Entitled the Royal Dog of France by Louis XIV, the heritage of the Pyrenean Mountain Dog is believed to derive from Central Asia or Siberia, pre-dating the Bronze Age of 1800-1000 BC. Remaining in the Pyrenees mountains of France and Spain until the Middle Ages where it was traditionally employed in guarding livestock from predators, the breed was popularised by the French nobility, who favoured the Pyrenean prior to the Revolution and widely utilised it as a companion pet and guard dog of the lavish chateaux. With the outbreak of WWII, the Pyrenean Mountain Dog was applied as a dependable messenger dog and supply carrier for the French troops. It was officially recognised by the American Kennel Club in 1933.
A relative of the St.Bernard, the Pyrenean possesses a similar shape and build, with a stocky frame, wedged-shaped head with a slightly rounded crown, low-hanging ears, feathered tail and black nose and lips. The profuse double coat of the Pyrenean is common in colour deviations of white with patches of wolf-grey, pale yellow, red-brown or tan, and aided the dog's survival in bleak mountain temperatures. The modern breed can be observed as a family companion, defender of house and property, flock guardian, avalanche search and rescue and sled dog.
Unprovoked, the Pyrenean is a docile, mannered and sweet-natured dog, compatible with children and other house pets. When provoked, the breed exercises determined and imposing behaviours, strongly territorial and protective of its family when potential threat is perceived. In order to manage these traits, firm leadership and consistent training is required from puppyhood. The average Pyrenean Mountain Dog will weigh 38-45 kg with discrepancies across gender, with a life expectancy of 10-12 years when shown appropriate care.
Typically resilient, the Pyrenean is not known to suffer with any genetic diseases. Due to its large proportions, the breed is prone to bone disorders, bone cancer, luxating patellas and arthritis, as well as hip dysplasia and bloat. Bloat is a serious condition that can cause great discomfort and pose a real threat to your dog; as a preventative measure, exercising the Pyrenean on a full stomach is never encouraged. Due to its thick double coat, skin complaints can often arise in hot weather.
Do not take on a Pyrenean lightly! They are sly, manipulative and cunning and will only do something if there is something in it for them! Cookie can be wonderful but can be very naughty. I can honestly say that he is not like any other breed of dog as he will not do things to please his owners unless it pleases him. He managed to get his Bronze good citizen award but failed the silver as he just couldn't be bothered. You have to be very firm with him but at the same time know the ways to get him to do things - just ordering him won't work! He also suffers with Addisons disease where his body does not produce enough steroid to live on. He has a dose of artificial steroid every day at exactly the same time. 20 tablets a day come quite pricey! No one in the Pyrenean world will discuss this condition but he started showing signs at 6 months old and almost died after he went into kidney failure. I would urge any potential owners to do a lot of research on this breed before buying one. Cookie is a rarity in that he loves people and dogs but there is one dog by us whom he really hates and almost becomes uncontrollable when he sees it. I would dread to think how it would be if I had a Pyrenean who didn't like any dogs. Walking would be very tricky as he is very powerful. I think that speaking to other owners is probably the best way to gain the truth, the info on the breed website doesn't really give you a true insight into a Pyrenean. I realise this sounds as though I hate Cookie, I don't he's so loving when he wants to be, I just want to give the real picture, don't be fooled by the good looks!
I think every dog, like every person, has a different character; or perhaps it is because I own a female Pyrenean and she was spayed at 6 months old.
Lily is very loving, all the time, whether there is something in it for her or not. She brings toys to you to play and even her bones, which we can take out of her mouth without a fuss. She is not aggressive to other animals or people, being dogs or cats (and we have 6 cats). She, however, can look threatening to strangers approaching the house; which is just as good as we live very isolated. But once the stranger has been allowed in, she does not do anything. She is territorial with people, cars, bikes, etc. but once away from home on walks she does not bark or chase. She is actually quite timid with people, as there are hardly anybody passing by the house.
She is a barker, though, and spends hours barking at who knows what; but thankfully at night she only barks occasionally. She has selective hearing when it comes to prowling. She loves going out on very long walks, better if it is in the car. She will escape under the fence to go to the village or to roam around if she is bored, but after several times when the result was being locked up in the kennel for the rest of the day, she has learned to come back- albeit reluctantly- when called.
She is a careful eater, chews her food properly and does not eat too much at a time. We do anyway feed her three times a day smaller meals to avoid bloating. She is now 20 months old and so far she has given us no problems health wise.
She does not shed her coat and has to be brushed at least once a week. She thinks it is all a game. Once the hair is off her, it is all over like candy floss threads, sticking everywhere.
She also the amazingly self-cleaning dog. Dirt seems to come off her on its own, apart from brambles and gorse, which has to be combed out.
I do think people wanting a dog should look into the breed profile. Pyreneans are big dogs bred to be independent and spend days in the mountains taking care of sheep without human interference. They bark a lot and need plenty of room.
Pyr's are great dogs but they are stubborn and won't do anything unless it suits them or there is a reward for doing it lol! They are very loving dogs and love attention and meeting people (Milo loves children and loves to sniff the top of their head or their ears) unfortunately they don't realise how big they are and when excited they can send small children and adults flying when they decide to extend a paw to shake or to get your attention. They do love to bark and have very selective hearing they can't hear you standing next to them saying sit or stay but they can hear ants farting a mile away! They love to hog the sofa or your bed so be prepared to end up sitting on the floor while your pyr is snoring on the sofa.But having said all that I love my pyr,he's a great dog and a real character.