at work and at play:


(Henry David Thoreau)


The reason for their existance

The Pyrenean Shepherd is a loose-eyed herding and tending breed; he is a jack-of-all-trades.  When the farmer is out tending his flock, his little sheepdog is with him.   His purpose was to take the sheep, with the shepherd, back and forth to the grazing pastures each day and to aid the farmer in working with the flock management. These pastures are usually not fenced so some tending is also required.    He is also useful as an alarm system as nothing escapes his gaze and he is quick to bark a warning.  He generally works close to the flock with little direction given by the shepherd.   At the barn the farmer will also use his Pyr Shep to sort out individuals in the flock for milking or other purposes.  The Pyr Shep is a versatile all-purpose farm dog. The breed's focus is his master so when you walk away from the livestock, your Pyr Shep will follow.  When you are working with livestock and he sees you need his assistance he is quick to try and help out.  He uses every means within his body; his liveliness, his bark & bite to control the sheep successfully (unlike the Border Collies use of strong eye contact).  The herding instinct is still very strong in all Pyr Sheps.  Some shepherds would not have any other breed except the petit berger des pyrenees while others complain the breed is too lively, barks too much or bites too much.  Much depends on their training but inherently they are a useful, tireless worker for the farmer either at his farm or on the transhumance.
           The Pyr Shep is very quick and reactive in his style, but also very biddable.
We have now titled four of our females and three males competing at different levels of Canadian herding trials--often receiving "Reserve High in Trial" or "High In Trial" honors.



The Pyr Shep is a unique breed in the show ring.  There are very few being exhibited and this makes it difficult for judges to develop a good feel for the breed.  A pleasant dog exhibiting sound structure and temperament with no major faults will catch the eye of any judge and be remembered.  The quality and temperament of the dog being exhibited needs to be exemplary to ensure the breed develops a good reputation in the show ring. 

Raised properly, the pyr shep also makes an excellent dog for the Junior Handler.  A small pyr shep at 15-16" weighing around 20 lbs is very manageable for a young Junior Handler for either manipulating the dog's position or lifting it onto a grooming table for examination (the breed is examined on the table in the United States only).  At the same time, the characteristic devotion of the breed makes it such that the Junior Handler can easily keep the focus of his charge.  The pyr shep is always aware of what is going on around him in the ring and this offers a little challenge for his handler but nothing that a tasty morsel doesn't rectify.  Junior handlers are always asked questions about the dog they are exhibiting and information about the Pyr Shep is always interesting for youngsters to research and learn.

For the show ring the pyr shep is easily trained and exhibited as a "natural" breed.  His handler does not need to fuss with long periods of grooming nor is the dog stacked in an unnatural stance.  The breed's natural alert behavior keeps his eyes on his handler, while its typical mischievous smile and expression will usually keep the judge's eye on the breed.

The grooming requirements are very minimal.  His nails should be trimmed and his teeth clean.  The coat should be clean and free of tangles or debris.  Often times a good brushing will be enough to tidy and clean a coat up for the show ring.  The dog does not need to have a bath every time he is being exhibited in the show ring.  There is no trimming or scissoring of his coat because a major part of his allure is his rustic appearance.  The U.S. standard states that the breed's feet can be trimmed but I have not found this to be necessary.  In fact, considering the amount of coat the breed can possess the lack of coifing and fussing tests the patience of many professional dog show exhibitors with fingers itching to get busy trimming this or that!   If you have any questions regarding the grooming of your pyrenean shepherd then get in touch with your breeder.  If you are hiring a professional handler to show your dog make certain that the handler is aware of how you want the breed to be presented in the show ring.   If your Pyr Shep has the traditional cadenettes, a corded coat, then the cords can be split to keep their sizes even.  I have several dogs with this type of coat and because they are working dogs the cords will pick up debris such as hay and vegetation seeds so I do spend some time picking these bits out of the cords before exhibiting the dog.  I will also bath just the cords to get out any lingering odour of the barn.  But, I have also gone straight from the barn into the show ring and placed with high honors. 

When entering the ring with your pyr shep he needs to be trained to "stand" and "stay" and keep his attention focused on you, the handler.
Then the judge will usually ask you to trot your dog around the ring to examine his gait.  Although the pyr shep sometimes likes to enhance his performance with a few jumps in the air I would suggest this behavior be kept to an absolute minimum.  A lively trot on a loose leash will present the movement of the dog adequately.  When coming to a stop it is handy to teach your dog to "stop" or give him a signal that you are slowing down.  This prevents the dog from being pulled by the leash to a halt.  When the judge is examining your dog tell the dog to "stand" and "stay" then squat down beside the dog all the while encouraging him to "stay" still.  Do not allow your dog to jump at the judge or pull back from the judge.  Keep your dog's focus on YOU!  If your dog sits down then gently stand him up again.  If your dog is being examined on a table place the dog on the table and align his feet squarely then tell the dog to "stand" and "stay".  It is important not to rush through this process as that is often a signal to the dog that you are nervous and this results in the dog becoming nervous as well.

