The Great Pyrenees is a large, majestic, mostly white dog with a black nose and dark eyes. This is a dog of medium substance, slightly longer than tall. The topline is level, and the chest is fairly broad.
The head is wedge-shaped with a slightly rounded skull and no apparent stop. The head should be well-balanced and in good proportion to the rest of the dog. The medium-sized ears are pendant. The almond-shaped eyes are dark brown with a thoughtful, intelligent, dignified expression. The nose and eye rims are black, and the tight-fitting lips must have black pigment. Where the hair from the upper face meets that on the lower face, a characteristic line is formed. The teeth ideally meet in a scissors bite, but a level bite is permitted.
The mostly white coat may include some areas of yellow, badger (a combination of gray and yellow hairs), reddish brown, tan, or gray. The configuration of these non-white areas is not important, but no more than one-third of the coat on the body should be non-white. The thick double coat is even thicker around the neck and shoulders, forming a mane that can be quite pronounced in males. The backs of the legs are feathered and the long, plumed tail reaches at least to the hocks, curling upward at the end in the "shepherd’s crook." Unlike some other breeds, the Great Pyrenees’ rear double dewclaws are actually boned and functional—they should definitely not be removed. History:
The imposing Great Pyrenees, also known as the Pyrenean Mountain Dog, has guarded his masters’ flocks from predators for centuries in the rugged Pyrenees Mountains between France and Spain that give the breed its name. The first large white livestock guardian dogs likely arrived in the Pyrenees from the Middle East as long ago as 3000 BC, accompanying migrating shepherds and their flocks.
In 1675, the Great Pyrenees was named the Royal Dog of France, where it gained popularity with nobles as an estate guardian. In the 1850s Queen Victoria owned one, but by the end of the nineteenth century, the breed had gone into decline. A group of French enthusiasts rebuilt the breed at that time, and two clubs were formed, each with its own standard.
The two world wars took a heavy toll on the Great Pyrenees, but dedicated breeders rallied to restore the breed after each war. The first serious breeding program in the United States was established in the 1931, and the AKC granted recognition in 1933. Today you will still find Great Pyrenees working as livestock guardians and as valiant, trusted companions and protectors of the home and family. They have also become successful therapy dogs.