Pyrenean Mountain Dog
They are giant dogs used for guarding sheep, and have selected pale coats which made them clearly distinguishable from wolves, which is documented by historians as early as the second century A.D.
The Pyrenean Mountain Dog is named after the Mountain Range between France and Spain, where for centuries they have worked both as flock guardians, and to guard the chateaux and homes in that region.
The geographically isolated purebred Tibetan Mastiff may have significantly influenced the ancestry of the supposedly ancient Pyrenean Mountain Dog. However, a fact which remains less appealing to breed purists is that all the livestock guardian breeds of Europe, as their human shepherds travel great distances, have the opportunity to mate with dogs of different type in locations. The Pyrenean Mastiff, Maremma, Kuvasz and Owtcharka may be cousins not so far removed.
The Pyrenean Mountain dog is tall and elegant, commonly weighing from 50-70kg. The dense long coat is longest on the tail, thighs, behind the legs and around the neck. The thick undercoat can be spun as wool. The tail hangs low in repose, but is carried over the body in a wheel when the dog is alert. The colouring can be pure white, but actually few are born totally white. Patches of colour on the head, body and base of the tail are permissible. Coloured markings seen at birth fade to varying degrees. The major fault with colour is that of a non-standard colour; orange or brindle patches are considered extremely undesirable. The coloured dogs are known as blaireau (badger) and any black colour should not extend to the root of the hair. Jet black pigment is very important, as is the presence of two well-defined dewclaws on each hind leg.
This breed, capable of working alone, is a naturally confident dog; puppies tend to be extremely well-behaved pets until the end of their first year and then their territorial attitude comes to the fore. In public, they are rarely vocal, but at home will defend their territory against allcomers. Early socializing of puppies makes for a much gentler pet ultimately. Barking or fierceness should never be encouraged. Many experienced Pyrenean Mountain Dog owners never let their dogs off lead; they tend to wander which cannot be solved by obedience training. If the Pyrenean has something to do, they will come back later. A six-foot fence is essential for all Pyrenean owners. An extremely intelligent dog, the Pyrenean will only obey a command, or follow guidance, if they think it is a good idea. They work for kindness not food, and will usually refuse tidbits. Bribes appear to offend the Pyrenean. Similarly, emotionally disturbed Pyreneans, such as those which have been rehomed, can become anorexic.
A natural protector, Pyreneans are excellent with most household pets, livestock and also trusty companions of babies and small children. However, two male Pyreneans should never be housed together.
The Pyrenean Mountain Dog is generally extremely robust and healthy, with a lifespan of ten years common and thirteen not exceptional. They can suffer from hip dysplasia, but most recent hipscores in the UK have good results. Elbow dysplasia and ununited anconeal process are also sometimes seen; buying a puppy from hip and elbow scored parents is recommended.
Epilepsy, skin problems, entropion and heart defects have all been seen in the breed, but not in large enough percentages for UK breeders to be able to select against them. However, this breed, which has a low metabolic rate, is very sensitive to anaesthetics, and tends to require only minimum doses of most drugs.