In today’s guide, we are going to learn about the ancient herding breed, the Catalan Sheepdog. One of the Romans’ most trusted working companions!
Height: Male 18.5-21.5 inches, female 18-21 inches
Weight: 16-20 kilos
Lifespan: 12-14 years
Pedigree? (registered with the KC?): Yes, this breed is registered with the Kennel Club.
Positives and Negatives
Check out the pros and cons of the Catalan Sheepdog below:
- Intelligent and easy to train
- Great watchdogs
- Independent, can work alone
- Low drooling
- May display herding behaviors
- High exercise needs
- Not a hypoallergenic breed
- High exercise needs
The Catalan Sheepdog is commonly seen across Europe, particularly Spain, Sweden, Germany, and Finland. The breed is still used as a flock guardian but has increased in popularity as a family pet and companion.
In the UK the Catalan Sheepdog is still uncommon but numbers are slowly rising.
Catalan Sheepdogs bond strongly with their owners but are also independent. This dog doesn’t mind being left alone for a few hours, although they shouldn’t be left bored without anything to do.
Destructive behaviors can quickly form and these intelligent canines can pick up bad habits as fast as they do good.
This breed has been working on farms for centuries. They’re an exceptional flock guardian and are still used as an active herding dog.
Although this dog is a natural protector, it doesn’t display aggressive traits that are seen in other guarding breeds.
Barking can get a little out of hand if the Catalan Sheepdog hasn’t been taught the quiet command.
Instinctively, they will bark towards strangers on their property. Barking for attention, however, should be nipped in the bud straight away.
Today, the Catalan Sheepdog is still a hard worker. In Spain, they herd flocks and now assist the police in search and rescue missions.
Whilst they are becoming more popular for their use as a companion and family pet, in the UK this breed doesn’t come cheap. A Kennel Club registered puppy will cost over £1,000.
Catalan Sheepdogs originate from Catalonia, Spain, dating back to the Ancient Roman period. They are believed to be descendants of Pyrenean Mountain dogs however, their exact creation isn’t known.
The Romans were responsible for bringing the Catalan Sheepdog to Spain during 200-100 BC.
These canines were used by the Romans to herd and guard livestock.
In its native country, Catalan Sheepdogs are known as God d’atura Catalá. The breed is classified as a working dog.
King Charles the Great is thought to have owned two large black dogs with a long coat. The breed was depicted on textile fabric (tapestries) between the 8th-10th century.
It is thought these dogs could be linked to the creation of the Catalan Sheepdog, Briard, Berger Picard, Beauceron, and the Great Pyrenees.
During the Spanish Civil War, World War I and II Catalan Sheepdogs were used as messenger dogs. However, after the Second World War ended breed numbers quickly fell into decline.
Many people sought jobs in the cities leaving behind the countryside, thus reducing the number of farms.
In 1992 Cobi, a Catalan Sheepdog was made the official mascot of the Summer Olympics in Barcelona. They were always pretty popular on that side of Europe.
However, the UK Kennel Club only recognized the breed in 2009. Their recognition was down to the Catalan Sheepdog Club of Great Britain established in 2006.
Gentle, kind, calm, and caring, this breed really is a great match for families and shepherds alike.
Although they are used to guard livestock, Catalan Sheepdogs aren’t known to be instinctively aggressive. These canines are deeply affectionate towards their owners, but luckily their independent streak means they can be left alone.
Experienced owners would be better for the Catalan Sheepdog due to their herding and guarding past. First-time owners can be great leaders if they can provide the time and training this dog needs.
Catalan Sheepdogs don’t have an impulse to wander off, although they do have a prey drive so ensure gardens are secure.
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Are Catalan Sheepdogs Good with Strangers?
No, this breed does not trust strangers and won’t be too quick to show its friendly side. They will quickly alert their owners to anybody trespassing on their territory.
Given the right socialization, Catalan Sheepdogs can be more relaxed around those they don’t know. Especially if they are raised in family environments.
