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Garafiano shepherd, a dog that are three

The garafiano shepherd is a dog originating from the north of La Palma, in the municipality of Garafía, where some animals dedicated to grazing were kept, something that facilitated their rescue as an indigenous breed. This is his story.

The garafiano shepherd, in fact, is not a dog, it is three dogs in one. I explain. The breed is the result of the crossing of three dogs that arrived on the island of La Palma to work as sheepdogs at different times in their history. But what dogs? For the aboriginal dog of the island of La Palma; the Belgian shepherd and the cão da Serra da Estrela Portuguese. We see one by one how they arrived to La Palma:

Garafiano shepherd.
  • Aboriginal dog of La Palma. The Auaritas, the aboriginal people from La Palma, were shepherds, they used dogs to control and drive their cattle from goats and sheep, and they might also be used as faithful guardians in their conflicts between the aboriginal communities. None of the Canarian indigenous dog breeds has survived to the present. The canary prey dog, the bardino or the so-called majorero prey are breeds obtained very later that are the sum of crossings with foreign dogs. The Auarita sheepdog would be alive in the latent genetics of the garafiano Shepherd.
  • Cão da Serra da Estrela. The cão da Serra da Estrela arrived on the island of La Palma at the beginning of the 16th century with the Portuguese and Galician settlers who settled in the new colony to develop agriculture or to work in the sugar mills. The Portuguese dog is a recognized breed that is not threatened with extinction. The dog looks very reminiscent of the Spanish mastiff. An animal with strong jaws, powerful legs, corpulent and very square skull, as you can see in the image. The animal is a shepherd dog originally from northern Portugal and the Serra da Estrela.
  • Belgian Shepherd. The Belgian shepherd also arrived to La Palma at the beginning of the 16th century and did so as a result of the sugar trade with Flanders, in Belgium, from which the dog originated. An animal that would be used for the same surveillance work and to shepherd in the field.
Cão da Serra da Estrela

Behind the recovery of the Belgian shepherd as a dog breed in their country of origin, there was a great effort through private breeders who created their first protective society in 1892 with the aim of normalizing the breed.

German shepherds

The garafiano shepherd was about to succumb as a breed as a result of a fourth crossing, which was made in the 1970s on the basis of German shepherd dogs that became very fashionable at that time. Those who had shepherd dogs crossed with German shepherds in La Palma still remember the result of the ‘experiment’. The animals came out too nervous, too restless, so much that they stressed the sheep with bites to force them to move and they as a result stopped giving milk.

The rescue of the breed of garafiano shepherd has allowed to recover a dog with a very noble character, especially because many owners have signed up to have them as a companion animal.

And is that the garafiano shepherd is a noble dog that has very good character. He is very docile and friendly.


Belgian Sheperd.

He is recognized by the naked eye for his coat of wolf’s aleonned fur, for his saber-shaped tail that he inherited from the Belgian shepherd. The Portuguese chao and the aboriginal dog Palmero has retained strong legs.

The dog, as a good shepherd, loves physical work. He is very active when he works, but he is also usually calm and calm. It usually weighs up to 70 pounds the males and 66 pounds the females. And, as far as the elevation is concerned, male specimens up to 28 inches tall are emerging.

Where to get more information about garafian sheepdogs

You can contact the Spanish Association Shepherd Dog Garafiano through its official page in this link.

Where to stay

For any accommodation on the island of La Palma, here is a link to a selection of establishments.

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