Pastor Garafiano (Garafian Shepherd)

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fawn or greyish (puppies born brown)
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Pros Cons

  • buoyant and inquisitive

  • quick-witted

  • brave guardian

  • dependable watcher

  • requires lots of intensive physical exercises

  • not for an apartment dweller


The Pastor Garafiano is an extremely rare variety of a sheepherding dog that resembles a hybrid of the German Shepherd and the Collie. Steadfast, brave and even-tempered, it easily copes with the role of a family pet and makes a wonderful pal for children. But it suits only for responsible dog lovers who are ready to invest sufficient amount of time in walking and playing with this dog.

Photo: ©


For several centuries the Garafian Shepherd has helped shepherds on the Canary Islands to look after the local type of goats, Cabra Palmera. This dog originally came to existence in the north-west part of La Palma and it’s still predominantly found in this small area of the Islands. It’s thought to be the product of crossing of canines that were introduced to the region by the colonisers of the XV century and the primeval indigenous breeds.

The Pastor Garafiano has well-built and very sturdy body, which allows it to effectively operate in the steep mountains of its homeland. This confident and self-sufficient dog is charged with both herding and guarding tasks and it always performs its duties with all diligence. Thanks to its docility and great intelligence it can be trained to perceive its subordinate animals as the members of its pack from very early puppyhood.

Unfortunately during the XX century the Garafian Shepherd almost lost its unique identity. Its blood was seriously diluted by uncontrollable cross-breeding with the German Shepherd that gradually acquired great popularity on the islands. The dogs that resulted from such crossings had various major flaws in the temperament and usually made a lousy herder that could suddenly turn on the goats and even kill them. Some experts also assume that in the recent past the Pastor Garafiano was occasionally bred with the specimens of the Scottish Collie.

There is an opinion that the breed members with erect ears are in fact hybrids. But this theory hasn’t yet met massive support since almost all present-day Garafian Shepherds has such shape of the ears. Today conscious steps are being taken to rehabilitate the authentic version of this magnificent breed. In 2004 it received formal recognition as a separate canine variety in its native land.


There are lots of reasons why the Garafian Shepherd can be successfully kept as a companion animal. It has very strong pack instinct and sees its masters as the members of its pack. That’s why it’s crucial to explain the dog its inferior position in the packing order as early as possible. Once sufficiently socialised it become a fearless protector and cheery playmate for children of all ages. Of course such a large dog can still unintentionally harm a toddler while playing so it shouldn’t be fully trusted around too small kids.

The well-trained Pastor Garafiano is usually courteous with the guests in the house but it always preserve vigilance and can instantaneously switch to aggressive mode if the situation calls for it. It’s no wonder that lots of inhabitants of La Palma entrusted their pets with guarding duties. The breed also likes to bark and always loudly announces about the presence of possible unwelcomed guests in the vicinity.

As a rule the Garafian Shepherd is amiable with other dogs but it won’t tolerate aggressive actions to itself or its masters. It will certainly enjoy living with one or a few canine companions with similarly vigorous temperament. Since this breed has never been used as a hunter this dog is usually good with other types of animals. Nonetheless it must be exposed and trained to their presence since a very young age.

Health Problems

There are no illnesses specific for the breed registered yet.


The Pastor Garafiano needs very standard maintenance. Its long and thick coat should be brushed once or twice a week in order to avoid the development of tangles and mats. Frequent bathing is undesirable for this breed as water and dog shampoos may irritate the skin and deprive it of the layer of natural protective oils.

Clip the nail of your four-legged companion every other month and brush its teeth at least on a weekly basis. Large pointing ears of the Pastor Garafiano can become the home for nasty infection so it’s essential to regularly check them for cleanliness and presence of redness or bad odour.


The Garafian Shepherd is a smart and complaisant dog whose training can be performed with trivial amount of efforts. It’s worth to remember though that its obedience has to be earned since it will never accept the authority of too shy or inconsistent handler.

This confident and proud dog is totally irresponsive to training methods, which are founded on harsh discipline. That’s why it’s obligatory to reinforce its eagerness to learn only with small pieces of tasty food as well as gentle words.


The Garafian Shepherd is virtually filled to the brim with energies that have to be constructively channelled. In most cases this dog will feel itself miserable in a small city apartment since it needs a few hours of outdoor exercises on a daily basis. Its amazing stamina makes it a great companion for any enthusiast of jogging or bicycling.

Herding is in the blood of this breed and it’s the ideal type of physical activity for it. Hyperactivity, unreasonable barking and destructive behaviour of the Garafian Shepherd are the direct results of the insufficient amount of physical outlets.