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Great Pyrenees (Working Group)

The Great Pyrenees is one of the largest members of the Working Group. An imposing animal, one that was bred to be a guardian, is highly devoted to its family and very suspicious of unknown strangers, both human and animal. So long as the Great Pyrenees is not provoked it remains a calm, loving, and very well-mannered canine. Only strong minded, dominant owners should raise one of these dogs.

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A Brief History Of The Great Pyrenees

Great Pyrenees dogs originated from France. It’s function was to guard sheep. Researchers suggest that the breed descended from an original flock of guard dogs. These dogs were all white, from Asia Minor, some 10,000 years B.C.

Nomadic shepherds migrated to the Pyrenees Mountains sometime around 3,000 B.C., bringing their guarding dogs with them, thus creating the basis of today’s Great Pyrenees. These dogs maintained themselves as superb livestock guardians for centuries to come.

Just before the end of the 1600s, the breed became a favorite among the French Nobility and were heavily requested in the court of Louis XIV. In 1675, Louis XIV publicly announced that this dog was to be known as the Royal Dog of France. It was at this same time that the dogs arrived in Newfoundland.

In 1824, the first Pyrenees is documented to have arrived in the United States by General Lafayette. However, over the next 75 years the breed had lost all popularity in France and could only be found working as useful guardians in small, isolated areas. Interest in the breed remained low and they had all but became instinct in England.

Sometimes in early 1930s, enthusiasts of the Great Pyrenees started a heavy breeding program, importing hundreds of dogs to the United States. In 1933, the AKC officially recognized the breed which helped boost the dog’s popularity with new owners.

Upkeep Requirements For The Great Pyrenees

The Great Pyrenees must have plenty of daily exercise to keep in shape. However, these needs are not excessive and can easily be met with a few brisk walks on the leash. They absolutely love to hike so if you live in an area with nature trails or hills, you have the ideal setting for raising this dog.

This breed can live outside if need be, especially in cold temperatures. However, they are not suited to withstanding hot weather. When sleeping it is best to keep them inside at night with the rest of the family. Grooming requirements call for a thorough brushing, once per week – daily during shedding season. Great Pyrenees dogs also have a habit of drooling.

Health Concerns

The average life span of a Great Pyrenees dog is between ten and twelve years. Major health problems that run common in the breed are patellar luxation and CHD. Minor issues include panosteitis, OCD, osteosarcoma, chondrodysplasia, entropion, skin problems, and cataracts. Veterinarians suggest that these dogs get tested for potential eye, knee, and hip problems.