Intelligent, watchful, and generally calm dogs. Can be standoffish and wary with strangers and has a tendency to bark. Independent spirit but responds well to a reward-based approach to training involving treats or favorite toys. Great Pyrenees seem to enjoy dog sports such as agility, tracking and competitive obedience as well as hiking, backpacking and carting.
The Great Pyrenees has existed for several millennia, possibly dating as far back as 1800 BC. Direct ancestors of the Great Pyrenees likely include the Kuvasz, the Maremma Sheepdog and the Anatolian Shepherd. Eventually the breed was introduced to Europe, specifically the Basque and French regions of the Pyrenees mountains. The Great Pyrenees was lauded for its ability to herd sheep and to protect their owners from wild animals. During the 1600's, the Great Pyrenees became very popular with the French aristocracy, so much that Louis XIV declared the Great Pyrenees to be the Royal Dog of France. The Great Pyrenees was first brought to the United States as a gift presented to J.S. Skinner by the Marquis de Lafayette in 1824, but by the early 1900's the breed's population had decreased significantly. Bernard Senac-Lagrange and M. Dretzen are credited with preserving the Great Pyrenees and helping to increase its population. The American Kennel Club accorded the Great Pyrenees official recognition in 1933.