Key Breed Facts
Intelligence / Trainability
Children and Other Pets
Caring for a Catalan Sheepdog
Average Cost to keep/care for a Catalan Sheepdog
The Catalan Sheepdog is a lively, active and handsome dog that originates from Andorra in the Pyrenees where they were first bred to herd and guard flocks. However, over more recent times, they are becoming a popular choice as both companion dogs and family pets elsewhere in the world albeit slowly here in the UK. They are intelligent dogs that like to please and as such they are known to be easy to train. They also boast a lot of energy and therefore need to be given the right amount of daily exercise and mental stimulation for a Catalan Sheepdog to be a truly happy, well-rounded and obedient dog.
The Catalan Sheepdog is known to be a friendly, high-spirited dog that originates from Spain where they are often called Perro de Pastor Catalan. They were around at the time of the Romans which makes the breed among the most ancient in the world. The Romans introduced two types of dogs to the Iberian Peninsula in about 200 to 100 BC when they marched across these lands, one was to protect the flocks of livestock they brought with them and the other was to herd cattle. It is thought the second dog could well be the Italian Bergamasco's ancestor. The dogs the Romans bought with them in their travels were crossed to native Catalan dogs and this produced the Catalan Sheepdog.
The offspring of these crosses are thought to be the foundation stock of many other breeds seen in Europe today which includes the handsome Catalan Sheepdog. These dogs soon became popular throughout Spain thanks to their kind, loyal and courageous natures. During the Spanish Civil War, they were often used to carry messages and to stand guard as sentries which earned the breed the reputation of being highly intelligent and dependable.
Their numbers declined after the World War II, but luckily during the seventies, breed enthusiasts made sure these handsome dogs did not vanish altogether. Today, the Catalan Sheepdog is still one of the rarest breeds on the planet with very few puppies being registered here in the UK every year. However, thanks to the efforts and dedication of a number of breeders, their numbers are growing with many of these loyal and courageous dogs working as herding dogs in their native Spain. In 1992, the Catalan Sheepdog was chosen as the mascot for the Olympic Games.
Height at the withers: Males 47 - 55 cm, Females 45 - 53 cm
Average weight: Males 20 - 25 kg, Females 17 - 21 kg
The Catalan Sheepdog is a very handsome dog and at one time there were two varieties namely a long-haired dog and a short-haired one. However, the shorthaired Catalan Sheepdog is among one of the rarest dogs on the planet because they are virtually extinct leaving just the long-haired dog that’s more commonly seen today.
These charming dogs have strong, well-proportioned heads in relation to the rest of their bodies with their skulls being slightly longer than they are wide. There is a distinct furrow in the centre of their skulls which gets flatter as it reaches the back of a dog's head. There is a slight stop and muzzles are short and rather blunt with dogs boasting a black nose. Eyes are dark amber to a chestnut colour with black rims and a nice round shape. Dogs always have an intelligent, alert look about their eyes.
Their ears are set high on the head and triangular in shape, hanging down close to a dog's head being slightly longer than they are wide and covered in long hair with fringes around the edges. The Catalan Sheepdog has a strong jaw with a perfect scissor bite where their upper teeth neatly overlap their lower ones. They boast strong, good sized teeth and their tongues often have dark pigments on their whereas a dog’s lips and the roof of their mouths are black.
The Catalan Sheepdog has a moderately short, solid and muscular neck that's set nicely into their shoulders. They have quite prominent withers and their shoulders are well laid back and nicely muscled with dogs boasting strong, muscular front legs. Their bodies are muscular and strong being longer than their they are high with a nice level topline. They have well sprung ribs with their chests almost reaching the level of their elbows. Dogs have strong loins and a slightly tucked up belly which adds to their athletic appearance.
They have strong hindquarters with a slightly sloping croup and well developed back legs with both first and second thighs being strong and muscular. The Catalan Sheepdog has double dewclaws set low on their legs. Their feet are oval shaped with firm, black pads. Toes are tight and well covered with hair which includes between a dog's pads. Their nails are very strong and black. Tails are bushy and long which dogs carry low and slightly curved.
When it comes to their coat, the Catalan Sheepdog boasts having a rough coat that's moderately long which can either be slightly wavy or straight. They also have a fine, dense undercoat with the hair above their eyes that forms charming eyebrows being that much longer. The hair is longer on a dog's muzzle which forms their characteristic moustache and beard. However, the hair above their eyes does not obscure a dog's vision. Hair is also thicker on a dog's hindquarters and their legs and their toes and tails are extremely well covered in hair. The accepted breed colours are as follows:
Dogs can have a few white hairs or small white patches on their chests which is allowed under the breed standard and white is permissible on the upper part of a dog's toes, but their nails are always black.
The Catalan Sheepdog is known to be a very lively, energetic and fun-loving character. They are intelligent and quick to learn new things which includes the good and the bad. With this said, they excel at many canine sports and other activities including agility. Much like other sheepdogs, they do tend to become protective of their families and can be a little over protective of their food as well which is something that needs to be nipped in the bud from an early age.
They tend to be a little wary and aloof around people they do not know, but rarely would a Catalan show any sort of aggressive behaviour towards strangers preferring to keep their distance until they get to know them. With this said, the Catalan is known to be a good watchdog being quick to let owners know when any strangers are about or if something suspicious is going on.
They are a good choice for first time owners because they are intelligent, they are always eager and willing to learn which added to the fact these dogs pick things up very quickly makes them easy to train. With this said, Catalans excel at many canine sports which includes activities like agility.
