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Can de Palleiro - The native dog breed of Galicia

Can de Palleiro - La raza de perros autóctona de Galicia

Lobo Azul |

It is said that the Can de Palleiro “is not first in anything, but it is second in everything” and it is also said that “the Can de Palleiro only needs to talk”, referring to the multiple working virtues that this breed of dog has. Galician . And the Galician Shepherd has not only proven to be skilled at directing and caring for livestock or protecting the house or stable, but he can be trained to assume a large number of other responsibilities. For just over ten years, breeders have begun to show the qualities of the Can de palleiro in disaster rescue work, as a guide dog and companion dog, and in the detection of drugs, explosives and other police activities. For this reason, this breed is highly appreciated today and a way is sought to maintain its status as a service dog.
  • Big size .
  • Weight : Between 20 and 38kg.
  • Hair type : Short and straight.
  • Character : Indifferent character and even distrustful of strangers
  • Health : Healthy
  • Life expectancy : Between 12 and 15 years.

The Can de palleiro, a dog “created” by the Galicians

The Can de palleiro has been part of Galician peasant families for hundreds of years. But it was not until relatively recently, in 1999, that the Xunta de Galicia decided to carry out all the necessary studies to define the standard of the original Can de palleiro. This study was framed in the “Plan for the recovery of native breeds of Galicia”, through the Department of Agri-Food Policy and Rural Development of the Xunta. To carry out this work, an exhaustive search was begun throughout Galicia to locate specimens of the Galician Shepherd in the livestock areas of the community. In this way, in 2001, the standard of the pure breed “Can de palleiro” was defined, distinguishing it from the more common crossed and crossbred palleiro . The Pure Can de Palleiro was defined, among other characteristics, as a “albado” dog, gentle and very skilled in herding tasks.
palleiro dog
In searching for specimens of this breed throughout the Galician geography, specialists were able to realize that it was the Galician ranchers themselves who made a “natural selection” of individuals that met the required standard in terms of character and strength for work. . The selection of good specimens to cross, which sought not the beauty but the efficiency of the dog for herding tasks, made it possible to obtain litters with the same aptitudes as their parents and maintain the original breed. From this initial search, the Official Club of the Can de Palleiro was created, supported by the Xunta de Galicia, for the promotion of the breeding of the Galician Shepherd . This club mainly seeks to maintain the value of the breed for livestock work, although its great value has been seen in other support jobs. Due to this condition, training of animals of this breed has recently begun to detect drugs and explosives, as search assistants in rescue work and as guide dogs for blind people. For all these tasks, the Can de palleiro is particularly qualified thanks to its docility, fidelity and sense of direction. During 2018, the Can de palleiro, the ideal dog campaign was carried out, which included online videos and promotions on Facebook and Instagram. With this campaign we wanted to make this native breed of dog known outside the community of Galicia itself , highlighting the value of the work that these dogs have, not only for herding livestock, which is their best-known capacity, but particularly as animals with a great condition for socialization with children, the elderly and people with disabilities, as a form of therapy.

Origin of the Can de palleiro breed

The pure Can de palleiro is considered very close to its wild ancestor , that is, with few changes suffered since its domestication. Its origin is considered to be Indo-European and it shares a common origin with other shepherd dogs, such as the German, Dutch, Belgian, Picardy and Portuguese Castro Laboreiro. Regarding its name, the term palleiro refers to the fact that this Galician shepherd sleeps in the haystacks of farms. In addition to this name, the Can de palleiro is also known as Can do gando (cattle dog), Can das vacas (cow dog) and Can lobo (wolf dog), among others.

Physical characteristics of the Can de Palleiro breed

General aspect

The Can de palleiro or Galician Shepherd is considered among the medium to large sized dog breeds. Its general type is rustic and stocky, with a pyramidal head, elongated snout and high, erect, lupoid-type ears. Its constitution is strong, with wide bones and harmonious proportions. Females are shorter and lighter. Their limbs are straight, vertical, which coincides with the strong appearance that these animals present. The base of the tail is high and raises it when it begins to move, but without rolling it, and it is thick with abundant hair.
Galician shepherd
The general characteristics of this breed are reminiscent of those of wolves, since there is little separation between them. Despite all the rustic characteristics, it is an elegant, fast-moving animal. It usually moves with steps, but it can start trotting and even galloping if required by the job it is doing.


As we mentioned previously, the Can de palleiro is strongly related to other shepherd breeds of European origin with which it shares short hair. In addition, the hair is dense and bushy, which allows it to live in external conditions, such as in farm haystacks. The colors are usually uniform, from sand colors, tans, through browns to black. There are also specimens with a coat very similar to that of wolves, yellow with black tips. Some may be white or have obvious white features, but these are not considered appropriate in the breed.

