Dogs for protection herds are an ancient tool that farmers have been selecting to protect their flocks against attacks by wild animals such as wolves, foxes, bears and other predators.
Currently is also a good tool to prevent attacks by wild dogs. For this reason, the Natural Park of the High Pyrenees and Pyros Life Project want to encourage farmers in areas with presence of bears to incorporate Pyrenean Mountain dogs in their farms (especially sheep) because it is a useful tool by preventing possible attacks and as a watchdog.
The shepherd of València d’Àneu (Pallars Sobirà), Andres Moga, explained that due to have a dog of this breed in the exploitation, Pinxo, saved the herd at least form a bear attack.
Andreu Moga explained that these mastiffs are animals that live with the herds, they are not sheepdogs. He said the mastiff should be brought up among the flock properly so they consider the herd as a family.
“When the dog detects anything anomalous happening around herd and perceives a danger leaves the radius of the herd to protect it and prevent attacks. For the mastiffs, the herd is their habitat and therefore will have a social behaviour, with which play and smell the sheep of the herd as if they are parts of the same side and will have submissive behaviours and no predators with the herd”, the farmer added.
It is also need the herd to get used to the dog and avoid aggressive reactions. Two months after being weaned should be left with the herd avoiding contact with other dogs or people, especially children. Although it must live with the herd, the dog should have a zone where only he can access, with their food and shelter. The water should be in common with the herd to get used to socialize with their herds. The mastiff should have minimal contact with people.
Nico Espinós, technician Pyros Life Project, explained that these dogs should be one more extensive tool in the area of presence of the bear and added that it would be good that every herd has one. These dogs, in past decades, were very common in herds in the Pyrenees but with the disappearance of predators such as wolves or bears were gradually disappearing.
Now, with the reintroduction of the bear is wanted to strengthen its presence in livestock. In Pallars Sobirà there are about ten Pyrenean Mountain dogs and Pyros Life Project and the Natural Park High Pyrenees wants to increase this figure. Generalitat de Catalunya has a cession program of these dogs for farmers that request.
This dog breed is considerable size; his walk is agile and elegant. His hair is smooth, quite long and flexible. At the tail and neck is longer. The hair colour is white or gray spots or pale yellow. The males measure 70 to 80 cm and females 65 to 75 cm.
This information was released during an Informative Workshop on the dogs for protection herds organized by the Natural Park of the High Pyrenees and Piros Life Project
The conference had the participation of experts in ethology, rural agents and farmers to provide an overview of the different races, such as mastiffs and Mountains of the Pyrenees, their behaviour, capabilities and attention they need.
Source: Generalitat de Catalunya and ACN