Animad’Oc (1): Patou des Pyrénées, “A Thousand Years Old Work Tool”

The patou is above all a shepherd dog and needs large open spaces. Highlighted by 60s TV series Belle and Sebastian (then the eponymous film from 2013) the Pyrenean dog star on the screen, in the same way as lass Where rintintinremains above all one “millennial work tool” pastoralism in Occitania. Portrait:

The traditional use of these dogs had almost disappeared with the scarcity of large predators in the early 20th century. But with especially the sharp increase in the number of stray dogs, the strengthening of the bear population in the Pyrenees, the prefecture of the Occitanie region states in a leaflet that “Patou represents once again, for breeders and shepherds, a valuable help in protecting herds. “

As remembered by CAP (read note) “Famous outside the Pyrenees from 1675 for having been adopted at the court of Louis XIV, he is therefore valued as much for his qualities as a companion dog as for his haughty appearance and his guarding abilities.” We will necessarily go and throw our hands down in this immaculate coat. However, if you meet him, be careful

Photo DR

Patou is an integral part of the herd

Born in a fold of sheep, the puppy weaves very strong emotional bonds with the sheep very early: their relationship is established until a total and mutual acceptance. After what the dog lives permanently in the herd : summer in the mountains and winter in the sheepfold. These links require him to react instinctively to any aggression.
against the herd.

another kind of dog used to lead or gather the herd: it is the driving dog that remains in the company of the shepherd. On the contrary, the watchdog is autonomous. As specified by the Regional Directorate for the Environment (DREAL), “He follows his flock and watches tirelessly over them, night and day. To exercise vigilance, it creates a protective zone around the herdto be ready to ward off any uninvited guest: wild animals, dogs not kept on a leash, etc.

A protection dog above all

These dogs are not trained for attack, but for deterrence: their building and loud barking keep predators at bay. “As soon as he feels danger, the watchdog comes between the uninvited guest and the herd and barks. He thus gives alarm both to the sheep and to the shepherd.. But above all, it is a warning that signals its presence to the uninvited guest: If he does not take it into account, the dog can go as far as to confrontation.

Interruption of any element foreign to the herd (wild animal, dog not kept on a leash, walker, mountain bike, etc.) can disturb the calm of the herd, disturb its
good luck and the work of the shepherd: ”So she puts the watchdog on alert. As you approach, the patou comes to sniff at you to identify you. After what, he must return to his flock. Occasionally he can also try to scare you“, emphasizes DREAL.

To avoid themwhen approaching a flock of sheep, a piece of advice: if you encounter a flock, bypass the grazing area wide or sheep rest. The work of the shepherds is thus respected without disturbing the animals. An advice; be aware of behaviors that seem harmless to you (trying to feed, caress, take a picture of a pastou, a sheep, a lamb, etc.). Watch dogs can interpret them as aggression.

Adopt “calm and passive behavior”

“Facing a watchdogadvises the prefecture of the Occitanie region, take a calm and passive demeanor to reassure him. If you are impressed, turn around slowly. And above all, above all, do not shout, do not throw stones, do not threaten your stick … ”

If your dog’s presence is allowed in the place you visit, keep it on a leash and stay at a great distance from the herd (150 to 200 meters). This will prevent it from triggering a deterrent action on the part of the patous. If you are on a bike, it is best to get off before they are near a herd.

Finally know it large panels inform of the presence of these dogs, just remember to spot them to tailor your attitude to the regular users of your resort. So everyone will be more relaxed.

Philippe MORET

Discover that Meeting for Pyrenean dog lovers (RACP):

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