Pyrenean Mountain Dogs

History of the Pyrenean Mountain Dog

The Tibetan Dog

Tibet Dog

The ancestor of the Pyrenean Mountain Dog probably migrated from Central Asia to Europe. Fossils would point out that this breed has been living in the Pyrenees for about 4000 years since the Bronze Age. Together with the Mastin Espanol and the Mastino Napoletano, it’s a descendant of the ancient Tibetan Dog.

They are tall, impressive and have developed in the mountains of Southwest Europe as intelligent, courageous and strong dogs. With their alert senses and weather-resistant fur, they were perfectly able to protect flocks against predators.

 

Madame de Maintenon

Françoise Aubigné - Madame de Maintenon

In the 17th century, they were discovered by the French nobility and were used to safeguard the castles like those of Foix, Lourdes and Carcassonne. In 1675, Madame de Maintenon, nanny of the Crown Prince, met this breed when visiting “les eaux de Barèges”. She decided to take one with her to Paris. This tall white dog is admired at the court of the Sun King, where he receives the noble distinction of “royal dog”.

The Pyrenean Mountain Dog was present on the first French dog show in 1863. Very few of these dogs were seen outside their country of origin before 1930. As from then on, several high quality breeding dogs were exported to North America and England.

The XIXe Century

As from the end of the nineteenth century, the Pyrenean Mountain Dog appeared to be more seldom in the Pyrenean Mountains as a result of the scarcity of predators who made his presence necessary. In recent decades, the natural return or reintroduction of wolves, bears, lynx and the increase of deadly attacks by stray dogs have made it necessary to reintegrate the Pyrenean Mountain Dogs in its original environment.

The Pyrs today

Berger

Today, the Pyrenean Mountain Dog is present all over the world. He is used as herdsman, a task in which he excels. He is also very appreciated for his exceptional quality as companion dog.

Pyrenean Mountain Dog Higgy du Val de Pyrène

Does this breed suit you?

You've seen these big, beautiful white dogs. You're impressed, naturally. You think you want one. This is understandable.

But... is this the breed for you?

They are not the ideal pet for everyone! The mature, sedate Great Pyrenees which you have seen did not just materialize suddenly.

It grew from a cuddly, lovable ball of fluff which at 8-12 weeks of age is most captivating. From puppyhood to adulthood is a great distance and a considerable time. As a breed they are remarkably healthy and long-lived. They have few major genetic problems and usually live to be 10–12 years old.

Pyrs combine a great intelligence with a deep devotion to family and home, and a natural-born instinct to guard and protect. While trustworthy, affectionate, gentle and tractable, they can become, when and if the need arises, protective guardians of their family and their territory. Thus, they command respect as watch dogs as well as admiration as pets.

Adult Pyrs are placid by nature and calm in the house, enjoying quiet periods in which to rest and sleep. But they are a large breed and as such are not always suited to life in a small apartment or urban setting with little yard space and lots of activity around. They want their life to be consistent and predictable.

The addition of a dog to your family is a major decision and deserves a great deal of time and thought. A Great Pyrenees is placid by nature, so despite their size, they are excellent house dogs. Yes, an adult Pyr is a beautiful, calm dog, but there are other considerations — have you thought of these?

Pyrenean Mountain Dog Jacadi du Val de Pyrène

Considerations

Are you physically able to handle a very large dog?
Basically gentle, they are strong, and during the phases of puppyhood can be a real challenge.

Does dog hair around the house bother you?
If so, forget the Pyrenees. While with routine grooming they are not much different than any other breed, they do shed and there are white hairs in Pyr homes and on Pyr people.

A Pyr needs love and attention on a daily basis. Are you and your family able to provide this?
A lonesome Pyr is a bored dog, and a bored dog can become destructive.

Are you looking for an independant dog?
Great Pyrenees are at heart guard dogs and members of the great family of livestock guardian dogs. As such, they share with them certain strong characteristics. Pyrs were bred to be left alone with the sheep up in the mountain valleys. They are a guard dog by instinct, not by training. Their basic personality is different from most breeds, since most breeds were bred to take commands from people, while Pyrs were bred to work on their own.

