In 1662, dogs were brought to Newfoundland by Basque fishermen as companions and protectors of the new settlement. Here they were paired with the black curly-haired retriever, a favorite of English settlers. This cross led to the formation of the Landseer (black and white) Newfoundland. In 1824, General Lafayette introduced the first pair to America by bringing two males to his friend, J.S. Skinner, author of «The Dog and the Athlete.»
In 1850, Queen Victoria of Great Britain owned a Great Pyrenees and in 1885-86 the first Great Pyrenees were registered with the Kennel Club in London and exhibited at the Crystal Palace.
Great Pyrenees belong to the category of working dogs known as Livestock Guard Dogs or LGDs. They are not herding dogs, but work full-time in the herd they are tasked with protecting. The LGD’s sole job is to protect its flock – be it a group of sheep, goats or cattle or simply the human family. «Great Pyrenees are an amazing example of behavior genetics,» says cheesemaker Marcia Barinaga of Barinaga Ranch in Marshall, California. «They’ve been protecting sheep for centuries and there’s nothing else they’d rather do.
» Despite the constant threat of coyotes and mountain lions, Barinaga has not lost to predators in the four years she has been raising sheep with the Great Pyrenees.
Unlike many other working breeds whose skills must be honed through constant training, Great Pyrenees operate primarily by instinct. Apart from socializing the dog with the pack from an early age, very little training is required to turn a young puppy into a serious and formidable guard dog. «When we brought our first dog, Big Otis, home for the first time, he walked around the pasture, climbed a hill and started guarding,» says Barinaga. «With the good dogs, they just go to work.» I love my dogs because they are so noble, so beautiful and above all,» she says, «they are professionals.»
One of the defining characteristics of Pyrenean dogs is double his coat (we just can’t stress enough about his gorgeous coat which is to die for).An alert and brave animal on the inside, yet a snowball of white fur on the outside, all thanks to his double coat of beautiful snow white hairs.
This dog’s main coat color is white, but some other colors in small combinations are also found on its skin. It is double-coated and has a coarse long outer coat consisting of long hairs. The second coat underneath is the soft inner coat and it has fine, straight and short hair.