Great Pyrenees: Dog Breed Info

Great Pyrenees

The Great Pyrenees is a majestic and elegant dog breed originating from the Pyrenees Mountains. They have a medium build, with a slightly longer body and a thick white coat that provides camouflage in snowy terrains. Originally bred as working dogs to protect sheep from predators like wolves, they are now loyal and relaxed companions. The great Pyrenees are known for their loud barking and exceptional hearing, using their paws to express love. They have double dewclaws and can sometimes squeeze onto furniture despite their large size. While they can be stubborn during training, they have a charming and gentle temperament, making them devoted family companions. With their independent minds and gentle souls, the Great Pyrenees is a stunning and majestic creature. They are strong and swift, but they are typically tranquil and affectionate with their loved ones in a domestic environment.

Appearance Great Pyrenees

The Great Pyrenees is often compared to a polar bear because of its large size, strong build, and thick, fluffy white coat. These dogs typically stand at a height of 25-32 inches and can weigh over 100 pounds for males and around 85 pounds for females. Their eyes are a deep brown color and have a soulful and intelligent look.

The Great Pyrenees have a weather-resistant double coat that is predominantly white, though there may be some coloring near their face. They have a rounded head, wise brown eyes, a plenteous coat that cascades along their body, and a luxuriant, feather-like tail. Despite their high-maintenance appearance, their coat is surprisingly resistant to dirt and tangles, though they do shed constantly. Regular brushing is necessary to manage the shedding.

History of the Great Pyrenees

The Great Pyrenees originally came from Europe and was traditionally used as a sheep guardian. With their white fur, their origins can be traced back to Asia Minor, where their evolution began thousands of years ago. Around 3000 BC, they made their way to the Pyrenees Mountains. These impressive canines were highly valued and became the Royal Dog of France in 1675, protecting the Chateau of Lourdes. Basque fishermen brought them to Newfoundland in 1662, resulting in a crossbreeding with retrievers to create the Landseer Newfoundland.

The breed arrived in America in 1824 and was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1933 due to the efforts of Mr. and Mrs. Francis V. Crane. Not exclusively show dogs, Great Pyrenees excel as therapy, rescue, and livestock guardian dogs. They are social but cautious with strangers, adapt well, and possess a unique ability to detect predators.


The Great Pyrenees are a loving, intelligent, and patient breed, making them an excellent choice for a family pet. They are loyal and protective towards their family but cautious around strangers. This breed is often used as a guardian for livestock due to its calm and well-behaved nature. They are courageous and obedient, especially gentle with children. However, early socialization and interaction with kids is important. Great Pyrenees tend to bark frequently to alert their owners of potential danger. They are known for their devotion and can be great family pets while also being protective.

Moreover, Crate training is recommended to prevent destructive behavior when left alone for long periods. They generally get along well with other animals, including cats. It’s important to note that they reach maturity at around 2 years old and may tend to wander. Responsible ownership and proper training are key. Some individuals may also drool and slobber.

Living Requirements

Great Pyrenees were originally bred for cold climates and enjoy cold weather, but if you live in a warm place like Florida, consider their preference for cooler temperatures. While they can live in warmer climates, they are more comfortable in colder environments.

These dogs are best suited to large, fenced yards or farm environments where they can freely roam. However, since they tend to wander and are skilled at escaping, it’s vital to have secure gates and always use leashes when outside. It’s recommended to avoid letting them roam unleashed.

Great Pyrenees are known for their barking and prefer a calm routine. Historically, they guarded sheep at night, so they are more active during the evening and rest during the day. They also get along well with other animals, showing kindness towards cats and smaller creatures.

How to Care for a Great Pyrenees

Great Pyrenees

The Great Pyrenees have a gentle and kind temperament, as well as a calm and intelligent disposition. It is often used as a protector of livestock, displaying a peaceful and obedient demeanor when not disturbed. However, it is important to provide this breed with adequate attention and care.


Maintaining the coat of a Great Pyrenees requires regular brushing and monthly baths. Their fur is resistant to dirt and tangles, but using a slicker or rake brush can make brushing more enjoyable. Consult a vet for advice on de-matting conditioners if necessary. The breed sheds a lot, so adding extra brushing sessions can help combat the trail of white fur they leave behind. It is necessary to regularly trim nails in order to avoid discomfort, ideally every two weeks or when the nails start to touch the ground. Daily tooth brushing is essential for good dental health, and an annual professional cleaning with a vet is recommended to prevent plaque buildup.


The Great Pyrenees possess high intelligence despite the fact that their independent character and stubbornness can present training challenges. When training them, it is crucial to establish yourself as the leader of the pack. Focus on socialization, leash manners, and reliable recall. Using personalized dog collars with contact information is recommended, as they have a tendency to wander.

