Great Pyrenees: The Ultimate Guide to this Majestic Breed

Great Pyrenees

The Great Pyrenees, also known as the Pyrenean Mountain Dog, is a majestic breed that has captivated dog lovers around the world. With their large size, beautiful coat, and gentle nature, these dogs make great companions for families and individuals alike. In this ultimate guide, we will explore everything you need to know about the Great Pyrenees, from their origin and history to their health and grooming needs, training, exercise requirements, and more. Whether you’re considering adding a Great Pyrenees to your family or you’re simply curious about this incredible breed, this guide will provide you with all the information you need to become a knowledgeable Great Pyrenees enthusiast. Today, there are also Great Pyrenees mixes, such as Pyredoodle (Great Pyrenees plus poodle), which combine the best traits of both breeds. Welcome to the Great Pyrenees Club of America Website – In 1935 the Great Pyrenees Club of America (GPCA) became recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) as the Parent Club for the Great Pyrenees breed. Every AKC breed has one parent club, which is the only nationwide club for that specific breed.

Quick Facts About Great Pyrenees

Great Pyrenees layingGreat Pyrenees begging

Before we dive into the details, let’s start with some quick facts about the Great Pyrenees:

  • The Great Pyrenees is believed to be one of the oldest dog breeds, with its ancestors being the flock guardian dogs of Asia Minor.
  • They were brought to Europe by shepherds from Central Asia and gained popularity among the French nobility, who used them as royal dogs of France.
  • The breed is named after the mountain range between France and Spain, where they were primarily used to guard livestock.
  • Great Pyrenees are large dogs, with males typically weighing between 100-120 pounds.
  • They have a distinctive double coat, consisting of a thick, weather-resistant outer coat and a soft undercoat, which helps them blend in with the livestock they are guarding.
  • In addition to their coat, Great Pyrenees have a strong, muscular build and a mane-like ruff of fur around their neck, giving them an elegant appearance.

Now that you have some basic knowledge about the breed, let’s explore the fascinating origin and history of the Great Pyrenees.

Origin and History of Great Pyrenees-France

Great Pyrenees protect

The Great Pyrenees, as mentioned earlier, is believed to be descended from the flock guardian dogs of Asia Minor, which were brought to Europe by shepherds from Central Asia. These dogs were highly valued for their ability to protect livestock, and they quickly gained popularity among shepherds in the mountainous regions of France and Spain. The Great Pyrenees is known as the Pyrenean Mountain Dog in most of Europe, but in the United States and Canada, it is referred to as the Great Pyrenees. In the United Kingdom, it is also known as the Pyrenean Mountain Dog. The Great Pyrenees is often found in shelters due to their role as LGDs (livestock guardian dogs), which means they have been bred to protect livestock from predators.

In France, the breed became particularly favored by the French nobility, who used them as the royal dog of France. Their large size, impressive coat, and gentle nature made them well-suited for this role. The breed’s namesake, the Pyrenees mountain range, served as their primary domain, where they guarded livestock from predators, such as wolves and bears. Eventually, that demand was not confined to French nobility in the 19th century, as England’s Queen Victoria also had a Great Pyrenees. The first Great Pyrenees to be imported to North America went to Newfoundland, Canada. There the breed is attributed with creating the Landseer Newfoundlands, after crossbreedings between the Great Pyrenees and the Newfoundland.

Throughout history, Great Pyrenees dogs have also been known by different names, including Pyr, Chien des Pyrénées, and Pyrenean Mountain Dog, reflecting their association with the mountainous regions of France and Spain.

Today, the breed is recognized and loved worldwide for its guardian nature, loyalty, and beauty. In fact, the breed was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1933, under the name “Great Pyrenees.”

