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History of the Garafiano Shepherd Dog

the beginnings

The Garafiano Shepherd Dog has been linked to grazing since its origins, an activity for which it shows special aptitude, although at present it has gained great importance as a companion animal. For some time, this breed was on the verge of extinction due to interbreeding with other dog breeds. The successive crosses, especially from the 60s of the 20th century with other breeds of shepherd dogs, evidenced the need to work for their recovery and selection from the few pure specimens of the breed that the island's shepherds kept. To avoid this disappearance, the working group for the recovery of the Garafiano shepherd was created, which would become the Spanish Association of the Garafiano Shepherd Dog, whose Honorary President is Don Antonio Manuel Díaz Rodríguez.


Among the objectives of the association is the preparation of censuses, the creation of breeding centers, participation in dog shows and fairs, etc. The Garafiano shepherd has been presented both in the shows of native breeds that have been held in the Canary Islands, and in the international exhibitions held in Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.

The department of ethnology of the veterinary faculty of the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria has carried out several studies on the breed, which were presented at the Symposium on autochthonous breeds held in Córdoba in March 1992. At present, this The breed is very abundant on the island and the future looks bright due to the growing interest in these animals, not only from shepherds but also from people looking for a pet.

Asociacion Española del Perro Pastor Garafiano 02.jpg

historical dog

From the conquest of Benahoare, which was renamed San Miguel de La Palma, the arrival of European settlers from the most varied origins, accompanied by their domestic animals, meant the incorporation of species hitherto unknown on the island into the insular fauna. , some of which, due to adaptation to the environment and the passage of time, have given rise to perfectly differentiated autochthonous breeds.
The animals that already existed, were receiving the blood supply of those that were arriving from the same species but, logically, as a result of this miscegenation, only the specimens that acquired characteristics that improved their adaptation to the natural environment could survive and leave offspring. its functionality. This happened with the dog, bearing in mind that its basic function was always herding and that pastoral activity is not conceivable without its help, both that practiced by the Auaritas and that carried out later, which, until recent times, remained with very few variations.
Galicians, Portuguese, Majorcans, Basques, Castilians and other peoples of the most varied origins contributed to the European settlement of La Palma, without forgetting the strong relationship established with Flanders in the 16th century, based on the sugar trade. Hence the very probable presence on the island of Portuguese dogs (such as the “cäo da serra da estrela”), Basque shepherds, Iberian careas and possible ancestors of those that later gave rise to the current Belgian shepherd varieties.
The indicated requirements of adaptation and utility, made the majority of the dogs that arrived on the Island became extinct without further ado, but it is not ruled out that some of the aforementioned ones were able to contribute to the primitive dog the characteristics that have shaped the one that has historically been used by shepherds as an indispensable collaborator to be able to travel with their flocks along the coasts, peaks and ravines of the island and which they raised solely for this purpose.
The selection was drastic. The precariousness of resources available in a pastoral society only allowed the mere subsistence of the shepherd and his family. It was not conceivable in the environment in which they lived, to keep animals that did not provide utility. It was a luxury they couldn't afford. The leftovers of the litters were sacrificed, those that were not effective in their work or when, due to aging, illness or the consequences of accidents, they could no longer do it. On the other hand, no assessment or concession was made to the aesthetics of the animal. The best were those who did their job best and, therefore, those who lived and left offspring.
Taking this into account, the homogeneity that the race presents is surprising, making the well-known aphorism "function creates form" a reality.

Una breve historia en cómic

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