The Catalan Sheepdog’s history goes right back to the Roman Empire expansion period. With the Roman conquerors arriving throughout the Iberian Peninsula at about 200 – 100 BC they were accompanied by their dogs, some were used as guard dogs and others were used for herding flocks of sheep. Presumably, these dogs intermixed with local dogs and certain types from the resulting litters were kept. Other than this, the only information available is pure speculation! However, throughout the centuries this versatile Catalan Sheepdog has remained a brilliant guard and working dog and great family companion. The Catalan Sheepdog proved his worth during the Spanish Civil War where his duties involved acting as a messenger, herding and guarding of which he was outstanding. It is little wonder that he became one of the most popular breeds of the period. The Catalan Sheepdog’s population greatly dwindled drastically during, and after, World War II , possibly caused by demographical movement at this time with population decline. Throughout the 50s and 60s saw many farms go out of business when countryside dwellers moved out for the towns. This saw a further decline in the Catalan Sheepdog, but in 1970 a group of people dedicated to saving the breed got together, rounding up as many Catalan Sheepdogs they could find and started a breeding program. Although today, the Catalan Sheepdog is still considered a rare breed but thanks to those dedicated breeders the breed is gaining a healthy growth in population.
The Catalan Sheepdog is somewhat medium in size with a fairly rectangular body. His headpiece is relatively strong, with a moderately wide base, but in proportion to rest of body; muzzle can be described as a truncated pyramid, in balance with head; nose is always black. His wide-open dark amber eyes display an alert and intelligent expression. The triangular-shaped, well-feathered, ears are set on high and are hung closely to head. The Catalan Sheepdog’s top-line is straight, robust, with a slight sloping croup; chest is deep, reach down to the elbows; curbed ribbing allows very good thoracic capacity. His well-feathered tail is set low reaching down to the hock and ends with a moderate hook. The tail can be held high when he is on the move but is never carried over the back. The Catalan Sheepdog coat comes in various mixed shades of sable, grey and fawn. The double coat is long and quite beautiful and may be flat or slightly wavy.
Catalan sheepdogs, partly due to their rarity, are an extremely healthy breed, with no real health issues which we are aware of, although they can develop hip dysplasia, and again, as with any other breed, they need regular health checkups.
Hip Dysplasia is the degeneration of the hip-joint causing discomfort and lameness. All breeds of dogs can be affected. Smaller breeds compensate sufficiently for the problem in that the condition causes only minimally (generally unnoticed) effects. Larger breeds can be crippled by the defect. It is generally recommended that breeders of larger breeds of dogs test their breeding stock by X-rays to assure that there is no problem. Under this system, a vet takes X-rays (generally under sedation) of the dog when it is over two years of age. The X-ray films score the hips as excellent, good, fair, borderline, mildly dysplastic, moderately dysplastic, or severely dysplastic. Any of the first three scores are acceptable without significant bias.