Catalonian Sheepdog

FCI standard Nº 87

Spain, Catalonia
Mrs. Peggy Davis
Group 1 Sheepdogs and Cattle Dogs (except Swiss Cattle Dogs)
Section 1 Sheepdogs
Without working trial
Acceptance on a definitive basis by the FCI
Tuesday 30 November 1954
Publication of the official valid standard
Wednesday 26 May 1982
Last update
Monday 13 September 2004
En français, cette race se dit
Chien de berger catalan
Diese Norm ist in deutscher Sprache sichtbar
Katalanischer Schäferhund
En español, esta raza se dice
Perro de Pastor Catalán
In het Nederlands, wordt dit ras gezegd
Catalaanse Herdershond
In his country of origin, his name is

Gos d'Atura Catalá


It is in the driving of flocks that the true essence of this breed manifests itself, because not only does he obey the shepherd, but in numerous cases, he shows his initiative, directing the flock with marvellous ease, preventing any animal from separating from the others. Through his great bravery and courage, he can also be used for guarding missions. Because of his size, his beautiful coat, his intelligence and his great loyalty to his masters, he can be an excellent companion.

Brief historical summary

Originates from the Catalonian Pyrenees, has propagated in all other pastoral zones of Catalonia.

General appearance

Of well balanced medium proportion, medium size, with a beautiful coat.

Important proportions

Slightly longer than high, approximately in proportion of 9 to 8.

Behaviour / temperament

A very sedate dog, active and intelligent, with a noble expression, with a hardy and pleasant character, really devoted to the shepherd and flocks entrusted to him, wary of strangers, which at times make him seem unsociable. He is very vigilant, very resistant to heat, cold and all atmospherics. A very frugal alimentation is sufficient for him to work in extreme conditions.


Cranial region

Strong head, slightly convexe and wide at the base, without heaviness, well proportioned with the rest of the body. The skull-muzzle proportion is of 4 to 3.
Slightly longer than wide, with a clearly marked furrow in its first third part, which gets flatter and remains so up to the occiput where a crest is formed. Occipital bone pronounced. The upper profile of the skull is slightly domed and may show a less accentuated short space in the middle. The frontal sinus well developed, as much lengthwise as widthwise. Superciliary ridges well marked.  
Well visible but not too pronounced.

Facial region

Straight, proportioned with the head, must be black.
Straight, rather short, in shape of a truncated pyramid, with rounded outlines.
Rather strong, short, formed almost straight, with lower lip not pendulous, strongly pigmented with black; the palate is also black.
Jaws and teeth
Strong, of good size, white and sound. Scissor bite. Blunt canines (tusks) are admitted in the working dogs.
Wide open, expressive, alert and intelligent gaze, round, dark amber colour, with black rimmed eyelids.
Set high, triangular, fine, pointed. Insertion cartilage supple and not thick. Hanging ears, carried close to the head. Ratio between ear width : length = 8 to 10. Covered with long hair ending in mobile fringes. For the working dogs cropped ears are accepted.


Vigorous, solid, muscled, rather short, but with such proportions permitting a good mobility, well tied to the shoulders.


Slightly elongated, strong, muscled, giving an impression of power and agility.
Well visible.
Topline straight, not saddle-backed, slightly raised croup, which, in any case, shall be equal or slightly inferior to the withers. That difference at first sight may seem favourable to the croup because of the quantity of coat and undercoat which it carries.
Robust, muscled, slightly sloping.
Wide, well developed, reaching elbow level. Curved ribs, not flat, allowing for a good thoracic capacity in respect of the work.
Underline and belly
Belly slightly tucked up, with short but strong and well marked flanks.


Rather low set, may be long, going beyond the hock, or short, measuring less than 10 cm. There are also tailless subjects, and, for the working dogs, docked tail is admitted. When the dog is at rest, the tail just hangs. It forms a hook in its lower part. Sabre tail also accepted. In action, the tail is raised gaily but not rolled on the back. Is abundantly covered with slightly wavy hair.