Temperament of the Can de Palleiro

Due to its character, the Can de Palleiro is recognized as one of the best dog breeds for demanding work , but also as a faithful life companion. Its balance and stability allow it to be the ideal sheepdog for herding livestock and to be the ideal pet. Noble, intelligent and balanced, he can also have a strong character when defense is needed. At home he is calm and sweet, highly recommended to share with children and as a company for the elderly.

Care of the Can de Palleiro


It could be said that the Galician Shepherd is one of the best breeds of dog that can be had because, in addition to the hard-working qualities it shows, the cost of its maintenance is quite economical, since it is an animal with few requirements and very good health. . Due to its origin from northern Europe, the greatest care that must be taken with a dog of the Can de palleiro breed is in terms of brushing its hair, which must be frequent due to its abundance.


When it is an adult, the Can de Palleiro's diet is not very demanding either, since it only requires between 500 and 600 g of complete dry food per day, without further specifications. There are some indications for feeding puppies, in order to prevent common joint diseases in large breed dogs, such as panosteitis. The provision of chondroprotectors is recommended, which serve to treat or prevent conditions that may lead to joint or cartilage problems in adulthood. As always, the recommendation is to go to the veterinarian so that they can recommend the amounts and specific type of food that your pet needs.

Space and exercise

Due to its large shepherd size and dynamic character, the Can de Palleiro preferably needs large spaces in which it can run and exercise.
Palleiro dog breed


It is very difficult to obtain information related to diseases in the Galician Shepherd since, among its qualities, its good health stands out. This condition seems to respond to the careful selection that has been made to obtain healthy dogs with the character and behavioral characteristics that purebred status requires. However, this does not free him from the possibility of suffering from some of the most common diseases in large breed dog puppies, such as the aforementioned panosteitis, if he is not given the necessary care during his development. Panosteitis is a disease that affects large breed puppies, because during their development they gain weight faster than it takes for the legs that must support that weight to strengthen. The lack of adequate development and strengthening of the legs according to their weight can cause joint pain and damage to the cartilage of the puppies' extremities, with possible consequences for their adult life.

Puppy care

Despite the good health that characterizes Galician Shepherds, as we have seen, they can suffer from some of the most common diseases in large breed dogs if they are not given adequate care from their puppy stage. To do this, you must start by taking care of your diet. They should be given specific food for large breed puppies , following the instructions given by the manufacturer in terms of quantity.
Palleiro dog puppy
In addition, the corresponding amount must be distributed in at least three doses a day. As we already mentioned, the diet can be supplemented with products made from chondroprotectors. By providing adequate food, you can also control its weight, since it is preferable for the puppy to be thin than to be overweight which could affect less developed limbs. Due to the weakness that may occur in the extremities, the puppy should be prevented from moving on slippery floors, from going up and down stairs, and from exercising excessively, which could cause injuries with subsequent consequences. Constant observation of its movements, the way it walks and even its mood can give signs that it requires the supervision of a veterinarian.

Is the Can de palleiro in danger of extinction?

No, as long as the Official Club of Can do Palleiro and the Xunta de Galicia strive to recover an element as typical of Galician culture as the octopus, the muiñeiras (typical Galician dance) or the meigas (witches). The interest that these institutions have shown in recovering this very pure breed and that they feel so strongly about has meant that they are currently close to eliminating it from the list of animals in danger of extinction. It even currently has its Stud Book as a native breed of Galicia , which augurs well for its recovery. At the beginning of the second half of the last century, the impure crosses that were made between the Can de Palleiro and other European shepherd breeds led to their almost extinction, but today the demand for pure Galician Shepherd individuals has once again led to a great rise of the breed.
Galician Palleiro dog
A pure Galician Shepherd puppy can be obtained between €200 and €300. This cost includes all guarantees on deworming, vaccinations and safety microchipping. In any case, since it is a breed that is still recovering, a verification must be done at eighteen months of age in order to guarantee the purity of the animal. For now, there do not seem to be any risks for the Can de palleiro breed because, although livestock activity is decreasing in importance in its region of origin, Galicia, it has caused several specimens to live in other Spanish communities and even in other countries such as Holland, France , Norway, Argentina, Brazil or Australia. Furthermore, new virtues of the Galician Shepherd are discovered every day , especially in the detection of odors, so its usefulness in other activities increases its demand every day. Another reality is that their use as a companion animal is being highly valued, so they are beginning to live more and more in the cities to which, apparently, they are adapting. Discover other races here:
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