Sheep-defending Pyrenean mountain dogs are attacking people

France reintroduced wolves into their country about 30 years ago after they had been hunted to extinction in the twentieth century. That resulted in shepherds using Pyrenean mountain dogs to protect their flocks. And, sadly, there are reports of Pyrenean mountain dogs attacking people which is undermining the process. It’s reported in The Times that an increased number of hikers and mountain bikers have reported being attacked by these dogs each summer.

Pyrenean mountain dog
Pyrenean mountain dog. Image: MikeB based on Kennel Club image.

There is also a problem with the dogs barking when the sheep are in pens in the winter. One shepherd felt that he was caught between a rock and a hard place. I guess he meant that his sheep might be under attack by wolves on occasions and the dog he uses to protect his sheep is causing problems with trekkers and hikers in the area. So he feels that there is nowhere to go to resolve the problem.

The Pyrenean mountain dog weighs around 11 stones. Apparently, they tend to bark at hikers if they approach the sheep which are out in the mountain pastures from June until October.

The dogs can attack if the tourists and other people shout or wave their arms and try to run away. They might also attack if people on bikes suddenly emerge from trees.

This has resulted in walkers carrying pepper spray, whips and sticks to defend themselves. This has led to further antagonism between dogs and people. In 2022, 105 people reported that they had been bitten by the breed.

A lawyer who represents shepherds said that there had been a “notable increase in lawsuits since last summer”.

Although seven of the eight cases filed at court in 2022 were dismissed by prosecutors. The reason being that the problem was generated by the hikers. If they’d stuck to paths and trails and stayed calm and kept away from the sheep there would’ve been no dog attacks is the argument.

There are more than 5,000 Pyrenean dogs in the mountains.

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