Basque Shepherd Dog

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Basque Shepherd Dog
Pastor vasco m 14months loby 3018.jpg
A young fawn-colored Basque Shepherd Dog (variety Gorbeiakoa)
Other namesEuskal artzain txakurra,
Basque Herder,
Perro de pastor vasco
Basque Sheepdog
OriginBasque Country (Spain)
Variety statusNot recognized as a standardized breed by any major kennel club.
Weight Male Gorbeiakoa: 18–36 kg (40–79 lb);
Iletsua: 18–33 kg (40–73 lb);
Female Gorbeiakoa: 17–29 kg (37–64 lb);
Iletsua: 17–30 kg (37–66 lb);
Height Male Gorbeiakoa: 47–61 cm (19–24 in);
Iletsua: 47–63 cm (19–25 in);
Female Gorbeiakoa: 46–59 cm (18–23 in);
Iletsua: 46–58 cm (18–23 in);
Coat moderately long
Gorbeiakoa: smooth, soft
Iletsua: rough, coarse
Color Gorbeiakoa: red, fawn
Iletsua: cinnamon, fawn
Domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris)

The Basque Shepherd Dog is a landrace breed of dog originating in the Basque Country and traditionally used by the local shepherds to help them take care of their cattle and sheep. Perro de pastor vasco (pastor vasco for short) is the Spanish name, and euskal artzain txakurra is the Basque, by which they are known in their homeland. It is believed that they originated from Central European herding dogs.


These dogs are well proportioned, with strong, rectangular bodies and trotter features. Their eyes are oval and are brown or amber. Their ears are medium-sized, triangular and sometimes show folds. The vivid yellow medium length rough coat is longer over the trunk than over the head and is shorter on the face, but does not hide the eyes. The relation between height and length is about 1/1.2. The head is rather light relative to the trunk, which is attached by a short neck and muscular.

Smooth-haired Gorbeiakoa[edit]

Of the two distinct types of Basque Shepherd Dog, the more outgoing Gorbeiakoa[1] is the more pure and ancient of the two. It is recognized by the moderate length hair coat, which texture is smooth and soft. It is very short and smooth on the face and on the front of the legs. There is a plume on the back of the legs. The coat color can be either fire-red or fawn, and it has a dark mask on the muzzle. The height of males is 47 to 61 cm and of females 46 to 59 cm. Males weight 18 to 36 kg and females 17 to 29 kg.[2]

Rough-haired Iletsua[edit]

The Iletsua variety has a rough, coarse and bristle, moderate length hair. It is shorter on the front of the legs. The coat color is either cinnamon or fawn. The height of males is 47 to 63 cm and of females 46 to 58 cm. Males weight 18 to 33 kg and females 17 to 30 kg.[3]


This sheepdog is one of the oldest dog breeds. Skeletal remains were found in Neolithic caves dated to 12,000 years ago. They are interpreted as demonstrating that the people living in the area of what is now Basque Country were shepherds. In frescoes and paintings of the sixteenth century there are representations of the Basque Shepherd Dog. Nevertheless, their recognition has required extensive research on records from throughout the Basque Country. Only after demonstrating their differences from other breeds such as the Pyrenean Shepherd and the Catalan sheepdog, did the Royal Canine Society of Spain recognize the Basque Shepherd Dog as a breed with two varieties: Iletsua and Gorbeiakoa, in January 1996.

Gorbeiakoa originates from the region of Gorbea[2] and Iletsua means "hairy" or "shaggy" in Basque.


The Basque Shepherd Dog can compete in dog agility trials, obedience, Rally obedience, Schutzhund, showmanship, flyball, tracking, and herding events. Herding instincts and trainability can be measured at noncompetitive herding tests. Basque Shepherd Dogs that exhibit basic herding instincts can be trained to compete in herding trials.[1]

Basque Sheepdogs in America[edit]

Some Basque herders brought their sheepdogs to the Western United States when they journeyed to the United States in the 1950s under sheep herding contracts with the Western Range Association in an agreement with the Spanish government.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Hartnagle-Taylor, Jeanne Joy; Taylor, Ty (2010). Stockdog Savvy. Alpine Publications. ISBN 978-1-57779-106-5.
  2. ^ a b Perro de Pastor Vasco (variety Gorbeiakoa or from Gorbea). Real Sociedad Canina de Espana.
  3. ^ Perro de Pastor Vasco (variety Iletsua). Real Sociedad Canina de Espana.
  4. ^ Basque herders and their dogs

External links[edit]