Rehoboth Farms of North Carolina
Home of the Great Pyrenees

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Great Pyrenees Information

 

We take great pride in raising what we think are the best dogs in the world, the Great Pyrenees. We have raised Great Pyrenees dogs for many years now, and it has been a great joy and blessing. We LOVE our dogs and our goal and prayer is that you too will be blessed with your new pup.

We started off with our Debra to protect our farm, goats, chickens, other critters and family.  She is such a wonderful dog, we then purchased Samson as a leap of faith to begin breeding the two.  They are both awesome, awesome dogs and do a great job of protecting and yet loving and caring for our family and farm. We wanted to give others the same opportunity to invest in what we know to be the best dogs in the world, the Great Pyrenees!

 Here is helpful information on the Great Pyrenees dog:

 

Breed Description Great Pyrenees Characteristics

The Great Pyrenees Dog, or Pyrenean Mountain Dog as he is known in most of Europe and the United Kingdom, is arguably one of the beautiful breeds of dog in the world. Their principally white, large and muscular body structure defines the dog as a captivating and elegant breed. They are, however much more than a pretty face. In fact, it is only within the past 100 years that they have attracted serious attention in the show ring. Prior to that, they were selectively bred for centuries as a serious and hardy working dog. Indeed, the working dog, its coat dirty and matted many times looks much differently than the look of the dog we see in show rings.

Size

The Great Pyrenees is a large breed dog, with a average height of 27"-32" at the shoulder for dogs and 25"-29" for bitches. Although it is not as common for very large Pyrenees as it was centuries ago, they have been known to grow as large as 36" or more. Overly large size dogs lead to increased health problems and shorter life span, so the size has been reduced somewhat over the centuries, which gives the Great Pyrenees an over-average life expectancy for a large breed, at 10-12 years. The breed standard is generally limited to 32" for dogs, although that is still exceeded in some lines. Adult weight of the Great Pyrenees tends to be 85-110lbs. for bitches and 100-140lbs. for dogs. Weight is relative to height, so a very large Pyr (32"+) can weigh in upwards of 160lbs+.

General Temperament

The Great Pyrenees possess a very calm and placid nature. This has allowed them to gently roam in and out of their flock, without raising alarm. As many forms of livestock are easily frightened and prone to stampede, this is a critical trait. The exception to this is if the dog perceives a threat to its flock or family. Under such conditions, the dog quickly changes gears and will aggressively investigate and deal with the threat if necessary without hesitation. The breed is highly intelligent and perceptive and also very independent. Bred for centuries to deal with predators without human intervention, the Great Pyrenees has strong instincts and will act upon them, sometimes even to the chagrin of its owner.

The Great Pyrenees is a very versatile breed, making it a great companion, watch dog or livestock guardian animal, provided it receives appropriate training and socialization. It is a dominant breed and as individual dominance varies greatly from dog to dog, typically, most accredited breeders will be able to identify early on which dogs will be more suitable as pets and which would be better suited as livestock guardians. Many times the more dominant puppy will be naturally attracted to livestock while the less dominant puppy will be more people oriented. The breeds' calm nature makes them easy to train and relaxing to walk as they typically will calmly walk beside you or slightly behind you as opposed to constantly pulling as many other breeds do. Their nature also allows them to be trained for therapy work as well, where many Great Pyrenees are trained to visit hospitals and nursing homes where they help to en-richen the lives of those they meet.

The Great Pyrenees possess a very keen sense of sight and smell and is constantly very aware of its surroundings. This tends to make the Great Pyrenees slightly aloof around strangers and out of the ordinary situations. A strange noise coming from a nearby bush for example may cause the Pyr to jump back several inches out of range. This is an instinctive action, as the Great Pyrenees were bred to be very observant and possess quick reflexes so as not to be caught unaware by a stalking predator.

The Great Pyrenees has a special love of small children and makes for an excellent companion and protector if properly trained and socialized. Given its dominant nature, proper socialization is critical with the breed to ensure a well balanced canine citizen. Its calm nature allows it to interact well with children.

The Great Pyrenees has a unique personality and its temperament towards people is very loving and affectionate in a very independent way. It usually has very little desire to run around and jump up on people, but rather will many times simply push their heads or bodies towards you to encourage a pet. They are very effective at soliciting attention from you at times using their bodies and paws to attract your attention. Very little is as effective at getting your attention than a size 13 Pyr paw on you. At other times, they are quite content to lay in your yard in a location where they can keep you in view.