Catalans are never happier than when they know their place in the pack and who to look to for guidance and direction, but early socialisation is essential for these dogs and their training has to start early too. They have a strong instinct to herd, protect and guard. They are courageous and charming characters to have around thanks to their loyalty and devotion to their families and people who take care of them. They are a good choice as family pets due to their kind natures and the fact they get on well with other animals paired to their devotion to children. In short, the Catalan is a highly adaptable dog but one that needs to know who is boss.
They are calm by nature but they do need to be given lots of daily exercise and mental stimulation for them to be truly happy, well-rounded character. They are not a good choice for people who live in apartments, but thrive in a country environment or with people who boast large, secure back gardens who have enough time to dedicated to these lively, active and intelligent dogs.
The Catalan is an intelligent dog and one that's very quick to learn new things with the added bonus being these lovely dogs are always eager to please their owners. As such they are easy to train and like nothing more than the one-to-one attention they are given during a training session. They are known to excel at many canine sports with agility being high on the list of the activities these dogs enjoy. They are also very good at other doggy activities which includes dancing.
The Catalan Sheepdog has always been a popular choice with families in their native land and as time goes by their reputation for being great around children has seen them becoming more popular here in the UK although their numbers still remain low. These dogs seem to have a real affinity with children and like being around them, although they can become a little over protective at times. As such, any interaction between a dog and the kids should always be supervised by an adult to ensure playtime stays nice and calm.
Catalans are also known to get on well with other animals and dogs, especially if well socialised early in their lives. However, care should always be taken when they meet cats and other smaller family pets, although if a Catalan has grown up with a feline friend in the house, they generally get on well together.
For further advice please read our article on Keeping Children Safe around Dogs.
The average life expectancy of a Catalan Sheepdog is between 12 and 14 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.
Like so many other breeds, the Catalan is known to suffer from a few hereditary health issues which are worth knowing about if you are planning share your home with one of these energetic, handsome dogs. The conditions that seem to affect the breed the most include the following:
As with any other breed, Catalans need to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in top condition. They also need to be given regular daily exercise to ensure they remain fit and healthy. On top of this, dogs need to be fed good quality food that meets all their nutritional needs throughout their lives.
The Catalan's coat is long, although there is a short-coated dog but they are extremely rare with some people believing these lovely short-haired Catalans are close to extinction. Their hair may be long, but these attractive dogs are not that high maintenance thanks to the fact their coats are non-shedding, but they do need to be regularly brushed once or twice a week to prevent any matts or tangles from forming and to keep things looking tidy. Organising regular grooming sessions is also a great way of reinforcing a bond with a dog and they thoroughly enjoy the one-to-one attention they are given when they are being brushed. Regular grooming also helps keep a dog's skin in good condition and it allows owners to check for any injuries, lumps or bumps.
It's also important to check a dog's ears on a regular basis and to clean them when necessary. If too much wax is allowed to build up in a dog's ears, it can lead to a painful infection which can be hard to clear up. In short, prevention is often easier than cure when it comes to ear infections.
Catalans are known to be high energy, athletic dogs that like to be kept busy both mentally and physically. Being highly intelligent and more than capable of thinking for themselves, Catalans need at minimum of an hour's very vigorous exercise on a daily basis with as much off the lead time as possible. They also need to be given a ton of mental stimulation and the best way to achieve this is to play interactive games with a dog and to enrol them into obedience and agility classes.
A shorter walk in the morning would be fine, but a longer more interesting one in the afternoon is a must. These dogs also like to be able to roam around a back garden as often as possible so they can really let off steam. However, the fencing has to be extremely secure to keep these active dogs in because if they find a weakness in the fence, they will soon escape out and get into all sorts of trouble.
With this said, Catalan Sheepdog puppies should not be over exercised because their joints and bones are still growing and too much pressure on them could result in causing a dog a few problems later on in their lives. They should not be allowed to jump up or off furniture nor should they be allowed to run up and down the stairs for this reason.
If you get a Catalan puppy from a breeder, they would give you a feeding schedule and it's important to stick to the same routine, feeding the same puppy food to avoid any tummy upsets. You can change a puppy's diet, but this needs to be done very gradually always making sure they don't develop any digestive upsets and if they do, it's best to put them back on their original diet and to discuss things with the vet before attempting to change it again.
Older dogs are not known to be fussy or finicky eaters, but this does not mean you can feed them a lower quality diet. It's best to feed a mature dog twice a day, once in the morning and then again in the evening, making sure it's good quality food that meets all their nutritional requirements. It's also important that dogs be given the right amount of exercise so they burn off any excess calories or they might gain too much weight which can lead to all sorts of health issues. Obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years so it's important to keep an eye on their waistline from the word go.
If you are looking to buy a Catalan Sheepdog you may have to go on a waiting list because not many puppies are registered with The Kennel Club every year. You would need to pay anything upwards of £1000 for a well-bred pedigree puppy. The cost of insuring a male 3-year-old Catalan in northern England would be £19.20 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £41.22 a month (quote as of June 2016). When insurance companies calculate a pet's premium, they factor in several things which includes where you live in the UK and a dog's age and whether or not they have been neutered or spayed.
When it comes to food costs, you need to buy the best quality food whether wet or dry, to feed your dog throughout their lives making sure it suits the different stages of their lives. This would set you back between £40 - £50 a month. On top of all of this, you would need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with a Catalan Sheepdog and this includes their initial vaccinations, their annual boosters, the cost of neutering or spaying your dog when the time is right and their yearly health checks, all of which quickly adds up to over a £1000 a year.
As a rough guide, the average cost to keep and care for a Catalan Sheepdog would be between £70 to £100 a month depending on the level of insurance cover you opt to buy for your dog, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a pedigree puppy.
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