Background and History
A giant dog – – protect dogs – Central Asian flock guardians – similar dogs in the Pyrenees since the Bronze Age – back in business – records of large white guardian dogs go back to 37BC – the idea being that the white color clearly identified the dogs as opposed to the predators at night.
Fascinatingly cynologists and the argue that unlike most other large guardian breeds this dog has no Moloussus (mastiff) heritage, but is rather descended almost directly from European wolves (and is indeed around the same size as a European wolf).
Populairty of this dog burgeoned when Louis XV in 1675 established these dogs in court and was so impressed with them declared the Great Pyrenees as the national dog of France. These dogs came down from the mountains but still up in the world as they were used by the aristocracy to patrol and guard their estates.
The Great Pyranees also became popular with some travellers. It is believed that this breed was transported to Canada in the late 17th century. These were cross-bred with smaller curly-haired retrievers to found the Newfoundland dog breed.
It is known that Queen Victoria owned a Great Pyrenees around 1850, but it was not until 1903 that any attempt to officially breed this dog was put in place
Meanwhile, i n France with the decline of their main antagonists, the wolf, so did the popularity of this breed. This was exacerbated by the decimation of World War 1.
Others argue that as the breed dwindled in the nineteenth and early twentieth century some cross-breeding with Mastiffs took place to help rescue this large breed, but what is certain is that Club du Chien des Pyrenées (CCP) in 1907 commited to restoring the breed by exhaustively searching for any remaining good examples that still roamed the mountainsides guarding their flocks.
By 1927 the foundation of the Great Pyrenees was secured with the establishment of a breed standard. Their popularity gained another boost with thIn WW2 there robust reliability and adaptability to difficult mountainous terrain also led them to employment as messenger dogs .
But before the outbreak of war this attractive breed was brought to the United States where they gained official recognition by the AKC in 1933. Today the Great Pyrenees is ranked as the 63rd most popular breed in America (according to 2021 AKC registration data).
Character and Temperament
White and fluffy but behind the cuteness you will find a powerful guard dog
Very affectionate – gentle – Occasionally can be aggression between male dogs
Guardian breed so they are very independent – they love to patrol – can be frightening shoudl anyone unkonwn approach their territory or home.
Be aware that these dogs are most definitely barkers – so this may upset neighbours in places where housing is packed together.
Friendly towards people – like the English Mastiff a reluctant biter in respect of people – deter through barking and using their bulk.
Very good hunters – often will follow scent
These dogs like to roam and hate being confined in any way
Good with other animals – bond and protect any in their herd.
These dogs enjoy the cold and windy climate
For the different stages in a puppy and adult dog’s development please click here.
Linked Hybrid Breeds:
The Bullmastiff, along with its parent breed the English Mastiff, has unfairly gained the reputation for not being intelligent or being ‘stubborn’. This is not the case, and the Bullmastiff can be trained to a good standard.
Dogs are never actually ‘stubborn’ in human terms rather some find it harder to understand ‘the point’ of what is being asked of them. The Bullmastiff was bred to be single-minded and determined in the pursuit of intruders, and this can sometimes mean they take a little more time and patience to learn commands.
But a training approach based around positive reinforcement will always pay dividends with this gentle breed. The Bullmastiff is always very eager to please and keep their owners happy. This means that they will usually be obedient to their owners.
The Bullmastiff is usually friendly towards other dogs on walks and in the park. But it is important that they attend puppy socialization classes in order that they learn to be respectful to other dogs particularly as they gain size and bulk.
These dogs are naturally very friendly towards humans, but will also need to be carefully socialized in order to be good canine citizens and not jump up at people.
One training priority is ensuring that these dogs do not pull on the lead. This Bullmastiff is another breed which was expected to be independent and show initiative in chasing down any intruders. This means they can pull on the lead, but once again this can be managed through effective training.
Click here for an outline of the benefits of training. Click here for information on socializing a puppy and here for socializing an adult dog.
Ensure that an hour without eating before and after exercise to avoid bloat (see lifespan and health).
You can see how this dog was adopted by royalty with a majestic appearance and regal elegance this beautiful dog is guaranteed to turn heads.
Extra toes at the back of their paws to faciliate them backing up mountains while remaining watchful of the sheep
Coat and Grooming
A long coat – these dogs belong outside – the undercoat does shed –
Lifespan and Health
The lifespan of this breed is usually between around 10-12 years.
This dog is victim to some of the conditions sadly associated with larger breeds of dogs.
These include coronary heart disease, hip and elbow dysplasia, gastric torsion (bloating) bone and other cancers. Some also are prey to allergies and skin conditions as well as eye conditions such as entropion.