The Pyrador is a
designer dog, the intentional crossbreed between an exceptional guardian of
sheep from the Pyrenees mountains, and the Labrador Retriever, a good-natured hunting dog and the most popular breed of
dog in the United States 26 years in a row.
The Labrador Retriever has a long
history as a sporting dog, with an ancestry we can only guess at. While we do know
that the Labrador is one of many retrieving dogs that were descended from the St. John’s dog, a tireless
worker that retrieved nets, ropes, and
even fish from the oceans for the fishermen of the area, we don’t know how the
St. John’s dog itself came to be. We do know that in the 1800s two breeders of
St. John's dogs, James Harris and Walter Scott, both began dog breeding programs to
develop the St. John’s into a capable gun dog.
To that end, James Harris gave two of his male retrievers to Walter Scott, which, when bred with the dogs at Mr.
Scott’s kennels, gave rise to the Labrador Retriever.
The Great Pyrenees is a much older breed even than the Labrador Retriever; these dogs have
been guarding sheep for thousands of years from the bears, wolves, and lynx
that used to populate the Pyrenees mountains between France and Spain, and are
speculated to be the descendants of large
white dogs that existed as flock guardians Asia Minor somewhere around ten to
eleven thousand years ago. Although there are still some Great Pyrenees dogs guarding
the sheep of the cold and remote Pyrenees mountains, as the populations of
large predators in the area declined, these dogs diversified and were frequently employed as guard dogs for people
and property and as jailer’s dogs. These dogs became so valued in this capacity
that in the 1600s they were labelled the
Royal Dog of France by Dauphin Louis XIV.