Let’s Talk Breed Education!
HISTORY OF THE
GREAT PYRENEES BY GREAT PYRENEES CLUB OF AMERICA A publication of the Great Pyrenees Club of America, Inc. revised 1991, 2005
DOG OF THE MOUNTAINS These dogs take their name from the mountain range in south- western Europe, where they long have been used as guardians of the flocks. In the United States they are called Great Pyrenees. In the United Kingdom and on the continent of Europe, they are known as the Pyrenean Mountain Dog. In their native France, they are Le Chien de Montagne des Pyrenees or Le Chien des Pyrenees. What- ever the name, it is a beautiful, primarily white dog with a "certain elegance" which for centuries has been the working associate of peasant shepherds high on the mountain slopes. The breed likely evolved from a group of principally white mountain flock guard dogs that originated ten or eleven thousand years ago in Asia Minor. It is very plausible that these large white dogs arrived in the Pyrenees Mountains with their shepherds and domestic sheep about 3000 BC. There they encountered the indige- nous people of the area, one of which were the Basques, descendants of Cro-Magnon Man. In the isolation of the Pyrenees Mountains over these millenniums, the breed developed the characteristics that make it unique to the group of flock guardian dogs in general and the primarily white members of that group. The Great Pyrenees is a lupomolossoid as opposed to a molos- soid. While there has surely been some cross-breeding over the many centuries, the Great Pyrenees is not a mastiff nor are its lupomolos- soid ancestors principally from the mastiff family. There are other dogs of the region, such as the Pyrenean Mastiff, and the Spanish Mastiff that fill that description. It is no coincidence that the Great Pyrenees is approximately the same size as the European Grey Wolf. A PEASANT'S DOG The Great Pyrenees is a mountain shepherd's dog. Over this long period of time the Great Pyrenees developed a special relation- ship with the shepherd, its family, and the flock. In 1407, French writings tell of the usefulness of these "Great Dogs of the Mountains" as guardians of the Chateau of Lourdes. In 1675, they were adopted as the Royal Dog of France by the Dau- phin in the court of King Louis XIV, and subsequently became much sought after by nobility. Having a precocious sense of smell and exceptionally keen eyesight, each dog was counted equal to two men, be it as guard of the chateaux, or as invaluable companion of shepherds. While their royal adoption is interesting, the dogs main fame was from their ageless devotion to their mountain flocks, shepherds, and shepherds' family. When not working the flocks, you would find "Patou," as he is lovingly called, laying on the mat in the front doorway of the shepherds' humble dwellings. ACROSS THE OCEAN In 1662, dogs were carried to Newfoundland by Basque fish- ermen as companions and guardians of the new Settlement. Here it was they became mated with the black curly coated retriever, favorite of the English settlers. This cross resulted in the forma- tion of the Landseer (black and white) Newfoundland. In 1824, General Lafayette introduced the first pair to America by bringing over two males to his friend, J.S. Skinner, author of "The Dog and the Sportsman". In 1850, Britain's Queen Victoria owned a Pyrenean Moun- tain Dog, and in 1885-86, the first Pyrenean Mountain Dogs were registered with the Kennel Club in London and shown at the Crystal Palace. In 1870, Pyrenean blood was used with that of other large breeds to help bring back the St. Bernard after that noble dog's numbers
had been so greatly depleted by avalanches and distemper at the hospice in Switzerland. It was not until 1909 that the first Pyre- nean Mountain Dogs were introduced into England for breeding purposes by Lady Sybil Grant, daughter of Lord Roseberry. It was twenty-six years later (1935) that Pyreneans were again bred in a kennel in England. At that time, Mme. Jeanne Harper Trois Fon- taines started her de Fontenay Kennel at Hyde Heath, Amersham, later becoming well known the world over and accounting for many
exports to distant lands. RECONSTITUTION
By the late 1800's and early 1900's the state of the breed had deteriorated due to the vanishing of the natural predator foes in the mountains and the practices of many unscrupulous breeders selling to naive tourists through the region. In 1907 Monsieur Dretzen from Paris, along with Count de Bylandt of Holland and Monsieur Byasson of Argeles Gazost, formed the Club du Chien des Pyrenées (CCP) a.k.a. Argeles Club in Argeles Gazost. They combed the mountains for a group of "faultlessly typical" specimens. Monsieur Dretzen took these dogs back to his kennel in Paris. Also in 1907, the Pastoure Club at Lourdes, Hautes Pyrenées, France, was organized to perpetuate interest in the breed. Each club wrote a breed standard. After the decimating effects of World War I, the breed's num- bers and quality had been severely compromised. A few dedicated breeders, headed by Monsieur Senac Lagrange, worked to restore the breed to its former glory. They joined together the remnants of the two former clubs and formed the Reunion des Amateurs de Chiens Pyreneans which still exists today. It was this club that was responsible for the breed standard being published in 1927. This standard has served as a basis for all current standards for the breed. After World War II, it was again Monsieur Senac-Lagrange who took the lead in getting the breed back on its feet from the devastat-
ing effects of the German occupation. FIRST KENNEL IN THE U.S.A.
