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The Arrival. 
Pyr-artwork by Mannie.

The first Pyrs to arrive in New Zealand came in 1947/48 but little is known about them, other than the fact that they came from de Fontenay kennels in England. They do not seem to have been mated.

Early in 1950, two Pyrs from Pondtail Kennel, U K. were imported to Auckland zoo. One small litter was produced, but present day zoo records supply little information.

Breeding really began about 1956 using stock from de Fontenay kennel, UK. Tarba and Tosca de Fontenay produced their first litter in 1956, under the Alamar prefix. During the 1950s & 60s a few more dogs were imported from England, but due to the long voyage and the length of time spent in quarantine, importing breeding stock was an exercise plagued with problems. Some dogs arrived in shocking condition, from either underfeeding or refusing to eat, also from lack of exercise during the trip. One bitch arrived with a broken hock, another dog in an emaciated state almost fell out when his cage was opened.

Because of the limited selection of dogs available for breeding, also poor survival rates from litters, numbers did not increase greatly during this period.  Even so, several dogs went to Australia during these years, some exported, others going with their owners. Carlos of Bellaire, son of import Cirano de Fontenay and Alamars Rose, was perhaps the most notable dog produced during this period.
In 1971, Carlos was bred to Cherryglen Elizabeth, imported from the UK. Their daughter Candida del Aprisco continued this line producing a litter sired by another U.K. import, Briarghyll Excelsior.

The breed became firmly established during the 1970-80s, with more imports from England, also from Australia, together with an increase in the number of breeders as Pyrs became better known. The first dog to acheive the status of Champion was Cherryglen Elizabeth, who also produced the first pair of NZ bred Champions.

During the 90s this pattern of importing selective breeding continued.
Recent imports have come from Laudley, Startrax, Karray in the U.K., Louvois, Pyrgold & Calamura in Australia and Shadehills in the U.S.
There are currently 6 kennels actively breeding and 2 or 3 intending to do so in the near future. Most breeders have had only one or two litters.

Pyrs do very well in the showring, with many wins at group and inshow level. They are also to be seen collecting for charity, featuring in Christmas Parades, attending Teddy Bears Picnics, visiting rest homes or attracting a crowd of admirers when ever they appear in public.
There are two spectialist pyr clubs:
The Pyrenean Mountain Dog club, established in 1972
The Pyrenean Fanciers Association established in 1998

Stella Hughes January 2000



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