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Great Pyrenees


Original Works of art

Group: Working
Breed Family: Great Pyrenees

From earliest times, man has relied on large and powerful dogs to protect his herds from wolves, other animal predators and human poachers. The majestic Great Pyrenees, or as he is known on the continent, the Pyrenean Mountain Dog or "Le Chien des Pyrenees," is a large white (or predominately white) ancient breed, undoubtedly descended from the Mastiff types which appear in Babylonian art. Speculation exists about the origins of the Great Pyrenees, although he is believed to have come from Central Asia or Siberia. Once in Europe, he seems to have remained in the high isolated mountain regions as the official guardian of the flocks, until medieval times, when dogs similar to him were found on bas-reliefs at Carcassonne, bearing the royal arms of France.

According to the Complete Book of Dogs, as early as 1407 the historian M. Bourdet described the regular guard of Pyrenean dogs owned by the Chateau of Lordes in 1407. They were given a special place in the sentry boxes beside the armed guards and they also accompanied the jailers on their daily rounds. Great Pyrenees were used extensively for these purposes and each large chateau boasted its own particular assemblage of dogs.

In the seventeenth century, the Great Pyrenees became a great favorite at the French court. Once accepted as a royal pet, every nobleman coveted one, and the breed became quite renowned. Today, on both the French and Spanish sides of the Pyrenean Mountains, he is still employed as a herding dog.


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