In 1931, Mr. and Mrs. Francis V. Crane imported several speci- mens to seriously launch the breed in North America with the founding of the Basquaerie Kennels at Needham, Massachusetts. Their lifelong efforts on behalf of the breed provided the breed with an atmosphere in which it could thrive and prosper. They imported important breeding stock out of Europe just before the Continent was closed by World War II. The American Kennel Club accord- ed the Great Pyrenees official recognition in February, 1933, and beginning April, 1933, separate classification began for the breed at licensed shows. Today the Great Pyrenees is a working dog as well as a compan- ion and family dog. Most of our dogs never see a show ring, but they are trusted and beloved members in homes and may function as livestock guardian dogs on farms and ranches. The Great Pyrenees is proving itself very versatile, gaining fame as therapy dogs, rescue dogs, and many activities with its human companions. They are very social dogs in the family and get along extremely well with other animals that belong to the shepherd, farmer, or family. They are wary of strangers in the work environment (this includes the home). They adapt easily to other situations such as dog shows, and make extraordinary ambassadors for the breed in many settings such as hospitals, old age homes, with children, etc. They have a special ability to identify and distinguish predators or unwelcome intruders. They are nurturing of small, young, or sick animals.
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GREAT PYRENEES THE
1. Where do you live? What do you do “outside” of dogs? 2. In popularity, Great Pyrenees currently rank #66 out of 192. Does the average person in the street recognize him? Is this good or bad when it comes to placing puppies? 3. Few of these dogs really “work” anymore. How has he adapted to civilian life? What qualities as an unmatched livestock guardian also come in handy around the house? 4. A big strong Working dog requires a special household to be a perfect fit. What about the breed makes him an ideal companion? Any drawbacks? 5. What special challenges do Great Pyrenees breeders face in our current economic and social climate? 6. At what age do you start to see definite signs of show-wor- thiness (or lack thereof)? 7. Carting a big, heavy dog (or dogs) to shows is not for the faint of heart. What is it that makes it all worthwhile? 8. What is the most important thing about the breed for a novice to keep in mind when judging? 9. What is your ultimate goal for the breed? 10. What is your favorite dog show memory? 11. Is there anything else you’ d like to share about the breed? Please elaborate. TERRIE STROM My name is Terrie Strom of R Pyr Great Pyrenees. I live on 2.5 acres just north of Santa Bar- bara. I started showing in 1997 and breeding in 2001. This is the only breed I’ve owned. I have over 70 AKC Champions. I love this breed like no other. My passion is showing my dogs and I enjoy helping new comers show their dogs. It makes me happy when families get their puppies from me and I can help bring them the same joy I have gotten from this wonderful breed. I live in Arroyo Grande, California. Outside of dogs, I man- age my property. Does the average person in the street recognize the breed? No, the average person does not know the breed. I am glad this is not a popular breed and it is not about placing puppies. It is about educating people before they get a Great Pyrenees puppy. When they don’t recognize the breed it is an opportunity to edu- cate them and then stimulate interest in the breed. How has the breed adapted to civilian life? I get a lot of calls from families that have small ranches so they are looking for a guardian. Some families that have smaller dogs and children are
looking for a guardian because of the coyotes that are coming into the city areas. These dogs are the family pet and still do a job. More and more I get inquiries for therapy dogs. This is a perfect fit. They are calm and love to be petted. What about the breed makes them an ideal companion? Because of their calm nature they make a good family pet. They are good with kids and other pets. They do well inside or outside but they still need exercise. A couple of good walks a day is good for both the dog and walker. Their size can be a drawback. They eat less than you would expect and have very good health over- all. The biggest drawback is their barking especially if you have neighbors that are not dog friendly. They need to be brushed each week which is good bonding time. What special challenges do Great Pyrenees breeders face in our current economic and social climate? I think in some ways our society is less tolerable of dogs. In one hand they want the companion but on the other they don’t have the time to care for them. If you do not spend time with your dog, you will have behavior issues. Breeders are becoming a thing of the past. There are so many rules and regulations for owning, keeping, and breeding dogs that now no one wants to be bothered. Then you have all the dogs in shelters and responsible breeders are get- ting a bad rap. The challenge of Great Pyrenees is their size. I am a small breeder with limited litters each year. Their size limits my numbers. At what age do I start to see definite signs of show-worthi- ness? At eight weeks you can see a lot. Then I see more when they go to their first show at six months. What is it that makes showing dogs all worthwhile? Show- ing is my passion. Showing brings a bond to me and my dogs. The best way I can describe it is when you are showing your dog and everything clicks. It all comes together and you are a team. Like in golf when you hit the “sweet” spot and your ball just flies down the fairway. Who cares what your score is. You know you hit it just right and it felt good. You know when you and your dog are in sync. It feels good. You hope that you win but no mat- ter what you walk away knowing you and your dog did great. That’s why I show. The wins are secondary. What is the most important thing about the breed for a nov- ice to keep in mind when judging? That they can do the job in which they were bred to do. Not the most showy dog. My ultimate goal for the breed? Keeping true to their function. We still use that today. This would include health and temperament. My favorite dog show memory? Finishing my first bred-by dog out of the bred-by class going Best of Breed over top Spe- cials 18 years ago and four of us gals and nine Pyrs traveling from California to Massachusetts for our National. Oh how we laughed! “You can’t have just one” The work is great but the rewards are greater.
“THE BEST WAY I CAN DESCRIBE IT IS WHEN YOU ARE SHOWING YOUR DOG AND EVERYTHING CLICKS.”