Are Catalan Sheepdogs Good with Children?
Yes, Catalan Sheepdogs make great family companions and get along well with children. An excellent playmate and true protector, these canines will always look after the younger members of the family.
Despite their working background, Catalan Sheepdogs are less likely to display herding behavior towards children and other dogs.
Are Catalan Sheepdogs Ok with Other Dogs?
Yes, this breed gets along well with other dogs. They’re generally sociable with other animals and can also live with dogs and cats happily.
Catalan Sheepdogs will need anywhere between an hour to an hour and a half of daily exercise. These dogs should ideally have access to a garden.
Catalan Sheepdogs are energetic, sociable, and love being outdoors so getting them to leave a park might not be easy!
Due to their working life, mental stimulation is important. They need to keep their brain ticking over! Dog sports are one way to do this.
They thrive in categories such as agility, obedience, showmanship, herding trials, flyball, and tracking. Catalan Sheepdog puppies should avoid vigorous exercise to protect their growing joints.
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Below are the breed-related health conditions of the Catalan Sheepdog:
- Hip Dysplasia- Hip joint laxity is caused by poor development of the hip. Symptoms include pain, inflammation, and swelling. Eventually, arthritis will form.
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy- A degenerative disease affecting the photoreceptor cells within the eye. Over time as the cells deteriorate blindness will occur.
- Epilepsy- Affected dogs will suffer from unprovoked seizures ranging from mild to severe. Epilepsy is the most common neurological disorder affecting dogs.
- Glaucoma- Closed-angle Glaucoma causes an increase of intraocular pressure in the eye which can lead to pain, redness, and vision loss. Open-angle Glaucoma appears slowly without causing severe pain.
Intelligence & Training
Catalan Sheepdogs are highly intelligent and easy to train due to their eagerness to please! Yet they still have an independent streak and can be a little stubborn when listening to commands.
The breed isn’t dominant by nature so it won’t be too difficult to establish leadership.
Positive reinforcement is the best technique for a smooth training session. They thrive off the attention from their owners so sometimes affection can be a better reward to food.
Sessions should be up to fifteen minutes maximum as the Catalan Sheepdog may lose interest. Repetition could also lead to disinterest for this smart pooch.
Nipping, chewing, and herding may be shown during the Catalan Sheepdogs’ early years. Although these instincts aren’t as strong as other herding breeds, it is still something to be aware of.
These behaviors must be nipped in the bud and corrected instantly whenever displayed.
Socialization is important especially when it comes to strangers. As this pooch is used to guard livestock, they are naturally distrustful of strangers.
Be sure they are introduced to a variety of different environments and people during their early years.
Sheepdog training generally starts a little later on. Between the ages of 6-12 months. This allows a dog to mature a little, whilst being physically able to complete the task at hand.
Housebreaking won’t be too much of a struggle, provided consistency is kept.
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Catalan Sheepdogs have a long, double coat that requires regular brushing throughout the week. Brushing the coat will remove debris, knots, and tangles, whilst redistributing the body’s natural oils across the coat.
A pin or bristle brush should be used on the coat at least three times a week. As the breed gets older their coat becomes coarser.
Ideally, this dog shouldn’t be frequently bathed, only if there is noticeable odor or dirt.
They should only be washed a handful of times each year. Brush before bathing, cut out any tangles as these will be painful to remove once wet. Ensure the shampoo has been rinsed thoroughly to prevent residue from staying in the fur.
Shedding seasons can be a bit of a nightmare. As this pooch isn’t a hypoallergenic breed, they will blow out their coat twice a year. During this period more frequent brushing will be required.
The coat is generally straight or wavy and will shed first from the front of the body before shedding from the back.
Ears will need to be cleansed and overgrown fur trimmed from blocking the airflow to the canal.
Nails should be filed or clipped every 10-14 days. Dental hygiene mustn’t be forgotten so aim to brush teeth at least three times a week.