Showsight Presents the Great Pyrenees



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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