Originally, Great Pyrenees are said to have been descendants of large dogs which roamed the mountains of Asia thousands of years ago.
According to what is written in French books, this large dogs accompanied the nomadic tribesman and their flocks from Asia on their migration westward. In the Pyrenean Mountains they met ideal environmental circumstances for their development.
Already as early as in 1407, the historian Labedanis Boudette mentions that the Castle of Lourdes, the same as de Foix, was guarded by Great Pyrenees.
Documentations about this breed are found at the begin of the 18th century. Written by M.Byasson, of d'Argelès-Gazost.
He tells that in 1675 the French Dauphin (Prince), son of Louis XIV, 8 years old, who visited Barèges, fell in love with a Great Pyrenees. When it was time for leaving he wanted his friend "Patou" to come to live with him at the Louvre.
Two years later the Marquis de Louvois visited Barèges and wanted also a "Patou".
From the place Betpouey he took home a remarkable beautyfull Great Pyrenees, which was admired by all people at the court.
For the next century the Great Pyrenees became the most favorite breed for the aristocratic owners of the large estates in France. Where they were used as company dogs and as guarding dogs
In the Pyrenean Mountains their task was to protect the flocks against predators. Such as wolves and bears, also two legged human "predators" were not unknown.
The favour for the Great Pyrenees, as gentle and majestic as they were, was growing.
In 1808 commentators write of the existence of truly marketplaces for Great Pyrenees adults and puppies.
"Every Sunday the shepherds come to Cauterets, to the marketplace. They know for sure that they won't head back home with empty pockets, as long as the dogs they bring are pure breed".
But it takes quite a time before the Great Pyrenees finds his way to other places. Thanks to tourist's from France and other foreign countries, who fell in love with this marvellous dog.
A few Great Pyrenees were exported
It seems that around 1874 the breed is not yet very homogeneous, according to an article publshed 20 february 1874 in the magazine "l'Acclimation":
"In the Pyrenees Mountain there are several types of big dogs called "Chien de Montagne" (dogs of the mountains) where of among others two breeds quite different. One, of which we could consider the name "Chien des Pyrenees Occidentales" (Dog from the west pyrenees) which is espacially seen in the surrounding of Bagneres-de-Bigorre, with a heavy muzzle, hanging lips and rounded ears. The lightly curled coat white and black coloured. This could be for a big part the source of the dogs known under the name "Terre-Neuve", which are widely spread all over France.
The other type is the "Chien des Pyrenees Orientales" (Dog from the eas Pyrenees). This dog is tall and more elegant. The muzzle more refined and the hanging ears more pointed. The coat is soft and rich, white coloured with marks of light grey or dark tan. This marks are generallly on the ears and the face . There are also all white dogs.
This type, possibly the most beautyfull of all guarding dogs of France, is also remarkable for his strength and guarding instincts.
They are also seen in the part of the Pyrenees near the department of "l 'Ariege" and the republic Andorra. But ist seems that this type has become very rare. Maybe they exist still in the mountains of Spain."
...,...................................to be continued.