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Great Pyrenees Q& A
RHONDA DALTON I have owned, trained, shown and bred Great Pyrenees for 35 years. I am currently the President of the Great Pyrenees Club of America and the Training Director for Princeton Dog Training Club. I purchased my first dog as an Obedience dog. Since Pyrs are not often shown in Obedience, I was encouraged to try confor- mation shows. My first dog, Apollo, completed his Champion- ship at the first Regional Specialty I attended and earned his CD before the age of two. He went on to train for his CDX and become an amazing therapy dog. The rest is history. With very limited breeding, I have finished 30 Champions, three CD’s, and three Rally Novice Titles. I breed once in awhile, when I want a new puppy and to continue my line of dogs. For Thanksgiving I am expecting a litter of at least seven puppies from 23 year old frozen semen, a breeding I have been waiting a very long time for. I live in New Jersey. Outside of dogs, most of my life revolves around dogs and my family. Between training and showing my dogs, being the current president of the Great Pyrenees Club of America and training director for Princeton Dog Training Club, there isn’t much time for anything else. When I get a chance, I enjoy going to concerts with my husband. Does the average person in the street recognize the breed? No, most people think they are white Newfoundlands or Saint Bernards. I don’t think it really has an affect on placing puppies. Great Pyrenees are not for everyone. Those who want them have usually met one. I have to disagree the statement that few of the dogs really “work” anymore. I believe that there may be more dogs work- ing than ones living with families as pets. Great Pyrenees are extremely adaptable and make amazing livestock guardian dogs as well as amazing family pets. How has the breed adapted to civilian life? Great Pyrenees are extremely intelligent dogs. They make wonderful fam- ily pets or LDG’s. Whichever life they are living, they require training. What qualities as an unmatched livestock guardian also come in handy around the house? They are devoted compan- ions who protect their families as if they were their flock. No one can sneak into your house without you knowing. What about the breed makes them an ideal companion? They make wonderful companions and service/therapy dogs. Pyrs are very intelligent and very capable of manipulating unsuspecting owners. Puppies like to dig up your yard, adults often bark too much and without a fence, all Pyrs will wonder. Pyrs also shed profusely when blowing their coats and some dogs drool more than others. What special challenges do Great Pyrenees breeders face in our current economic and social climate? As with all purebred dogs, some people don’t seem to understand the importance of purebred dogs that are bred for a purpose. The importance of inherited instinctual traits can not be understated. Without livestock guardian dogs who can think for themselves, farmers would not be able to keep herds of livestock safe. At what age do I start to see definite signs of show-worthi- ness? I start watching every move puppies make from birth. By seven weeks old I try to make my decisions and can see signs of show-worthiness. What is it that makes showing dogs all worthwhile? Show- ing my dogs is a fun activity that gives me the opportunity to spend more quality time having fun together. If I want to breed a dog, I feel I need to prove their worthiness to reproduce by becoming a champion.
What is the most important thing about the breed for a nov- ice to keep in mind when judging? Make sure to get you hands on the dogs to feel what is under that beautifully groomed coat. Many faults can be hidden by a carefully groomed coat and carefully used cosmetic products. My ultimate goal for the breed? To see all breeders use health testing to help them breed beautiful, healthy dogs, and look at the whole dog including type, soundness and temperament. My favorite dog show memory? Being able to owner-handle my home bred dog to multiple group placements and the hall of fame. Is there anything else you’d like to share about the breed? Before buying a Great Pyrenees, people need to realize that they will be very large dogs. Formal training of a puppy is extreme- ly important and must be started from the minute the puppy comes home and should minimally continue throughout the first year. If you are not going to fence your yard or keep your dog leashed, please do not get a Great Pyrenees. TERRYM. DENNEY-COMBS I have been breeding and showing Great Pyrenees since 1971. I’m working on my 100th champion at the moment. A Gold Breeder of Merit with the AKC. Under the kennel name Euzkalzale have bred generations of Top show dogs, Specialty winners, Therapy Dogs, Family dogs and Livestock guardians. I live in Hesperia California. Outside dogs as a profession is not possible because I groom dogs for a living still and have done so since 1984. Dogs are in my blood and ever since my first Pyr, which I purchased on my 21st birthday, I’ve been trying very hard to go forward with our breed being careful to preserve the distinct breed characteristics that make them stand apart. While improving soundness and health along the way. I find many people recognize the Great Pyrenees these days and most of my puppy clients are people who have owned and loved Pyrs before and want another in their lives. There is only one Pyr and he should still be able to function as a life stock guardian; he will take the things that make him one into his home and guard the people and animals around him. He is a thinker and will soon know if something could be a danger and act accordingly. He really needs to have beings to guard and be responsible for to fulfill his needs. This breed was developed by Basque shepherds which were a family type of group and the dogs also guarded homes as well as flocks. They are excellent to live with and adapt well to home environments but also require good exercise to develop properly and remain strong and healthy. This is a mountain dog, capable of climbing and descending rugged terrain. Pyrs have a slow metabolism and require little food com- pared to many of the larger working dogs. Because they were developed by a people that used natural selection and ability as a guide for breeding has helped our breed have vigor. The biggest drawbacks in residential areas and small farm areas is his tendency to bark at night to let the predators know he is on duty. This can be considered a nuisance in many communities. He also is an independent dog and is not easily bent to any per- son’s will with training; especially if he sees no need to continue doing repetitive commands. He definitely requires being on a leash when out and about. If any danger is near or his charges feel there is a danger he is right there in full gear to do what is necessary to stop any thing that is making them fearful. Many owners will have to bring the Pyrs in at night to keep within the scope of noise laws; but that is the place they want to be with their pack or human herd. They shed too. A Pyr should be aware if someone is not up to par and make very caring and gentle therapy dogs. Many have been the last
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Great Pyrenees Q& A
“He is a thinker and will soon know if something could be a danger and act accordingly.”
