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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