Known as the Great Pyrenees in North America, the Pyrenean Mountain Dog is bred to guard livestock. It is a large, beautiful dog used to guard livestock. The Great Pyrenees is an old breed, first found in Europe. For many years, the breed was not appearance standardized and had two major sub-types, the Eastern, and the Western. The breed is related to several other European livestock guardians, including the Kuvasz, the Maremma Sheepdog, the Tatra, and the Akbash Dog. This breed is naturally nocturnal and is aggressive when in guard mode. It is gentle and can be trusted with young, helpless animals.
The male dogs grow to between 110 and 120 pounds and stand 27 to 32 inches. The females weigh between 85 and 100 pounds and stand 25 to 29 inches. Their average life span is 10 to 11 years. The breed has a double coat which is weather resistant consisting of a wooly, dense, fine undercoat, over which lies a coat of flat, long, thick hair which may be straight or wavy. The coat forms a type of mane around the neck and shoulders. This characteristic may be more pronounced in males. The tail forms a plume and there is feathering along the back of the thighs and the back of the front legs.
The primary coat color is white, but may also have shades of red, gray, and tan around the face. The nose and eye rims should be jet black. The Great Pyrenees is a gentle, confident dog who is affectionate with their family. They can be very protective and territorial, especially if in guard mode. This dog will patrol the perimeter and is known to wander off if not leashed. f kept as a house pet, you should brush the coat once or twice a month. They need moderate exercise but do tend to fall more into a lazy breed category, especially when the weather is warm.
The Pyrenees is a livestock guardian dog which protects any type of livestock. Many farmers will use this dog to patrol their farms protecting their livestock through the night. The dog may live among the livestock, constantly moving and keeping watch. This dog protects whatever lives in their space. They will often jump and bark at a bird of prey which gets too close to the smaller animals.
Most Great Pyrenees do not need much training in how to guard. It is instinctive. They are often life big teddy bears and are even known to guard chickens and other fowl. Most who own them have never lost an animal to prey. The dogs will bark throughout the night unless trained not to do so. They are warning off any would-be predators. They tend to sleep during the day and be awake at night since this is when they are usually working. If there are more than one, they may play together, but can be somewhat timid around other dogs.
The Great Pyrenees are bred to protect and will stand and fight even a bear while protecting their livestock. If there are more than one on a farm, you may see them patrol certain areas. For example, one may patrol the perimeter looking for predators while the other stays closer to the livestock and barn. They seem to work together to provide the best protection.
The Great Pyrenees has been around for centuries. Used primarily by shepherds, they seem to have originated in the Basque country. They were used by these people who live in and around the Pyrenees Mountains to guard their flocks of sheep. The Grand Dauphin held this breed in favor starting in 1675 and it became popular among members of the French aristocracy. By the mid-19th century, the breed consisted of two sub-types, the Western and the Eastern.
The Western Pyrenees was found around Bagneres-de-Bigorre and had a thick snout, rounded ears, hanging lips, and a black and white curly coat.
The Easter Pyrenees was a large, slender shaped dog with pointy ears and a pointed snout. It had a silk, soft abundant coat which was snow white. Often there was a black rim around the eyes. This type of Pyrenees was found in the Republic of Andorra.
The popularity of this breed really began during the Romance period when it was truly appreciated for is poise and beauty. The breed became known throughout the rest of Europe and was introduced to North American in 1824 by General Lafayette. They were then introduced to Australia in 1843 in an effort to save livestock on a farm in Hamilton.
The breed was bred to be smart and agile, able to protect sheep even on treacherous mountainous slopes. By the early 19th century, the dogs were being exported throughout France and then to the rest of the world. They are an old and distinguished breed who are experts at getting their job done.