Size and Physical Features of Great Pyrenees-Livestock

Great Pyrenees pupGreat Pyrenees size

Great Pyrenees dogs are known for their large size and distinctive physical features. Here are some key characteristics of their size and appearance:

  • As mentioned earlier, male Great Pyrenees dogs typically weigh between 100-120 pounds, while females usually weigh slightly less, ranging from 85-100 pounds.
  • In terms of height, males stand at about 27-32 inches tall at the shoulder, while females are slightly smaller, measuring around 25-29 inches.
  • The breed has a well-balanced, elegant appearance, with a strong, muscular build that conveys both agility and power.
  • One of the most striking features of the Great Pyrenees is its double coat, which serves as protection against harsh weather conditions. The outer coat is thick, weather-resistant, and can be either straight or slightly wavy, while the undercoat is soft and dense.
  • The coat of the breed is predominantly white, which allows them to blend in with the livestock they guard, but they can also have markings of badger, gray, or different shades of tan, although these markings are less common.
  • Another unique feature of the breed is their double dewclaws, which are hind dewclaws located higher on their legs than the usual dewclaws found on dogs.
  • The Great Pyrenees also has a mane-like ruff of fur around its neck, adding to its majestic appearance.

Now that we’ve covered the breed’s size and physical features, let’s delve into their temperament and personality traits.

Understanding the Personality of Great Pyrenees

Great Pyrenees lovingGreat Pyrenees happy

The temperament of a dog breed plays a crucial role in determining whether it is the right fit for you and your lifestyle. In the case of the Great Pyrenees, their temperament is often described as gentle, loyal, and independent. Let’s explore these personality traits further.

The Temperament of a Great Pyrenees

Great Pyrenees temperament

Great Pyrenees dogs are known for their even temperament, rarely displaying aggression or overly dominant behavior. They are generally patient, calm, and tolerant, especially when it comes to children and other pets. This temperament makes them great family dogs, as they are typically gentle and protective of their loved ones.

Due to their guardian instincts, Great Pyrenees dogs bark to alert their owners of potential intruders or unfamiliar situations. While this barking behavior is an essential part of their nature, it’s important to provide training and socialization from an early age to prevent excessive barking.

Friendliness and Adaptability of Great Pyrenees

Great Pyrenees dogs are generally friendly, although they can be reserved with strangers. This natural wariness of new people or situations is a result of their guardian nature, as they are instinctively cautious when it comes to protecting their flock, which, in a domestic setting, includes their family.

In terms of adaptability, Great Pyrenees dogs can live in different climates, but they prefer cool climates, as their double coat provides insulation during cold weather. They are not well-suited for apartment living, as they require ample space to move around and exercise. Daily exercise, such as walks or playtime, is essential for their physical and mental well-being. However, it’s important to remember that too much exercise can sometimes be a good thing for these majestic dogs.

Great Pyrenees dogs thrive in families that can provide them with plenty of attention, care, and socialization. They are happiest when they have a job to do, such as guarding livestock or being an active member of the family. Now that we’ve explored the temperament of Great Pyrenees dogs, let’s shift our focus to their health and grooming needs. Conducting thorough research to ensure that the breeders follow ethical practices and prioritize the well-being of their dogs is crucial. Reputable breeders prioritize the health and temperament of their Great Pyrenees puppies, conduct necessary health screenings, and provide a nurturing environment for the dogs, including those showing in conformation.

How big do Great Pyrenees dogs get and what is their temperament like?

Great Pyrenees dogs are large and can reach heights of 25-32 inches and weights of 85-115 pounds. They have a calm, gentle, and patient temperament, making them great family pets. They are protective and loyal, but also independent and may require consistent training and socialization.

Health and Grooming Needs for Great Pyrenees-AKC

Ensuring the health and well-being of your dog is of utmost importance, and understanding the specific health and grooming needs of the Great Pyrenees breed is essential. Let’s explore some common health conditions in Great Pyrenees dogs, as well as tips for coat care and grooming.

