History of the Pyrenean Sheepdog

The Pyrenean Sheepdog, known as the Berger des Pyrénées, is very ancient in its origins and for many years was unknown outside its home region of the Pyrenees where it is used for herding sheep. The better known Mountain Dog is used for guarding the flocks and the two dogs worked well for the shepherds. Each valley in the Pyrenees bred its own type of the Berger des Pyrénées, some shepherds preferred a larger, stronger type of dog whilst others wanted the small, lighter type of dog which could traverse the mountain slopes more easily, always their shepherding attributes being of greatest importance.

The value of these little dogs became apparent during the First World War, when they were used to carry despatches, food and medicine between the trenches. Many of the dogs gave their lives to this work and the breed was used again in the Second World War for courier work. In tribute to them, an American, Colonel Tolet worked to establish the first breed standard and the Berger de Pyrénées Club. This club was later subsumed within the RACP - the Réunion des Amateurs de Chiens Pyrénéen. At first, the breed was only known around its home region but it rapidly increased in popularity throughout France. The breed is now owned and bred in most of the European countries, including Eastern Europe, and is also bred in North America. The reasons for the breed’s increase in popularity become apparent upon acquaintance and the agility world has been quick to pick up on their aptitude for this sport.

Pyrenean Sheepdogs were only introduced into England in 1991 in sufficient numbers to establish them as a breed recognised by the Kennel Club and placed on their Import Register and as a fully recognised breed from January 2006.