History of Great Pyrenees

 Learn about what makes them so GREAT!

Dog of the Mountains
These dogs take their name from the mountain range in  southwestern Europe, where they long have been used as guardians of the  flocks. In the United States they are called Great Pyrenees. In the  United Kingdom and on the continent of Europe, they are known as the  Pyrenean Mountain Dog. In their native France, they are Le Chien de  Montagne des Pyrenees or Le Chien des Pyrenees. Whatever the name, it is  a beautiful, primarily white dog with a "certain elegance" which for  centuries has been the working associate of peasant shepherds high on  the mountain slopes.
The breed likely descended from a group of principally white  mountain flock guard dogs that originated ten or eleven thousand years  ago in Asia Minor. It is very plausible that these large white dogs  arrived in the Pyrenees Mountains with their shepherds and domestic  sheep about 3000 BC.  In  the isolation of the Pyrenees Mountains over these millenniums, the  breed developed the characteristics that make it unique to the group of  flock guardian dogs in general and the primarily white members of that  group.
The Great Pyrenees is a lupomolossoid as opposed to a molossoid.  While there has surely been some cross-breeding over the many centuries,  the Great Pyrenees is not a mastiff nor are its lupomolossoid ancestors  principally from the mastiff family. There are other dogs of the  region, such as the Pyrenean Mastiff, and the Spanish Mastiff that fill  that description. It is no coincidence that the Great Pyrenees is  approximately the same size as the European Grey Wolf.
A Peasant's Dog
The Great Pyrenees is a mountain shepherd's dog. Over this long  period of time the Great Pyrenees developed a special relationship with  the shepherd, its family, and the flock.
In 1407, French writings tell of the usefulness of these "Great Dogs  of the Mountains" as guardians of the Chateau of Lourdes. In 1675, they  were adopted as the Royal Dog of France by the Dauphin in the court of  King Louis XIV, and subsequently became much sought after by nobility.  Having a precocious sense of smell and exceptionally keen eyesight, each  dog was counted equal to two men, be it as guard of the chateaux, or as  invaluable companion of shepherds. While their royal adoption is  interesting, the dogs main fame was from their ageless devotion to their  mountain flocks, shepherds, and shepherds' family. When not working the  flocks, you would find "Patou," as he is lovingly called, laying on the  mat in the front doorway of the shepherds' humble dwellings.
Across the Ocean
In 1662, dogs were carried to Newfoundland by Basque fishermen as  companions and guardians of the new Settlement. Here it was they became  mated with the black curly coated retriever, favorite of the English  settlers. This cross resulted in the formation of the Landseer (black  and white) Newfoundland. In 1824, General Lafayette introduced the first  pair to America by bringing over two males to his friend, J.S. Skinner,  author of "The Dog and the Sportsman".
In 1850, Britain's Queen Victoria owned a Pyrenean Mountain Dog, and  in 1885-86, the first Pyrenean Mountain Dogs were registered with the  Kennel Club in London and shown at the Crystal Palace.
In 1870, Pyrenean blood was used with that of other large breeds to  help bring back the St. Bernard after that noble dog's numbers had been  so greatly depleted by avalanches and distemper at the hospice in  Switzerland. It was not until 1909 that the first Pyrenean Mountain Dogs  were introduced into England for breeding purposes by Lady Sybil Grant,  daughter of Lord Roseberry. It was twenty-six years later (1935) that  Pyreneans were again bred in a kennel in England. At that time, Mme.  Jeanne Harper Trois Fontaines started her de Fontenay Kennel at Hyde  Heath, Amersham, later becoming well known the world over and accounting  for many exports to distant lands.
By the late 1800's and early 1900's the state of the breed  had deteriorated due to the vanishing of the natural predator foes in  the mountains and the practices of many unscrupulous breeders selling to  naive tourists through the region.
In 1907 Monsieur Dretzen from Paris, along with Count de  Bylandt of Holland and Monsieur Byasson of Argeles Gazost, formed the  Club du Chien des Pyrenées (CCP) a.k.a. Argeles Club in Argeles Gazost.  They combed the mountains for a group of "faultlessly typical"  specimens. Monsieur Dretzen took these dogs back to his kennel in Paris.  Also in 1907, the Pastoure Club at Lourdes, Hautes Pyrenées, France,  was organized to perpetuate interest in the breed. Each club wrote a  breed standard.
After the decimating effects of World War I, the breed's  numbers and quality had been severely compromised. A few dedicated  breeders, headed by Monsieur Senac Lagrange, worked to restore the breed  to its former glory. They joined together the remnants of the two  former clubs and formed the Reunion des Amateurs de Chiens Pyreneans  which still exists today. It was this club that was responsible for the  breed standard being published in 1927. This standard has served as a  basis for all current standards for the breed. After World War II, it  was again Monsieur Senac-Lagrange who took the lead in getting the breed  back on its feet from the devastating effects of the German occupation.  
First Kennel in the U.S.A.
In 1931, Mr. and Mrs. Francis V. Crane imported several  specimens to seriously launch the breed in North America with the  founding of the Basquaerie Kennels at Needham, Massachusetts. Their  lifelong efforts on behalf of the breed provided the breed with an  atmosphere in which it could thrive and prosper. They imported important  breeding stock out of Europe just before the Continent was closed by  World War II. The American Kennel Club accorded the Great Pyrenees  official recognition in February, 1933, and beginning April, 1933,  separate classification began for the breed at licensed shows.
Today the Great Pyrenees is a working dog as well as a  companion and family dog. Most of our dogs never see a show ring, but  they are trusted and beloved members in homes and may function as  livestock guardian dogs on farms and ranches. The Great Pyrenees is  proving itself very versatile, gaining fame as therapy dogs, rescue  dogs, and many activities with its human companions. They are very  social dogs in the family and get along extremely well with other  animals that belong to the shepherd, farmer, or family. They are wary of  strangers in the work environment (this includes the home). They adapt  easily to other situations such as dog shows, and make extraordinary  ambassadors for the breed in many settings such as hospitals, old age  homes, with children, etc. They have a special ability to identify and  distinguish predators or unwelcome intruders. They are nurturing of  small, young, or sick animals.
A publication of the Great Pyrenees Club of America, Inc. revised 1991, 2005
Slightly edited By Harmony Acres Farms