Terry M. Denney-Combs continued hug for humans passing over at UCLA medical center and other organizations. Many a doctor has dropped for a hug in those hall ways as well. They are especially tolerant of children and do well in library reading sessions and college exam week anxieties programs. Most Pyr breeders are small concerns—very few big ken- nels—replaced by a family caring for the dogs that are part of their lives and go to shows with all the crates, tables, etc to make the dog safe and comfortable for the day. Usually they travel very well and love to go. It is a lifestyle that all show people adapt to regardless of their breed. I believe this family raising is essential to the continued development of the breed’s overall soundness of body and mind; the most important thing to breed for to be able to put our trust in their decisions. As pups I believe eight to nine weeks is a good age to deter- mine overall conformation—my line is slow maturing and I have changed my mind on an individual after nine weeks and will usually keep two from a litter until eight months old to make a final determination. Since I am a small breeder I have kept the new generations and found retirement homes for the adults (usually by four years old) so they have a change for their own special home and I can continue through generations to develop a line of dogs without having too many dogs to care for. One of my favorite memories is my first special’s eve of retire- ment and his handler and co-owner, Karen Bruneau put a tiny little red Santa hat on his head for the first go around in the group. It was the last show of the year at Long Beach Kennel Club. He proudly strutted around the ring—it was removed to her pocket quick enough for the first lineup though as the judge gave her “the eye”. Bah humbug. I’m advancing in years and will be unable to continue my life showing Pyrs before too long and I’m sure there are many devoted fans and breeders who will carry on preserving this great dog—this Great Pyrenees. I’ve had a great run and have no regrets. One will always be by my side until I pass over as well. JOANHANOVER I live in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Outside of dogs, I shop until I drop—hunting for the special item for our regionals and National. Does the average person in the street recognize the breed? Our clients at our veterinary hospital all know them but outside of our zone they are Newfs or etc. How has the breed adapted to civilian life? Many Pyrs are working on farms but not AKC registered. Our Pyrs protect us and our home! What about the breed makes the breed an ideal compan- ion? They love life and their people they will also take off if not leashed or fenced in the city and suburbs. What special challenges do Great Pyrenees breeders face in our current economic and social climate? Finding sound dogs to introduce into our breeding program. At what age do I start to see definite signs of show-worthi- ness? Anywhere between eight weeks and three years. What is it that makes showing dogs all worthwhile? The joy of accomplishment and time well spent with our four-legged friends. What is the most important thing about the breed for a nov- ice to keep in mind when judging? They are a guardian breed. Approach as a friend and say hello first. Read the Standard.
What is my ultimate goal for the breed? Eliminate hereditary defects, promote good health and breed to the standard. PEGGYWATSON I live in Georgia. I moved here five years ago from Arizo- na. I work online from home, specifically so that I am here for my dogs. Does the average person in the street recognize the breed? In Arizona they were not often recognized, here in Georgia every- one knows what breed they are, and knows someone who has one. They are very popular as livestock dogs and pets here. Pyr rescue in Georgia has handled well over 1,000 dogs in the past seven years—popularity is not a good thing for our breed. It will make placing puppies in good homes harder than it was in Arizona I believe. Thankfully I rarely breed, only when I have to, and have great owners willing to wait for a puppy. How has the breed adapted to civilian life? Actually I believe many more of them work than show. In terms of the overall population very few of them are found in show homes with show bloodlines. They are the most common livestock guardian breed in our country, and most of them are bred from this back- ground. The show lines place a few into livestock homes, but there are really two groups—show people breeding tested stock and livestock breeders breeding either for the livestock or the pet market. A few of the livestock breeders health test, most do not. Rescue has a big job cleaning up the livestock bred Pyrs and Pyr mixes that are not placed well by their breeders. What about the breed makes them an ideal companion? He is ideal in his temperament, guarding ability and beauty. Your house will likely not be robbed, your children will have a trust- worthy companion and your neighbors will know you have a big, white dog. They are usually good house dogs and not big chewers. There are many drawbacks. The first thing I tell some- one interested in a Pyr is that they bark more than any dog you will ever own, they shed, they drool a bit, they dig and they like to try and escape—all this makes placement difficult. They are much like a 100 pound cat. You must be a calm confident leader, you must have excellent fencing, you must have a plan for bark- ing and shedding, otherwise the placement is likely to fail. What special challenges do Great Pyrenees breeders face in our current economic and social climate? Any large breed dog has larger needs and costs—veterinary costs, food costs, etc. With all the more restrictive dog laws being passed everywhere we are more limited than ever with where we can live with a kennel of Pyrs, so many Pyr kennels have died out. In terms of them in companion homes, as backyards shrink and neighbors get closer, it’s harder than ever to own a Pyr successfully in that type of home. These homes often have neighbors complaining about barking for instance. It will be interesting to see how our breed fares over the next 20 years. There are far fewer true kennels of show Pyr breeders left in this country. When I started back in 1990 I bet there were more than 50. At what age do I start to see definite signs of show-worthi- ness? I start looking at day one and make up my mind between eight to ten weeks of age. What is it that makes showing dogs all worthwhile? Well winning of course! I think we all like those faces of people who have come to a dog show and have never seen a Pyr before—the look of wonder on their faces! I love introducing people to my
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Great Pyrenees Q& A
