Despite its sweet name and its plush look, the patou can be aggressive if it thinks its herd is in danger. Here’s what to do if you come across one on your way (originally published October 19, 2021).
The name sounds cute, but the patou is not a domestic animal like the others. It is above all a working dog, trained since birth to protect a herd. Well known to hikers who may come across them in pastoral areas. He can be aggressive, even go on the attack if he considers you a threat to his herd.
Our article on a breeder who was fined 2500 euros following the attack of his dogs on a group of hikers caused a lot of reaction. Comments that sometimes relate to aggressive behavior of patous, see bites.
They put their mouth in my neck
“The aggressive patous must be euthanized. They attacked me twice and there were between six and ten of them. There are too many dogs, especially in the national parks. Stop the hyper pastoralism” writes Pat Narcosian. “Last year, I thought my last hour had arrived. A patou and an Anatolian shepherd came slyly from behind and put their mouths in my neck…We were more than 300 meters from a herd of 1000-1500 head. After 30 minutes and the kidnapping of my pastries, they left…. No shepherd… Look for the error. In the Hautes-Alpes” adds Dominique Bourbis.
Jean-Pierre Iberti also had an encounter that he remembers. In the comments, he explains: “I found myself in front of four patous on my track, luckily I was in the car, they followed me home, I waited for them to leave to go out, but where was the herd? These dogs did not are only there to hunt the wolf, they do not herd the sheep.”
Jacques Courron is president of the FROSE (Regional Sheep Federation of the South-East). Himself a sheep breeder, he knows the patous and their behavior well. While he acknowledges that a small minority of breeders are sometimes to blame, it is above all the ignorance of users that is to blame in the incidents.
They do their job. The reaction of the walkers will generate the response of the dog.
Jacques Courron, president of FROSE
At the entrance to pastoral areas, signs announce the presence of herds. Walkers, hunters, mountain bikers must adapt their behavior. “In town, if a dog attacks you, you raise your voice, he calms down. The more pressure you put on these dogs, the more aggressive they are. They do their job. The reaction of walkers will generate the dog’s response. “
Regulations require breeders to keep these dogs to prevent wolf attacks. But for the patou, any “intruder” too close to his herd is a threat.
- Do not make sudden gestures, shout or run
- Let them sniff you
- Don’t pet them
- Don’t feed them
- Ignore them
- Do not force the passage, make a detour to avoid the herd
- Keep your dog on a leash by your side
- Do not use pepper spray.
Listen to the advice of specialist Jean-Marc Landry, author of the book “Le loup”:
To declare an incident, a form is available on the website of the French Hiking Federation of the Alpes-Maritimes for example.
According to Jacques Courron, last year in the Alpes-Maritimes eight cases of aggression were listed, two of which were serious (going as far as biting). In these cases, the animals are tested by behavioral veterinarians at the request of the prefecture to check that they are fit to work. There are 500 dogs at work in the Alpes-Maritimes and 400 in the Var.