The Great Pyrenees is a white dog with a strong heritage as a flock guardian.
Today, this large dog is primarily a pet and spends his days as a loving family companion.
The Great Pyrenees is a big and smart dog with a strong will, who needs an experienced dog owner to guide him. Read on to learn more about this magnificent breed.
Real name: Great Pyrenees
Other names: Pyrenean Mountain Dog, Patou, Montañés del Pirineo, Perro de Montaña de los Pirineos, Can de Montaña de os Perinés, Chien des Pyrénées, Chien de Montagne des Pyrénées
Common nicknames: Pyr, GP, PMD, Gentle Giant
Breed type: Working Dogs
Weight: 100 pounds & up (male), 85 pounds & up (female)
Height: 27-32 inches (male), 25-29 inches (female)
Lifespan: 10 – 12 years
Litter Size: 8 – 10 puppies
Color: White, although may have shades of gray, red, or tan
Coat: Long, flat, thick
Great Pyrenees Introduction
The Great Pyrenees is a large dog breed with a thick coat and powerful working force. They aren’t afraid to stand against wolves and other predators that they may encounter in the wild.
Today, they are mostly devoted and loved pets, and they do not need to run through the wild searching for food and water.
You can find them mostly enjoying family activities and serving as a leg heater on a cold winter day.
This breed is often described as ‘majestic,’ since they are big and extremely strong mountain dogs.
They stand up to 32 inches at shoulders and usually have around 100 pounds, with females being smaller.
They always look calm and peaceful with the gentle moves, and thats is true until they feel threatened or in fear of any of their family members.
Their coat is all waterproof, which means that they love spending a fair share of their time in the water.
Great Pyrenees History
The Great Pyrenees is an old breed, and they were bred centuries ago.
Initially, this large breed was bred to work with peasant shepherds and herding dogs in the Pyrenees Mountains, which serve as a natural border between Spain and France.
Great Pyrenees’ job was to watch the flock, locate the predators, and fight them off – these predators were other large and dangerous animals, that were no domesticated, such as bears, wolves, or livestock rustlers.
This breed is extremely calm and that treat served them great when they were in a freezing-cold mountain for days on end with nothing to do but look at sheep.
It takes a lot of discipline for such action, and not every breed can do it, nor is capable.
Could you imagine a Pomeranian watchign the flock alone for days in the windy and cold mountains? Probably not, because they were not bred to do this kind of job like Great Pyrenees was.
Their discipline and courage were so unique and fascinating that they grew to a level of legend.
The 17th century was a big milestone for this breed because the Great Pyrenees was adopted as the Royal Dog of France in the court of King Louis XIV after they proved useful as guardians of the chateaux.
Great Pyrenees Physical Appearance
The Great Pyrenees dog demonstrates a great impression of elegance and strength. This is also a very beautiful breed by various standards, thanks to its posture, size, and posture.
The Great Pyrenees will always have a white or mostly white coat that may occasionally contain markings of gray, badger, or various shades of tan.
This breed is highly intelligent and capable of making its own decisions. This breed was designed to feel comfortable outside which is why they have a thick, strong, and waterproof coat.
The whole body is well-proportioned, with an overall gentle expression. The head is not heavy in proportion to the size of the dog, but it’s wedge-shaped with a slightly rounded crown.
Eyes are medium-sized, and dark brown in color. Ears are small to medium in size. The neck is strongly muscled and of medium length, while the chest is moderately broad.
The tail is well plumed and carried low, and may be carried either over the back or low.
The shoulders are well laid and elbows are close to the body and point directly to the rear when standing, while forelegs are located directly under the withers.
The coat is waterproof, straight, and thick. The outer coat lies over a dense and woolly undercoat. The coat is richer around the neck and shoulders. The hair on the face and ears is shorter and of silkier texture.
Great Pyrenees Personality
The Great Pyrenees is a fearless breed, heavily confident, and gentle. Although he is big in size, the Great Pyrenees is extremely gentle and tolerant with children.
