FAQ about Terra-Blue

Have the parents of your litters been screened for hereditary health issues? Yes, we feel this is vital for any dog being bred. You can visit each dogs individual page to see what health screenings they have had.  (All Pyr Sheps that are bred should have hips, patellas, and eyes certified.  Cardiac certification is also recommended.)

If I visit, will I get to meet the sire and dam?  You will get to meet the dam, though please don’t expect her to be warm & fuzzy about your visit.  Good mothers are protective of their puppies.  The same dog who views you with suspicion when she has puppies would welcome you when she didn’t.  Normally you will not get to meet the sire, as it is normal for most bitches to be bred to dogs from other kennels, often out of state.

Will I be able to visit the litter before they are old enough to go to their new homes?  We are happy to schedule visits to meet a litter, but do not begin visits until the puppies are at least 5weeks old.

Are your puppies guaranteed?  Yes, we offer full guarantees and support with all of our puppies.  We will be happy to send you a contract if you are interested.  See Puppy Policies for more info.

Where are your litters whelped?  All of our litters are whelped in the house.

What do the puppies have done with them before they leave for their new homes?  Puppies are handled daily using early neurological stimulation when they are first born.  As puppies get older they have a variety of experiences and are exposed to different locations and situations as are safe and age appropriate, ensuring a well rounded puppy when they are ready to leave for their new homes.

What health related things have the puppies had done for them before they leave?  Puppies receive excellent nutrition and care, as well being wormed and receiving limited core vaccines before they leave.  All puppies also have a CAER/CERF eye exam to identify any hereditary eye defects, and are vet checked before going to their new homes.

How old are the puppies when they go to their new homes?  Puppies ideally go to their new homes at about 8 weeks.  Puppies should never leave their litter before this time as it is essential to their development to remain with their litter and their dams.

How do you test temperament?  We do not do formal temperament testing, as our experience over the years has allowed us to determine more accurately each puppy’s temperament, because of the time that we spend daily with each puppy, as opposed to a one time testing situation.  While we are not opposed to formal temperament testing, we have been very successful with our own methods.

Do you dock tails and crop ears?  Traditionally Pyr Sheps have had their tails docked and ears cropped.  In many countries this has now become illegal, although it is still legal  in the US.  (Dogs that are cropped and docked also may not be able to compete in countries where it is illegal, even if the dog was born in a country where it is legal.)

Ears are not general cropped until between 4-6 mths (depending on the individual veterinarian’s procedure), so are typically done by the owner, if they desire to do so, not the breeder.  (We leave that to the owner’s choice.)  Cropping is a surgical procedure and should only be done by a veterinarian under anesthesia.  Most dogs experience a minimum of pain and heal quickly.

If tails are docked, they are typically done by the breeder between 1-3 days.  In regards to our own policy regarding tails – we currently make that decision litter by litter.  Traditionally tails have been docked and ears cropped, therefore good quality natural tails and ears had not been bred for for many generations.  In the last decade in Europe, great strides have been made in breeding beautiful, correct natural tails and ears.  We are incorporating these into our breeding program by importing and breeding to dogs with excellent ears and tails when we are able to.   Please ask us about each of our individual litters as to whether we plan to dock or not.

I want a dog for agility and I have heard that dogs run better with tails, is this true?  We often hear that some people believe that agility dogs run faster and better with tails, and while dogs do use their tails as rudders, we believe it is the dog’s overall structure and drive that determine a dog’s ability to perform, not whether they have a tail or not.

Why don’t  I see more titles and champions in your Pyr Shep pedigrees?  Since we import many of our dogs from Europe, often there will be limited titles or champions in the pedigrees.  In France in particular very few dogs have championships, due to some of the herding requirements to gain a championship, so it typical to see most French pedigrees without many (or with any) championships, even for some of the very notable dogs in the breed, including those that are national specialty winning dogs.

