To kick things off I thought we could all benefit with some background on the gentle giants that are the Great Pyrenees (Pyrs).
The oldest known record of the breed is that of its remains, which are found in fossil deposits dating as far back as the Bronze Age (1800-1000 B.C.). The breed name stems from the Pyrenean mountain range, located between France and Spain. There, the breed was put to work protecting flock and farmer alike. While a great deal of the breed’s history is in Europe, it is widely believed that the Pyr originated in Asia or Siberia and followed the Aryan people migrating into Europe. It was during the 17th century that the Pyr was adopted as the royal dog of France, due largely to its versatility as both guardian and well-mannered majestic companion dog.
Pyrs continued to spread across the globe in the 1600s, during which time they were taken to Newfoundland and mated with a black curly haired breed of dog. the cross created the Landseer Newfoundland. In Great Britain, the Great Pyrenees was once again the dog of royalty when, in 1850, Queen Victoria owned a Great Pyr. From 1886 on, the breed was referred to as the Pyrenean Mountain Dog was recognized by The Kennel Club of London. The United States of America first became acquainted with the breed in 1824, when 2 males were brought here from overseas as gifts.
Sadly, the breed was on the decline by the early 1900’s, due to bad breeding, the loss of natural predators in the mountains and the all over destruction of Europe during World War I. The restoration of the Great Pyrenees began in 1907, when the Pyrenean Mountains were combed for faultless specimens for restoring the population. In 1927, breed standards were published by Reunion des Amateurs de Chiens Pyreneans, a club that worked tirelessly to return the breed to it’s former glory. The first Great Pyrenees kennel in the United States of America was created in 1931 in Massachusetts. Breeding stock was imported from Europe just before the start of World War II. It would only be 2 years later in February 1933 that the American Kennel Club (AKC) would recognize the breed and begin creating new classes for the dogs to be shown in at licensed shows.
The Great Pyrenees today is much as it was then, still protecting flocks of various animals including but not limited to: sheep, alpaca, goats, and chickens. The breed also finds fulfillment as companion dogs, protecting families and working as service dogs in hospitals and senior living homes.
I hope you enjoyed learning a bit more about this fantastic breed., I know I did! If I missed something, you’d like to know more history or have a suggestion for a future entry, drop me a line.
Have a Pyr Love filled day!