A Great Pyrenees is an intelligent, sometimes willful animal. They have minds of their own and are not easily obedience-trained. Things that you consider important may not be the same things your Pyrenees considers important. Many are almost cat-like, in their independence.

If you require a dog who will be a great "off-leash" companion for your outdoor activities, if you want a dog who will follow your every command, or if you want a competition obedience dog, the Pyrenees is probably not for you.

Do you have room for a Pyr?
They are large and must be confined in a well-fenced area, or they will exercise their powerful instinct to establish and patrol a large territory. When out of the fence they must be kept on lead at all times.

Are your neighbours noise sensitive?
Like all livestock guardian breeds, Great Pyrenees are barkers, especially at night. The amount of barking varies from individual to individual, but the instinct is there and in some cases can cause major problems. Most Great Pyrenees in urban or suburban settings must be kept indoors at night.

Your friends love to drop by without prior notice?
The Great Pyrenees is a guard dog and as such cannot be expected to welcome uninvited intrusions onto your property. They will accept anyone whom you invite into your home. They are not "attack" dogs, but can be very intimidating to the surprised visitor. It is an owner's obligation to maintain a Great Pyrenees so that his guarding instincts can be exercised in a responsible way.

 

Free translation of a publication of the Great Pyrenees Club of America.

Pyrenean Mountain Dog

An extraordinary personality

To understand the Pyrenean mountain dog, one must be aware what the purpose of the dog is. His physique equals the body of the shepherd, to what the sheep herd expects in the mountains.

His traits were for the same purpose applied.

His presence

The mountain dog is a watch dog who let his presence known by barking with his loud voice.

During his defense tasks the Pyrenean mountain dog must let his presence quickly know to intruders. He lets this know by his very loud voice.

Since centuries you can hear the dogs loud voice reflect by dawn in the valley. They do this by letting their presence known to each other.

What they can do in the in the mountains they can't do in the city, that's why you must avoid letting them outside before dawn. Knowing that the Pyrenean mountain dog is loud by nature it's important when choosing this race. Take this in consideration, if you don't want to abandon the dog due his loud bark.

Responsibility

While completing his tasks he will not let man or animal approach his territory. If he feels a threat he is capable of attacking, so the dog protects what is threatened.

As companion he is an excellent watchdog. He is suspicious to persons he doesn't know and very careful in unusual situations.

To this day his protective instinct has become very territorial since he protects a territory that's very well marked. He even protects more then you might expect. He thinks his territory bigger then the boarders of your house.

As result that he will have trouble of letting other dogs pass by your porch.

Pyrenean Mountain Bitch Louve du Val de Pyrène

How to choose?

A Reputable Breeder

Choose a reputable breeder instead of the pet store or a casual "backyard" breeder.

Ask to see the parents of the puppy you are interested in. It is suggested that you inquire if both parents were certified clear of hip dysplasia. Make sure the surroundings are clean and that the puppy is healthy. Look for the happy, outgoing puppy. You don't want a shy, emaciated or sickly-appearing pup. Make sure the coat carries a glossy shine, a sign of good health. There should be no discharge from eyes or nose, and a pup should stand up on strong legs and good feet.

Inquire about a breeder-buyer contract, which explains what is expected of you, the buyer, and of the breeder. Your pup should come from registered parents, should have a pedigree from the breeder, a health record showing when and what had been given in the way of inoculations and medication, and care and feeding instructions.

If you're buying a puppy, it should be at least 8 weeks old. Carefully bred and cared for Great Pyrenees puppies are not inexpensive. While prices may vary, people who sell pups for much less than the average for your area probably have not put as much time or care into the breeding or rearing of their pups.

Choice

Male or female?

This is a personal choice. The male is larger, and carries more coat, but they both show the same affection for, and protection of, their family. The bitch, unless spayed will come into season every six months, the first season is usually around a year of age. The decision as to which sex is yours.

Elevage de chien Montagne des Pyrénées du Val de Pyrène
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