The Catalan Sheepdog
The Catalan sheepdog, also known as the “gos d’atura” in Catalan, is a breed that originates from the Iberian Peninsula. This breed was originally intended to herd animals in the Pyrenees mountains, but it has captured the hearts of people all over the world and nowadays it usually lives as a pet in towns and cities.
History of the Catalan Sheepdog
Like most European sheepdog breeds, we aren’t 100% sure about where it comes from. The general theory is that this breed was spread around the peninsula when barbarian invaded the area at the end of the Roman empire, but this hasn’t been proven.
There are archeological remains of dogs from thousands of years ago that might have been the Catalan sheepdog, but the first records of their existence are from two centuries ago. During that time, people have used them for herding sheep, goats, and other animals in the Pyrenees.
The breed gained official recognition in 1919. During that time, other breeds of sheepdog were brought in the area, and that had caused its numbers to drop. Luckily, a group of breeders decided to help this breed reclaim its old glory.
Traits of the Catalan Sheepdog
The Catalan Sheepdog is a medium-size dog breed. There’s not much difference in height or weight between males and females. They’re both about 18-20 inches tall and weigh about 40 pounds.
In general, their bodies are longer than they are wide, and they have a muscular, agile appearance. One of their most characteristic features is their long hair.
Their heads are also a bit longer than they are wide. They have a short, pyramid-shaped snout. Their nose is always black and they have big eyes that give them an intelligent appearance.
They have thin, triangular ears that hang over the sides of their head. Their tail hangs low and they generally have it down. Even in a state of alert, they never raise their tail above their back or curl it backward.
The Catalan Sheepdog’s fur is long, thin, and slightly wavy. It’s also really rough to the tough and you can tell they have two layers of fur. The inner layer has most of their fur and protects them from the cold temperatures in the mountains. From a distance, it seems like they’re all the same color, but they come in different varieties:
- Different cookie-colored tones from light to dark brown.
- Sand-colored. They come in multiple tones, and sometimes a mix of black fur.
- Grey, created by the mix of white, grey, and black fur.
The Behavior of the Catalan Sheepdog
The Catalan sheepdog has a personality and temperament much like other sheepdogs. They’re lively, energetic, and intelligent. They’re friendly with strangers, but also loyal and attached to their human family, so they can make good guard dogs.
Like other similar breeds, they have a mix of intelligence and willingness to work. It’s also worth mentioning that you can’t train these dogs through force or punishment. You have to use a positive attitude in order to get good, fast results.
Due to these dogs being so smart, you have to remember to keep them mentally stimulated. They’re hard-working, but if they feel bored they’ll try to explore or entertain themselves, which can cause some serious behavioral problems.
Even though they work in the mountains herding sheep, you don’t need to do any intense physical activity. Three good, long walks a day and you’ll be able to help burn up all of their energy.
Catalan Sheepdogs are also great guard dogs. They like to protect their family, although the way they usually do this by barking, so this can be problematic in urban areas.
How to Care for a Catalan Sheepdog
Catalan sheepdogs have the luck of being really healthy dogs without any genetic diseases. However, you still need to take them to the vet in order to prevent the other common diseases all dogs get.
They’re rural dogs that like being outdoors, so you need to make sure you stick to the vet’s vaccination and de-worming schedule. Also, remember to run frequent check-ups for skin parasites like fleas or ticks.
Due to the shape of their ears and how much fur they have, you need to take special care of their ears. It’s easy for dogs with droopy ears to get infections and fungi.
Their thick, long fur also needs a weekly brushing to get rid of any knots and remove dead fur. This helps keep their skin healthy, and saves them from pain and discomfort.
The Catalan Sheepdogs have a woolly inner layer of fur that protects them from the cold and heat. You should never cut these dogs’ fur during the summer because it provides them protection from the sun.
Thanks to their great personality, the Catalan Sheepdog has become a great companion animal. Their liveliness and beauty have captured the hearts of families all over the world.