Common Health Conditions in Great Pyrenees-Vet

Like all dog breeds, Great Pyrenees dogs are prone to certain health conditions. Being aware of these conditions can help you take proactive steps to keep your dog healthy. Here are some common health conditions to watch out for:

  • Hip dysplasia: This condition occurs when the hip joint doesn’t develop properly, leading to pain, lameness, and mobility issues. Regular vet check-ups, a healthy weight, and controlled exercise can help prevent or manage hip dysplasia in Great Pyrenees dogs.
  • Bloat: Also known as gastric dilation-volvulus, bloat is a life-threatening condition where the stomach twists, cutting off blood supply. It is more common in large, deep-chested breeds like the Great Pyrenees. Feeding multiple small meals, avoiding exercise immediately after meals, and monitoring your dog’s eating habits can help reduce the risk of bloat.
  • Osteosarcoma: This is a type of bone cancer that is more common in large breeds, including Great Pyrenees dogs. Regular vet check-ups, early detection, and prompt treatment can improve the prognosis of osteosarcoma.
  • Allergies: Great Pyrenees dogs can develop allergies, both of the food and environmental variety. These allergies can manifest as skin problems, discomfort, and itching. Working with your veterinarian to identify and manage any allergies is crucial for your dog’s health and well-being.
  • Hypothyroidism: This condition occurs when the thyroid glands underproduce hormones, leading to weight gain, coat problems, and overall health issues. Regular vet check-ups, proper nutrition, and monitoring of thyroid levels can help manage hypothyroidism in Great Pyrenees dogs.

Coat Care and Grooming Tips for Great Pyrenees

The Great Pyrenees breed has a beautiful double coat that requires regular care to keep it healthy and mat-free. Here are some coat care and grooming tips for your Great Pyrenees:

  • Regular brushing: Brushing your dog’s coat at least once a week is essential to prevent matting, remove loose fur, and maintain good coat health. Use a slicker brush or a comb designed for double-coated breeds to gently remove tangles and knots. Pay extra attention during shedding seasons, when Great Pyrenees dogs “blow” their coat, shedding large amounts of fur.
  • Bathing: Bathe your dog as needed, using dog-specific shampoos that are gentle on their skin and coat. Avoid over-bathing, as it can strip their coat of its natural oils, leading to dryness and skin problems.
  • Coat health: Regularly check your dog’s coat for any signs of skin problems, parasites, or infections. Look out for redness, swelling, excessive scratching, or hair loss, and consult your veterinarian if you notice any issues.
  • Grooming sessions: In addition to coat care, regular grooming sessions should include checking and cleaning their ears, brushing their teeth, and trimming their nails. Proper dental hygiene, ear cleaning, and nail trimming are crucial for their overall health and well-being.

By following these coat care and grooming tips, you can ensure that your Great Pyrenees dog’s coat remains healthy, beautiful, and free from mats or tangles. Now, let’s move on to training, an essential aspect of owning a dog.

Trainability of Great Pyrenees- Obedience

Training is an important part of owning any dog breed, and the Great Pyrenees is no exception. While they are generally intelligent dogs, Great Pyrenees dogs can also have independent thinking, which can make training a bit of a challenge. However, with patience, positive reinforcement, and consistency, you can successfully train your Great Pyrenees dog to overcome any health problems they may be prone to, such as hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, and bloat.

Dealing with a High Prey Drive in Great Pyrenees-Breeders

Great Pyrenees dogs, being guardian breeds, may have a high prey drive, meaning they have a natural instinct to chase small animals. Here are some tips for redirecting their prey drive:

  • Positive reinforcement training: Use positive reinforcement training techniques, such as treats, praise, and rewards, to redirect your dog’s attention away from chasing behavior. Reward good behavior, such as obeying commands, remaining calm, or focusing on you, to reinforce positive habits.
  • Mental and physical stimulation: Providing ample mental and physical stimulation through activities, exercise, and interactive play can help reduce excessive chasing behavior. Engage your dog in games, such as fetch, hide-and-seek, or obedience training, to keep their mind occupied and redirected towards positive activities.
  • Leash training and obedience training: Establishing control over your dog’s prey drive through leash training and obedience training is crucial. Teaching them to walk calmly on a leash, respond to commands, and stay focused on you will help keep their prey drive under control, especially in situations where small animals are present.
  • Supervision and socialization: It’s important to supervise your dog’s interactions with small animals, such as rabbits or squirrels, and provide socialization opportunities from an early age. This can include controlled introductions, supervised playdates, or training sessions in the presence of small animals. Always prioritize the safety of both your dog and the small animals involved.