 Taken from Wikipedia for more Description:
Males grow to 50–59 kg (110–130 pounds) and 69–81 cm (27–32 inches),  while females reach 41–52 kg (90–115 pounds) and 66–79 cm (26–31  inches).[5] On average, their lifespan is 10 to 11 years.
The weather-resistant double coat consists of a long, flat,  thick, outer coat of coarse hair, straight or slightly undulating, lying  over a dense, fine, woolly undercoat. The coat is more profuse about  the neck and shoulders, where it forms a ruff or mane, which is more  pronounced in males so that it may fend off wolf attacks. The longer hair on the tail forms a plume. There is also feathering  along the back of the front legs and along the back of the thighs,  giving a "pantaloon" effect. The hair on the face and ears is both  shorter and of finer texture.
The main coat color is white and can have varying shades of gray, red (rust), or tan around the face (including a full face mask  and ears and sometimes on the body and tail. As Pyrenean Mountain Dogs  mature, their coats grow thicker and the longer-colored hair of the coat  often fades. Sometimes a little light tan or lemon will appear later in  life around the ears and face. The breed being double-coated, the  undercoat can also have color and the skin as well. The color of the  nose and on the eye rims should be jet black.Grey or tan markings that remain lend the French name, "blaireau",  (badger) which is a similar grizzled mixture color seen in the European  badger. More recently, any color is correctly termed "Badger" or  "Blaireau'.
One singular characteristic of the Pyrenean Mountain Dog is the unique double dewclaws on each hind leg.
In  nature, the Great Pyrenees is confident, gentle (especially with  children) and affectionate. While territorial and protective of its  flock or family when necessary, its general demeanor is of composure and  patience and loyalty. It is a strong-willed, independent and reserved  breed.  It is also attentive, quite fearless and loyal to its duties.   The Great Pyrenees' size makes it an imposing guardian.  A dog of this  breed will patrol its perimeter and may wander away if left off its  leash in an unenclosed space.  The Great Pyrenees protects its flock by  barking and, being nocturnal, tends to bark at night unless trained  against such behavior.
The Great Pyrenees can be slow to learn new commands, slow to  obey and somewhat stubborn to train.  For this reason, the breed is  ranked No. 64 (out of 79 ranks covering 131 breeds) in Stanley Coren's The Intelligence of Dogs Despite this relative stubbornness, it is quite unusual for the Great  Pyrenees to become aggressive or turn on its master. It is wary of  strangers if the person is not allowed in the house, but will settle  down if the owner of the dog seems comfortable with the stranger. This dog was originally bred to be a livestock guard dog and can still be found doing that job on farms and ranches.
When kept as a house pet  the Great Pyrenees' coat needs brushing once or twice a week. The breed  needs moderate exercise but tends to be somewhat lazy, especially in  warm weather. They particularly enjoy cold weather and snow. Like  similar breeds, some Great Pyrenees tend to drool, especially with  exercise, heat or stress.  However, this is not on a Beetoven -like scale and generally, they are not droolers. Great Pyrenees need to have their nails clipped often to avoid damage.  This breed also needs to have their teeth and ears cleaned regularly to  prevent infection. Great Pyrenees have a Double coat,  and will shed their undercoat. They shed heavily in spring, but regular  brushing will keep the shedding and the hair manageable.

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