tiles on the hindquarters. The muzzle has shorter and less dense hair. On the end of the muzzle, and sometimes along the whole muzzle, it is laid flat and naturally grows from front to back. On the sides as well as on the cheeks, the hair is longer and brushed up in a “blown back look” from front to back. Eyes must be clearly visible and not covered by hair.

On the body the hair is demi-long or less than demi-long. It reaches its longest length on the neck and withers (6-7 cm) and on the median line of the back (4-5 cm). Slight feathering on the front legs and “culottes” or breeches on the hind end. On the muzzle and skull the hair is short and fine, hence the name “smooth-face”.
Fawn, lighter or darker, sometimes overlaid with black hairs. Gray, lighter or darker. Brindle, lighter or darker. Black. Blue merle, fawn merle and brindle merle. Sometimes with white markings on the head, chest and limbs. Solid colours are preferred.

Skull: The head is triangular in shape. Overall the skull is moderately developed but remains the dominating part of the head. Almost flat with a slightly marked furrow, nicely rounded on the sides. The occipital bone should be little pronounced. The muzzle to blend gently and in a slight slope with the skull. Stop not visible. On the whole, the head should remind one of the brown bear. Stop: Scarcely discernible.

Nose: Black. Muzzle: should be straight, shorter than the length of the skull with skull remaining the dominating part of the head. The muzzle narrow without exaggeration and wedge shaped. The lips
should not be very fleshy and cover the lower jaw without any hint of a flew. The mucous membranes of the lips and palate to be black or heavily marked with black. Eyes: The very expressive eyes should be surrounded by thin eye lids and black rims. They are well-opened, almond-shaped, of dark brown colour, neither protruding nor deep set. Merle dogs and slate gray dogs are allowed a blue eye or eyes showing a partial depigmentation of the iris (these features being almost always typical with this colour).

Muzzle is slightly shorter than the length of the skull and appears noticeably shorter because of the longer hair on the face.

Muzzle is longer than that of the Rough-Faced Variety and this is emphasized by the distinctive smooth face.
Jaws/Teeth: Complete dentition. Large canines. Scissor bite (upper incisors covering lower incisors without loss of contact). Pincer bite (edge to edge) is tolerated. Ears: Both cropped and uncropped are equally acceptable. Natural uncropped ears are short, triangular, fine, wide at the base and ending in a point. The uncropped ear will stand semi-erect with the top third or half falling forward, or falling to the side in the case of a rose ear. An uncropped ear which stands upright is undesirable. The cropped ear has the top third of the ear removed, cut straight across, and standing erect. Ideally the ears should be symmetrical and very mobile.

Rather long, fairly well muscled, blending nicely with the shoulders.

Forelegs: upright, lean, sinewy, well-fringed. Upper Arm: Oblique and moderately long. Forearm: Straight. Carpus (carpal joint): Noticeable wrist joint. Metacarpus (pasterns): Slightly oblique seen from the side. Dewclaws: Single dewclaws.

• Shoulder: is rather long and angulation moderately oblique. The points of the shoulder blades project over the line of the back.
• Foreleg lean and covered in long or demi-long hair.
• Feet fairly flat, of a definite oval shape. Dark pads. Small hard nails covered by hair which is also found under the foot, between the pads.

• Shoulder: Angulations are more open in the Smooth-faced variety.
• Forelegs covered in short hair with a light fringe of hair on the back of the legs, and breeches on the back of the hind legs.
• Feet are tighter and more arched than that of the Rough-faced variety.

The bone structure is strong without heaviness, muscle is lean. Skin: Should be thin, often spotted with pigment, whatever the colour of the coat. Topline: Well-supported. Withers: Prominent. Loin: Short and slightly arched. Croup: Rather short and sloping. Chest: Moderately developed and reaching to the elbow. The ribs are slightly sprung. Flank: Not very deep.
• Back: Rather long and strong. Length of body is noticeably longer than its height.
• Loins: Short, slightly arched but appears more arched because coat is often thicker on hindquarters and croup.
• Back: Well sustained. Shorter in body length than that of the Rough-faced. Almost square in appearance.
• Loin: Short with less of an arch than the Rough-faced variety.