Guardian Dogs in the United States. Great Pyrenees are very well suited to being a family member and many enjoy laying on the couches or beds in your home. The biggest drawback to liv- ing in the suburbs is the Great Pyrenees very, loud and protective bark. This is a challenge that Great Pyrenees owners encounter. The Great Pyrenees are very protective of your property, home, family members and other animals at his residence. They will even go as far as getting between strangers and children when necessary. I have recently lost my husband but I do feel very safe having my Great Pyrenees protecting me. What about the breed makes them an ideal companion? A home for a Great Pyrenees needs to be tolerant of some shed- ding, drooling and loud barking. They tend to be very stubborn as well because they are independent thinkers having been bred to guard the flocks of sheep while the shepherd slept at night. When I sell my puppies, I have it in my contract that all own- ers need to take their dogs to obedience classes. It is important that your Great Pyrenees knows who is in charge in the home (a human and not the dog). The dogs are very gentle and loving. Great Pyrenees do not have quite as much energy as a sporting or herding breed. They are very content to lay at your feet while you work or relax at home. What special challenges do Great Pyrenees breeders face in our current economic and social climate? In our current eco- nomic and social climate many people are having to downsize their homes, move to more populated areas for work or have lost their homes. This is a huge problem for our Great Pyrenees Rescues due to the number of large dogs being given up or aban- doned. It is quite the challenge for the people rescuing these Great Pyrenees dogs and all of their hard work is so appreciated. The Great Pyrenees Dog is not the right breed for everybody and it is the responsibility of the Breeders to interview the potential new owners to make sure that this is the breed for them and to be there for the life of the puppy as a resource. At what age do I start to see definite signs of show-worthi- ness)? At eight to nine weeks you can first evaluate the puppies to see their potential but usually between one to two years is when you might see more maturity in the show ring. The Great Pyrenees reach their full maturity between three to five years and you could tell if they would be a competitive Special in the Confirmation Ring. What is it that makes showing dogs all worthwhile? Going to shows with my dogs is very hard work due to the size of the animals and the size of the equipment but spending time with the dogs is always a pleasure and you always go home with the Best Dog. Having fun in the ring with my dogs is what makes it all worth it and winning is also very rewarding. My dogs always enjoy going to shows with me and they get upset if I leave them home. The ultimate goal for this breed is to keep producing our dogs to be able to do the job that they were created for and to breed for healthy and correct conformation (Breed Standard). Each time you produce puppies, the breeder is working on pro- ducing better puppies than their parents were. My favorite dog show memory is when one of my Great Pyrenees Dogs was invited to go to Westminster Kennel Club Show. Going to New York City as an Owner/Handler was so much fun. All of my Great Pyrenees Dogs have been certified to be Therapy Dogs and have visited with children, hospital patients and the elderly in Nursing Homes as well as Retirement Homes. One of my dogs is my Diabetes Service Animal and has been a very important part of my life as a diabetic for over 45 years. Great Pyrenees are very versatile and once you have one in your family it is very difficult to be without one.
breed with a beautifully groomed, well-socialized Pyr. When I compete in obedience with a Pyr, its also fun when the judges are impressed with their performance in the ring. Dragging > around all the equipment necessary for showing gets more dif- ficult with each year. What is the most important thing about the breed for a nov- ice to keep in mind when judging? I’m assuming you mean a novice, or provisional, judge. The most important thing is remembering what this breed is bred to do—they must be strong and sound. I always advise that anyone who wishes to really learn and understand our breed to refer to the photos of the original dogs and try not to fall for fashionable extremes. Pyrs should have substance, size and soundness, and the temperament to do the job. That doesn’t often transfer well to the show ring. They are NOT white Golden Retrievers and they likely will never “ask” for a win like other breeds. They are commonly aloof and while some love to show, some toler- ate it because their owners ask them to. Coats should be hard and straight and not soft. The undercoat is soft, but the hard outer coat keeps them clean and free of mats in the field. The coat’s hardness can be felt by twirling a few strands between your thumb and finger and feeling it crackle. My ultimate goal for the breed? To preserve it in its original form and not have its appearance or temperament changed to suit some extreme style in any way. I’d love to see our national club grow and do more with LGD’s and their owners and breed- ers, and think about where we want to be in the next ten years. My favorite dog show memory? There are so many it would be hard to say! Recently a young dog I bred from my last litter has won two OH BIS’s—that was thrilling! I love the cama- raderie in the OH groups. It has been a great way to meet new people. LINDAWHISENHUNT I am a very passion-
ate breeder of Great Pyr- enees dogs and have been involved with this breed for more than 30 years. I strive to produce the best quality and the healthiest animals possible. Arnault Great Pyrenees have dogs from Euzkalzale and Karolaska bloodlines. The dogs are very com- petitive in AKC confor-
mation dog shows but are also active Therapy and Service dogs. My dogs are multiple AKC Champions and have been ranked Top 5 in the Nation. I live in Ventura, California. I work as a nurse and am very busy spending time with my family. I also enjoy target shooting and riding my Harley Davidson Motorcycle. Does the average person in the street recognize the breed? The average person does not recognize the Great Pyrenees breed but ask if he is a Newfoundland. People are drawn to the great big, white polar bear of a dog with a gentle disposition while out in public. You cannot walk ten steps without being stopped for a friendly hug and many questions. When people are look- ing for puppies, the public usually have done some research or has owned a Pyr before. Once a Pyr owner, usually always a Pyr owner. How has the breed adapted to civilian life? You would be surprised how many Great Pyrenees are still used for Livestock
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JUDGING GREAT PYRENEES
by ROBERT M BROWN, D.V.M.