If you’re struggling with training your Great Pyrenees dog or managing their prey drive, consulting a veterinarian or dog behaviorist for professional guidance is recommended. Now, let’s address other behavioral concerns that may arise with Great Pyrenees dogs.

Addressing Other Behavioral Concerns in Great Pyrenees-Bark

In addition to high prey drive, Great Pyrenees dogs may exhibit other behavioral concerns that need to be addressed. Here are some tips for managing these concerns:

  • Socialization: Early socialization plays a vital role in preventing shyness or aggression in Great Pyrenees dogs. Expose your dog to different people, animals, environments, and experiences from a young age, ensuring positive interactions and positive reinforcement training techniques.
  • Barking: While barking is a natural behavior for Great Pyrenees dogs, excessive barking can be a concern, especially in residential areas. Use positive reinforcement training methods to discourage excessive barking, and provide mental stimulation, exercise, and socialization to keep your dog mentally and physically satisfied, reducing the need for barking.
  • Exercise and mental stimulation: Great Pyrenees dogs require regular exercise and mental stimulation to prevent destructive behavior, such as chewing or digging. Provide daily exercise routines, interactive play, and training sessions to keep your dog’s mind and body engaged.
  • Patience and training consistency: Great Pyrenees puppies, in particular, may exhibit independent thinking, which can make training a bit of a challenge. Be patient, consistent, and positive in your training approach, and seek professional help if behavioral issues persist.

By implementing these strategies, you can address behavioral concerns, ensure good behavior, and provide a harmonious living environment for both you and your Great Pyrenees dog. Now, let’s move on to discussing the exercise needs of Great Pyrenees dogs.

Exercise Needs for Great Pyrenees-Agility

Ensuring that your dog gets enough exercise is essential for their overall health and well-being. Great Pyrenees dogs, despite their large size, have moderate exercise needs, but they do require daily physical activity and mental stimulation. Let’s explore some ideal exercise routines for Great Pyrenees dogs, as well as the importance of mental stimulation through dog sports. Obedience training and interactive dog toys are good ways to give a dog a brain workout, as are dog sports and careers, such as agility and search and rescue.

Ideal Exercise Routines for Great Pyrenees-Conformation

When it comes to exercise, Great Pyrenees dogs thrive on routine and consistency. Here are some ideal exercise routines for keeping your Great Pyrenees dog healthy and happy:

  • Multiple short exercise sessions: Rather than one long session, plan multiple short exercise sessions throughout the day. This helps prevent overexertion and allows your dog to cool down between activities.
  • Interactive play: Engage in interactive play, such as fetch, tug-of-war, or hide-and-seek, to keep your dog mentally stimulated and physically active. These games tap into their natural instincts, providing an outlet for their energy.
  • Activities that mimic guardian nature: Great Pyrenees dogs have a guardian nature, so activities that mimic this instinct, such as hiking, herding games, or agility training, can be great outlets for their energy.
  • Socialization and dog park visits: Providing opportunities for socialization, such as dog park visits or playdates with other dogs, not only allows your dog to socialize but also provides an outlet for physical exercise.
  • Positive reinforcement training during exercise: Incorporate positive reinforcement training techniques, such as obedience commands or agility training, during exercise sessions. This provides mental stimulation, builds a stronger bond between you and your dog, and keeps their mind engaged.

Importance of Mental Stimulation for Great Pyrenees

In addition to physical exercise, mental stimulation is crucial for the overall well-being of your Great Pyrenees dog. Here are some ways to provide mental stimulation:

  • Puzzle toys or treat-dispensing toys: Engage your dog’s mind by providing puzzle toys or treat-dispensing toys that require problem-solving skills. These toys keep them mentally engaged and provide a great outlet for their intelligence.
  • Teach new commands or tricks: Great Pyrenees dogs are intelligent and eager to learn, so teaching them new commands, tricks, or obedience training routines challenges their thinking and provides mental stimulation.
  • Rotate toys and activities: To prevent boredom and destructive behavior, rotate your dog’s toys and activities regularly. Introducing new toys, games, or training exercises helps keep their mind engaged and prevents monotony.
  • Dog training classes or group walks: Enroll your dog in dog training classes or participate in group walks, as these activities provide socialization, mental stimulation, and new experiences, all of which contribute to your dog’s overall well-being.

