Also referred to as the Pyrenean Mountain Dog, the Great Pyrenees has a long history of being keen workers who faithfully guard their flocks no matter how cold the weather or rugged the terrain. Not to be confused with the Pyrenean Mastiff or Pyrenean Shepherd, the Great Pyrenees has a regal and majestic appearance with an affectionate temperament that has helped the dogs become the 52nd most popular breed in the United States by the American Kennel Club. The following is a full breed description on the Great Pyrenees to help you determine whether this “gentle giant” is the perfect match for your family.
|Other Name||Great Pyrenees, Patou, Chien des Pyrénées, Chien de Montagne des Pyrénées, Montañés del Pirineo, Gos de muntanya dels Pirineus|
|Origin||France & Spain|
|Size Type||Giant Dog Breeds|
|Breed Group||Working Dog Breeds|
|Life Span||10 - 12 years|
|Temperament||Fearless, Gentle, Strong Willed, Patient, Affectionate, Confident|
|Height||Male: 28–32 inches; Female: 26–29 inches|
|Weight||85 to 115 pounds|
|Colors||Grey, Tan, Red, White|
|Puppy Price||Average $600 - $900 USD|
As a large, strong, and sturdy dog with a muscular body that is slightly longer than it is tall, the Great Pyrenees has a wedge-shaped head with a slightly rounded crown and proportionate muzzle. With no well-defined stop, the skull is as wide as it is tall with flat cheeks and teeth that meet in a scissors or level bite. Along with dark brown almond-shaped medium-sized eyes that are slightly slanted, the breed exhibits v-shaped ears that are carried low and flat on the head with rounded tips. The feathered tail reaches the hocks and can be either carried low or curled up over the level backline. Male Great Pyrenees are typically between 27 and 32 inches at the shoulder height with a weight over 100 pounds, but females are slightly smaller at 25 to 29 inches and weighing from 85 pounds.
While the trademark main coat color for the Great Pyrenees is pure white, the breed standard indicates that the dogs may have varying shades of grey, badger, tan, rust, or red around the face and ears. As the breed begins to mature, it is also common for their coats to fade towards various shades of light tan or lemon on their facial features.
The Great Pyrenees possesses a thick weather-resistant or waterproof double coat that is designed to keep the dogs warm in temperatures well below zero. While the undercoat is dense with fine wooly hairs, the coarse and flat outer coat consists of longer thick hairs. Along with noticeable feathering on the tail and back of the legs, the Great Pyrenees also has a mane around the shoulders and neck, which tends to be more apparent in males.
|Good with Kids|
When the breed is domesticated, the Great Pyrenees’ long-haired coat will need to be brushed at least once or twice each week. Not only will regular brushing with a firm bristle brush help keep the double coat in good condition, the extra care will help reduce the heavy shedding that is associated with the seasonal changes. After these dogs roam outdoors, owners may also need to remove burrs, foxtails, or other outside objects that become stuck in the coat as well. While some Great Pyrenees owners decide to shave the coats during the summer to avoid this problem, it is not recommended due to the threat for sunburn. Despite other grooming requirements that may be time-consuming, the dogs only need to be bathed when needed.
Originating from Central Asia and Siberia, the Great Pyrenees is believed to have descended from the Hungarian Kuvasz, the Italian Maremma Sheepdog, and the St. Bernard with each of these breeds contributing to its development. As a very old breed that has been utilized for centuries by shepherds around the Pyrenees Mountains of southern France and northern Spain, the Great Pyrenees followed the Aryan migration into Europe. Excelling as a guard dog for sheep, the breed remained in the steep slopes of high mountain regions until the Middle Ages. Armed with a spiky collar and naturally thick coat, the Great Pyrenees was vital for protecting the vulnerable flocks from dangerous predators like bears and wolves.
By the late 17th century though, the dogs became a popular favorite of the Grand Dauphin and various other noble members of the French aristocracy before becoming appointed French court dog. As a very versatile breed working as an avalanche rescue dog, cart puller, sled dog, and flock guardian, there quickly grew a thriving market for the Great Pyrenees in the mountain villages. After a breed standard was first developed in 1874, the dogs began to spread in popularity throughout Europe and to the United States. However, it was not until 1933 that the Great Pyrenees was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club.
Although the Great Pyrenees has a history of being an imposing guardian used to protect livestock from predators, the breed is often described as being calm, good-mannered, serious, courageous, loyal, and obedient when not provoked. Strongly devoted to their family, the dogs are usually gentle and affectionate with those that they love, including children and other non-canine animals. Since it has an independent nature and may try to dominate a meek owner, the Great Pyrenees requires an experienced owner who exhibits a firm and consistent leadership.
Whenever Great Pyrenees are not actively working as flock guardians, the dogs need to be taken on a daily long brisk walk to stay in shape and satisfy their instincts. However, it is important for owners to understand that some Great Pyrenees are not good off leash and may wander away unexpectedly. Since the dogs need space and are rarely active indoors, the breed is not suitable for apartment living. With a strong preference for cooler climates, the Great Pyrenees requires a large fenced-in yard for regular exercise outdoors in a safe open area that can be declared their territory.