Where Are Great Pyrenees Dogs From?
The Pyr is believed to have originally descended from the Mastiff breeds of Asia or Siberia. They are one of the oldest natural breeds, having followed the human migration into Europe, eventually settling in the Pyrenees mountains between Spain and France. For the next several centuries, the Pyr served as flock guardians, fending off fearsome predators, such as bears and wolves; their success earned them the nicknames the Pyrenean Wolf Dog and the Pyrenean Bear Hound. They were often fitted with iron collars adorned with large spikes to protect their necks. Combine this with the protection of their thick coats, and this breed was nearly unbeatable.
In the 17th century, the Pyr gained popularity with French nobility, and were often seen at court. Around the same moment in history, the first settlers of Newfoundland brought Great Pyrenees with them, to provide companionship as they discovered uncharted territory. Here, they were cross bred with English Retrievers, creating the Newfoundland breed.
With the decrease in the predator population in the mountains of France, the Pyr came dangerously close to extinction in the early 20th century. They experienced a resurgence of numbers after they were brought to America, and were eventually accepted by the AKC in 1933.