I am looking for a performance dog, but the sire and dam of your litter do not have any performance titles.  Should I look for a puppy from agility lines? Please remember that a sire and dam having performance titles (or not having performance titles), is not necessarily a reflection of what an individual puppies may be capable of, nor what they are capable of.  Performance titles merely mean that the dog has been trained and shown in performance events.  Dogs without performance titles may have as much drive, instinct and ability as a titled dog does.  Also, there is no such thing as an agility lines this breed, as this is a breed with a small population, and essentially all the dogs are related in some way.  The important thing is finding a breeder that has the experience in evaluating puppies.

Do you breed Rough-Faced and Smooth-Faced dogs?  Currently our breeding program only includes Rough-Faced dogs.  Generally our Rough-Faced dogs have long coats, and occasionally demi-long coats, though that depends on each particular litter.

FAQ about Pyr Sheps

How big will the dogs typically be?  You can read the breed standard for what is typical for the breed: Size – Rough-Faced: males: 15 ½ to 18 ½ inches at the withers, females: 15 to 18 inches. Smooth-Faced: males 15 ½ to 21 inches at the withers, females 15 ½ to 20 ½ inches at the withers.  Individual dogs size is difficult to predict based on puppy size.  It is likely that puppies will be a similar size to their parents.  While we sometimes have smaller dogs, we do not intentionally breed for this trait for agility or any other reason, but strive to breed dogs that most closely fit the breed standard.

What about their weight?  Pyr Sheps are a very lightly muscled breed, and should carry a minimum of weight.  Because of their low ratio of body fat to muscle mass, they need special consideration when undergoing anesthesia as with other low body fat to muscle mass breeds (i.e. Whippets)  They are safe alternatives for these types of breeds, so be sure to speak to your veterinarian about this before any surgery, since with all the coat that Pyr Sheps carry they may not take this into consideration if not mentioned.

Do Pyr Sheps shed?  Yes, Pyr Sheps do shed.  Those with cadenettes shed less since the shedding hair becomes part of the cadenettes as they form. (See more below)

What grooming is involved for a Rough-Faced Pyr Shep?  Rough-faced Pyr Sheps have a variety of coat types from demi-long to full coats.  Most long haired dogs will form cadenettes (cords) if not brushed frequently.  Since the coat naturally forms these cords, dogs can easily become matted if not attended to.  Cadenettes are traditional and most dogs in France will sport them.  Here in North American it is not as typical, though we encourage people to let the dogs sport their traditional coat.  Though cadenettes can be a challenge to start, they make coat care easy once they have fully formed.  For those that don’t want cadenettes, frequent brushing will keep their coat mat free.  Pyr Sheps are a very natural breed, and require very limited grooming even for the show ring.

What about dewclaws?  The Pyr Shep breed standard says, “The front legs should carry single dewclaws, not to be removed. Double dewclaws, single dewclaws, or lack of dewclaws in the rear are all acceptable, however as dewclaws are an ancient breed characteristic, all else being equal, the dog possessing dewclaws must be preferred.”  Because of this breeders do not remove the front or rear dewclaws on puppies.  Often when new owners take their puppy to their veterinarian, the veterinarian will often make negative comments about the dewclaws not being removed.  Owners should gently educate their veterinarian that this is appropriate for the breed.  While dewclaws can be injured, they are no more likely to be injured that any other part of the dog.  Removing them on older puppies and adults, is an unnecessary surgery, and not encouraged.

Do Pyr Sheps get along with other dogs, or animals?  Pyr Sheps do well with other animals that they are raised and socialized with.  They can tend to be bossy so do need supervision.

What about with children?  As with most breeds, Pyr Sheps raised with children do very well.  Again, children and dogs should always be supervised – as for any breed.