Strong, lean, straight, vertical and parallel, seen from the front or in profile. The elbow-wither distance is about equal to that of the elbow to ground.
Muscled, strong, slightly oblique.
Upper arm
Strong, muscled with parallel elbows, neither in or out, close to the body.
Vertical, strong, fit for the work.
Carpal joint
Scapular-humeral angle : Of about 110°.
Humeral-radial angle : Of about 135°.
Following the same vertical as the forearm, rather short.
Oval, pads black and hard, interdigital membranes neat and well covered with hair, nails black and strong.


Strong, muscled, vertical, giving impression of power and agility.
Upper thigh
Long, broad and muscled, with strong bones.
Lower thigh
Strong bones and muscles.
Femoral joint
Coxal-femoral angle : Of about 115°.
Femoral-tibial angle : Of about 120°.
Angle of hock : About 140°.
Rather short, strong and vertical.
Must be well let down, parallel and vertical.
Hind feet
Identical to front feet, but with low set double bony dewclaws. These dewclaws are joined together and joined to the first toe of the foot by a membrane.

Gait and movement

Supple, typical of shepherd dogs. Gallop only obtained in very large spaces, but in the ring, the typical gait is a short trot, with that gait peculiar to all dogs with dewclaws.


Rather thick, close and tight all over the body and the head. Well pigmented.


Long, flat, or very slightly wavy, rough with abundant undercoat on the whole of the posterior third of the body. On the head we notice a beard, moustaches, tuft and eyebrows which do not affect the sight. Tail well covered with hair as are all the extremities.
It is noticeable that during the moult we observe a typical phenomenon : the moult occurs in two times. First of all it affects the coat on the front part, giving the impression of two halves of dogs with different coats; then it is the turn of the hind part of the dog and everything becomes uniform again.
Seen from the distance the dog seems to be unicolour and may have lighter shadings at the extremities. Seen close up, it is noticeable that the colour comes from the mixture of hairs of different tones : fawn, brown more or less reddish, grey, black and white. The basic colours deriving from this mixture are :
• Fawn, in its light tones, medium or dark.
• Sable, with chestnut hairs, fawn, white and black, also in its light tones, medium and dark.
• Grey, made up of white, grey and black with shadings going from silver grey to blackgrey. If black is dominant and is simply combined with white, it gives a black which looks frosty.
There are also dogs with a mixture of black, fawn and reddish brown, which can dominate in one or several parts, giving the impression of black and tan subjects.
Not admitted are white or black spots. Sometimes a few white hairs, as a star shape on the chest are tolerated, or on the upper part of the toes, but, in that case however, this must not be accompanied by white nails.

Size and weight

Height at withers
From 47 to 55 cm for dogs, from 45 to 53 cm for bitches.


• Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog and its ability to perform its traditional work.
• Faults listed should be in degree of seriousness.

Serious faults

 Head flat or without furrow.
 Rose shaped ears or badly set.
 Insertion cartilage thick, long or sticking out.
 Light eyes.
 2 PM missing.
 Slight prognathism.
 Saddle back.
 Legs or feet turned in or out.
 A few white nails.
 Lack of bone in the dewclaws or single dewclaw.

Disqualifying faults

 Aggressive or overly shy.
 Lack of pigmentation of the lips, the nose, eyelids and palate.
 Brown nose.
 Blue eyes.
 White spots.
 Missing more than 2 PM or any two teeth.
 Tail rolled on the loins.
 Lack of dewclaws or interdigital membranes.
 All the nails white.
 More than 3 cm more or less of the limits of the size.
 Head like a Pyrenean shepherd or a Briard.
 Lower or upper prognathism.


Quality being equal, we tend to prefer dogs without any mutilations (ears, tail or blunt teeth for reason of work). We shall refuse those with such mutilations if they are not dogs working with flocks. The well pigmented tones are desirable in the colour and therefore better appreciated.

