Pyrenean Mountain Dog (Gt Pyrenees)

Incredibly, this dog can trace his history back to the Bronze Age. How fascinating! Originally thought to be a Central Asian/Siberian dog he again turns up not only in the Pyrenean mountains but in evidence in 15th century Carcassone (France) and then curried favour with the French nobility and royalty in the 17th century. A flock guardian who became the darling of the aristocrats but also the helpmate of the peasants of the mountains, this dog was often called a Pyrenean Bear Dog and even a "mat dog" for his penchant to flop outside the doorway of the peasant homes. His job to protect and guard was due to his invulnerability to wolves and bears and his long heavy coat also provided defense from enemies.

Now this is a seriously big dog to groom and have correct presentation. There is just such a lot of dog to do! Nontheless, it is worth the work and once into a routine the coat becomes easy. These weather resistant double coats should have texture. The outer guard hair should never be soft so therein lies the conundrum to be able to prevent matting yet retain a harsh outer coat texture. I hate to see a felted and matted Pyrenean. This is a stunning dog whose decriptions state that he should have an "impression of elegance". As a show dog he can have it all.

As he is predominantly white - like a brown bear in silhouette, but white - then your choices for shampoo should be something that will not soften the coat but give that nice pearly sheen. You have choices - truly! If you only shampoo every other week, then use Plush Puppy Whitening Shampoo diluted at least 5:1 for heavy cleansing and 10:1 for lighter cleansing. If washing every week or the dog truly is not whiffy or dirty, then use Az Iz Shampoo (formerly known as Hydrobath/Bath Wash) just a few squirts to a bucket of water and sloshed well through the coat for a low foaming, readily rinsed routine. This will refresh and lightly cleanse without softening. For badly stained or really grubby areas, use the P.P. Deep Cleansing Shampoo approx 50/50 with water. I always dilute shampoos when working on heavy coats or large areas to enable easier penetration and dispersement of the product. The heavier the coat the more I dilute.

Now do not condition this coat. Remember, conditioner softens and flattens and we want a harsh outer coat. So you do need to retain moisture and elasticity and you will have it in mind to retain some coat condition that normally natural oils would do - BUT - this is a show dog so we do bath and blow dry and we then use other means to help nature along. So, using P.P. Seabreeze Oil 1 tbspn to 1 gal/4 litres warm water or a bucket of water or a hydrobath tank, liberally saturate the coat (after rinsing off the shampoo) with a car sponge or equivalent and ensuring the mixture penetrates right down to the skin. This is all naturally sourced from the best Evening Primrose Oil and Calendula Oil etc and is wonderful for bringing back that healthy vigour to the coat. Leave in and do not rinse out. It gives you all that wonderful sheen and elasticity to the coat without softening. Who can live without it?

Having said no conditioner, there are times when a conditioner is useful. For instance, sometimes the tail can get tangled and brittle as can the featherings on the back of the front legs etc - use P.P. Silk Protein Conditioner diluted once again 10:1 as a watery slurry and sloshed onto those areas only and then worked through and rinsed off. Do this before applying the Seabreeze Oil.

Now you blow dry. Use a strong cool turbo type dryer and start from the rear drying forwards towards the head for lift until about 7/8 dry and then dry with the growth of the coat on the topline area. It is important to get the root area dry. I see many who dry the top layers and not the underneath. That's when matting occurs and you tend to encourage hot spots under these matted areas. I am fanatical about drying properly. Remember, your hands will be warm when drying so stop and walk away for a minute or two till they cool and then the coat is also cool by then and you feel once again. Ten to one it is still damp! Make sure it is dry. This drying process is important. It serves to remove all dead undercoat encouraging new coat and allowing you to "roll" the coat so minimising those massive coat drops. It serves to give you the chance to check all the skin area for "free riders" (ticks/fleas etc) and any skin damage or irritations. It gives you a wonderful finish and professional look to the end coat result. Plus, drying it forwards gives lift to the coat which is even more critical when not in full coat.

For the legs and ruff I like to use a bit of P.P. Puffy Dog at the root areas for more glamour and substance - applied with the hands and worked into the root area and then dried against the growth for maximum lift. For the body of the coat before drying for extra lift I use the P.P. Volumising Cream diluted 1 tbspn to 1 cup water and applied liberally with a spray bottle making sure this penetrates through all layers of the coat - the lift happens from underneath not the top! The Volumising Cream gives a more coat look without a sticky harsh feel to the coat whereas the Puffy Dog has more lift and hold hence not as desirable on the body of the coat but wonderful for the legs and ruff. His coat also must never be curly so if necessary, use P.P. Blow Dry Cream diluted 1 tbspn to 1 cup water and applied onto the curly areas and dried against the growth using a P.P. Porcupine Brush to smooth and lightly stretch to straighten,

Show days requires some tweaking to the coat. Using the P.P. OMG Grooming Spray for the longer lengths of the coat and if desired, the P.P. Revivacoat diluted one golfball amount to one cup water for the topline and shorter lengths, spray and brush with the P.P. Pin Brush a great economical brush that is just so right for these double coats, against the growth of the coat once again. Keep spritzing with the spray mixes as you work and finish with a light go through with the blow dryer if you can or allow to dry before brushing or placing back down into growth direction shape.

Use P.P. Coverup Cream on elbows or any reddened or stained area applied to a barely damp sponge and dabbed lightly and keep repeating till level of cover achieved hitting the area with a dusting of loose chalk and leave till prior to ringtime and then brush or blow out. The chalk helps to dry the cover cream in damp weather and sets the coverage. The secret is applying thin layer upon layer and never in a thick application.

I don't mind also a light application of P.P. Powder Puff Regular dusted through the areas that are too soft - apply this when the coat has been dried. It is an instant cleaner and deodoriser but also lends a light amount of texture! Secrets! ah yes, this is how it is done. You can use this on the nether regions or when they pee and miss, for a quick clean and keep the P.P. Wonder Wash for those dirty feet quick cleaning jobs. I prefer using a dry clean powder such as Powder Puff for areas I have spent ages drying rather than applying something wet and having to redry! Don't forget the Pixie Dust - use judiciously - he would be a rather large fairy on the Xmas tree if you went overboard with this wouldn't he? It just gives that light hint of shimmer when applied properly which is just a pinch sifted onto the topline or flicked through off the side of a brush.

So now your "animated snowdrift" is ring ready and looks a million bucks. Such a majestic elegant dog with his beautiful coat to go with his loyal and patient personality. His strength and independence show through with his wonderful conformation accentuated by his fabulous grooming and you and he know there is no-one better to protect and maintain the integrity of his long history than he himself. He is his best advertisement - who needs anything more?


CHERYL LECOURT


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