Catalan Sheepdogs - Gos D'Atura Catala

catalans Sheepdogs


One must go back several centuries to find the origins of the Catalan Sheepdog or Gos d'Atura Catala. Most experts agree that during the expansion of the Roman Empire the Bergamasco, or the ancesters of this breed were taken throughout the Empire and crossed with various local breeds. Influenced by the local climate, the terrain and the work required of the dog, the result was the beginnings of the evolution of many breeds found today throughout a large part of Europe. These include the Ca de Serra d'aires from Portugal, the Petit Berger from the Pyrenees, the Briard from France, the Nizzins from Poland, the Bearded Collie from Great Britain and the Bergamasco from Italy.


The Gos d'Atura Catala is a very mediterranean dog which is still worked today in the Pyrenean Valleys throughout Catalunya in Spain and along the Costa Brava.


The Gos d'Atura has lived and worked on farms in Catalunya for centuries driving livestock and warning their owners of the approach of strangers. But as a result of demographic changes, many farms closed and the numbers of these dogs dramatically reduced. In the early 1970's a recovery process of the breed began to take place. Adult dogs and puppies were bought in from the remaining shepherds who worked with only the pure bred stock and a breeding programme was established.


The Gos d'Atura has remained faithful to its origins, so much so that a 20th century dog could be shown alongside a present day dog.


The Gos d'Atura breed standard was first established at the beginning of the 20th century. The breed was recognised by the FCI (no. 87), this was based on 2 examples, Tac and Iris, which were shown at the Barcelona exhibition 1929.


Today, the breed is found principally as a pet. It is a well balanced character and highly intelligent. Whilst being an active dog, it also adapts well to family life and is patient and friendly with children. In Catalunya they are still seen working on farms with all types of livestock. It can also be found taking part in agility classes and competitions, as well as working as both police sniffer dogs and as search and rescue dogs. In Britain as the numbers steadily increase they are  being trained in Obedience, Agility, Movement and Dance to music. Feedback from the owners has been very positive indeed and we are hoping that they will be seen in competition at some of the major venues in the near future. The breed is proving itself to be an all round success.



1. I am looking for a Catalan Sheepdog Puppy, should I buy a dog or a bitch?
Either will make good pets. This is just personal preference; you will find that bitches come into season twice per year. Dogs may "mark" by lifting their leg and urinating.

2. I have children under five, how will a Catalan Sheepdog fit into my family?
All pups can play bite very hard and also if children are running around squealing, itís an invitation for any puppy to join in the game and sometimes bite the child.

This may be done without any malice but they may still draw blood. Pups also chew toys so families should be aware of the risks.

Families with young children should take this into consideration before they buy a puppy.

3. We have just had our puppy's inoculations done; our vet tells us we must go back in a few months to have him/her neutered, is this really necessary?
It is your decision not the vets. Do not let them make you feel guilty if you decide against it. Some vets offer horror stories of what 'MAY' happen if you do not have your pet neutered. Do some research and make sure it is your choice.

Please do not have you bitch neutered under the age of 12 months as this is major surgery and you need to allow your dog to finish growing first. Always remember you are the customer at the vets.

4. My puppy bites all the time?
Never smack or shout at him/her, this will encourage fear biting instead either say Ouch and flinch and then pop puppy somewhere for ''time out'' for a couple of mins (no longer or he will forget why) offer a toy or something he can chew instead of you. This is not done in malice; itís just over exuberant play biting.

5. I think it would be a great idea for us to have just one litter from our bitch. We have read that every bitch should have a litter is this a good idea?
This is a myth, bitches do not need to have a litter, and unless you have the time and energy & finances to spend on rearing a litter and you have a number of homes waiting for your puppies you are better not to attempt it. Remember your bitch might need a caesarian costing hundreds of £'s and worse case scenario is that you could potentially lose your bitch giving birth.

Unless you have genuine guaranteed homes waiting for your puppies then you might find you have approx. 6 lively & demanding puppies all eating, all pooping, sometimes fighting at 8wks old running around without any buyers for them. There is also the cost of hip scoring and eye testing to be considered when thinking about breeding.

6. Our puppy is very destructive when left alone.
Almost all puppies are destructive whilst teething, if you have to leave your puppy for short periods of time put him in a cage/run or somewhere safe with nothing he can destroy or harm himself on. Do leave him some safe toys to play with.

7. I work during the day, should I buy 2 puppies to keep each other company?
Definitely not. It would be a major mistake and one you would very soon regret. Most breeders would not sell you two pups.

8. How will my older dog take to a puppy?
Usually very well.

Take care introducing them; possibly let them meet for the first time with the puppy in a cage or puppy pen. Make a fuss of the older dog too so that it does not get jealous remember he may feel left out if all the attention goes on the new puppy.

Do not let a very young pup make too much of a nuisance of itself with the older one.