The Great Pyrenees is also very adaptable to different climates. Although they prefer cooler climates, they can adapt to warmer ones, although extremely hot climates should be avoided given their heavy coats. On warm days, it is common for the Pyr to dig holes in order to lay in the cooler earth. On warmer days, the Pyr will become less active and will usually prefer to rest until it begins to cool down. With cooler days usually comes increased activity. Snowfall and cooler weather usually sees the Pyr becoming more playful and it is not uncommon for an older Great Pyrenees to bound around like a 6 month old puppy during the first snowfall of the year.

Great Pyrenees also make effective watch dogs and will loudly announce the presence of any visitors or unusual traffic. Although they will many times put on a loud show for visitors, it is unusual for a well trained Pyr to take a genuine aggressive action against the stranger aside from barking unless specifically provoked or challenged. Typically, once the visitor has entered your yard, the well socialized Pyr will cautiously approach, many times with tag wagging and may continue to bark until it sees you are aware of the visitors presence. Any unprovoked aggression towards humans should be strongly discouraged as it is considered a serious breed fault.

Intelligence & Training

The Great Pyrenees is a highly intelligent and very perceptive breed. It is capable of sensing even the most subtle mood change in both humans and animals. It is this trait, among many others that allowed the Pyr to excel as a livestock guardian dog, as they were required to sort threatening from non-threatening animals. It is easily trained, however the breeds strong independence may at times require extra training and proper socialization. Simply put, it is NOT the sit, stay, roll-over, fetch type of dog and will usually pass on such activities as in the Pyr's mind, it does not see the point in such tasks and sees it as a waste of energy. Most Great Pyrenees can be trained for most routine things, such as sit, stay, come as well as agility work and carting, however it is rare to see a Pyr that will respond instantly to its owners command, regardless of how well trained it is. If the owners desire and the Pyr's desire conflict, it may take a small re-enforcement, such as a gentle pull on the leash.


Physical Characteristics

The Great Pyrenees is an elegant, well proportioned animal, that with its full winter coat, appears to be larger than it actually is. The breed varies in size from 27-32" for dogs and 25-29" for bitches, although some Great Pyrenees have been known to grow much larger, some as large as 36"+. Physically, it was bred for strength and endurance and for this reason, it will usually conserve its energy until it needs it. The breed is naturally nocturnal, preferring to sleep during the day and be active at night, patrolling the yard or property. The breed requires a moderate amount of exercise, which can usually be satisfied with a number of hours outside and an enjoyable walk. The Pyr has a heavy, primarily white double coat, that consists of a soft undercoat combined with a thicker outer coat. The double coat provides a waterproof barrier from wind, rain, snow, sun as well as also providing protection from the teeth of predators. The breed will shed the undercoat once a year in the spring, which will require some extra attention to ensure it is raked out to avoid mats. The breed coat also possesses dirt resistant qualities, allowing it to shed dirt from its coat very easily once dry, returning it to its usually white appearance. Great Pyrenees are sometimes, but rarely all-white, with most having some degree of grey, badger or beige. Coloration tends to be stronger during puppy-hood, gradually lightning during maturity. Once of the breeds trademarks are double spurs, or dew-claws on the back legs, which are complete with 2 extra toes. It also has a single set of dew-claws on the front legs. These claws do not come into contact with the ground and so require periodic trimming to avoid becoming ingrown.

Early History
The Great Pyrenees is native to the Basque country in the Pyrenees mountains that border France and Spain. Known as Le Chien de Montagne des Pyrénées in its native France, the Great Pyrenees is known to be one of the oldest breeds of dog in the world. The first written reference to the Great Pyrenees is from 1407, where the historian of the Chateau of Lourdes wrote of the breed in use to guard the Chateau.

While similar in size and stature to the Mastiff family, the Great Pyrenees is actually descended from the ancient large, white livestock guardian dogs of the middle ages and therefore evolved parallel to most modern breeds of dogs as opposed to being descended from them. Because of this, the Great Pyrenees has more in common with a wolf, than that of a modern dog. Having no extant ancestor, the Great Pyrenees has remained virtually unchanged both physically and mentally for hundreds of years. This has allowed it to evolve naturally over centuries, which among other things, means that the breed has relatively few health problems, in comparison to modern dogs.

