Farm & Ranch Defender
Black & White Great Pyrenees
Yes... There IS such a thing!
Black and White Pyrenees seem a
It is only until you have the pleasure of dwelling with one that you realize...
They are a Dream Come True!
Photo: 10 Month Old Purebred Great Pyrenees w/2 Year old Girl
About Our Black and White Great Pyrenees
The Great Pyrenees is the Gentle Giant of country living. They are fierce in defending their livestock, home and any creature they deem themselves protector of.
The Pyr can ward off everything from skunks and 'coons in the chicken coop to coyotes and wolves from the sheep and cattle. Bear would rather avoid rummaging your trash bin than face the ever alert Pyrenees pulling guard duty in the wee hours of the night.
Nocturnal, Calm, Independent and Deliberate - this worker is always on point and ready for action when the demand exists.
The Black and White Great Pyrenees is unlike any other Livestock Guardian I've had the pleasure of dwelling with. Even among Great Pyrenees, these lines are something to take note of. And to be quite honest I never cared much for the Great Pyrenees I had been around until I encountered these Color Bred Lines.
My original aversion to the Pyr, I later discovered, was due to the lack of instinct I assumed the dog was supposed to have and of course none of the Pyrs I had encountered in the field really looked big enough to actually do what I understood the breed was developed to do. Never mind the fact you never actually train a pyr, they are much to clever for that. Rather your pyr will train you and I've discovered this is a fine arrangement so long as you're not to hard headed, you'll get along just fine.
I was at a Spring Festival in Missouri when I spied my first Giant Black Great Pyrenees. He was magnificent! I asked the couple what he was and was astonished when they said he was a purebred Pyr. I did not know they could be anything but white. He had been neutered and they did not know how to reach his breeder but he was the only black in the litter. I was in love and wanted to learn more.
I began digging and turned up very little regarding the black coloration even active breeders would not mention or even admit to its existence despite some brief mention of it here and there in the standards of the breed. I began to question whether this nearly solid black "pyr" I encountered was truly a purebred or not.
However, my research turned up that color/pigment in the Pyrenees breeding line is not only necessary but the primary contributor to preserving the large size and instinctual working ability in the breed. This led me to consider then, how much color is possible?
I learned that continuous breeding of white on white, over time, leads to an inferior dog that tends to lack natural working instinct and devolves into expressing a diminished stature.
Color breeding seemed to be the key that created the dog that immediately caught my eye and gave me reason to rethink my opinion of the breed. I remain puzzled however as to why the black coloration would be considered so taboo. You can try this exercise yourself, just give it a few days in the forums or a single post in a Pyrenees Facebook group, mention the color black and the word Pyrenees in the same post and you can literally watch the thread blow up before your eyes!
I found only one breeder in the states who was not shy about black however they only produced Pyrs with some black markings. But their lines were phenomenal and not associated in any way with AKC (a stance which I admire when it comes to the Pyrenees). That did not change the fact I still longed for a mostly black dog. I was assured by the breeder that this was highly improbable but I believed if color was possible at all then breeding for it could result in it what I was looking for.
Then I encountered this Great Pyrenees site gpcaonline.org that states:
"While no preference is to be given to marked or unmarked coat colorings, it must be remembered that the Great Pyrenees is a principally white dog. Therefore, when markings exceed one-third of the body, they are considered to be excessive." (emphasis added)
Bingo! I considered this a confirmation that a mostly black dog was indeed possible. However it would be several years before I would capture the illusive Black Great Pyrenees again.
I was working with a potential Puppy Parent at that time out of Canada who has since become a dear long distance friend of mine. She fell in love with our Great Pyredane hybrid line. Upon inquiry I shared that I was really interested in procuring a Black Pyrenees or at the very least working to produce one from the Black and White lines I had discovered.
Months went by and one day after about 6 years of searching I opened my email to find a letter from my Canadian friend who spotted a breeder claiming to have a nearly solid Black Great Pyrenees from Large, Instinctual breeding stock which originated in part from Europe. I was ecstatic and had to find out more about her breeding practices. I needed to confirm that this was indeed the real deal.
To my amazement he was the most perfect puppy I had been searching for all of this time. Not to mention his temperament is beyond anything I could ever have hoped for. He is huge, docile and a very relaxed fellow and yet he looks as though he could be fearsome if attacked. He was a monster in size at only 10 months of age as depicted in the photo above with my little girl.
This began our Black and White Great Pyrenees breeding program and now you know all of the reasons we find it such a critical thing to include the Black in our lines.
