Description: The Great Pyrenees is a large, shepherding dog. The dog will be between 27 and 32 inches at the withers and will weigh up to 110 pounds. The bitch is a little smaller, measuring 25 to 29 inches and with a weight of 80 to 100 pounds. This dog has a medium long double coat consisting of a dense under layer and a coarse, weather proof guard coat. The Great Pyrenees has a double dew claw on the hind feet. This dog can live for 9 to 12 years. The Great Pyrenees is also known as the Pyrenean Mountain Dog and Chien de Montagne Pyrenees.
History: The original stock that led to the Great Pyrenees probably came from Eastern Europe or Asia. The ancestors of the Great Pyrenees are the Maremmano and the Hungarian Kuvasz. This dog was used in the Pyrenees Mountains of Spain and France for nearly 5,000 years as a herding dog. It was not until the 19th century that the breed became known to the outside world. The Great Pyrenees was used not to herd sheep in the way a Border Collie will, but to live with the sheep and provide protection against wolves and bears.
Temperament: While the Great Pyrenees becomes attached to its human family, it will always be a somewhat independent dog. It will never be as needy of affection as most dogs because it was bred to stay with the sheep and protect them. Older children are recommended for this dog breed. This dog had to be able to make decisions on its own, without human direction. The Pyrenees is very protective of its human companions as well as any sheep it has in its charge. This dog needs a strong leader and must be trained while young, as it is very strong when adult and can be difficult to control if it does not understand its limits. This dog has a tendency to wander.
Health Issues: The Great Pyrenees can suffer from hip dysplasia, as can most large dog breeds. This breed is also subject to bloat or stomach torsion. Symptoms of this will be acute discomfort and attempts at vomiting that are unproductive. The dog must be given medical attention at once to save its life. Smaller meals and a rest time after eating are thought to help prevent bloat.
Grooming: The coat of the Great Pyrenees should be brushed out several times a week and should be checked for burrs and other debris. The under coat is shed once a year and more intensive grooming is called for at this time. As the ears are floppy and can retain moisture in the ear canal, they should be checked every week and cleaned if necessary.
Living Conditions: The Great Pyrenees is totally unsuitable for apartment living. This large dog needs space and likes to roam. While the Pyrenees gets quite attached to its human family, it is a dog that does not need intensive interaction with people. It was developed to be a guardian of sheep in isolated pastures and carried on most of its work without the presence of a human. This dog loves cold weather and enjoys being outside in winter.
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