QUALIFICATIONS NECES- SARY TO DISCUSS JUDGING GREAT PYRENEES: I have owned a Great Pyrenees since 1965. During the period through the early 1990s, I have owned or bred 55 Great Pyrenees champions. Being approved to judge Great Pyrenees in 1978, I am the senior Great Pyrenees judge in the Western Hemisphere and currently judge two AKC groups and Best In Show. I have judged four United States Great Pyrenees National Special- ties, two Swedish National Specialties, and one Canadian National Specialty. In 1983 I judged the breed at the AKC Cen- tennial Show in Philadelphia. I served as chairman of the standard revision committee that created the current breed standard in 1990 resulting in the only revision since the original standard of 1935. JUDGING GREAT PYRENEES: I am going to present to the reader my thought process and points of great- est concern in judging Great Pyrenees. As with any judging, others may have differing opinions. When Great Pyrenees walk into your ring, you should be looking for a rect- angular dog only slightly longer than tall. This dog should have a noticeable level, strong back line. He will be white or principally white and can have head markings and/or body coloring up to
¹ / ³ of its body. You will be looking for a large, strong, lithe dog—not one that appears heavy and ponderous or wispy and shelly. There are three areas of concern in judging the breed—head, front end assembly and temperament. I will go through my thought process about each of these important areas in judging the breed. The Great Pyrenees is a head breed that is hard to understand since the cor- rect head with “The Look” is seldom seen. “The Look” as I call the correct melding of pigment, muzzle length, eye color and shape, ear size and place- ment and lack of an apparent stop does occur, but is rarely seen. You will have the best opportunity to see “The Look” at a national specialty, but even then it can be elusive. Approach the Great Pyrenees either straight on or at a three-quarter angle. Cup the head under the jaws and observe the shape of the head. It is wedge-shaped from above and from the side. The bite is a close scissors bite with an even bite being acceptable. Two issues with teeth occur on occasion. In some mature dogs and bitches the central incisors may appear to recede; this is not an important judging issue. Now I put on my veterinary cap; on occasion in mature dogs mostly; rarely bitches, you may observe what appears to be lower incisors and even canine teeth that appear worn down so as only
“nubbins” appear above the gum-line. This condition is called gingival hyper- plasia and actually is due to a prolifera- tion of gum (gingival) tissue growth that covers most or all of normal incisor teeth. The upper and lower teeth are aligned normally, but if the condition causes you concern, you should penal- ize the situation to the point that you feel is warranted. The condition is only factored minimally into my judging of the breed. At this point you will become aware of the length of the Pyr’s muzzle. The acceptable length should approximate the length of the back skull and not less than 40% of the back skull. There are specimens shown with extremely short muzzles—they are cute, like ted- dy bears, but incorrect, as this is not enough muzzle length to aid in doing battle with a predator. The correct muz- zle length helps to insure that the head will have tight, black pigmented lips. This should not be a drooling breed. Breed pigmentation is black begin- ning with the nose, lips and eye rims. On occasion in all white Pyrs, the nose pigment may fade in the winter time- snow nose. The only penalty is wheth- er the condition detracts from “The Look” that the dog portrays. To me, there is usually some detraction. Occa- sionally, Dudley noses are seen with distinct pink and black area present. Dudley noses can also be associated with incomplete pigmented eye rims.
"THERE ARE THREE AREAS OF CONCERN IN JUDGING THE BREED —. HEAD, FRONT END ASSEMBLY AND TEMPERAMENT.”
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"THEY ARE ACCUSTOMED TO WORKING WITHOUT MUCH HUMAN INTERACTION.
THEREFORE, THEY CAN AND DO THINK FOR THEMSELVES.”
The eye color of Great Pyrenees is dark brown and the eye lid shape is almond. The eye color can range from almost yellow to almost black. The color that you accept in judging is the color that compliments “The Look”. In Pyrs that have short muzzles and/ or too much stop, there is a tendency for round eyes and increased tear stain on the white hair at the inner corner of the eyes. The Great Pyrenees ear is from small to medium in size and set on at the level of the outer corner of the eyelid. A line of hair can be followed from the outer corner of the eye to the root of the ear set. If the ear set is too high, the line does not meet the root of the ear. Ears set on too high or are too large detract from “The Look”. In rare instances low set, houndy ears may be found. The most difficult concept pertain- ing to the Great Pyrenees head is the term “no apparent stop”. There are very few Pyrs being shown that can be described with “no apparent stop”, but it is the ultimate goal to strive for in the quest for “The Look”. There is a gradual, barely perceptible rise from the muzzle to the top skull that occurs at the level of the eyes. If you run your hand over the muzzle with your fingers pointed toward the top skull you can best deter- mine the degree of stop present. On occasion, there may be well developed superciliary ridges of bone above each eye which can make the head appear to have more stop than it actually has. Put all of the previously mentioned components together to determine which head most closely meets “The Look” criteria. The next component for judging Great Pyrenees is the front assembly. The front assembly consists of the neck, chest-depth and spring of rib, and the front legs as they attach to the side of the ribs and the degree of layback of the scapula (shoulder blade). Over the past 20 years or so, Great Pyrenees fanciers have markedly improved the physical
