The Carea Leonés breed has its roots in the Leonese region of Spain. This region has a long tradition of farming and shepherding. It was for a long time used for transhumance of sheep, when shepherds took their sheeps to the mountains of Leon in summer and back to the lowland pastures in winter. This caused a big population of sheeps in the region of Leon and all these sheeps needed a skilled herding dogs. We do not know when exactly the Carea Leonés was developed and what were its ancestors, but it was most likely during 18th century, when similar dogs were brought to the area of Leon to herd the sheeps. They probably naturally evolved by adapting to their purpose and local environemnt from various herding dogs from neighboring regions. One of the dog that is often times mentioned as the ancestor of Carea Leonés is herding dog of Vecera village, but we can not be 100% sure about the breeds ancestry.
The one and only purpose of Carea Leonés breed is to herd the livestock. They are almost exclusively used for herding sheeps, but they can adapt to herding other animals, such as cows or horses, as well. It is 100% working dog, they are absolutely passionate and determined for herding. Their best qualities for this utilization are extraordinary intelligence, great stamina, strong body and adaptability for any kind of weather. They can work outside for all day long in any terrain and any weather without tiring. These dogs are also very brave and they do not hesitate to nip the livestock and they are absolutely loyal, not only to the shepherd, but also to the herd. Overall, it is just amazing worker.
But of course, over the time, the need for herding dogs declined and many of the Carea Leonés dogs today are not working as herding dogs and they are living the typical life of family companions. And they are great companions for active people and families. The breed is known to create extremely strong bond with its owner, but they can be little bit suspicious towards strangers. But they should never be agressive without a reason. They do not have high prey drive and can live with other dogs and other pets in the family, especially if socialized together from the puppyhood. They can also be good playful partners for kids, but you should never leave any dog breed with a very young child unsupervised.
I said, that these dogs are amazing companions for active people, and it is definitely true. These dogs are no coach potatoes. They were used for several generations for very hard work where they developed high energy and endurance. And you must work with the energy. They need daily physical, but also mental stimulation to stay healthy and happy. It can be done by daily long walks, hikes, jogs, fun training sessions and regular vigorous playtime. Of course, if they are used for herding, than no additional exercise is needed, but if they are just companion pets, you can try some dog sports with them. These dogs are extremely intelligent and they are highly and easily trainable, which, in combination with their high energy, makes them great adepts for almost any kind of a dog sport, like agility.
During the 1940s, the numbers of Carea Leones breed exploded. They were very popular in the Leonese region, they were just everywhere. But over the time, the need for working dogs declined, so as the numbers of these dogs and they were on the verge of extinction not so long ago. Since the 1980s, efforts are being made to, first stabilize, and now grow the population of this breed. The breed is almost unknown outside Spain and even in the Leonese region it is estimated that there is only few hundreads of really pure specimen of Carea Leones breed. The breed is still not recognized by any big kennel club.
As the breed was mostly bred for its function, there can be slight differences in appearance and size of individual dogs, but they are pretty standardized today. The average height is typically between 18-23 inch, which is 45-58 cm and weight between 14-32 kg, which is 30-70 lbs.
7) Australian Shepherd
Interesting fact is, that the Carea Leones is most likely one of the ancestors of one of the most famous breed in the world, the Australian Shepherd. When Spain colonized America, they brough their sheeps as well and with sheeps, they also brough various herding dog breeds, which later crossbred together and evolved into the Australian Shepherd. And it is believed, that the ancestor of Carea Leones was one of the herding dogs brought to America as well.
8) Coat and color
The Carea Leones comes in two different coat types. The first short and thick and the second semi-long, more or less smooth, being wavy in some cases. The breed typically comes in one of these three color combinations. Either all black with possible white spots, black with tan markings or harlequin color, which is black, gray and white mixed together.
The Carea Leones breed can take care of itself and there is not need for much grooming and overall maintenance. You should brush the coat from time to time to minimize shedding, remove dead and loose hair and to redistribute natural oils all over it, but no other grooming is required. This breed also do not need much bathing, only when it is really really necessary. Just like with any other breed, you should also regularly check their eyes, ears, nails and teeth and clip them or clean them if needed.
There is no documentation about the Carea Leones health, but it is very resilient and tough breed that should not suffer much from any serious health issues. Of course, just like all dogs, they can sometimes suffer from some health issues, like hip dysplasia, but it should not be very common in this breed. The average lifespan is around 13 or 14 years.