|Height:||17 – 22 inches|
|Weight:||35 – 60 pounds|
|Lifespan:||10 – 14 years|
|Colors:||Fawn, sable, or grey with brown, black, or white|
|Suitable for:||Active owners, being a working dog, families|
|Temperament:||Intelligent, versatile, loyal, affectionate, playful, protective|
The Catalan Sheepdog originated in Spain in the Catalonia region and is an ancient breed that can be traced back thousands of years. They were bred primarily for herding cattle and are still used widely for this purpose in Spain. However, they have also become a popular family pet due to their gentle and versatile character. They are naturally placid and mild-mannered dogs but are natural protectors that make wonderful guard dogs too.
The Catalan Sheepdog is a medium to large-sized breed, with a solid, muscular build and large chest. They have long, shaggy double coats that are rough and wavy in appearance, so they require a great deal of grooming maintenance. With their history of herding, these dogs also need a ton of exercise to stay happy and healthy and are certainly not content to lounge on the sofa!
The Catalan Sheepdog is a rare dog outside of their native Spain, but the numbers are slowly growing. If you’d like to know more about this rare breed, read on for an in-depth guide!
Catalan Sheepdog Puppies — Before You Get One…
There are several important factors to consider before you bring home a Catalan Sheepdog, as it’s vital to know what you’re getting into before taking the leap. Firstly, these dogs have a ton of energy and will need regular daily exercise, without which, they may become destructive. They are exceptionally loyal animals that bond strongly to their owners, making them excellent family protectors, but without the proper socialization, they may be aggressive toward strangers.
Also, these dogs do not enjoy being left alone for long periods because they are so attached to their human families. So, if you are away from home frequently, this is unfortunately not the breed for you.
3 Little-Known Facts About the Catalan Sheepdog
1. They almost went extinct
After World War II, many dog breeds suffered a decline in numbers, as dog breeding was not at the forefront of most people’s priorities. The Catalan Sheepdog was one of these breeds, and their numbers dropped so much that they nearly went extinct. From the 1970s and onward, breeders in Spain began to work hard to bring the breed’s numbers back and were thankfully successful. Still, these dogs are rare outside of Spain, though they are steadily growing more popular.
2. There were once two varieties of the Catalan
While the efforts of dedicated breeders largely saved the breed, there were once two varieties of the Catalan: long-haired and short-haired. Most breeders consider the short-coated Catalan to be extinct, and even positive-minded breeders think that if they’re not extinct, they will soon be.
3. They are an ancient breed
Catalan Sheepdogs are thought to have developed from Pyrenees dogs, and although there is little known about the history of the breed, it is largely agreed that they are an ancient descendant of these animals and date back thousands of years to Roman times.
Temperament & Intelligence of the Catalan Sheepdog
The Catalan Sheepdog is, as you’d expect with their working background, an energetic pooch with a high intelligence and a great deal of devotion to their owners. These dogs were largely left to do their job on farms, so they are independent animals that do not need much direction. While they are extremely devoted to their owners, they are by no means clingy or needy dogs.
This background in herding and protecting flocks has also made them highly protective of their families, and they are wonderful guard dogs that are great with children. This of course, also translates to a somewhat possessive nature if they are not properly socialized. They can become obsessive at times about toys and are known to be wary of strangers. Of course, with the right training and socialization, this can be largely overcome. They are sweet and gentle dogs that make ideal family pets and are highly adaptable.
Are These Dogs Good for Families? 👪
Catalan Sheepdogs are wonderful family pets and possess all the characteristics that you’d want in a family pooch. They are unflinchingly loyal, highly protective, and exceedingly sweet and gentle around children, and they are adaptable to various living conditions. It is even possible to keep one of these dogs in an apartment, but you’ll need to give them a ton of daily exercise and time outdoors.
Does This Breed Get Along With Other Pets?
Catalan Sheepdogs are generally gentle and placid with other dogs and are rarely aggressive — with proper socialization, of course. Even cats and other small pets are generally fine to have around these dogs, although their herding instincts may kick in, and you can expect to find them attempting to herd your family feline or small children! They usually do it gently and with good intentions, however, and are rarely aggressive toward other animals.