Always be proud of your dog and what the breed should be representing.  The breed was not developed to be a show dog.  It is a working farm dog and whether or not the dog lives on a farm does not matter as long as the owner, as a steward of the breed, conveys to others the respect the breed and its' heritage deserve.

The sky is the limit when you are doing agility with a Pyrenean Shepherd!
'Nikita' competing in agility



"Rally" performed all over North America with Superdogs
and his freestyle routine is amazing to watch.
Rally and his owner, Angela, were
2007 Skyhoundz Canadian Frisbee Champion



'Liberty' competing in Rally Obedience





Rally competing in the sport of Dock Diving
Rowdie also enjoys Dock Diving



Pierre & Hiver  learning to track

The Pyr Shep is used successfully as a Tracking, Scent Detection and Search and Rescue dog.  He has great drive and a natural  desire to please which makes training quick and fun.  There are many very successful Bergers des Pyrenees competing in high levels of tracking competitions around the world.

"Jinn" and his owner Diana are the first Pyrenean Shepherd in North America to obtain the initial Scent Work title and are
currently working toward higher qualifications in this field. 
Here is a wonderful update I received from one of our Chaparral owners. Nose Work seems to come as naturally and successfully to this breed as agility! I’m certain we’ll see more Pyr Sheps competing in the future.
We have had a very busy weekend. On Friday Jinn and I headed north to Burlington Wisconsin to take part in our first NW2 trial. Jinn had earned his NW1 in April. As only one of the two dogs could compete in the NW2 trial in Burlington, I had a big decision to make. In the end I decided that Jinn was just a little more methodical and reliable than his big brother is and so Jinn was to be the first to try for NW2. There is quite a big jump in the level of difficulty associated with NW1 and NW2 searches. At the lower level, there is only one odor to be detected and that is birch. At both levels, there are four elements to be completed (interior, exterior, vehicles, and containers) but for NW1 there is only one hide per element and there are no distractors in any of the containers in the container search. At the NW2 level, there are two odors to be detected, anise and birch and each element may have one, two, or three hides. The handler is told how many hides there are for each element, but not whether they are anise or birch or a combination of the two (called a cocktail). The container search is made more complex not only by the increase in the number of hides but also by the addition of distractors. The interior search is made more difficult by increasing the area and to be searched (in our case there were two rooms) and also the complexity of the search areas (lots of clutter). The exterior search is made more difficult by increasing the size of the search area, the number of objects to be searched, and the vegetation included in the search area. The vehicle search is made more complex by increasing the number of hides as well as the number of vehicles to be searched.

The trial was held at Burlington High School and when we arrived there on Sunday morning, the sky was overcast, it was quite chilly, and there were strong gusts of wind. There were 50 competitors divided into 4 groups and there were four judges, one for each element. Groups A and B were to search exterior and vehicles in the morning and interiors and containers after lunch. Groups C and D did the searches in reverse order. Jinn and I were team #10 in Group A. Our first search was the exterior search. It was a large grassy area bordered by a walkway, two walls of the school building with a row of shrubs and mulch along one of the building walls. Scattered throughout the grassy area there were three wooden picnic tables, four metal benches and there was also a big garbage receptacle made of metal and stone in the middle of the grassy area. The wind was gusting quite strongly and was also shifting around quite a lot. I set Jinn up behind the start line and gave him several seconds to get his bearings and do some threshold scenting. As soon as he started pulling on his harness I gave him the search cue and we were off. Jinn ran full tilt along the one wall of the building and started working hard in the corner where the two walls met. There was also a bench there and some mulch, some shrubs and a tree. Jinn kept going back and forth between the shrubs and the corner but he was not able to zero in on the source. This is generally in indication that the source is somewhere else downwind, so I began to move Jinn downwind. With the shifting gusts of wind it was quite a tough job to locate the source because, as it turned out, it was elevated and was up on the lip of the stone garbage receptacle. Jinn found it with only 15 seconds remaining in the allowable time. He had to stand up on his hind legs and stretch as far as he could to get his nose close to the source. The thing that impressed me so much is that Jinn was fully engaged in the search from the moment I gave him the "find it" cue. He never wavered once, even though the search had so many difficult elements in it and was certainly more complex than any exterior search we had ever done in practice.

Right after the exterior search was the vehicle search. We literally only had a couple of minutes and those were employed walking from the exterior search site to the vehicle search site. There were four vehicles and two hides to be located. Jinn was extremely quick. The dogs were given 3.5 minutes to complete the task and Jinn located both hides and located both hides in just over 48 seconds. So we went into our lunch break with 2 of four elements successfully completed.

