Catalan Sheepdogs originate in the pyrenean region of Catalunia in Spain, where they are known as Gos d’Atura Catala, but they are also found now in Finland, Germany, Sweden, and other European and American countries.
Male Catalan Sheepdogs are around 17 to 19 in (45 to 55 cm) in height and weigh between 45 to 60 lb (20 to 27 kg). Females are slightly smaller. Their coat is long and either flat or slightly wavy, and their colourings range from fawn to dark sable and light to dark grey. They have a weather-resistant undercoat – which adds to the mix of colours – and have beards, moustaches and tufty eyebrows. Grooming can be fairly straightforward if kept up on a regular frequent basis.
The breed can be used for herding and/or as a pet. Due to its intelligence, the Gos D'Atura is fairly easy to train and this is strongly recommended as they can be wilful so give them plenty of exercise and firm training from the start.
They are also vigilant guard dogs and loyal family members who will protect their ‘flock'.
Catalans tend to bark by instinct as they would have warned of predators and defended their flocks in the past. Be aware that owners will need to work early on to minimise this impulse.
Due to their smarts and physicality they also excel at dog agility and fly-ball.
What a wonderful companion they make! Affable, funny, playful, well-balanced, considerate. Their temperament is suitable around children but apply common-sense as with all animals and ensure the children know how to respect the dog.
Catalans have few reported genetic or inherited disorders compared to other breeds, but hip scoring for hip dysplasia is compulsory for Assured Breeders and eye testing is recommended. A low combined (each side) hip score of less than 10 is very good.
To date, we are aware that at least one Catalan has experienced the following: aniridia; Immune Moderated Haemolytic Anaemia (IMHA); a ruptured splenic tumour; seizures; medial coronoid disease; osteoarthritis; extramedullary cutaneous plasmacytoma; and pyoderma. Updates and other health-related info can be found here.
Hopefully though, a well loved and cared-for Catalan will live for 12-14 years.
Famous Catalans are Colonel from 101 Dalmations, Einstein (Doc Brown’s dog in Back to the Future) and Cobi the official mascot of the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games.
There are many requirements to provide the best care for your Catalan Sheepdog - it is a big commitment and should only be entered into if you are confident that you can provide the time and energy necessary to ensure your pet has a joyful and healthy life.
Other important aspects of care are as follows (please note that these are suggestions/observations from us and not sanctioned by the Kennel Club or any other affiliations):
Your pup will have had its first batch of inoculations before you collect but additional vaccinations will be needed before you can take your pup out for a walk in the street.
At least once a day! These are very hairy dogs and can easily accumulate knots and matts and tangles in places you wouldn’t believe. Key areas to monitor include behind elbows, knees and ears. Try gently teasing matts apart but in worst case scenarios judicious snipping with scissors will remove the offending entanglement.
This can be tricky and a trial and error learning curve. The knack is to remove as much of the elongated nail as possible while refraining from cutting the quick. Working out where the quick ends is more luck than judgement and your dog will howl and whimper if you cut too far up and through the quick. This will also result in a lot of blood so a styptich pen to help fast clotting is a necessity. Another means of keeping claws at the right length involves running your puppy/dog on concrete pathways etc. An empty parking lot is great for having them chase after a lofted ball and helps to grind their nails down to an appropriate length.
Whilst growing as a pup extra care should be taken not to over-exercise your dog. Too much can cause stress to the joints and impact hip-scores as well as affect strong development of bones and cartilage. As mature ‘working’ dogs this breed does need a good deal of exercise. For a fully grown Catalan a 15-20 minute walk, some briskly paced, some casual sauntering, 2-3 times a day should be reasonable but YMMV (your mileage may vary - quite literally! ;) These dogs like to stop and sniff at everything and often passers-by too. Dog parks or areas where you can indulge in ball throwing, fetching and retrieving etc are great places for getting some serious exercise - for you and the dogs!
The Catalans are renowned for their intelligence so when it’s too wet (and it’s never too wet for a Catalan - they love water, getting wet, swimming in rivers, splashing in puddles etc just not bath-time for some reason!) indoor games of hiding toys or learning to figure eight round a couple of obstacles are enjoyable for all involved.
Your puppy will have been introduced to numerous experiences before collection but not so much with other dogs/animals. Socialising your dog with other friendly dogs/cats/hamsters etc is critical to enjoyment in outdoor dog parks where you can let your dog off leash to fraternise and run amuck.
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