Skimming the Earth

The Pyrenean Shepherd is a superb athlete well suited to move large flocks of sheep over “hill and dale.” This is to say that the “Pyr Shep” often works over extremely rugged, if not challenging terrain, and to get a full grasp of just how “extreme” this terrain can be, watch this!

This post, however, focuses on something else that makes this breed somewhat unique. See if you can spot it in the movement of the dog in the video below who competed in Westminster Kennel Club’s Herding Group in 2023:

Aside from a top line that could serve you cocktails on his back without spilling a drop, the dog seen in the video, “Bruce,” illustrates something else.  It’s not just the flow with which he moves, or the balanced reach and drive that wastes no energy with unnecessary motion. It’s something else having to do with his feet. Did you spot it?

In this clip, his feet barely left the ground and essentially skimmed over it. You could say they “shaved the earth.” In fact, the breed standard says they do making it the only AKC breed standard to include the phrase first described by the French. From that standard:

Gait:…The feet barely leave the ground. He “shaves the earth.” The correct gait is very pleasant to the eye. It is a result of the harmony of the front and rear angulations. As speed increases, the legs converge under the body toward the centerline.

It should go without saying that this smallest of the French herding breeds is a nimble dog with tremendous jumping ability, seemingly without effort.  He can turn on a dime, and in the view of many, his incredible energy reserves is what sets the breed apart as an exceptional flock herding dog. We came across an anecdote in ShowSight Magazine shared by Dr. Albert Bianchi who recounts a time he was judging the Herding Group: As he tells the story,  the Pyrenean Shepherd breed winner approached him for his individual examination, but first jumped on the ramp, up onto the table, back onto the ramp, and back onto the table for the exam. Evidently, the breed doesn’t just “shave the earth,” it can fly above it at will!

Image: Pyrenean Shepherd bMikkel Bigandt/Adobe

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *