Great Pyrenees Breed Magazine features information, expert articles, and stunning photos from AKC judges, breeders, and owners.
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Official Standard of the Great Pyrenees
General Appearance: The Great Pyrenees dog conveys the distinct impression of elegance and unsurpassed beauty combined with great overall size and majesty. He has a white or principally white coat that may contain markings of badger, gray, or varying shades of tan. He pos- sesses a keen intelligence and a kindly, while regal, expression. Exhibiting a unique elegance of bearing and movement, his soundness and coordination show unmistakably the purpose for which he has been bred, the strenuous work of guarding the flocks in all kinds of weather on the steep mountain slopes of the Pyrenees. Size, Proportion, Substance: Size - The height at the withers ranges from 27 to 32 inches for dogs and from 25 to 29 inches for bitches. A 27 inch dog weighs about 100 pounds and a 25 inch bitch weighs about 85 pounds. Weight is in proportion to the overall size and structure. Proportion - The Great Pyrenees is a bal- anced dog with the height measured at the withers being some- what less than the length of the body measured from the point of the shoulder to the rearmost projection of the upper thigh (buttocks). These proportions create a somewhat rectangular dog, slightly longer than it is tall. Front and rear angulation are balanced. Substance - The Great Pyrenees is a dog of medium substance whose coat deceives those who do not feel the bone and mus- cle. Commensurate with his size and impression of elegance there is sufficient bone and muscle to provide a balance with the frame. Faults – Size - Dogs and bitches under minimum size or over maximum size. Substance - Dogs too heavily boned or too lightly boned to be in bal- ance with their frame. Head: Correct head and expression are essential to the breed. The head is not heavy in proportion to the size of the dog. It is wedge shaped with a slightly rounded crown. Expression - The expression is elegant, intel- ligent and contemplative. Eyes - Medium sized, almond shaped, set slightly obliquely, rich dark brown. Eyelids are close fitting with black rims. Ears - Small to medium in size, V-shaped with rounded tips, set on at eye level, normally carried low, flat, and close to the head. There is a characteristic meeting of the hair of the upper and lower face which forms a line from the outer corner of the eye to the base of the ear. Skull and Muzzle - The muzzle is approximately equal in length to the back skull. The width and length of the skull are approximately equal. The muzzle blends smoothly with the skull. The cheeks are flat. There is suf- ficient fill under the eyes. A slight furrow exists between the eyes. There is no apparent stop. The boney eyebrow ridges are only slightly devel- oped. Lips are tight fitting with the upper lip just covering the lower lip. There is a strong lower jaw. The nose and lips are black. Teeth - A scis- sor bite is preferred, but a level bite is acceptable. It is not unusual to see dropped (receding) lower central incisor teeth. Faults - Too heavy head (St. Bernard or Newfoundland-like). Too narrow or small skull. Foxy appearance. Presence of an apparent stop. Missing pigmentation on nose, eye rims, or lips. Eyelids round, triangular, loose or small. Overshot, undershot, wry mouth. Neck, Topline, Body: Neck - Strongly muscled and of medium length, with minimal dewlap. Topline - The backline is level. Body - The chest is moderately broad. The rib cage is well sprung, oval in shape, and of sufficient depth to reach the elbows. Back and loin are broad and strong- ly coupled with some tuck-up. The croup is gently sloping with the tail set on just below the level of the back. Tail - The tailbones are of suffi- cient length to reach the hock. The tail is well plumed, carried low in repose and may be carried over the back, "making the wheel," when aroused. When present, a "shepherd's crook" at the end of the tail accen- tuates the plume. When gaiting, the tail may be carried either over the back or low. Both carriages are equally correct. Fault - Barrel ribs. Forequarters: Shoulders - The shoulders are well laid back, well mus- cled, and lie close to the body. The upper arm meets the shoulder blade
at approximately a right angle. The upper arm angles backward from the point of the shoulder to the elbow and is never perpendicular to the ground. The length of the shoulder blade and the upper arm is approxi- mately equal. The height from the ground to the elbow appears approx- imately equal to the height from the elbow to the withers. Forelegs - The legs are of sufficient bone and muscle to provide a balance with the frame. The elbows are close to the body and point directly to the rear when standing and gaiting. The forelegs, when viewed from the side, are located directly under the withers and are straight and vertical to the ground. The elbows, when viewed from the front, are set in a straight line from the point of shoulder to the wrist. Front pasterns are strong and flexible. Each foreleg carries a single dewclaw. Front Feet - Rounded, close-cupped, well padded, toes well arched. Hindquarters: The angulation of the hindquarters is sim- ilar in degree to that of the forequarters. Thighs - Strongly muscular upper thighs extend from the pelvis at right angles. The upper thigh is the same length as the lower thigh, creating moderate stifle joint angulation when viewed in profile. The rear pastern (metatarsus) is of medium length and perpendicular to the ground as the dog stands naturally. This produces a moderate degree of angulation in the hock joint, when viewed from the side. The hindquarters from the hip to the rear pastern are straight and parallel, as viewed from the rear. The rear legs are of sufficient bone and muscle to provide a balance with the frame. Double dewclaws are located on each rear leg. Rear Feet - The rear feet have a structural tendency to toe out slightly. This breed char- acteristic is not to be confused with cow-hocks. The rear feet, like the forefeet, are rounded, close-cupped, well padded with toes well arched. Fault - Absence of double dewclaws on each rear leg. Coat: The weather resistant double coat consists of a long, flat, thick, outer coat of coarse hair, straight or slightly undulating, and lying over a dense, fine, woolly undercoat. The coat is more profuse about the neck and shoulders where it forms a ruff or mane which is more pronounced in males. Longer hair on the tail forms a plume. There is feathering along the back of the front legs and along the back of the thighs, giving a "pantaloon" effect. The hair on the face and ears is shorter and of finer texture. Correctness of coat is more important than abundance of coat. Faults - Curly coat. Stand-off coat (Samoyed type). Color: White or white with markings of gray, badger, reddish brown, or varying shades of tan. Markings of varying size may appear on the ears, head (including a full face mask), tail, and as a few body spots. The undercoat may be white or shaded. All of the above described colorings and locations are characteristic of the breed and equally correct. Fault - Outer coat markings covering more than one third of the body. Gait: The Great Pyrenees moves smoothly and elegantly, true and straight ahead, exhibiting both power and agility. The stride is well bal- anced with good reach and strong drive. The legs tend to move toward the center line as speed increases. Ease and efficiency of movement are more important than speed. Temperament: Character and temperament are of utmost importance. In nature, the Great Pyrenees is confident, gentle, and affectionate. While territorial and protective of his flock or family when necessary, his general demeanor is one of quiet composure, both patient and toler- ant. He is strong willed, independent and somewhat reserved, yet atten- tive, fearless and loyal to his charges both human and animal. Although the Great Pyrenees may appear reserved in the show ring, any sign of excessive shyness, nervousness, or aggression to humans is unacceptable and must be considered an extremely serious fault.
Approved June 12, 1990
Effective August 1, 1990
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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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JUDGING GREAT PYRENEES By Robert M. Brown, D.V.M.
I am going to present to the reader my thought process and points of greatest concern in judging Great Pyrenees. As with any judging, others may have di ff er- ing opinions. When Great Pyrenees walk into your ring, you should be looking for a rectangu- lar dog only slightly longer than tall. Th is 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 ⅓ of its body. You will be looking for a large, strong, lithe dog- not one that appears heavy and ponderous or wispy and shelly. Th ere are three areas of concern in judging the breed: head, front end assem- bly and temperament. I will go through my thought process about each of these important areas in judging the breed. Th e Great Pyrenees is a head breed that is hard to understand since the cor- rect head with “ Th e Look” is seldom seen. “ Th e Look” as I call the correct melding of pigment, muzzle length, eye color and shape, ear size and placement, and lack of an apparent stop does occur, but is rarely seen. You will have the best opportunity to see “ Th e 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. Th e bite is a close scissors bite with an even bite being accept- able. Two issues with teeth occur on occa- sion. 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 “nub-
sion in all white Pyrs, the nose pigment may fade in the winter time- snow nose. Th e only penalty is whether the condi- tion detracts from “ Th e Look” that the dog portrays. To me, there is usually some detraction. Occasionally, Dudley noses are seen with distinct pink and black area present. Dudley noses can also be associ- ated with incomplete pigmented eye rims. Th e eye color of Great Pyrenees is dark brown and the eye lid shape is almond. Th e eye color can range from almost yel- low to almost black. Th e color that you accept in judging is the color that com- pliments “ Th e 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. Th e 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 cor- ner 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 “ Th e Look”. In rare instances low set, houndy ears may be found. Th e most di ffi cult concept pertaining to the Great Pyrenees head is the term “no apparent stop”. Th ere are very few Pyrs being shown that can be described with “no apparent stop”, but it is the ulti- mate goal to strive for in the quest for “ Th e Look”. Th ere 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 fin- gers pointed toward the top skull you can best determine 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.
“THE GREAT PYRENEES is a head breed...”
bins” appear above the gum-line. Th is con- dition is called gingival hyperplasia and actually is due to a proliferation of gum (gingival) tissue growth that covers most or all of normal incisor teeth. Th e upper and lower teeth are aligned normally, but if the condition causes you concern, you should penalize the situation to the point that you feel is warranted. Th e 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. Th e accept- able length should approximate the length of the back skull and not less than 40% of the back skull. Th ere are specimens shown with extremely short muzzles- they are cute, like teddy bears, but incorrect, as this is not enough muzzle length to aid in doing battle with a predator. Th e correct muzzle length helps to insure that the head will have tight, black pigmented lips. Th is should not be a drooling breed. Breed pigmentation is black beginning with the nose, lips, and eye rims. On occa-
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noting. Coupled with temperament are the breed’s attitude in the dog show ring. Th ey 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. Th e 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 feel- ing; groomers can provide optical illu- sions 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 together or have one atrophied and one developed. As long as there are two, it’s good to go! When I use the three major determin- ing factors in judging the breed, this is how I weigh them. Unacceptable tempera- ment keeps me from rewarding a perfect “ Th e 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 combination of characteristics that make up “ Th e Look”. BIO Robert M. Brown has owned a Great Pyrenees since 1965. During the period through the early 1990s, he has owned or bred fifty-five Great Pyrenees champions. Being approved to judge Great Pyrenees in 1978, he is the senior Great Pyrenees judge in the Western Hemisphere and currently judges two AKC groups and Best In Show. Robert has judged 4 United States Great Pyrenees National Specialties, 2 Swed- ish National Specialties and 1 Canadian National Specialty. In 1983, he judged the breed at the AKC Centennial Show in Philadelphia. He served as chairman of the standard revision committee that created the cur- rent breed standard in 1990, resulting in the only revision since the original stan- dard of 1935.
Put all of the previously mentioned com- ponents together to determine which head most closely meets “ Th e Look” criteria. Th e next component for judging Great Pyrenees is the front assembly. Th e 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 Pyr- enees fanciers have markedly improved the physical appearance of the Great Pyrenees rear assembly. Th e 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. Th e front leg assembly consists of the shoulder blade, the upper arm, and lower arm and toes. Th e shoul- der blade should be laid back to a signifi- cant angle and the shoulder blade should be laid on to the side of the ribs behind the prosternum. Th at laid on position will insure that the front reach gaiting will be maximal. Th e Great Pyrenees neck is of medium length so as to elegantly support the head that we have previously described. Two situations can shorten the appearance of the neck length. If the dog has a very short back, it usually translates to a short tail and a short, dumpy neck. Th is 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. Th is arrangement also eliminates any presence of fore chest that would normally pro- trude slightly ahead of the junction of the shoulder blade and upper arm. Th e shape and depth of the chest are important for working function. Th e 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 appearance of both front legs emerging from the same socket. Th e chest level should reach the elbows. Th e afore described set of anatomi- cal relationships make a well constructed Great Pyrenees forward assembly. It exists in the breed, but is not commonly found. Th e third component of judging Great Pyrenees relates to the breed temperament. Th is is a large breed that is accustomed to protecting flocks of sheep from predators. Th ey are accustomed to working without much human interaction. Th erefore, they can and do think for themselves. Th ey are exceeding good judges of char- acter and intent. Th e previous describes what is expected from a Great Pyrenees. Under no circumstances should a shy, excessively nervous, or Pyr exhibiting 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 temperament bolded. When the Standard Committee consid- ered temperament, we felt this was worth
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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.”
374 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , S EPTEMBER 2018
"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”.
S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , S EPTEMBER 2018 • 375
ADVENTURES IN HISTORICAL PRESERVATION OF THE GREAT PYRENEES BY JOAN ZIEHL
GREAT PYRENEES CLUB OF AMERICA HISTORICAL PRESERVATION CHAIR
W hen Mary Crane (the Founder of the Great Pyr- enees breed in the United States) passed away, she willed several boxes of her personal kennel records, a few paintings, a bronze FATH stat- ue, and hundreds of photographs to the Dog Museum (then in St. Louis). The paintings and FATH statue were occasionally on display within the museum, but for the most part, the papers, records, and photographs were stuck away in boxes up in the attic.
One of our GPCA Members (Jo Stubbs) who lived nearby, took it upon herself (over a ten-year period) to sort, categorize, and make some sense of the boxes hidden away. She would go over on weekends and try to match up which dog went with which pedigree, and determine who owned which dog and what awards or winnings went with whom. Part research project, part labor of love, she did a fantastic job and ended up documenting the col- lection into albums entitled, pedigrees, photos, correspondence, advertise- ments, and friends. The collection sat in the Dog Museum attic “all dressed up but with nowhere to go” for years. Sometime later, after a dog show in North Carolina, we were invited back to Judy Brown’s house (another longtime GPCA Member and Breeder) for lunch. We were talking about the HP projects and the progress made, when Judy mentioned that she had a few boxes in her attic (what’s with all the stuff in the attic?) that were given to her by Mary Crane. I immediately pestered her to show me and was thrilled to see pictures with comments on some of the earliest memories of both the GPCA and Mary Crane herself with Great Pyrenees. Judy mentioned that she had only a part of the col- lection; that most of it was at the Dog Museum. After a few phone calls (including offering my first born as collateral) we were given permission to take the entire paper portion from the museum to copy and scan, and to dis- play at our national specialties. Jo Stubbs again came to the rescue when she picked up all the boxes and hand-delivered them to me in Ohio at our next national specialty. Then we started what I thought was going to be a “month
CH Urdos de Soum, the first Pyrenees ever shown in America, and the first to become a US champion.
CH Estat d’Argeles of Basquaerie (American, European, and Tri-International Champion) is one two brothers imported to the US, and one of the foundation males of Basquaerie.
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ADVENTURES IN HISTORICAL PRESERVATION OF THE GREAT PYRENEES
Mary Crane pictured with Basquaerie dogs and Professor Will Monroe, First President of the Great Pyrenees Club of America, 1933.
Basquaerie Ariel, First Pyrenees to Earn the CD Title
A Long Day at a Benched Show in 1935
Mary Crane with Two Puppies from Her First Litter, 1933
Basquaerie Blanchett pictured with the first litter born in the US, June 1933.
achieve a CDX title in the breed? Who was the first dog to achieve an Obedience title? How did Mary set up her kennel runs? All the answers are in the collection. Our current project is to modernize our film collection. We currently have old 8mm, reel to reel, videos, CDs, and DVDs ready to be digitized. We are almost halfway completed and expect all to be available on our website when finished. When I took over the Historical Preservation work for the GPCA, I had no idea of the many hours I would spend learning about our breed, happily reading old articles and letters from past breeders. I strongly encourage everyone who loves showing their dogs to spend some time learning about the history of their breed and the breeders of the past. You just might fall in love with your breed history as much as I have. (We can trace the Great Pyrenees being brought to this country in the 1800s, and the first Pyrenees being bred in the US in the 1930s!) You just never know what is in those dusty old attics, and you may come across a treasure or two.
or two” project. Little did we know that it would take us over 24 months to complete the task! What ended up happening was, each time I went to the desk and started working, I spent just as much time reading as I did scanning. I spent hours looking at the photos—and the notes writ- ten in the margins next to them. Reading about common kennel problems, health issues, and some of the same issues that confront us today with this breed, I realized how far we had come with health issues, breeding issues, and living with and loving this breed. Our final result is the Mary Crane Collection, available for all to view on our club website: www.gpcaonline.org . Go to the Historical Preservation Section and read away! With over 1,000 photographs, 200 kennel pedigrees, and countless comments and descriptions, it is truly a collection of historical relevance. What did Mary suggest that you feed your puppy? How many litters did that bitch have? Which titles? How many shows entered? How do you housetrain a puppy? How about which dog was the first to
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LOOKING AT THE BREED
IN THE PYRENEES HEAD
BY CARRIE STUART PARKS
Original Graphite on Bristol Board by Carrie Stuart Parks
S ome breeds such as Bull Terriers are called “head breeds.” Having owned Bullies for over thirty years, I can assure you that it’s not due to their deep-thinking ability. What is meant by the above statement is that the head structure is of paramount importance above all other characteris- tics. I have heard some people say the same of the Great Pyrenees, but the breed’s standard mentions “elegance” twice in the opening paragraph; while the head is mentioned in reference to expression. Pyrenees are large, but elegant, dogs. The correct head structure is noted as “essential.” The dictionary defines essential as “basic” and a “necessary” element, so while the overall structure and impres- sion of the breed should be that of elegance, the head is an indis- pensable part of that equation. I’d like to take a look at what makes the head and expression of the Pyrenees unique. The correct head is not heavy and is described as wedge-shaped with a slightly rounded crown. The Pyrenees Illustrated Standard shows the wedge from above, looking down. To achieve the correct wedge, there needs to be sufficient “fill” under the eyes, so if you place your hands on either side of the head there isn’t a gap between backskull and muzzle. This should not be achieved due to a nar- row head. The width of the skull is approximately the same as the length, a proportion that is not attainable with a narrow head. The end of the muzzle isn’t blunted like the Newfoundland or Saint Bernard, but gently tapers into a tight-fitting lip and strong lower jaw. The “clean” mouth is important. I have a Pyr with loose lips— big ole pendulous flews. Take it from an expert, a little-known fact is that loose lips are a danger to laptop computers. Sitting next to you on the sofa, their saliva can end up squarely on the computer keys. But I digress… The skull structure is mesaticephalic, that is, with a sloping stop. The standard calls for no “apparent” stop. That’s not to say the skull slides from crown to nose on an even plane—a dolicho- cephalic skull type. (That term, of course, just popped into my head—not!) It does mean that if you run your hand along the top of the head, there won’t be a place where you can say, “Here is the stop.” In profile, the upward slope will begin at a point slightly below the bottom of the eyes and will continue upward to a point by the bony eyebrow ridges. The expression is defined as “elegant.” There’s that word again. What makes an elegant expression? Part of the elegance are the eyes, which are deep brown in color, tight-fitting, and medium in size. Light eyes can make the dog look wolf-like. Sagging eyes appear mournful, and bulging eyes can look like the dog is about
to take a chunk out of your hand. None of these can be considered elegant. The eye rims are black—as if Maybelline had a “killer sale” on black eyeliner. The expression is also a reflection of the Pyrenean temperament. Most Pyrs feel that dog shows are to be tolerated and are useful only for the extra attention that’s received. The judge is an ear-scratching, rump-rubbing possibility, so the breed’s expression is one of contem- plation; mild but polite curiosity. Don’t, however, let this fool you into thinking the Pyr is a pushover as a watch dog. They can be a fearless and powerful foe when guarding their flocks. Returning to the shape of the eye, we find it similar to an almond, with the lower lid relatively straight, and the upper lid having a gentle curve. Some Pyrs have white eyelashes, which can slightly distort the eye shape. The black pigment at the corner of the eye dips downward slightly on most dogs, giving the eye an oblique look. The end of this pigment is where the meeting of the hair from the upper and lower face (referred to as the “line”) angles downward toward the base of the ear. With the ears in repose, the line would appear to be about halfway down the ear flap. The ears are described as small to medium in size, v-shaped with a rounded tip. The markings may outline the ear with dark brown to almost black, making them stand out if next to a white ruff. Otherwise, when a Pyr is in full coat and relaxed, the ears should blend into the body. Large ears don’t blend. The top of the ear “lines up” with the corner of the eye. I’ve found that whenever I encounter the correct, elegant, expressive head of the Great Pyrenees, my hand itches for a pencil or brush to capture their beauty, and I fall in love all over again with a breed I’ve loved for over sixty years.
BIO Carrie Stuart Parks is an internation- ally known forensic artist, award- winning fine artist, and a best-selling, award-winning novelist. She has been involved in Great Pyrenees since 1959,
initially with her parents and their Skeel Kennels, then later as an AKC judge, past president of the Great Pyrenees Club of America, and as a member of the GPCA for almost fifty years. She will be the judge this year at the 2022 National Specialty in Chicago.
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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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