The Pyrenean Mountain Dog (known in America as the Great Pyrenees and in France as Le Grand Chien de Montagnes des Pyrenees) invariably inspires any number of superlative comments. The majestic beauty, dignity, regal bearing and aura of self-confidence which are characteristic of the breed make a lasting impression on the viewer. However, only after one has come to know the Pyrenean Mountain Dog and its unique history does it become apparent that the breed’s true and greatest value is not beauty, but the admirable and unique character of the dog. The Pyrenean Mountain Dog is a native of the Pyrenees Mountains between France and Spain. The breed's association with man dates back many centuries, with the physical and mental characteristics of the Pyrenean Mountain Dog remaining virtually unchanged down through the years. Just as it did in the 16th century, so today the Pyrenean Mountain Dog guards the sheep high on the mountain slopes.
In the 17th century, Louis XIV made the strikingly beautiful Mountain Dog the official dog of the French Court. Certainly it takes very little imagination to look at a Pyrenean Mountain Dog in your home and envision it patrolling the pre-Revolutionary chateaux of France and consorting with the lords and ladies of the Court. That the Pyrenean Mountain Dog has always appealed to royalty is illustrated by the fact that both Queen Marie Antoinette and Queen Victoria favoured and owned them. It is typical of these dogs to be equally at ease in either an atmosphere of supreme luxury, or on a peasant's doorstep high in the mountains, where life involves arduous work, extreme weather and inadequate diet. Here it is referred to as 'mat dog' by the peasant farmers.