These dogs take their name from the mountain range in southwestern Europe, where they have long been used as guardians of the flocks. In the United States they are called Great Pyrenees. In the United Kingdom and on the continent of Europe, they are known as the Pyrenean Mountain Dog. In their native France, they are Le Chien de Montagne des Pyrenees or Le Chien des Pyrenees. Whatever the name, it is a beautiful white dog with a "certain elegance" which for centuries has been the working associate of peasant shepherds high on the mountain slopes; the dog was "discovered" by French nobility in the seventeenth century and elevated to the status of court dog of France.
While it is generally accepted that no living breed of dog can be traced back to its wild form, and that what is known about dogs of any sort prior to a century or two ago is so little, these dogs are believed to have migrated into Europe from Asia Minor, moving westward and leaving kin in all the prominent mountain valleys of Europe. These later developed individual characteristics in the seclusion of their own environment and came to be known as the Maremma, Kuvasz, Polish Tatra, Akbash, Slovakian Chuvach, and others.
Excerpted from "Great Pyrenees" copyright 2015 The Great Pyrenees Club of America