Still, you should educate your children on how to behave around dogs, and not disturb them when eating from their bowl or chilling in their crate.
Since this breed was bred to guard the flock, he has a strong heritage as a flock guardian and is highly territorial and protective. They are reserved toward strangers and often suspicious.
This is the main reason why early socialization should be conducted properly and why this breed isn’t for first time dog owners.
As puppies, they are like any other puppy, heavy chewers, and more prone to destroying things since they are larger in size.
Don’t let them run around the house before they have reached full maturity. Like any other large breed, they need more time to mature.
Great Pyrenees Training
Begin training as soon as you bring your Pyr puppy home, while he is still young and small in size. Dogs can learn basic commands with eight weeks.
Use only positive reinforcement training techniques such as praise, play, and food rewards, and be patient.
Never use any kind of harsh and negative techniques, because they may harm the dog and lead to destructive behavior.
When it comes to training, this breed will try to have it his own way. He has strong instincts of thinking on his own, which is why patience is so important.
Make training short, fun, and interactive. Don’t force him to repeat the same command over and over again, because he will get bored.
They do bark, and they will bark at anything that might be a threat. This is one of many treats which makes this breed a great guarding dog.
Get your Great Pyrenees into puppy kindergarten class by the time he is 10 to 12 weeks old, and socialize, socialize, socialize.
Make sure that you go through with vaccines and follow veterinarian guidelines on recommended socialization steps.
If you are getting a dog from a breeder, make sure that you share what kind of dog do you need, what are desirable traits, and what are your obligations, so the breeder can recommend you the specific dog.
After an honest talk, maybe you will realize that you need another breed, a better fit for you, or maybe even two dogs – you can’t know until you share your thoughts.
Great Pyrenees Exercise
The Great Pyrenees is not a highly active breed, but they will need a fair amount of outdoor time.
The breed was developed more to monitor than to run. Learn how often you should take your dog out and try to meet those recommendations.
Moderator exercise should be fine for this breed, such as longer walks.
This breed also exercises mind and body by participating in various canine activities such as cart-pulling, obedience trials, and agility.
Great Pyrenees Grooming
Does a large dog demand more grooming? In this case, you won’t have to spend too much time grooming your Pyrs, although you will have to provide consistency.
Their coat is longer and as such can collect dirt and the coat may tangle. Therefore, regular brushing should be of big help.
Make sure that you have the right brushing tools on hand.
If you don’t have time to brush your Pyrs, think about a professional groomer, but know that it will cost you.
The rest is regular grooming:
- Check gums on a weekly level
- Search for any sign of fleas or skin infection
- Brush weekly
- Provide foods that promote teeth health
- Trim or grind nails regularly
- Bath only when needed, because dogs dont have the same skin as humans do, and dont need frequent bathing
Great Pyrenees Health
If you are dealing with responsible breeders, you will get a healthy dog.
Plus, responsible breeders will always present you medical documentation on the dog, his parents, and even show you the facilities.
If you’re not given signed medical documentation, you are dealing with puppy mills – in that case, turn around and walk away.
The Great Pyrenees Club of America continually communicates that all dogs should be tested for more common condition that may affect the breed, including:
- Hip and elbow dysplasia
- Eye disorders
- Luxating patellas
- Neurological and immune-mediated disorders
Some concern is often linked to bloat, a life-threatening condition which is common in large breeds.
This is why you should know how much you should feed your dog, and why the dog bowl is such an important tool.
Education is the key, so educate yourself to know the signs of bloat, what can happen, and what you can do to save your dog’s life.
The Bottom Line
The Great Pyrenees is a large dog that can be a perfect home pet, as long as you train him and socialize right. This breed isn’t for anyone and primarily does better with experienced dog owners.
If you want a dog who is large and rugged, and kind of has that white bear look, and you can deal with his independence, then the Great Pyrenees might be for you.
Bear in mind that a larger breed needs more food and stronger finances for diet and veterinarian/medical costs.
Make sure that you always calculate every aspect of getting a dog before you get one.