The Catalan Sheepdog, also referred to as the Gos d’Atura Català, Perro de Pastor Catalan, and Catalan Shepherd, originated in Spain, more specifically the Catalonia and Andorra regions. They are a type of Catalan Pyrenean dog that was bred specifically for herding and protecting sheep.
This dog breed is most commonly found across Europe in Spain, Germany, Sweden, and Finland. They are still used for herding today and also make great family pets. Although they are not currently recognized by the American Kennel Club, they are recognized by the United Kennel Club (UKC) in the United States and the Kennel Club (KC) in the UK.
Catalan Sheepdogs are known for their intelligence, courage, and cheerful nature. They make a great family companion and tend to get along well with children and other dogs. Catalan Sheepdogs have a high prey drive, but they can do well with other smaller family pets as long as they are introduced properly or have grown up around them. These dogs are playful, energetic, and affectionate with their families.
Due to their herding background, they make excellent watchdogs and guard dogs, but their high prey drive also gives them an urge to chase and herd. They will become attached to their family and can be protective. Early and ongoing socialization is important for any dog breed and the same is true for the Catalan Sheepdog. Proper socialization can help make them less wary of strangers and helps them grow into a well-balanced dog.
This dog breed is moderately adaptable. They are best suited to homes with a fenced-in space for them to run freely. Because they have an urge to chase, they should only be let off-leash in securely fenced areas or once they have mastered the “come” and “leave it” commands.
They are not well suited to apartment living, but they can adapt if they are given plenty of attention and daily exercise. Due to their thick double coat, they can be sensitive to heat and will tend to prefer more moderate or cooler climates. Because they tend to become attached to their family and have a natural instinct to watch over them, they do not like to spend a lot of time alone.
This is a relatively healthy dog breed, but there are some potential health issues to be aware of. Catalan Sheepdogs can be prone to hip dysplasia, congenital deafness, patellar luxation, progressive retinal atrophy, epilepsy, glaucoma, and allergies. Asking the breeder about the genetic health of the parents and to see any health clearances can help allay concerns for potential health issues.
The Catalan Sheepdog is highly intelligent and highly trainable. They tend to pick up on training quickly and are eager to please their owners. They can have an independent streak and do require a more experienced dog owner familiar with training techniques and this dog’s needs. A novice dog owner can be a good fit for this dog breed, but training and obedience classes are highly recommended in order to gain the confidence needed to train an independent working dog.
Catalan Sheepdogs have a long coat that is either flat with a slight curl at the end or slightly wavy. Common coat colors range from dark sable to fawn and include both light and dark gray fur. They can have a coat that appears to be one solid color or can have a more mixed color coat. This dog has a double coat and will shed moderately year-round with two heavier seasonal shedding sessions. What’s interesting about the Catalan Sheepdog is that they look like they’re shedding in two parts. Oftentimes, their front half will shed and then their back half will shed, instead of it happening all at once. During this time, a Catalan Sheepdog will sometimes look like two dogs joined together. Also, don’t be surprised if your dog’s coat changes colors after one of these “molting” sessions – a color change is completely normal.
Brushing this dog’s coat a few times a week will help remove tangles and prevent matting. Professional grooming a few times a year will also help keep this dog’s coat healthy. Overall, a Catalan Sheepdog’s coat is not high maintenance and only requires a bath as needed. In addition to coat care, it’s also important to care for your dog’s nails, ears, and teeth. Trimming your dog’s nails monthly is usually sufficient to keep them from getting too long. Checking your dog’s ears regularly and cleaning them carefully as needed prevents the buildup of too much wax, dirt, moisture, or debris, which can help prevent ear infections.Proper dental care for dogs is also important. It’s also one of the most overlooked grooming tasks, which is why dental diseases, like gum disease and tooth decay, are one of the most common health issues in dogs. Thankfully, it’s easy for you to help keep your dog’s mouth healthy. Brushing your dog’s teeth or using an enzyme toothpaste every day prevents tartar buildup and helps prevent dental disease in your dog. You can also use dental hygiene chews, a specially-formulated dental diet, and more to supplement
your dental care efforts.
It’s also a good idea to get your Catalan Sheepdog used to having their paws, mouth, and ears handled as a puppy. This, paired with rewards, keeps grooming sessions a positive experience for your dog and a much easier process for you both as your dog grows.
The Catalan Sheepdog is a working dog with a lot of energy. They are happiest when they have a job to do and are being active with their family. A few walks a day in addition to some time to run and do other activities will keep this dog breed happy and healthy. Your Catalan Sheepdog may enjoy trips to the dog park, going on a hike with you, or even swimming. They’re also a great fit for training and competing in dog sports like agility, flyball, herding, tracking, and more.
However, you do need to be careful about overexercising this dog as a puppy. Their joints and bones are still growing and developing, so overexertion or too much pressure during this time can result in joint problems later in life.
A fully-grown Catalan Sheepdog usually stands 17-22 inches tall at the shoulder and weighs between 35 and 60 pounds.
Catalan Sheepdogs generally live for 12-14 years.