 

A Serious working dog

 

Without question, the Great Pyrenees is a hardy working animal, bred primarily as a livestock guardian for shepherds, their flocks and families. The dog's imposing size, strength, courage and resistance to the elements proved invaluable to shepherds, who learned to depend on the large white dogs for companionship as well as protection for their flock against predators of all kinds. Wild dogs, bears, wolves, coyotes, as well as many birds of prey and other predators have over the centuries learned to respect the big white dogs and give them a wide berth. Even humans, over the ages that threaten or endanger their flock have found themselves on the wrong side of a Great Pyrenees, which is not at all a desirable position to be in.

It's natural calm and placid temperament was a working requirement allowing them to roam freely among their flocks without alarming them. Upon sensing a threat to its flock or family however, the Pyrenees is 100% a fearless guardian dog, quite capable of convincing nearly any predator that dining on its flock was simply not an option. Its heavy, white double coat also proved to be a valuable asset, shielding the dog from rain, wind and snow as well as providing a formidable shield against the teeth of predators. The coats white color also allowed shepherds to distinguish between the guardians and predators at a distance.

Also known as the Pyrenean Mountain Dog in much of Europe, it is a highly intelligent and independent breed. Completely capable of making independant decisions, it requires no human intervention while in the field, which was also a work requirement as the Great Pyrenees often protected hundreds, if not thousands of acres of open, rugged and often harse and mountainous farmland, fending off any and all predators it encountered. The breed's effectiveness as a livestock guardian is completely instinctive, inherited from hundreds of years of selective breeding for this specific purpose. As such, as a livestock guardian, it generally requires little training beyond socializing the dog with its flock at an early age. The great Pyrenees working as a livestock guardian dog is completely independent, making it's own decisions and acting on them accordingly. The breed is also known for its natural ability to sense danger, with many a shepherd throughout time owing their lives to their big white companions.


Transition to show animal

The Great Pyrenees began to gain recognition in the 17th century, when Louis XIV made the breed the official French court dog, after becoming enchanted with their beauty. As well, both Queen Victoria as well as Queen Marie Antoinette fell in love with the breed and owned one. The first written reference to them in the Americas came in 1815, however it is widely believe that they were introduced to the new world in the mid 16th century.

In England, The Pyrenean Mountain Dog was first registered and shown in 1885, with a preservation club being formed in 1907 designed to help preserve and boost their dwindling numbers. Until this time, the Great Pyrenees had been known strictly as a working dog. It wasn't long however before its breath-taking beauty began captivating the show rings however. In 1911, the President of the French Republic awarded the French champion Porthos with the prize of being the most beautiful dog in all of France. Throughout the early 1900's, with the big white dog's numbers dwindling, several attempts were made to try and re-establish the breed. Several Great Pyrenees breed clubs were formed, including the Reunion des Amateurs de Chiens Pyreneens in 1920, a club which still exists to this day. In 1927, the club established the first breed standard for the Great Pyrenees, which has been used as the basis for all other standards to this day. The breed was re-introduced to America in 1931 by Mr. and Mrs. Francis Crane and were officially recognized by the American Kennel Club as a purebred race in 1932. Since that time, the breeds numbers have slowly increased, with more and more responsible breeders ensuring its survival.


And also loving companion

The increase in popularity in the latter end of the 20th century also saw a large increase in the amount of Great Pyrenees assuming the role of family companion, as opposed to their traditional livestock guardian roles. Of all the flock guarding breeds, the Great Pyrenees is by nature the best with people, offering a great tolerance and affection of people and children if properly socialized and trained. The exception to this, is the livestock protection animal that has not been socialized around people, but rather its flock which may take exception to unknown humans interfering with its flock.

The well socialized Great Pyrenees makes for a loving and loyal companion as well as a very effective watch dog. Naturally calm and well mannered, it is also usually quite tolerant of many other pets including cats and small dogs that it has been raised with and has a special love of children. Although very independent, it is also usually easily trained and they possess a very unique personality that Great Pyrenees owners worldwide have grown to love. Their calm nature also allows them to be trained for therapy work as well, such as hospitals and nursing homes. It should be stressed however, that a Pyr is not for everyone. There are many pros and cons and a number of challenges that are associated with its unique personality and characteristics.