appearance of the Great Pyrenees rear assembly. The front assembly has not fared as well. We want Great Pyrenees to have legs that are straight columns to the ground and be of medium substance and width between the legs. The front leg assembly consists of the shoulder blade, the upper arm, and lower arm and toes. The shoulder blade should be laid back to a significant angle and the shoulder blade should be laid on to the side of the ribs behind the prosternum. That laid on position will insure that the front reach gaiting will be maximal. The Great Pyrenees neck is of medi- um length so as to elegantly support the head that we have previously described. Two situations can shorten the appear- ance of the neck length. If the dog has a very short back, it usually translates to a short tail and a short, dumpy neck. This is due to the shortened size of all of the vertebrae in the body. A Pyr can also appear to have a short neck if the scapula (shoulder blade) is not laid back and is laid on upright. This arrangement also eliminates any presence of fore chest that would normally protrude slightly ahead of the junction of the shoulder blade and upper arm. The shape and depth of the chest are important for working function. The chest is moderately well sprung and egg shaped. It is not barrel shaped which causes the dog to be out at the elbows or slab-sided which gives the appear- ance of both front legs emerging from the same socket. The chest level should reach the elbows. The afore described set of ana- tomical relationships make a well con- structed Great Pyrenees forward assem- bly. It exists in the breed, but is not commonly found. The third component of judging Great Pyrenees relates to the breed temperament. This is a large breed that is accustomed to protecting flocks of sheep from predators. They are accustomed to working without much human interaction. Therefore, they
can and do think for themselves. They are exceedingly good judges of charac- ter and intent. The previous describes what is expected from a Great Pyr- enees. Under no circumstances should a shy, excessively nervous or Pyr exhib- iting human aggression be allowed to remain in the show ring. If you read the current Great Pyrenees standard for the breed, you will see the section on tem- perament bolded. When the Standard Committee considered temperament, we felt this was worth noting. Coupled with temperament are the breed’s atti- tude in the dog show ring. They are not animated and most do not respond to bait. If the Pyr is alert, he will carry his tail raised in a wheel; if he is relaxed he will carry his tail low, but not tucked between his legs. Two brief judging helps. Get your hands into the coat. The coat should have texture and body and not be soft and cottony. A slight wave is acceptable, but not sought. Check rear angulation at the hock by feeling; groomers can provide optical illusions of adequate hock angulation. Check dewclaws. One is mentioned on each front leg. Rarely, there are two- no penalty. Two rear dewclaws are located higher up on the metatarsal than are on European bred Pyrs. U.S. Pyrs dewclaws are not as functional. Two rear dewclaws can emerge from one digit, be fused togeth- er or have one atrophied and one devel- oped. As long as there are two, it’s good to go! When I use the three major deter- mining factors in judging the breed, this is how I weigh them. Unacceptable temperament keeps me from rewarding a perfect “The Look” and a correct front assembly. Since the Great Pyrenees can “make do” with most of a good front assembly while the true essence of the breed is manifested in the combi- nation of characteristics that make up “The Look”.
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THE GREAT PYRENEES
WITH JUDITH DANIELS
I grew up in Topeka, Kansas. I went to Kansas State Uni- versity—Bachelor Degree in Mathematics University of Phoe- nix—MBA Degree. Member of the AKC Delegate body for 25 years, Past Exec. VP of the AKC, Past President of the AK, licensed AKC Judge for the Working Group, Terrier Group and Non-Sporting Group. My husband and I retired to Belize, Central America a little over two years ago. However, I have a USA address in the Houston, Texas area on my AKC Judges page. Now, when I’m not traveling to the States to visit family and friends, or to judge, I read, relax and cook much more than I used to when we ran our own business and 10-12 hours a day. I got my first Staffordshire Bull Terrier in 1968, have been showing since 1970 and judging since 1984. From my very first experience in the AKC show ring, I made it a priority “HIS POTENTIAL FOR MAGESTIC PRESENCE IS WHAT MAKES ALL THE WORK WORTHWHILE.”
to stay through Best In Show Competition. This helped me to begin recognizing various breeds, and setting my eye on what was normally expected in a worthy exhibit. 1. Describe the breed in three words. Beautiful, regal and elegant. I must add, ‘The most gentle of the Large Working breeds’. 2. What are your “must have” traits in this breed? After beauty, elegance and regal presence: level topline, effortless movement and correctly shaped head. 3. This is a big dog that requires some work. What is it about him that makes it all worthwhile? His potential for magestic presence is what makes all the work worthwhile. 4. What’s the most important attribute to stress when instructing new breeders? For me, the first attribute is within the Breeder (not the dog), and that is the in depth and continuous study of the Breed Standard (without personal prejudice) for the knowledge necessary to recognize what is correct (and what is not so correct) in ones breeding stock. 5. What’s the most common fault you see when travel- ing around the country? Poor top lines. 6. Are there any traits in this breed you fear are becoming exaggerated? More trimming than is allowed in the Standard, which is “to tidy up the feet and face”. 7. Do you think the dogs you see in this breed are bet- ter now than they were when you first started judg- ing? Why or why not? While they may now appear “better” to me than when I first began judging, that could be because I have become more aware—with respect to what the Standard calls for—and the priorities fall easily into place.
