The Pyrenean Mountain Dog, known as the Great Pyrenees in the United States, is a large breed of dog, used as a livestock guardian dog.
The Great Pyrenees is a very old breed, and has been used for millennia by shepherds, including those of the Basque people, who inhabit parts of the region in and around the Pyrenees Mountains of southern France and northern Spain. More recently, the breed served as the official dog of the royal French court (whose prominence began circa the Middle Ages, and lasted until the middle of the nineteenth century). During World War II the dogs were used to haul artillery over the Pyrenean Mountain range to and from Spain and France. They are related to several other large white European livestock guardian dogs (LGD), including the Italian Maremma Sheepdog, Kuvasz (Hungary), Akbash Dog (Turkey) and Polish Tatra or Polski Owczarek Podhalański.
Males grow to between 110–120 pounds (50–54 kg) and 27–32 inches (69–81 cm), while females reach between 80–90 pounds (36–41 kg) and 25–29 inches (63–74 cm). They live to between 10–12 years of age.
Their coats are white and can have varying shades of gray, red (rust), or tan around the face (including a full face mask), ears and sometimes on the body and tail. As Great Pyrenees mature, their coats grow thicker and the longer colored hair of the coat often fades on those dogs that were not born completely white. Sometimes a little light tan or lemon will appear later in life around the ears and face. Being a double-coated breed, the undercoat can also have color and the skin as well. The color of the nose and on the eye rims should be jet black. Grey or tan markings that remain lend the French name, "blaireau," (badger) which is a similar grizzled mixture color seen in the European badger. More recently, any color is correctly termed "Badger" or "Blaireau."
All white dogs are not preferred by top breeders for many reasons. White dogs in most breedings are less frequent. It's not unusual that breedings that result in a high incidence of all white puppies do not have the required jet black pigment on the nose and eye rims. These breeding lines are therefore not, as a rule, desirable in well-bred stock. There are generally all white puppies in most litters. This is normal and these all white puppies can be bred successfully in the hands of a competent breeder. The rear leg bilateral double dewclaws are required.
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