Things to Know When Owning a Catalan Sheepdog
Now that you are more familiar with what this breed is all about, there are additional things to learn when it comes to the care of one of these wonderful dogs. Here are all the requirements for owning a Catalan Sheepdog.
Food & Diet Requirements 🦴
The Catalan Sheepdog is a medium-sized pooch but is well-built and muscular and has a ton of energy, so they eat more than you’d think. They need 3-4 cups of high-quality kibble per day, ideally divided into two meals. The food should be made specifically to cater to the needs of an energetic dog, with the right balance of animal protein, carbohydrates, and fats. Check the ingredients list on the food that you choose for your Catalan, and make sure the first-listed ingredient is an animal-based protein. The food should also ideally be free from too many grains and any filler ingredients.
We recommend keeping treats and table scraps to a minimum, as these dogs are prone to excess weight gain, but giving them lean meats occasionally in addition to their dry food is a great idea. Also, always make sure they have access to fresh, clean water at all times.
Catalan Sheepdogs come from a herding background, so they have not only a great deal of energy but incredible stamina too. They’ll need at least 2 hours of intensive exercise per day, but around 3 hours is ideal. Try to split these sessions into two: one more intensive and the other a more mellow walk or jog. They are playful dogs, and much of their energy can be released in interactive games, like fetch or frisbee. This is great mental stimulation for them too.
Herding and working breeds have been bred over centuries for a specific job, so when these dogs are no longer in use in their particular field, it can be a challenge to give them sufficient mental and physical stimulation. Remember that these dogs are highly intelligent and need a great deal of mental and physical engagement, so you’ll want to expose them to activities that can stimulate them in the same or similar way as their historic jobs.
In general, Catalan Sheepdogs are easy to train because they are highly intelligent and super eager to please. They are fairly independently minded, so you’ll need to be firm and constant during training, but even novice dog owners will not find much of a challenge in training these dogs. Basic obedience training and socialization should begin as early as possible because this will give you a head start when you begin training in earnest and make the whole process far easier.
Catalan Sheepdogs are sensitive animals, so we highly recommend positive reinforcement training techniques because they do not respond well to harsh treatment. This training method will also establish trust between you and your pooch. While it may seem to take longer in the short term, in the long run, it is far better for both you and your dog.
With their long, shaggy double coats, Catalan Sheepdogs will need regular brushing to remove dead hair and avoid matting and tangling. Around three to four times per week is fine, but daily brushing is recommended for best results. Their rough coats do not shed much, and dirt does not stick to them, so they thankfully do not need bathing often. In the rare case that you do bathe them, be sure to use specially made dog shampoos and avoid human shampoo because it will damage the natural oils on their skin and coat.
Health and Conditions 🏥
Catalan Sheepdogs are a vigorous, long-lived, and healthy breed overall, but because they are so rare, there is not much known about possible inherited conditions. Luckily, they seem to be healthy dogs that don’t suffer from any genetic conditions, with one exception: hip dysplasia. This is common in many active dog breeds and is largely genetic, but it can be triggered by diet and exercise too. Patellar luxation has been seen in the breed occasionally.
Male vs. Female
Deciding between a male and female pooch can be tricky, but if you don’t have any other dogs at home, the decision is largely down to personal preference. It’s important to remember that your dog’s personality is far more influenced by their upbringing, environment, and breed rather than their sex, and most differences between male and female dogs are largely anecdotal. Other than males being slightly larger and heavier than females, there is little difference between the two, and after spaying and neutering, even small differences are less apparent.
The Catalan Sheepdog is a rare gem, and if you do manage to find one of these wonderful dogs, count yourself lucky! They are everything that you’d want in a family dog, as they have a sweet and loving temperament, plenty of playful energy, and a protective nature that makes them excellent guard dogs. These dogs are generally easy to train and are highly intelligent, making them ideal for novice owners too. They have a ton of energy, though, so you’ll need to make sure you have the time to devote to daily training and exercise before bringing one home.
If you are on the lookout for a loving, sweet, and intelligent family dog, the Catalan Sheepdog is a close to perfect family pooch.
Featured Image Credit: Anne Zwagers, Shutterstock