Well developed, muscled but short upper thigh. Hocks lean, low set, Metatarsus (Rear pastern): Perpendicular to the ground or very slightly oblique from back to front. Dewclaws: Single or double dewclaws are acceptable on the hind legs, as is their absence.
Hind Feet: Dark pads. Small hard nails covered by hair which is also found under the foot and between the pads. Hind foot attachment to metatarsus is sometimes slightly askew (toes out slightly). This unique adaptive feature for working on steep mountainous terrain is especially common with dogs born and reared in the mountains.

• Rather closed angulation.
• Upper Thigh: Not very long, moderately oblique, strong, well- defined muscle.
• Stifle (knee): Well-angulated and parallel to the body.
• Lower Thigh: Rather long and oblique.
• Hocks: Lean, set low, well angulated. Hocks are sometimes a little close mainly in dogs born and bred in the mountains.
• Feet fairly flat, of a definite oval shape.
• Rather open angulation.
• Upper Thigh: Not very long, slightly oblique.
• Stifle (knee): Moderately angulated and parallel to the body.
• Hocks: Lean, set higher than the Rough-faced variety. Hocks are sometimes a little close, mainly in dogs born and bred in the mountains.
• Feet are tighter and more arched than that of the Rough-faced variety.

A naturally long tail, or a natural bob-tail, or a docked tail are all equally acceptable. A naturally long tail is well fringed and not very long. It should follow the line of the croup and should not be curled on the top of the back. Set on rather low with a hook at the tip.

Because of his overall construction the Berger des Pyrénées displays a rather restricted pace. Ambling is not penalized but it should be considered that this is foremost a gait used by dogs while working with sheep in order to keep up with their reactions, or in the evening when they are getting tired after a full day’s work. Ambling is therefore not justified in the show ring. The Berger des Pyrénées moves mostly at a trot. The latter should be clean and strong. At a slow trot the head is carried somewhat high, at a fast outreaching trot the head is level with the topline. The feet should never be lifted much off the ground. All the movements to be fluid, close to the ground. A correct gait that is pleasing to the eye is the result of good shoulder and rear angulations.

Because of its construction the Smooth-faced variety has a shorter stride than the Rough-faced variety.

Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effet upon the health and welfare of the dog.  The faults and disqualifications are the same for the Rough-faced and the Smooth-faced variety except for those describing coat and proportions.
• General Appearance: Coarse appearance, lack of liveliness, loaded in muscles, common expression, unsound movement, short or mincing gait.

• Head: Skull pointed and oblong in shape; head too short, too long, or too narrow. Marked Stop. Muzzle square, too long or rectangular shaped.  Hair exaggeratedly developed, especially when falling over the eyes.  Lack of pigment.
• Eyes: Eyes too small, too round, too light; lack of expression.  Unpigmented eyelids.
• Ears: Set too low and badly carried.
• Neck: Badly set on, coarse, weak, short or too long.
• Shoulders: Shoulders too straight or too short.
• Body: Coarseness, straight topline. Too short in length in the Rough-Faced variety. Too long in length in the Smooth-Faced variety.
• Forequarters: Double dewclaws. Unsoundness.
• Hindquarters: Straight hocks; joints lacking in springiness.
• Feet: Too heavy coated feet showing an unsightly underpart. Fleshy toes. Cat-feet. Long and light coloured nails. Insufficiently coated feet.
• Tail: Bad tail carriage or missing hook.
• Coat: Excessive growth of hair on the head, especially if it is covering the eyes. Hair too abundant on muzzle creating a moustache and without a “blown back look”. Open and tight curls.
• Colour: White covering more than one third of the coat. Black with tan points.

• Any size above or under the limits set by the present standard.
• Nose of any colour other than black.
• Blue eyes with any coat other than a merle.
• Over and undershot bite mouths.
• Naturally upright standing ears.
N.B. Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.