The Garafian Shepherd: All You Need to Know

The Garafian Shepherd is a remarkable breed that has a rich history and unique physical characteristics. The breed is known for its intelligence, loyalty, and affectionate nature.

In this article, we will take a close look at the Garafian Shepherd’s history, physical traits, personality, and health, so you can have a better understanding of the breed.

History and Origin of the Garafian Shepherd

The Garafian Shepherd’s Origins on La Gomera

The Garafian Shepherd originated on the island of La Gomera in the Canary Islands, which is known for its rugged terrain and challenging landscape. The breed is thought to have descended from various dogs brought to the island by early settlers, including the Guanches.

The Guanches were the indigenous people who inhabited the Canary Islands before the Spanish conquest. They used dogs for hunting and protection, and it’s likely that these dogs played a role in the development of the Garafian Shepherd.

The Breed’s Role in Canary Island Agriculture

The Garafian Shepherd played an essential role in the agriculture of the Canary Islands, where it was used to protect and herd livestock. The breed’s ability to navigate rugged terrain and protect livestock from predators made it the perfect dog for the job.

The Garafian Shepherd was used to protect and herd goats and sheep, which were essential to the economy of the Canary Islands. The breed’s strong protective instinct and intelligence made it an invaluable asset to farmers and herders.

Recognition and Preservation Efforts

Today, the Garafian Shepherd is recognized as a national treasure in the Canary Islands. In recent years, enthusiasts have worked to preserve the breed’s genetic diversity and protect it from the threat of extinction.

These efforts have resulted in various breeding programs, genetic testing, and education campaigns to raise awareness about the breed’s unique history and characteristics

Physical Characteristics of the Garafian Shepherd

The Garafian Shepherd is a medium-sized dog that is well-proportioned and muscular. Despite the muscular build, it is agile and graceful. Breed members can move quickly and easily over rough terrain and are excellent at navigating rocky cliffs and steep hillsides.

Size and Weight

Male Garafian Shepherds typically weigh between 62 and 77 pounds and stand around 22 to 25 inches tall at the shoulder. Females are generally smaller, weigh between 53 and 66 pounds, and stand 21.5 to 24 inches tall. 

Coat and Color

The Garafian Shepherd’s coat is medium-length, dense, wiry, and slightly coarse. The coat comes in many colors, including brown & yellow, fawn, golden yellow, orange, grey, and reddish-brown. 

Some breed members can have small white markings. The Garafian Shepherd’s coat requires regular grooming – you need to brush it around 2 to 3 times per week to prevent tangles and ensure health. 

Distinctive Features

The Garafian Shepherd has a strong and athletic build. The hallmark of the breed is the beautiful coat. In addition to their striking coat, Garafian Shepherds are also known for their piercing gaze and intense expression. They are a breed that is highly alert and aware of their surroundings, making them excellent watchdogs.

Temperament and Personality Traits

Intelligence and Trainability

The Garafian Shepherd is a highly intelligent breed that is quick to learn and eager to please. These dogs are often used as working dogs due to their exceptional trainability.

They excel in obedience, agility, and herding competitions due to their ability to quickly learn and follow commands. In addition to their trainability, Garafian Shepherds are also known for their problem-solving skills.

Garafian Shepherds are able to think on their feet and come up with creative solutions to overcome obstacles. This makes them excellent partners for outdoor activities such as hiking and camping.

Loyalty and Affection

The Garafian Shepherd is a loyal and devoted companion that forms strong bonds with its family. This breed requires a lot of attention and affection and is happiest when spending time with its owners.

They are protective of their family and will go to great lengths to ensure their safety. Despite that, Garafian Shepherds are also gentle and affectionate. Breed members love to cuddle with their owners.

Energy Levels and Exercise Needs

The Garafian Shepherd is an energetic breed that requires daily exercise to stay healthy and happy. This dog is happiest when given opportunities to explore and run in open spaces and requires at least an hour of exercise every day.

In addition to physical exercise, Garafian Shepherds also require mental stimulation to prevent boredom and destructive behavior. They enjoy puzzle toys and training games that challenge their problem-solving skills and keep them mentally sharp.

Health and Lifespan of the Garafian Shepherd

Common Health Issues

Some common health issues that can affect the Garafian Shepherd include: 

  • Orthopedic Problems: The most common joint problems in the breed are the mobility impairing hip and elbow dysplasia 
  • Eye Conditions: Breed members are prone to eye diseases, including cataracts, glaucoma, and progressive retinal atrophy 

Tips for Maintaining Good Health

To maintain good health, it’s important to provide your Garafian Shepherd with a healthy diet, regular exercise, and routine veterinary care. Regular check-ups can help detect any potential health issues early, which can increase the chances of successful treatment.

Lifespan Expectancy

The Garafian Shepherd typically lives between 10 and 12 years, although some have been known to live longer.


The Garafian Shepherd is a fascinating breed with a rich history and unique physical characteristics. It is praised for its intelligence, loyalty, and loving nature and makes a wonderful companion dog.

By understanding the history, physical characteristics, temperament, health, and lifespan of the Garafian Shepherd, you can make an informed decision about whether this breed is the right fit for you.

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