AMERICANS LOVE MOUNTAIN DOGS
“A dog can’t think that much about what he’s doing, he just does what feels right.” ― Barbara Kingslover
There is almost an urban legend about the way people choose their dogs. The professional dog trainers think that we should think twice before we stand up for some breed and take a puppy with us. The chosen dog must have the attributes that will be in balance with our personalities or even the life we have. On the other side, psychologists believe that majority of people pick up dogs through the pattern of familiarity and that is why many dogs look like their owners and vice versa. People do recognize what is or tend to be similar to them and naturally, they will go for it. It does not surprise that people with mesmerizing hair will chose Springer Spaniel or Golden Retriever while those who have short hair will be fans of the dogs race like Siberian Husky or Basenji. The exceptions could happen too but they are still only exceptions, some rules live for eternity. Dogs and their owners somehow always look like similar.
I love all kind of dogs but I am still not sure which kind of dog is my alter ego. Due to my personal experience, I am in love with English Cocker Spaniels. They are adorable and sweet loving dogs but I find Golden Retrievers as my favorite. They are enough big to be between indoor and outdoor activities and to stay cool and beautiful. Nevertheless, the glorious aura of The Great Pyrenees Dog, presented in many movies and documentaries, keep shaking the interest of public since they look like the perfect mixture of elegant Goldies from the American houses and protective shepherd dogs from the wild mountains.
The Great Pyrenees dog is also known as Le Grande Chien des Montagnes, the Pyrenean Mountain Dog or simply the Pyr. It is written in the books that this breed has been found in fossil deposits of the Bronze Age (1800-1000 B.C.) and that originates from Central Asia, probably from Siberia. They have been used as flock guardian dogs and later, they arrived in Europe through the Aryan migration. The Pyr has been immediately loved and used by shepherds in the Pyrenees Mountain region of southern France and northern edges of Spain: „In the mid-1600s, Basque fisherman took the Pyr to Newfoundland. There, they crossed it with the black curly-coated retriever favored by English settlers. The cross produced the Landseer Newfoundland. It was also during the 17th century, the Pyr became a favorite companion of French nobility. Not until 1824 did the royal dog breed arrive in the U.S., when General Lafayette brought two males over for his friend J.S. Skinner, author of `The Dog and the Sportsman.` In 1931, Mr. and Mrs. Francis V. Crane brought a number of Great Pyrenees over to the U.S. in an effort to launch the breed in North America. Their efforts were successful, and the Great Pyrenees received American Kennel Club (AKC) recognition in 1933.”
This noble dog with the characteristics of knight is very well cherished because of his calm personality. The Pyr is affectionate, gentle, devoted and very courageous when it comes to the protection of his own family. Their stubborn and independent nature comes from their purpose to lead the flock alone in the wild and unpredictable mountain areas. It is not so easy to expect the obedience from this dog breed without the appropriate dog training and socialization. The Pyr is very friendly to the family members and house pets but this dog could be also very challenging to accept the rules and those who set them up. The Pyr loves wildness and rural life more than limited city walk but this shepherd dog could be happy alone too, waiting for his owner to show up after long working hours in urban zone.
The Pyr is a working dog that needs a lot of work if we do not want uncontrollable beast at home, that weights up to 165 pounds. He is very free and able to think for himself and that could bring the problems to the new or timid owners. If the puppy socialization is failed, the Pyr could grow up into the aggressive and violent dog that steps into the forbidden corners and provokes his alpha owner. The early training is must and it is recommended to put him into the puppy kindergarten or to involve him in the interaction with another dogs or animals. In any other case, the dog will develop the fearful or aggressive behavior that will work against the owners at the end of the day.
The gentle giant of mountains is very intelligent and fast in thinking and learning. Those qualities turn the white guardian with dark brown eyes into the perfect working dog with variety of possibilities to build full capacity. The dog is not an ideal choice for busy people with lack of dog training experiences and patience to work on the dog´s development. As a very active kennel, the Pyr needs outdoor training but the constant indoor attention. It is known as very healthy breed but the problems with hip dysplasia is something that usually follow the big dog races as well as the problems with eyes. The potential owner must count on regular brushing in spite of fact that their coat is very good and do not tend to mat. The only way to escape the possible disordered dog with lack of crucial “The Pyr elements” is to contact the certificated dog breeder that will offer the background history of the puppy and the portray of family. This helps a lot during the first months of puppy´s socialization and further in the complete 10-12 years long life. The Pyr could be very fast bored and that is why the dog trainer or owner with the training intensions must try to have innovative methods and approaches. The stubborn dog will not accept easy the rules and only patient and informed owners could achieve the success. Otherwise, the training will be a pure catastrophe and results with destructive dog that brings only negative feelings.
Every shepherd dog is a special chapter in dog training. There is no a simple formula of being on the top of the task. If someone has a success with German shepherd dogs it doesn’t mean he or she will be advanced in working with the Pyr or Malinois. The educative techniques must be adapted to the nature of the targeted dog and the breed he comes from.
The majestic mountain dog of Pyrenees, imagined in so many fairy tales with Santa Claus as a rescue and magic dog, needs love, affection and time. That is not a toy but a living being with a strong interest to learn and to act through the own perspective. Only the people with spiritual harmony and strong training capabilities are invited to accept the challenge and to turn the wild, snow-white guardians into the obedient and clever protectors of family and properties.
4 thoughts on “THE GREAT PYRENEES DOG: THE PYR LOVES PEOPLE”
Sarah’s endearing and enchanting article reminded me of the film ‘Finding Neverland’ (2004), in which the filmmakers used a Great Pyrenees dog to represent J.M. Barrie’s (author of Peter Pan) Landseer Newfoundland dog and his Saint Bernard, Porthos: the author first meets the boys who would serve as the inspiration for the novel ‘Peter Pan’ (1904) in Kensington Gardens, London, while walking Porthos, on a beautiful day.
Porthos (1894-1901) was named after the dog in the novel ‘Peter Ibbetson’ (1891), by George Du Maurier (1834-1896); Franco-British author and cartoonist. Also, he was the maternal grandfather of the five boys who inspired Peter Pan.
Porthos was a wedding gift from J.M. Barrie to his wife, while they were journeying through Switzerland. His presence in their lives was invaluable, as they would never have children.
Porthos fell terribly ill in the autumn of 1901, and J.M. Barrie decided to take him to the Dog’s Home in Battersea, London, where he euthanized; so as not to suffer.
In 1902, J.M. Barrie and his wife adopted Luath; a male Landseer Newfoundland. This dog would serve as the inspiration for the fictional character of ‘Nana’, in Peter Pan.
What a lovely article, Sarah ! Just what I needed to read tonight to relax was to think about those sweet and beautiful big dogs !
From the description you gave, I feel that I would love a pyr’s company and vice versa, as I am a very affectionate person. All pets deserve a lot of love and a lot of affection.
Training is good, but it should not be too excessive so as to obliterate a dog’s personality. Dogs, and all Animals, should be allowed to develop their own personality and to display it freely. I would love them irrespective of their training.
The French name “Le Grand Chien de Montagne des Pyrénées » is so elegant and so sweet! In all languages, however, it is a sweet and beautiful Dog !
Thank you so much, Sarah, for this lovely and heartwarming article about those affectionate dogs ! Beautiful writing and amazing illustrations as always !
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