Country/Date of Origin: France/2000 BC
This sheep guardian is one of the oldest of the pure breeds. It is known from Bronze age burial sites. It is thought to have come from the Middle East as a similar breed is depicted in ancient Babylonian art work.
At night a shepherd could easily distinguish the sheep shaped, sheep colored and even sheep sized Great Pyrenees Dog from predators such as wolves and bears. And in the day, the white color lulled thieves, either human or animal, into a false sense of security. The seemingly unguarded flock was, to their great surprise, quite well guarded.
The protective instincts of the Basque shepherd's dog captured the attention of French nobility and soon the white one was watching the chateaux and children of kings.
It is hard to realize that the breed was not recognized by the American Kennel Club until 1933 although the first pair were brought to General George Washington by the Marquis de Lafayette. They are however, experiencing an unexpected surge in popularity due to the use of the breed for its original purpose. A rising threat to livestock by coyotes and a reluctance to use poisons has resulted in more dogs being used as guardians. The program has been quite successful.