(Pyrenean Mountain Dog, Chien de Montagne des Pyrénées) The Great Pyrenees is a beautiful, majestic dog with an overall appearance that denotes elegance, grace, and intelligence. The breed’s regal, kindly expression and sound, coordinated movements distinctly show the dog’s capability to be both a companion and a flock guard. While the coat of the Great Pyrenees implies a larger build, these dogs are actually of medium substance. Their body is well-proportioned and balanced, with the height of the withers being somewhat less than the length of the body from the shoulders to the buttocks. The angulations of the front and rear are balanced, and these proportions create the dog’s rectangular shape. Their muscular neck is of medium length and their topline is level. The chest is comparatively broad, and the rib cage is well-sprung, oval-shaped, and long enough to reach the elbows. The loin is strongly coupled and moderately tucked up, and the croup is gently sloping. Tails of this breed are plumed and are carried low when the dog is in repose. Their shoulders are muscular, well laid back, and lie close to the body. The length of the shoulder blades and the length of the upper arm are approximately the same. Their forelegs are well-boned and muscular enough to balance well with the rest of the dog’s frame. When perceived from the side, the forelegs are located directly under the withers. They have round, close-cupped feet that are thickly padded and feature a set of well-arched toes. Thighs of this breed are strong, brawny, and extend from the pelvis at right angles. The head of the Great Pyrenees is not heavy in proportion to the dog’s size. It is wedge-shaped and has a slightly rounded crown. The muzzle is approximately equal in length to the back of the skull. They have flat cheeks and a slight furrow between the eyes. They have medium-sized, almond-shaped eyes that are dark brown in color. Their small ears are V-shaped and have rounded tips, and their teeth close in a scissors or level bite. The weather resistant, double coat of the Great Pyrenees consists of a thick, flat, long outer coat of coarse, straight or slightly wavy hair that lies over a fine, dense, woolly undercoat. The hair is more profuse around the neck and shoulders, where it forms a ruff which is more pronounced in males of this breed. Coat colors for this breed include white or white with markings of badger, gray, reddish brown, or varying shades of tan.
The Great Pyrenees is devoted, loyal, and even-tempered. They are calm unless provoked. They are natural guardians, and they are often used to guard livestock. This breed is leery of strangers and dogs it does not know. They are courageous, obedient, and affectionate with the people they love. They are very gentle with children. Because they are independent and somewhat stubborn by nature, they require a dominant owner who is self-assured in the dog’s presence. They are independent and hard-working, and they are sometimes difficult to train. Males of this breed are sometimes aggressive towards other dogs. They usually get along well with cats and other types of non-canine pets. This breed tends to drool, slobber, and bark a lot.
25 – 35 inches
Females: 24-29 inches at the shoulder. Males: 29-32 inches at the shoulder. American dogs have a tendency to be on the smaller end of the standard. Shorter or taller dogs may exist but are considered outside of the standard.
85 – 100 pounds
Like many other large dog breeds, the Great Pyrenees is prone to hip dysplasia. Some lines can develop skin problems in hot weather conditions. This breed typically lives for about 10 years.
This breed lives up to 12 years on average. They are prone to bloat and may develop eye infections due to their long eyebrows.
Most owners choose to clean this breeds ears regularly to prevent infection.
The Great Pyrenees is a descendant of the Hungarian Kuvasz and the Maremmano-Abruzzese. The breed is considered to be the aristocratic relative of the Newfoundland and the Saint Bernard. Remains of a dog similar to the Great Pyrenees were discovered in Europe and dated back to the year 1800 BC. It’s highly likely that the breed actually originated much earlier in Siberia or Asia. Throughout its native country of France, the Great Pyrenees has a long history as a guard dog of sheep and chateaux. These dogs were greatly sought after by French nobility throughout the seventeenth century. The AKC officially recognized the breed in 1933.
Great Pyrenees are an ancient breed descended from the sheep guards used by the "Aryans," who migrated across Europe from what is now Persia or Iran. As a result of this westward migration, we now have a cousin flock of guard breeds in the Tatra, the Kuvasz, the Maremma, and Sloserto. The Pyrenean mastiff is on the Spanish side of the mountains while the Pyrenean Mountain dog is on the French side. None of for mentioned breeds actually descended from each other, but are rather offshoots of the same ancient ancestor. Louis XIV of France, as dauphin, brought them to Versailles and they became the dog of France. They continued to guard sheep in the mountains at the Chateau de Foix in medieval times. During the two World Wars, they carried messages between outposts and command posts. In their native mountains, they worked with the small Pyrenean shepherd who did the actual herding while the Pyrenean guarded against predators.
The double coat of the Great Pyrenees should be brushed on a regular basis. Extra care should be given to the undercoat when the dog is shedding. This breed should be bathed or dry shampooed only as necessary. They shed heavily once per year.
Their coats should never be clipped, sheared or cut as this will damage their coat. It's best to brush them frequently.
The Great Pyrenees is not suited for life in a small household or apartment. They adapt well to a variety of living conditions, but they need plenty of space to stay physically and mentally healthy. They are a comparatively inactive breed indoors, and they are happiest with at least a medium-sized yard. This breed prefers cooler climates. They need a substantial amount of regular exercise to stay in good shape.
They thrive in a large yard with at least a 6 ft fence. They are known to be fence climbers.
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Great Pyrenees Q&AAsk a Question
- Great Pyrenees-Body is white but it's head is mostly black
We are in the process of adopting a rescued Great Pyrenees. In his bio, it states a 2 year old very large Great Pyrenees. The 3 photos shown from the rescue group capture a big white bodied dog, yet with a head almost totally...Asked by Anonymous - 1 answers
- Great Pyrenees
My dog was sprayed with a fire extinguisher around his left eye and behind his left ear. Is this harmful to him?Asked by Anonymous - 1 answers
- wet mouth/dry mouth Great Pyrenees
I have heard/ read that a Great is a dry mouth, but was reading some info on this site which says the opposite?Asked by Anonymous - 0 answers
- Great Pyrenees as a guard dog
I understand that a Great Pyrenees is a great guardian dog. I have seen Shepherds, Rotts, and Dobermans in action, but never a Great. If needed to they guard/ attack the same way?Asked by Anonymous - 3 answers