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.
Of the two distinct types of Basque Shepherd Dog, the more outgoing Gorbeiakoa 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.
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.
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.
Basque Sheepdogs in America
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.