Great Pyrenees, breed of large working dog whose fossil remains date its existence in Europe from the Bronze Age (1800–1000 B.C.). It stands from 25 to 32 in. (63.5–81.3 cm) high at the shoulder and weighs from 90 to 125 lb (40.8–56.7 kg). Its weather-resistant double coat is composed of dense, fine underhairs and a thick, coarse, straight or slightly wavy outercoat. Believed to be related to an ancient mastiff of central Asia or Siberia and to have been brought into Europe by the invading Aryan hordes, the Great Pyrenees was for centuries the guardian of shepherds and flocks in the mountains of Europe. Later, it became popular at the French court and as a guard dog on large estates. Today it is commonly raised for show competition and as a pet. See dog.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.