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Great Pyrenees thrive when given a job due to their natural inclination to work. They excel in activities like carting, nose work, herding, and agility, although they may be slow learners for intense activities such as agility. Obedience is not their strong suit, as they prefer independent thinking. They are caring and make ideal candidates for therapy work. However, they are no longer suitable for hunting or sports activities and may struggle with swimming and retrieving.

Food & Nutrition

Great Pyrenees dogs should have a well-balanced diet consisting of premium, commercially-made dry dog food designed for larger breeds. The amount of food needed depends on factors such as size, age, and activity level. Great Pyrenees dogs eat at a slower pace, reducing the risk of bloat. To further prevent this, offer smaller portions of food multiple times a day and avoid vigorous exercise around mealtime. Treats should be given sparingly to prevent weight gain and heart disease, using them mainly for positive reinforcement and training. Consult a veterinarian for personalized advice on your Great Pyrenees’ diet, weight management, and suitable food portions.


The Great Pyrenees is a large dog breed with a moderate exercise level. They are not enthusiastic about lengthy hikes in the forest, but they should be walked for at least 30 to 40 minutes. They can handle up to two hours of walking if necessary. They are not good running companions due to their slow speed, as they prefer to conserve energy and patrol rather than chase and protect. However, they still need exercise to maintain their physical fitness and muscle strength. Allowing them to roam at their own pace in a park or dog run or providing a fenced-in yard is enough to keep them happy.

Great Pyrenees Health

In order to adequately provide care for your Great Pyrenees, we have compiled a list of health concerns that are commonly associated with this breed. By being aware of these issues, we can develop a preventive health plan to minimize certain risks. While many diseases and conditions are genetic, it does not mean your dog will definitely experience them, but there is a higher likelihood. Moreover, refer to your veterinarian if you notice any unusual symptoms.


Cancer is a leading cause of death in older dogs, especially in certain breeds like Great Pyrenees. Early detection through exams and blood tests is crucial, as some cancers can be treated with surgery or chemotherapy. Osteosarcoma, a common bone tumor in large breeds like the Pyrenees, may cause lameness and leg pain, so immediate veterinary attention is necessary for a better prognosis.

Bone and Joint Problems

Different musculoskeletal problems, such as hip dysplasia, osteochondritis dissecans, patellar luxation, and eosinophilic panosteitis, can affect the Great Pyrenees. It is important to observe for lameness or difficulty getting up and seek veterinary care. X-rays can aid in early identification and treatment. Surgery may be necessary in severe cases. Proper nutrition and weight management are essential for preventing or delaying the onset of arthritis.

Eye Problems

The proper functioning of a Great Pyrenees dog’s eyes is crucial for their quality of life, but they are prone to various eye conditions. Entropion, cataracts, and distichiasis are common issues that can cause pain and even blindness. Timely treatment and surgery can help alleviate these conditions.


Atopy, a skin allergy commonly seen in Pyrenees dogs, causes itching instead of sneezing. It usually affects the feet, belly, skin folds, and ears. Symptoms start between one and three years of age and can worsen annually, with common signs being paw licking, face rubbing, and frequent ear infections. Fortunately, there are numerous treatments available for this condition.

Heart Disease

Certain breeds, including the Pyrenees, may have heart defects that can affect the heart’s structure, vessels, electrical signals, or valve function. Regular examination and testing are essential due to the high risk of heart disease. Symptoms like fatigue, coughing, swollen belly, or fainting should not be ignored.

Hypoadrenocorticism (Addison’s)

Addison’s Disease is a condition that can be fatal, characterized by insufficient hormone production in the adrenal glands. It can be hard to diagnose due to symptoms resembling other conditions. A specialized blood test can detect it, and Pyrenees dogs are especially prone. We will monitor symptoms and periodically test electrolyte levels for early detection.

Degenerative Myelopathy

Degenerative Myelopathy is a neurologic disease that weakens the hind legs and causes paralysis in dogs, particularly in the Pyrenees. While rehabilitation, exercise, acupuncture, and supplements can provide some relief, there is no cure. A genetic test can assess the risk of this heritable condition.

Final Thoughts

The Great Pyrenees is a large and majestic dog breed that originated from the Pyrenees Mountains. They have a medium build and a thick white coat and are known for their loud barking and exceptional hearing. Originally bred as working dogs to protect sheep from predators, they are now loyal and relaxed companions. Despite their large size, they have a charming and gentle temperament.

The breed has a history dating back thousands of years and has been recognized by the American Kennel Club since 1933. Great Pyrenees require regular grooming and exercise, and they may be prone to certain health issues such as cancer, bone and joint problems, eye problems, allergies, heart disease, Addison’s Disease, and degenerative myelopathy. Proper care and attention, including a balanced diet and regular veterinary check-ups, can help minimize these risks.

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