Obviously the thing that we have discovered makes our Great Pyrenees an Old World Pyr is also the one thing that would eliminate them in the show ring of today. Fortunately like many of our Puppy Puppy parents we are not interested in showing our dogs, we are interested in producing dogs that behave and preform as they were bred to do from the start. This is not to say we believe a working pyr cannot be shown, rather we feel breeding for show detracts from the traits we wish to produce as a result of our own breeding program.
While our litters throw everything from pure white, Salt'n Pepper (White with Black Patches) and badger patched pups, we also have manage one or two Blaireau (which is a full bodied badger that typically turns white when matured) and if we are lucky one or two nearly solid Black Great Pyrenees puppy.
I happen prefer the extreme color and am proud to be a 'Black Sheep' in this regard. My dog and I are well suited together and I'm happy to offer the same to anyone else who can relate. I cannot be alone in this as the Black pups (and those with black) are in highest demand and are most often the first to go of these litters, with deposits in place months before the litter is even born.
If you are looking to improve your lines with size and instinct we have the ingredients in ours that are known for making that happen. We are happy to work with responsible breeders in this regard just contact us and we'll help identify the choice pups that would be the most likely to make this happen for you.
As far as the Pyrenees personality, I've come to think the Pyrenees is more like a giant cat masquerading in a dog suit. It is only when there is a perceived advantage to him that he'll be likely to respond to your calls, even then don't be surprised if he takes his time in doing so.
The one thing he will not tolerate is mischief and this makes the aloof canine such a blessing to have around.
On the lighter side: I think I've figured out why the American Standards differ so greatly from those of the French Standards. I imagine an old rancher showing his working pyr in the show ring as resembling something like this failed agility clip reveals about this "happy go lucky" couple...
How many awards do you think they walked away with?
Hence, we needed a set of guidelines that would produce a better specimen for the show ring. Who cares if he can sleep with one eye open and defend a flock of 50+ sheep or not. He has a ribbon to win!
I don't know about you, but I would much rather hang out with this jolly, working pyr in the video clip above than some snooty show dog that can't tell the difference between a coyote and his own tail.
Note: I do not actually believe that all show pyrs are incapable of working, nor am I suggesting that all working pyrs would be anything less than classy in the ring. I do realize there can exist a healthy balance albeit I think it is extremely rare as this duality under normal circumstances contradict one another. I do hope my experience I've shared with you will offer you an informed response for anyone who would insist that Black Great Pyrenees "must be some kind of mix". (Spoken with authoritative undertones... Yeah, you know what I'm talking about!)
I would love to hear about your Black and White Pyrenees experience or story if you have one. Please feel free to share and we may publish your story in our blog.
The Great Pyrenees In History
Also known as the Pyrenean mountain dog, the Great Pyrenees is a very old breed, probably descending from the Tibetan mastiff. She may have come to Europe with the Aryans from Central Asia, as well as with Phoenician sea traders. They settled in the Spanish Pyrenees and in various mountain valleys in Europe. She was used from the earliest times to guard flocks.
A painting of the times shows a pair of these guards, each wearing a spiked iron collar to protect her throat from animal or human adversaries. In medieval France, the Pyrenees became a formidable fortress guard, and eventually a band of these imposing dogs was the pride of many large chateaus.
In the late 1600s, the breed caught the eye of the French nobility, and for a brief time they were in great demand in the court of Louis XIV. In fact, in 1675 the Great Pyrenees was decreed the "Royal Dog of France" by Louis XIV. Around the same time the Great Pyrenees came to Newfoundland, where she may have played a role in the development of the Newfoundland breed, but she did not herself continue as a pure breed.
The first documented Pyrenees came to America with Gen. Lafayette in 1824. By the 1900s, the breed had disappeared from French court life, and the remaining dogs were those found still working in the isolated Basque countryside. Many of the poorer puppies were sold to tourists who brought them back to England and other countries. These dogs bore little resemblance to the magnificent Pyrenees that had once been so admired, however.
Interest in the breed declined in England, but fortunately the breed still existed in sufficient numbers and quality in her native mountain land so that later fanciers were able to obtain good breeding stock. These dogs served as the foundation of the modern Pyrenees. Serious importation of the breed to America occurred in the 1930s, and by 1933 the Great Pyrenees received AKC recognition. She attracted great attention as well as new pet parents; today the Great Pyrenees enjoys moderate popularity.
Copyright © 1998, 2005 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc. based on
ENCYCLOPEDIA OF DOG BREEDS by D. Caroline Coile, Ph.D.