Our first search after lunch was the interior search. There were two rooms, one of which was the athletic department's weight room, so it was cluttered with all manner of body building equipment, boxes of athletic shoes, metal weights, bar bells. It was a very large room and only half of it was designated as the search area. There was a yellow tape about shoulder high, showing us where the limit of the search area was. We were told that there were two hides to be located. The first decision I had to make was whether to do the search on leash or off. Given that only half of the room was in play and that odor could possibly drift and get trapped in the other half of the room, this was not necessarily a straight forward decision. However, in general I like to allow Jinn to do interior searches in cluttered search areas off leash so that the leash does not hamper his search in any way. I decided that if he did spend too much time in the wrong part of the room, I would just call him back to me and encourage him to search the right part. As it turned out this was not at all necessary. Jinn went right to work and found the first hide very quickly. I rewarded him and said "OK, another!" and off he went, searching for the second hide. He did go beyond the yellow tape for a little bit, but it was clear that he was locating the edge of a new scent plume or cone and when he found it he immediately followed it into the search area and after working diligently to eliminate some other possibilities, located the hide in a big plastic container of dirty athletic shoes. We then immediately went on to room #2. The second room was a tiny storage office with numerous rows of stacked office chairs in the center and spare desks piled up against the walls. The hide was concealed in one of the closed filing drawers of a metal desk that was immediately to the left against the wall as we entered the doorway to the room. The dogs were allowed 5.5 minutes to complete the two searches (3.5 for the first search and 2 for the second) and Jinn completed both in 2.04 minutes. We are not given the break down, so I don't know how quickly Jinn found the second hide, but he went straight to the desk and in a very short time had located the (inaccessible) source of the odor. It could not have been more than 30 seconds. Anyway, so there we were, with three elements successfully completed and only the container search left to do.

We were told that there were two hides and we knew there were distractors in some of the containers, but did not know how many. There were 20 containers, a mixture of small black briefcases and boxes, arranged in two concentric circles. I set Jinn up at the start line and said "find it." Off he went, immediately to the outside of the circle on the right. He checked the first three containers and then slapped the fourth and then looked up at me. I called "Alert!" the judge said "yes." I rewarded Jinn and then said "OK, another." Off Jinn went. He checked the next two containers on the outside circle and then veered 90 degrees to the inner circle and upon arriving there immediately slapped the black briefcase in front of him. I could see from his demeanor that there was no doubt whatsoever in his mind, so I called alert for the second time, and for the second time the judge said "yes." And with that Jinn had earned his NW2 title on his very first try! I still can't quite believe it. Jinn is the first pyr shep to earn the NW2 title and he is also the second dog in Tennessee to earn that title. I am just delighted.

Of the 50 teams competing on Sunday, 19 successfully completed all four elements and earned their NW2 titles. At the ribbon ceremony later on in the afternoon another big surprise awaited us. It turned out that Jinn, having only used 20.78 seconds of the 3 minutes allowed, had won the container search and had beaten his nearest competitor by 10 seconds. So we went home with two ribbons, the winning ribbon for containers and the title ribbon for NW2. It was quite a day! And Jinn was so proud of himself! He had a huge grin on his face after every search and he pranced back to the car jumping up and down with excitement.



We are extremely proud of Chaparral's La Petit Sorcier and his owner Diana.
"Jinn" is a valuable registered service dog giving Diana a peace of mind to make her life more comfortable.   Service Dogs and Therapy Dogs enhance the quality of many people's lives.


    This sport of running a race with your dogs is very popular in Europe and an   excellent way of keeping both you and your dog fit.  Children are allowed to start to compete at seven years of age with their own categories so it has also become a terrific family experience involving people and their dogs! 

    The dog is in harness and attached to the owner by a leash with a rubber/expandable end so there is some give.  The dog is supposed to run in
front of the owner on a course which has been predetermined with varying degrees of difficulties and terrain and length going through villages, parks & forests.

    There is also another similar sport, canicross-cycle, where the person rides a bicycle while the dog runs in front. 

    More information and pictures can be found at this site (french):



Pyrenean Shepherd and his owner track wildlife.
 "Got a call some weeks ago that there was a crane that couldn`t fly in one  ffield.".................  

The Berger des Pyrénées can excel in a variety of disciplines and sports.   In France there are many that have earned their titles in Ring 1 & 2 and in RCI.  Several have attained high standings in Tracking competitions and others are used for Search and Rescue in Avalanche and Disaster fields.  Their great agility and nimbleness are useful in searching through ruins, and their
small size makes them easily transportable.  All these disciplines make them a natural in the Obedience arena as well.
The breed has also been used for Truffle Hunting and can find a truffle as deep as 25cm! 
What can't this little dog do when he puts his mind to it---that is up to you!

back to Pyr Shep Index