Meet the patos: the guards of the mountain pastures

the necessity
This week, the Gazette will take you to get to know the patus, these dogs that guard the herds of many shepherds in the summer pastures. Education and common life, met Julien Boucher from La Ferme de Lagoute.

Surely you’ve seen them on your hike, the patous, these big white dogs mixing a lot of fleece. With their tall size and strong bodies, these dogs are impressive and for good reason, they are the protectors of the herd against predator attacks: “The Pyrenean Mountains, or Patous , dogs that need to have a real relationship with the herd, their main purpose is to protect the animals from a predator such as a wolf.This is why it is better to breed two dogs to protect the flock, be honest with the animals and know how to protect.He must also have specific physical skills such as being more attractive, have a large jaw, even the shape of the skull is important for the litter to give patous to fit well with the herds ”explains Julien Boucher, owner of Lagoute Farm. In addition to his hundreds of sheep, his twenty goats, the breeder is the proud owner of eight Pyrenean mountain dogs, but also his malinois and two border collies. So it’s very easy to guess: Julien is an animal lover. Talking to him above all is about entering a specific canine and agricultural universe. So he is the perfect ambassador for the Pastorale des Pyrénées and its program: guard dog.

dogs and shepherds

“Pastoralism helps breeders with two solutions, the first is to parachute shepherds with herds of mountain pastures. So it’s human help. The second solution is to offer and guard dog to to the herdsmen, or to ask for the protection of a herd ”explained Julien who continued:“ In the guard dog division, there are five technicians and a coordinator and of course the supervising director.The service is simple, you are a breeder and you want a Pyrenean Mountain dog to bring security to your herd? You contact the Pastoral, the coordinator assigns you a technician to come and assess your needs, what kind of animals are available to you (goat, sheep, cow, horse) .Then the technician will focus on the canine knowledge of the herdsmen.If the person has already gone through these stages, then we will bring him a puppy and the techn ician comes every month to see how things are going, keeping the dog in the herd, education, respect for nets, and more. “. An act of adaptation that requires sacred skill of the puppies but also of their masters.” Dogs and cows do not naturally get along, have to make a bond, if I have puppies, be born I put them in the barn, like that, my animals are used to it.smell the puppies and don’t throw them away.when they sleep near them.If a link is made, then we can leave the dogs with the sheep , there is nothing to fear. Bring Olka, my eldest dog, the sheep are so accustomed to his presence that he can sleep against them, it does not matter to them »smiles Julien.

More fond of patous, Julien breeds them, the puppy between his legs will leave soon.
Comminges Gazette – Anaïs Juste

On the Lagoute farm, Olka, Aramis, Pacha, Jenny, Poymayou and even Pizac guard the herds, a good group of six dogs that sometimes surprise passersby. “Today, the situation is so complicated, many tourists and hikers do not know how to behave in front of a dog, so they are easily frightened if they find themselves in front of the patous. If one dog barking, this is a warning that he is the keeper of a specific territory.However, many people complain about the noises that dogs can make and so we end up with breeders who are forced to sell their patos. That’s why I got one, separated by his boss because the neighbors complained about the dog. While he was gentle like a sheep! shouts the breeder. A sensitive topic that is at the heart of Pastoral concerns: “This is the time of transhumance, many shepherds are declaring their flocks and it is clear that their patus. Tourists and hikers need to know: when a patou barks, it’s because it’s protecting a herd. If walkers show that they are not a threat to the herd, ie by keeping the animals away and making the dogs feel like they are just passing by, then it is possible to live ”advises Julien.
Especially since patous despite their large size are real love balls once the first encounter takes place. They do not hesitate to ask for caresses, before of course returning to the sheep.

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