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Basque breeds and cultivars: Wikis


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The location of the Basque provinces within Europe
A Latxa ewe

There are a number of Basque breeds and cultivars. These are domesticated animals that have been bred - or plant species cultivated - for particular traits and features by Basque people in the Basque Country.

Some, such as the Alano Español, are not originally Basque but have only survived in the Basque Country.


Basque breeds


Azpi Gorri

The Azpi Gorri is a breed of goat found in the Gorbeia region between Álava and Biscay, the Encartaciones, Anboto and Aramotz in Biscay. With less than 100 animals, it is considered an endangered rare breed.[1]


The Basco-béarnaise (also encountered under the name Vasca Carranzana[2]) is a sheep breed from the Northern Basque Country and Bearn. Its characteristics are long, white wool, curved horns, weighing up to 80kg. It is mainly a dairy sheep and the milk (7.42% fat content, 5.39% proteins) is used to make the AOC Ossau-Iraty cheese.

Basque Shepherd Dog

A Basque Shepherd Dog

The Basque Shepherd Dog (pastor vasco in Spanish, artzain txakurra in Basque)is a dog breed common throughout the Basque Country.


A Betizu cow with calf

The Betizu is a cattle breed characterised as bein agile, with a large head and a rectangular profile.

Encartaciones Donkey

The Encartaciones Donkey is the smallest Iberian donkey breed with males weighing between 170kg to 210kg and females 140-190kg and not much talled than 120cm.


Latxas in Álava

The Latxa (IPA: [latʃa]), also encountered as lacha in the Spanish spelling is a Basque dairy sheep. They are mostly bred in Biscay, Gipuzkoa and Navarre for their milk which is used in the production of Idiazábal and Roncal cheeses.

A medium to small sheep with a fairly coarse wool.


File:Pottoka samalda Aralar.jpg
Pottokas on the Aralar Mountains

The Pottoka (IPA: [po'coka]) is an ancient but endangered breed of mountain horse. They are small horses with a large head, small ears, short neck, long back, shaggy mane and small hooves. Originally these roamed the Basque Pyrenees in a semi-feral state but today many are stabled.

Basque cultivars

Alubia pinta alavesa

Alavan pinto beans

The Alavan pinto bean is a type of common bean.

Basque apple cultivars

An exhibition of apple cultivars at the Igartubeiti baserri in Ezkio-Itsaso

Apple growing has a long history in the Basque Country, in particular for use in making Basque cider. The earliest written records on cider making and drinking go back to the 11th and 12th century, the very first being a record of Sancho III of Navarre sending an envoy to the Monastery of Leire in 1014 who mentions apples and cider-making. The other is the circa 1134 diary of the pilgrim Aymeric Picaud included in the Codex Calixtinus who mentions the Basques being notable for growing apples and drinking cider. The 16th century inquisitor Pierre de Lancre also refers to the Basque Country as "the land of the apple".

Many varieties exist and are used for making cider. Azkue's dictionary alone, which was printed in 1905, lists more than 80 Basque varieties of apples[3]. Depending on the desired character of the finished cider, different varieties and proportions of apple varieties are used. Some common varieties include:

  • Errezila, sharp and sweet (mottled green), the most common Basque apple variety
  • Geza miña, sharp; also called sagar zuria and esnaola sagarra (green)
  • Goikoetxea, sharp (red)
  • Mokoa, sharp (red)
  • Mozoloa sweet and fresh (green)
  • Patzuloa, sweet and fresh (light green)
  • Txalaka sour and sweet (bright green)
  • Ugarte, sour (red)
  • Urdin sagarra, sharp (apple red on top and green underneath)
  • Urtebi txikia, sharp (yellow-green)

Pelua cherries

Pelua cherries are an early Basque black cherry cultivar.[4]

Xapata cherries

Xapata (IPA: [ʃa'pata]) cherries are a variety of black cherry with a very short fruiting season, lasting only a few weeks around June. They are cultivates mainly in the area around the Lapurdian town of Itxassou.[5]

Pyrenean breeds

Several breeds of animals are common both in the Basque Country and other regions straddling the Pyrenees.


A group of Pirenaica in the Baztan Valley

The Pirenaica is a breed of cattle found in the Basque Country, Aragon and Catalonia. There were more than 4000 Pirenaicas in the Basque Autonomous Community in 1995 and the breed is not considered endangered.[6]

See also


  1. ^ Euskal Abereak [1] Society for Basque Breeds, retrieved 16.11.2009
  2. ^ Desilva, U. & Fitch, J. Breeds of Livestock [2] retrieved 15.05.2009
  3. ^ Azkue, RM. Diccionario Vasco-Español-Francés 1905
  4. ^ Arbelbide, N. Gorri, lodi, azukretsu, txiki, beltz... Berria: 2006 [3] Retrieved 12.11.2009
  5. ^ Kurlansky, M. The Basque History of the World Vintage: 2000 ISBN 0-09-9284138
  6. ^ Nekanet [4] Agricultural Network of the Basque Country, retrieved 16.11.2009


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