The Great Pyrenees (known by this in North America) or Pyrenean Mountain Dog, is a large dog breed used as a livestock guardian. This is an old breed that has been used by shepherds for hundreds of years. This includes those shepherds of the Basque People who live in parts of the region in and around the Pyrenees Mountains of Southern France, and northern Spain. In the 19th century with the birth of Romanticism, is when the real spread of the Great Pyrenees out of its mountains occurred. The breed gained fame in the rest of Europe, first because of its beauty and poise, and then by its innate temperamental qualities. In 1824 the Great Pyrenees was introduced into America by General Lafayette. They were introduced in Australia in 1843 to save herds on a farm in Hamilton.
The Great Pyrenees’ expression is that of a kind, while regal expression, and possess a keen intelligence. The height at the withers for the male is 27-32 inches tall, and for the females is 25-29 inches tall. Males grow to 110-120 pounds, while the females grow to 85-100 pounds. The head of the dog is not heavy in proportion to the size of the dog, and is wedge shaped with a slightly rounded crown. His eyes are medium in size, set slightly obliquely, rich dark brown and are almond shaped. His ears should be v-shaped with rounded tips, small to medium in size, and set on at eye level. They are normally carried low, flat, and close to the head. The muzzle of the dog is approximately equal in length to the back of the skull, and the width and length of skull are approximately equal. A scissor bite is preferred with the breed but a level one is acceptable. The Great Pyrenees tail is well plumed, carried low when unaroused, and may be carried over the back when aroused. This breed has a weather resistant double coat. The outer coat consists of coarse, flat, thick, and is straight or slightly undulating. The undercoat is dense, fine and woolly. The main coat is white and can have various markings of badger, gray, reddish brown, or various shades of tan around the face, ears, and sometimes on the body and tail.
This breed is gentle (especially with children), confident, and affectionate. While his general demeanor is composed, patient, and loyal, he is territorial and protective of his flock or
family when necessary. This is an independent, reserved, and strong-willed breed. He is also loyal to his duties, fearless and attentive. His size makes him an imposing guardian, and a dog of this breed will patrol his perimeter and may wander away if left in an unenclosed space off its leash. Unless trained to prohibit such behavior, the breed tends to bark at night because it is nocturnal and was bred to protect its flock by barking. This breed can be slow to obey, and learn new tricks. He can also be somewhat stubborn to train, however despite this stubbornness, it is generally unusual for the dog to become aggressive or turn on its owner.
The lifespan of the breed is 10-11 years. Some common health issues with the breed include hip dysplasia, patellar luxation, bloat, bone cancer, and may develop skin problems in hot weather. Otherwise the breed is generally healthy.