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NOT JUST A PRETTY FACE by JANET INGRAM
M any years ago, long before a kennel was built or the many acres were fenced, I had two Great Pyrenees; Maggie (two years old) and Molly (seven months old). Very late one evening I had them out in the yard on leashes for their last walk before bed- time. A car drove by with three men in it. They started throwing out beer cans and then the window was low- ered and one of them yelled “Hey lady, what kind a dogs are those?” I ignored them and started walking back towards the house. They then backed up and pulled into my driveway. As the back door started to open, I said, “You are on private property…do not get out of the car.” He continued out and sud- denly I felt one of the leashes go slack. I looked down and found that Maggie had backed completely out of her choke collar. Before I could react, she was run- ning toward the car. Just as he reached the back of the car, Maggie jumped up, putting her paws on his shoulders, pushed him backwards onto the trunk and held him there. I walked over, slipped the collar back around her neck and pulled her off. Needless to say, he was back in the car and off in a flash. Her behavior that night is typical of what these dogs can and will do to pro- tect. I thought she was magnificent. She never put her mouth on him and she was willing to leave him when I asked her to. Maggie lived to be 12 years old and that was the first and last time she ever got out of a collar. Although had
there ever been another need, I have no doubt she could and would have. That was my personal experience but over the years I have heard numerous other heroic stories of other Pyrs. The Pyr that moved between a toddler and a rattlesnake and took the bite. The Pyr that moved his sheep to safety before the barn burned to the ground. The Pyr that alerted his owners to a house fire. There are many, many stories of these dogs, doing what they were bred to do, that we never hear about. All the work- ing Pyrs that keep their livestock safe every day. The therapy dogs that spend hours in nursing homes and hospitals connecting with and comforting the patients; working with patients who are relearning motor skills. The reader dogs that are a highlight at many librar- ies. The assistance or service dogs that make their owners’ lives easier. And last but not least, the Pyrs that bring joy and companionship to their owners every day. I was in the Pyrenees Mountains of France last year and was fortunate to come upon two young Pyrs moving a large flock of sheep down the moun- tain. It was a sight to behold! The only level terrain was the roadway and the dogs and sheep were moving down the middle of the road in spite of the automobiles, cyclists, and the horses and cows that also roam the mountain- side there. And they were doing it all on their own, all alone with no shep- herd around. Of course, I got out of the car to take pictures. They were not
alarmed by my presence or aggressive in any way. They continued to calmly move along, dropping back occasion- ally to move a stray sheep back into the group. They never approached me nor would they take food from one of the cyclist who offered it as he was trying to move through. They were intent on doing their job. Seeing these dogs in their native country, doing the job they have been bred to do for centuries, brought tears to my eyes. It is a moment in time that I will never forget and one I hope to see again on future trips to the mountains. Great Pyrenees take their name from the mountain range in southwestern Europe, where they have long been used as guardians of the flocks. The breed likely evolved from a group of principally white mountain flock guard dogs that originated ten or eleven thou- sand years ago in Asia Minor. It is very plausible that these large white dogs arrived in the Pyrenees Mountains with their shepherds about 3000 BC. There they encountered the indigenous peo- ple of the area, one of which were the Basques, descendants of Cro-Magnon Man. In the isolation of the Pyrenees Mountains over these millenniums, the breed developed the characteris- tics that make it unique to the group of flock guardian dogs in general and the primarily white members of the group. By the late 1800’s and early 1900’s the state of the breed had deteriorated because there were very few natural predators left in the mountains and the
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practices of many unscrupulous breed- ers selling to native tourists through the region. In 1907 Monsieur Dretzen from Paris, along with Count de Bylandt of Holland and Monsieur Byasson of Argeles-Gazost, formed the Club du Chien des Pyrenees (CCP) a.k.a. Argeles Club in Argeles-Gazost. They combed the mountains for a group of “faultlessly typical” specimens. Monsieur Dretzen took these dogs back to his kennel in Paris. Also in 1907, the Pastoure Club at Lourdes, Hautes Pyrenees, France, was organized to perpetuate inter- est in the breed. Each club wrote a breed standard. After the decimating effects of World War I, the breed’s numbers and quality had been severely compromised. A few dedicated breeders, headed by Monsieur Senac Lagrange, worked to restore the breed to its former glory. They joined together the remnants of the two for- mer clubs and formed the Reunion des Amateurs de Chiens Pyreneans which still exists today. It was this club that was responsible for the breed standard being published in 1927. This standard has served as a basis for all current stan- dards for the breed. After World War II, it was again Monsieur Senac Lagrange who took the lead in getting the breed back on its feet from the devastating effects of the German occupation. In 1931, Mr. and Mrs. Francis V. Crane imported several dogs and seriously launched the breed in North America
with the founding of Basquaerie Ken- nels in Needham, Massachusetts. Their lifelong effort on behalf of the breed provided the breed with an atmosphere in which it could thrive and prosper. They imported important breeding stock out of Europe just before the Con- tinent was closed by World War II. The American Kennel Club accorded the Great Pyrenees official recognition in February, 1933, and beginning in April, 1933, separate classification began for the breed at licensed shows. Today, the Great Pyrenees is a work- ing dog as well as a companion and family dog. Most never see a show ring, but they are trusted and beloved members in homes and may function as livestock guardian dogs on farms and ranches. They are very social dogs in the family but can be wary of strangers in the work environment (this includes the home). They adapt easily to other situations such as dog shows and make extraordinary ambassadors for the breed in settings such as hospitals and nursing homes. They have a special abil- ity to identify and distinguish predators or unwelcome intruders. The very traits that make Great Pyre- nees such a unique breed and “Pyr peo- ple” find so admirable can also make living with them a challenge. Great Pyrenees are livestock guardian dogs. They were bred to be left alone in the mountain valleys. They are guard dogs by instinct, not by training and they
cannot be expected to welcome uninvit- ed intrusions onto your property. They are not “attack” dogs but can be very intimidating to the surprised visitor. It is the owner’s obligation to maintain their Pyr so that his guarding instincts can be exercised in a responsible way. Great Pyrenees’ basic personality is dif- ferent from most breeds, since most breeds were bred to take commands from people. Pyrs were bred to work on their own. They are intelligent, some- times willful dogs. They have minds of their own and are not easily obedience trained. Many are almost cat-like in their independence. They are also barkers, especially at night. The amount of bark- ing varies from individual to individual, but the instinct is there and in some cases can cause major problems. Most Great Pyrenees in urban or suburban settings must be kept indoors at night because of the barking. Because of their instinct to establish and patrol a large territory, Pyrs must be confined in a well-fenced area. They are roamers and when out of the fence they must be kept on lead at all times. While most Pyrs are very protective of small animals, many will not tolerate another large dog of the same sex in their territory. If, after thoroughly researching the breed you decide that this is a dog that you would like to share your life with, please buy from a responsible breeder. When visiting the breeder, ask to see the parents of the puppy. Make sure that
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