Great Pyrenees

The Great Pyrenees is an elegant mixture of form and function. Their bodies are slightly longer than they are tall with the bone structure to compliment their size. The head is slightly rounded at the crown and wedge shaped at the muzzle. Their eyes are dark brown and almond shaped, adding to their expression of intelligence. Their ears are medium in size and carried close to the head at eye level in a V-shape. They have a smooth muzzle which blends nicely into their head. The bite can either be scissor or level. The tail is plumed and carried low when relaxed and high or curled over the back when excited. The Great Pyrenees has a thick double coat to protect it from harsh weather. The outer coat can be either straight or wavy but is always coarse, long, and thick. The undercoat is wooly and dense. The coat gives the dog a mane around the neck and shoulders and is shorter on the face and ears. The back of the legs are feathered and the tail has a plume. The coat may be white or white with gray, badger, reddish brown or tan markings.

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Fast Facts

Working
10 - 12 years
France
Antiquity
110 - 120 lb
80 - 90 lb
27 - 32"
25 - 29"
Great Pyrenese, Great Pyrennes, Great Pyranees, or Great Peeranese.
Chien de Montagne des Pyrenees, Chien des Pyrenees, Pyrenean Mountain Dog

Great Pyrenees Photos

Great Pyrenees Temperament

The Great Pyrenees is courageous and loyal, protective of its family and wary of strange humans or dogs....

It is affectionate and gentle with children if raised with them from puppyhood. The Great Pyrenees is an independent breed and may try to dominate an insecure owner. They are serious workers, but may be stubborn so serious, consistent, and firm training is a must. They also must be socialized from an early age to prevent aggression toward other animals. Some cannot be trusted off leash, as they tend to roam freely. As one would expect of a dog long used as a guardian of livestock, the Great Pyrenees is quite a barker. The dog also drools.

Caring For a Great Pyrenees

The Great Pyrenees is independent and needs its own space, both for living and for exercising....

Exercise requirements are modest, but a large space is nevertheless necessary for the Pyrenees to run and play. This, coupled with the dog’s habit of barking, makes it not at all suited for apartment living. The Great Pyrenees revels in the cold and hates the heat; make sure the dog has a place to keep cool on warm days. The dog’s coat needs daily attention during the shedding season; otherwise, a weekly brushing is sufficient. Since the outer coat does not mat, care is easy and bathing is only necessary when the dog is very dirty. The Great Pyrenees is susceptible to canine hip dysplasia and patellar luxation; less prevalent problems include oteochondritis dissecans, entropion, osteosarcoma, dwarfism, panosteitis and cataracts.

Great Pyrenees History

A Brief History of the Great Pyrenees

The Great Pyrenees descends from a great white dog that was used to herd and guard sheep in central Europe and Asia Minor during the Bronze Age....

Roughly 5000 years ago, these dogs were brought to the Pyrenees Mountains in southwestern France, and it is here that the dog would grow and develop as a breed. For thousands of years, these dogs were used exclusively to guard the flocks of nomadic shepherds. During the Middle Ages, Great Pyrenees were brought out of the mountains and put to work guarding forts, castles and estates in France. By the 17th century the dog had found favor with the French aristocracy, and was particularly popular with Louis XIV, who named the Great Pyrenees the Royal Dog of France in 1675. Many believe that the Great Pyrenees made it to Newfoundland around this time, where it may have been a progenitor of the Newfoundland breed. General Lafayette introduced two Great Pyrenees to America in 1824, though the breed did not catch on there until the 1930s. Back in France the dog had fallen out of favor with the aristocracy, and once again the only place to find Great Pyrenees of good stock was in the Pyrenees Mountains themselves. By the early 20th century, foreign interest had once again called the Great Pyrenees out of the mountains, and in 1930 a steady stream of the breed was entering America. The American Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1933. Today the Great Pyrenees is most often seen as a companion, though it is still used as a flock guard dog by some farmers and shepherds.