The Great Pyrenees is a large guard dog, used for protecting livestock. The breed is related to several other white European sheepdogs and has been used for thousands of years by the Basque people. The breed once served as the official dog of the royal French court. It was also used during World War II to haul artillery over the Pyrenean Mountain range back and forth between France and Spain.
The Great Pyrenees weighs from 85 to 125 pounds. Besides its size, its thick white coat is another one of its identifying features. The Great Pyrenees may have a gray or tan mask around its face or shades of the colors on its body. These markings get less distinct with age, but only one of every four Great Pyrenees has a pure white coat. The breed also has a double dewclaw in the back.
The Great Pyrenees is gentle, yet stern. It is excellent at guarding, but can also be found calmly resting at home. The breed will not attack unless it deems an attack necessary, but will noisily defend its territory and family, intimidating aggressors. They rarely trust strangers, but make excellent family members; the breed is usually even good with small animals and children as long as it is properly socialized. The breed definitely has an independent nature, reminiscent of its mountain-flock-guarding history.