NB :

• Any dog clearly showing physical or behavioural abnormalities shall be disqualified.
• The above mentioned faults when occurring to a highly marked degree or frequently are disqualifying.
• Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.
• Only functionally and clinically healthy dogs, with breed typical conformation should be used for breeding.



Detailed history

Like its French counterpart the Pyrenean Shepherd, the Catalan Shepherd, or Gos d'Atura Català ("Catalan driving dog", in the language of his native country), has very distant origins. According to the most plausible hypothesis, in fact, he is one of the many descendants of the small herd dogs, themselves from the Tibetan Terriers, who were introduced to Europe in favor of the barbarian invasions, alongside more massive animals derived from the Tibetan Mastiff than their strength predestinated more to the defense than to the behavior of the animals. All these dogs sprang up everywhere, giving birth to two great groups; that of molossoids and that of sheepdogs; in which were born over the centuries differentiated varieties, evolving according to local conditions and successive crossings. This is probably how the ancestors of the Mountain Dog of the Pyrenees, the Saint Bernard, the Shepherd of Tatra, etc., on the one hand, and those of, for example, Bergamasque, Nizinny, Berger des Pyrenees or Gos d'Atura, on the other hand.

A hardy working dog living in a mountainous region of difficult access and therefore relatively isolated from the outside world, the Gos of Atura is probably quite close to this original type. Although it is mentioned in documents and ancient texts under the name of "Shepherd of the Catalan Pyrenees", it does not seem to have caught the attention of the cynophiles before the Great War. The first subjects in the RRC, Book of Origins of the Real Sociedad Central Canina in Spain, were three males named Cuco, Pasto and Milan, born respectively in 1915, 1922 and 1926, but it is Tac (son of Milan, born in 1926 ) and Iris, a female born in 1926, whom specialists consider to be the first "real" Gos of Atura. These are also the two dogs that served as models for the development of the first standard, written July 18, 1929. This standard remained in force until April 22, 1982, when it was modified to reflect the evolution intervened.

The Atura Català Gos Club, created in 1981, organizes annual events, including special national exhibitions to promote and promote the breed. Thanks to its action, the Catalan Shepherd is gradually emerging from anonymity, and its breeding should, in the coming years, develop in a more significant way, in the Spanish Pyrenees and the province of Girona, of course, but also abroad, in the south of France, the Netherlands and Italy.

Gos Atura Català is primarily a working dog, as the rest of the standard specifies. Its size, higher than that of the Shepherdess of the Pyrenees, and its remarkable adaptability allow it to be used effectively to drive sheep as well as goats, cows or even horses. Very calm ; he does not have the nerve impulse of the Pyrenean Shepherd; very balanced, he never shows himself aggressive with the animals in his charge, which does not prevent him from showing authority when the situation requires it. Lively, intelligent, autonomous, with a great sense of responsibility, he is perfectly capable of taking the necessary initiatives alone, while remaining very obedient when his master is present.

A very rustic, enduring and frugal dog, not afraid of cold or heat, the Catalan Shepherd is perfectly at home in the rugged mountainous region of his country, but he is nevertheless an excellent pet, provided that we know how to respect his character and channel his energy. Very gentle, very tolerant with the family, especially with children, he is reserved and even suspicious of strangers, and he admits that a stranger enters his territory. The surveillance and the guard of the house are therefore tasks that he will ensure with efficiency and awareness, especially since, like most "converted" sheepdogs, he loves to make himself useful.

Needless to say, Gos Atura needs space and can not live permanently between the four walls of an apartment. Like all dogs accustomed to the great outdoors, he must be able to run and spend himself without restraint. Its maintenance does not pose any problems: a good daily brush is enough, but necessary, especially as a "Berger des villes" must be more carefully maintained than his brother mountains (the standard makes a very timely distinction between working subjects and others).

Still very rare in France, the Gos d'Atura has already earned an excellent reputation, and all those who know him enjoy boasting his intelligence, his sense of family life, his endearing character. So many assets that should allow him to make the place he deserves on the cynophilic scene of our country, even if he is likely to suffer competition from the Shepherd of the Pyrenees.

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