9. Are Catalan Sheepdogs good with Children?
Generally yes! It depends a lot on the children as well as they need to treat the dog with respect. It is a 2 way thing. Never let children torment or tease puppies and never allow them to wake it while it is sleeping, puppies need lots of rest time.

10. I have never owned a dog, is a Catalan Sheepdog a good first dog?
In general Catalanís are not the ideal choice for the first time dog owner however it does depends very much on the individual dog. Some are calm and quiet; other can be hyperactive and need lots of work and stimulation.

11. I work during the day, but only school hours can I still have a puppy.
I would consider seriously if owning a puppy whilst working long hours is going to be fair to either of you. It is a lot to ask of an 8 week old pup to be on its own even for school hours if there is no one to keep an eye on it, feed it and let it out for the toilet.

Catalans need inter-action with humans or they can be noisy, destructive and very hard to house train.

12. How do I housetrain my puppy,
Take pup out to the garden frequently especially after meals/sleep and during play, anticipate its needs. Give lots of praise to the pup when it performs. Never get cross with it over accidents; it can take upto 5 mths for a puppy to be fully house trained.

13. When do I start to lead train
Personally I never start lead training until after my puppies learn to follow me off the lead? Start either in your garden, or in a safe place (never near roads) keep calling your puppy to you. Praise it, offer a treat, and when it is happy to come to your call you are then ready to try a lead.

Do not over exercise your puppy on roads whilst young. At 3/4mths of age 10mins is plenty of leadwalking time and 15mins off lead running and playing, build the time up slowly. The rule of thumb is 5 mins leadwalking per month of age per day whilst growing.

14. When will my puppy have her first season
approx 6-9mths of age?

15. How old will my puppy be when it begins teething
The puppy loses its first teeth at approx. 18 weeks? At this stage you puppy will need his food soaking as his gums will be sore until his/her get their adult teeth through.

16. How long will I have to wait for a puppy?
How long is a piece of string?
Be prepared to wait for a while as there are not many breeders in the UK but they are well worth waiting for.

17. What health tests should a Catalan Sheepdog have done?
The Catalan Sheepdog Club recommend that all Catalans that are to be used for breeding should be hip scored (under the BVA System) and they should also be eye tested yearly. The Catalan Sheepdog is considered a healthy breed and we hope to keep it that way.

18. Do I really need to go to training classes?
Yes the training classís are very important to you and your dog as it gives them time to socialise and it will also teach him/her how to behave around other dog and socialisation of any pup is very important.

In the early months we always recommend that you go to a training class without your dog first, now this may sound silly but go without your dog and see what sort of training they do and how they handle the dogs and talk to the other people there and see how they find the training.

If you feel happy and relaxed your dog will also feel relaxed We always recommend that you look for a trainer that is a member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers.

19. What about grooming my Catalan
From the day your Catalan sheepdog puppy arrives you must get him used to being brushed. So often the mistake is made by saying, 'he has no coat let's wait until it's grown a little' and when puppy is 6 months old you have a large dog that has no intention of standing to be groomed. Start when puppies are about 8 - 10 weeks old;

As your puppy's coat grows, so the need for grooming becomes more frequent; about 10 minutes per day. This is done by starting at the feet, which should be examined closely in between the toes for any hard lumps of soil, grass seeds or hair that has matted, this must be removed as it will cause discomfort and could lead to lameness. Once the feet are cleared you then start on the lower leg by holding up the coat with one hand and brushing it down in layers with the other, this ensures that no tangles are in the underneath of the coat. This method should be used all over his legs and body. It is not enough just to run the brush over the top layer of the coat. If properly groomed you should be able to run a wide toothed dog comb through the coat.

Grooming around the face of your dog can be a problem as most dogs dislike it and a number of owners generally forget or can't be bothered because of the fight. It must be done and the best way is to hold puppy by his beard and brush from his nose down the sides of his mouth. Make sure that the top of the head, behind the ears and around the eyes are all kept clear of tangles.

Catalan sheepdogs have double dew claws on the hind legs and single dew claws on their front and these must be clipped from time to time. This is done with dog nail clippers, as the nails of Catalan sheepdogs are black it is very difficult to see the quick so, unless you have the right equipment and know what you are doing, this must be left to your veterinary surgeon. The same applies to his nails, although the average dog that gets plenty of road walking should not have too long nails.

To shampoo your dog start as early as possible, whether puppy is dirty or not, it is far easier to console a little puppy than a fully grown adult.

Equipment you will need for grooming your Catalan is a Wide Tooth Comb and a Pin brush.

Be sure to handle you dogs mouth each day and open it to check all is ok this is very important as in the future if you need to give tablets or if your vet needs to examine your dogs mouth for any reason.

20. What is the best way to train my dog
In my opinion the best method of training is the reward method when you want your dog to come to you make it fun and always give the dog a treat when he does what you ask. He/she will soon get the idea that if I do what I am ask I get a treat if not I donít get anything.

This information is only meant as a guide each dog is different and must be treated as such