Catalan Sheepdog (Gos d'Atura Catalá - Perro de pastor catalán)

Country of origin:
Spain
Height (cm):
47-53
Weight (kg):
15,9-20,5
Life span (years):
12-14
Colour:
fawn, black, red, grey, brown, sable
Size:
large
Hair length:
long
Recognized by:
FCI
FCI code:
87
Intelligence:
Good with kids:
Trainability:
Shedding:
Watchdog:
Adaptability:
Allergy:
No
Pros Cons
  • excellent herder and guard dog       
  • great companion
  • versatile
  • needs a lot of daily exercises
  • doesn't suit for living in a small apartment

Overview
The Catalan Sheepdog is a nimble, brave and hardworking breed, which was initially produced in Catalonia. Its high intelligence and dense shaggy coat make it a perfect herder, which is capable of handling the flock with minimal help from the human. This friendly and lively dog usually makes a fabulous pet.
History
The Catalan Sheepdog is a truly old breed, which was originally developed during the Roman occupation of the Iberian Peninsula. Romans invaded these lands around 200 to 100 B. C. and brought along with them two variety of dogs. One breed was charged with guarding and herding duties and was widely used in fights as an attack dog. The other, less massive and more agile, was primarily responsible for herding the flock. These canines were heavily crossed with local Catalan dogs and gradually evolved in a set of various modern breeds including the Catalan Sheepdog.

For hundreds of years the Catalan Sheepdog has served as a multifunctional working dog. The breed was well-adjusted to all the surprises of the local climate as well as it was especially skilful at traversing cliffy terrain of Catalonia. This brave and self-reliant dog owes its popularity in its native country greatly to its herding prowess and ability to manage the cattle independently for a long time. During the Spanish Civil War it was also trusted with the duties of a messenger and sentry. Its well-developed protective instinct allowed it to serve as an excellent guard dog.

The Second World War brought devastation and destruction not only to the human world but also resulted in significant drop in number of many European breeds, including the Catalan Sheepdog. Demographical changes were also highly harmful to the breed’s population. In the 50s and 60s of the XX century many farms were abandoned as people migrated from the countryside into towns. So gradual decline in the breed’s number continued and finally it appeared on the brink of extinction.

In the 70s of the XX several enthusiasts united their efforts to revive the former glory of this dog. Thanks to their intensive work today the position of the Catalan Sheepdog is fairly secured and it keeps growing in popularity as a family pet. The breed was fully recognised by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) in 1954.

Temperament
The Catalonian Sheepdog is a tough and independent working breed with sweet personality. This loyal dog strives for being always by the side of its master and usually establishes equally tight bonds with all family members. Thanks to its calm and patient disposition it makes an excellent playmate for a child. However, the breed has strong tendency to herd children by slightly nipping them by their heels or getting under their feet. This unwelcomed behaviour can be easily corrected with timely training and socialisation.

As an innate guardian the Catalan Sheepdog treats unfamiliar people with a great deal of wariness and distrust. It will sacrifice its life without a second thought for the sake of its family so it can be turned into a brilliant watchdog. The breed is notable for its brave but affable demeanour and it’s quite able of discerning the difference between the real and imaginary threat. It commonly makes a very trustworthy guard dog, which will apply to aggression only as a last resort.

This amiable breed prefers to co-habituate with several other canines and it usually demonstrates very insignificant aggression towards strange dogs. Nonetheless it still requires proper socialisation in this respect otherwise excessive shyness may become an issue. The Catalan Sheepdog also tolerates non-canine animals but can pester the household cat in attempt to play with it. The breed will certainly live in peace and harmony with other pet with which it has been raised together.
Health Problems


The most common problems for the breed include:

• canine hip dysplasia;
• patellar luxation;
• epilepsy;
• eye problems;
• dental problems.

Grooming
The Catalan Sheepdog’s grooming demands moderate amount of efforts. Its long luxuriant hair should be brushed three to four times a week with a comb or a firm bristled brush. This procedure will help to get rid of dead hair in its coat and make sure that it stays free of mats and tangles. The dogs’ coat repels water and requires only infrequent bath.

The Catalan Sheepdog is a seasonal shedder and loses its hair in a peculiar style. The front side of its body casts the coat first and for a while the dog wears this distinctive look as someone has shaved only half of it. Nonetheless the shedding of the rear part of the dog follows quickly and it once again acquires integrity.

Training
The Catalan Sheepdog got used to work under the direction of the human shepherd and as a rule it learns quickly and eagerly. However, the breed displays its natural intelligence and willingness to please only if it is trained by an authoritative, confident and strong handler. It’s prone to independent thinking and won’t take orders from the person who isn’t 100% in control of the situation.

This kind and attentive animal is susceptive only to the training methods, which are based on positive reinforcement and reward. Harsh treatment will spoil the Catalan Sheepdogs’ biddable nature and turn it into a self-willed, obstinate and unruly creature.

Exercise


The Catalan Sheepdog is very lively and athletic dog, which requires plenty of opportunities to spend its excessive energy on the daily basis. A long and brisk walk is a must for this dog but ideally it should have a big yard at its disposal where it will be able to roam and play to its heart content. It belongs to the type of breeds, which can run ragged even the most committed families in their attempt to satisfy its exercise need.

That’s why this breed does much better in the rural environment than in a small city apartment. Actually it can live outdoors all the year around because of its all-weather coat. The Catalan Sheepdog will make a lovely pet for a family who will be ready to dedicate enough time to walking and playing with it.
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