I have heard some negative things about Pyr Shep temperament, what is their temperament like?  The best way to understand Pyr Shep temperament is to understand where they came from.  These dogs worked in a very rugged and often dangerous setting.  Unlike many herding breeds they did not need to protect the flocks, as that was left to the Great Pyrenees.  In the Pyrenees mountains there were bears, wolves, and eagles, therefore being the small size that a Pyr Shep, being alert and suspicious was often a matter of life and death.  Because of this they tend to see the world in terms of “black” and “white” with very little “gray” neutral area.  Pyr Sheps can have their “white” and “gray” areas broadened through socialization, which should begin at birth.  It is important for potential owners to understand and appreciate the unique temperament of the Pyr Shep.  Having said that it is important to understand that being suspicious is NOT the same as being fearful.  Being suspicious in the mountains was a useful trait, being fearful was not as a fearful dog would have been of little use to a shepherd and may even endanger the sheep.  A fearful and/or aggressive Pyr Shep is not of correct temperament.  Though it will be difficult to determine the true character of a dam with puppies, take your cues from the rest of the dogs at any kennel you visit.  A well socialized Pyr Shep may not feel the need to befriend strangers, but they should be welcoming of anyone who their owner welcomes.  The reason for some of the negative attitudes towards Pyr Shep temperaments is due to their exposure to Pyr Sheps with incorrect temperament.

What about barking?  Pyr Sheps can tend to be reactive barkers to alert their owners of any thing new or if someone is at the door.  While levels of barking vary from dog to dog, they can have the propensity to be barkers.  Early training about when barking is appropriate can lessen this tendency.

What sort of “quirks” are typical for the breed?  While each dog has it’s own unique personality, their are some general breed characteristics found in most Pyr Sheps.  One common trait is using their mouths a lot, by mouthing and licking.  While mouthing can be a dominant behavior in most breeds, Pyr Sheps seem to particularly enjoy mouthing usually as affectionate behavior.  Mouthing should not be encouraged though, because it can lead to other dominant behavior.  Another quirk can be wanting the same exact routine every day, and the propensity to become control freaks (a very useful trait in doing their job) In order to have a well rounded, and flexible dog, it is helpful NOT to follow the exact same routine everyday, otherwise you can end up with a very unhappy dog when their daily routine must be changed for some reason.  This can also help them see you as the leader, and will help you not to end up with a demanding dog.

How much activity and exercise does a Pyr Shep need?  Pyr Sheps are an active breed, and do need lots of exercise and activity.  Though they are happy to lie quietly at your feet at times, they are usually on the move, and need to have their energy put to good use, or they may find their own trouble to get into.  This is an intelligent breed that needs something to do.

What are the best training methods and activities for a Pyr Shep?  Pyr Sheps learn best with positive training, though it is important for them to have leadership in the home, as well as clear rules about what is and what is not appropriate behavior.  Though they are tough little dogs, they can be very sensitive and do not do well will harsh treatment or training methods.  Don’t forget how brilliant they are!  Teaching them tricks and playing games where they can problem solve are a great channel for their minds, as well as their bodies.  You will be also be surprised to find what an amazing vocabulary they develop in a short time.  They excel in dog sports such as agility, flyball, tracking, and herding.

What health issues is the breed susceptible to?  Overall Pyr Sheps are a very healthy breed, and are very long lived (often 15-17 years).  They do, like all breeds, have some hereditary issues of concern.  Hip dysplasia is fairly common, though most dysplastic Pyr Sheps are not symtomatic.  Subluxated patellas can be a problem as well.  Unlike most herding breeds eye problems are not common, and most hereditary eye defects in Pyr Sheps are found in the puppy eye exam (which is why it is important that puppies have their eyes checked), and do not tend to be defects that develop later in life.  There are also some cardiac problems in the breed, PDA being the most common.  Again, most of these are diagnosed in a puppy vet check before they leave for their new homes, and it is unusual for them to develop later in life.  Epilepsy also does occur in the breed, though for most dogs seizures are very mild and do not usually affect quality of life.