Great Pyrenees Origin and History
The Great Pyrenees dog breed originates in the mountainous region of Southeastern Europe in the eponymous Pyrenees mountains.
In England, the breed is known as the Pyrenean Mountain Dog. The distinct, large, white breed may have descended from similar white mountain dogs known to have lived in Central Asia and even Siberia before migrating to Europe several thousand years ago.
The large dog breed we know today as the Great Pyrenees developed in France as early as the 15th century and in that country is known as Le Grande Chien des Montagnes or Le Chien des Pyrenees. The origin of the Great Pyrenees breed reveals that it likely evolved in relative isolation in the Pyrenees mountains and has been used to guard the flocks and to serve as companions for the shepherds for many hundreds of years.
Great Pyrenees Breed History Accounts of the Great Pyreness in history occur in French writings in the 1400s working as a guard and shepherd dog in the French Chateau des Lourdes. The Great Pyrenees dog breed would later develop a following in the French court as the breed would become the official Royal Dog of France in 1675 in the reign of King Louis XIV.
The breed became wildly popular in France during this time at the end of the 17th century especially among the aristocracy, although the breed continued to be used by peasants and the shepherds in the mountains.
The Great Pyrenees was not only a favorite of the French royalty, but would later find its way to England where Queen Victoria owned a Great Pyrenees dog around 1850. Earlier still, the Marquis de Lafayette brought a pair of Great Pyrenees to America with him in 1824 and gave them as a gift to a friend, J.S. Skinner. This became the first breeding pair in the United States.
The breed was eventually recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1933 and the Great Pyrenees Club of America was formed in 1935. The breed suffered some hardships during both of the world wars and efforts in both France and America were made to maintain the Great Pyrenees dog breed. Though not the most popular breed, the Great Pyrenees is a favorite among lovers of large breed dogs and is found throughout the United States.
The AKC recently ranked them as the 57th most popular dog registered in the United States. The Great Pyrenees dog continue to work guarding livestock though they wonderful companion pets as well. Additionalyl, Great Pyrenees have found work as rescue dogs and, because of their great social disposition, therapy dogs for children and the elderly.