Deriving its name from the Pyrenees Mountains of France where it was traditionally utilised as a livestock guardian, the breed is thought to have originated from Siberia or Central Asia, having descended from the Hungarian Kuvasz and the Maremmano Abruzzese. Well suited to many working fulfillments, the Great Pyrenees became popular with the French nobility as a guard dog prior to the Revolution, used to protect wealthy chateaux and stable yards. Records of the Great Pyrenees pre-date the Bronze Age of 1800-1000 BC, making it one of the world's ancient breeds. During the Second World War the dog was enlisted as a message carrier, doggedly transporting its message through shellfire to reach its recipient. The Great Pyrenees was officially recognised by the American Kennel Club in 1933.
Highly distinctive in appearance, the Great Pyrenees is a powerful and broad-chested breed, possessing a domed forehead, a black nose and lips, small, low-set ears and a profuse double coat. The coat is weather-resistant, serving to protect the dog from extremes in temperature, whilst safeguarding against the daily wear and tear of farm work and rough mountain terrain. A striking resemblance is observed between the Great Pyrenees and St. Bernard, suggesting it is an early forebear of the breed. Due to the Great Pyrenees' good looks, the breed frequently appears in French films.
Only moderately active, the Great Pyrenees is low maintenance when it comes to ensuring sufficient exercise. With an inherent temperament to guard and protect, the breed makes a great watch dog, alerting its master to change or threat whilst displaying gentle and affectionate behaviours unprovoked. Highly compatible with children and other house pets, the Great Pyrenees is well suited to the domestic setting, making a great addition to active family life. On average, a healthy Pyrenees will weigh 38-45 kg depending on its gender, with a life expectancy of 10-12 years.
Most large breeds are susceptible to heart disease, with common conditions including tricuspid valve dysplasia and cardiac weakness. Orthopedic disorders are also well documented, with patellar luxation and hip dysplasia being particularly common. Additionally, the Great Pyrenees is prone to optical disorders, digestive bloat and tortion, and various cancers.