Origin and brief history
The Great Pyrenees breed has a long history stretching back to the 15th century and has been used extensively in the mountain towns around South France and North Spain as guard dogs. They are usually used to protect livestock due to their guardian instincts and nocturnal behavior. From the early 18th century nobles in the French courts began keeping and breeding them as house dogs. The animal was later imported from these mountainous areas over to the U.S.A. where they are usually still used to guard property and other animals.
This breed has a natural instinct to guard smaller animals and so can be left alone with other pets without the worry of them attacking or killing them. They are very good with children whom they seem to consider one of their packs and so they fit in well in family households which have other pets such as cats and children. The breed of often considered lazy due to their low level of daytime activity but this is mainly due to them being mainly nocturnal. They are overall a gentle breed but are territorial and very protective which can lead to high levels of night time barking.
The coat of the Great Pyrenees is very thick and needs brushing twice a week to keep matting down to a minimum and depending on how often the animal is outside baths should 4 – 6 times per year with many owners preferring to wash them on a monthly basis. Particular attention needs to be paid to the nail length as with the dogs double dew claw( see below) allowing them to grow too long can impede the animals ability to move around.
Specification of breed
These are a very large breed with the males reaching 130 pounds and 39 inches tall with the females being about 20 pound and 6 inches smaller. They have long hair which also produces a fluffy tail and pronounced mane on the head. This coat is made up of two layers and is generally white or a very light grey with coloration (if any) often appearing on the face and neck. Unlike other dog breeds the Great Pyrenees has a double dew claw on the hind legs which is thought to assist the dog in high mountains.
As the animal is mainly nocturnal and territorial the owner must be ready to train the dog not to bark during the night (although this can be hard due to the breeds stubbornness) These dogs can be wary around new people and may need to be assured the person is a friend. There are no serious illnesses or hereditary disease to worry about and the breed can be expected to live a good 9-12 years.
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