Consider incorporating these mental stimulation techniques into your Great Pyrenees dog’s daily routine, along with regular physical exercise, to ensure a happy, healthy, and well-rounded dog. Now, let’s shift our focus to feeding your Great Pyrenees dog.

Feeding Your Great Pyrenees

Providing a well-balanced, nutritious diet is essential for the health and longevity of your Great Pyrenees dog. Let’s explore their nutritional needs, recommended food, and diet considerations.

Nutritional Needs of a Great Pyrenees

Great Pyrenees dogs, being large breeds, have specific nutritional needs that should be met to ensure good health. Here are some key considerations:

  • Balanced diet: Feed your dog a balanced diet that includes a proper ratio of protein, healthy fats, and carbohydrates. This helps support their overall health, coat condition, weight management, and energy levels.
  • Breed-specific dog food: Consider feeding your Great Pyrenees breed-specific dog food designed for large breeds. These formulas take into account the breed’s specific needs, such as joint health and digestion.
  • Adequate vitamin and mineral intake: Ensure that your dog’s diet includes adequate vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin A, vitamin E, and omega-3 fatty acids, for good coat health, healthy skin, and overall well-being.
  • Fresh, clean water: Provide fresh, clean water at all times to prevent dehydration, especially during hot weather or after exercise.
  • Consult a veterinarian: Every dog is unique, and their nutritional needs may vary. Consult your veterinarian for any specific dietary recommendations or health concerns related to your Great Pyrenees dog.

Recommended Food and Diet for Great Pyrenees

When choosing dog food for your Great Pyrenees, opt for high-quality, natural ingredients, and avoid artificial additives or fillers. Here are some recommendations for their food and diet:

  • Choose dog food formulated specifically for large breeds, such as puppies, adults, or seniors, to cater to their unique nutritional needs during different life stages.
  • Look for dog food that includes sources of lean protein, such as chicken, fish, or turkey, as well as healthy fats, like salmon oil, which can benefit coat health.
  • Consider adding supplements, such as glucosamine, to support joint health, especially in large breeds prone to hip dysplasia.

Remember, the dietary needs of dogs can vary, so it’s important to consult with your veterinarian to ensure that you’re providing the appropriate food and diet for your Great Pyrenees dog.

The Great Pyrenees with Children and Other Pets

Great Pyrenees dogs have a gentle nature, making them great companions for children and other pets when properly socialized. Let’s explore some tips for introducing Great Pyrenees dogs to children and other pets.

Tips for Introducing Great Pyrenees to Children and Other Pets

Introducing a new dog, such as a Great Pyrenees, to children and other pets requires careful consideration and supervision. Here are some tips to facilitate positive interactions:

  • Start with positive, supervised introductions in a neutral environment, such as a park or a controlled space, where both parties can feel comfortable and safe.
  • Use positive reinforcement training to reward good behavior from both the dog and the children or other pets involved. This positive reinforcement helps create positive associations and reinforces good habits.
  • Allow each party to become familiar with each other’s scent before face-to-face interactions. Exchange bedding or toys between the dog, children, and other pets to familiarize them with each other’s presence.
  • Provide separate areas, such as crates or baby gates, for dogs and small children to have independent time, especially during the initial adjustment period. This allows everyone to have their own space and reduces the risk of accidents or misunderstandings.
  • Monitor interactions closely, especially in the early stages, and intervene if necessary. Seek professional help, such as training or behavioral consultations, if any aggression or behavioral issues arise.

With careful introductions, positive reinforcement, and proper supervision, Great Pyrenees dogs can be great companions for children and other pets, fostering positive relationships and creating a harmonious home environment. Now, let’s explore whether the Great Pyrenees breed is the right fit for you.

Are Great Pyrenees the Right Breed for You?

While the Great Pyrenees breed has many admirable qualities, it’s important to consider whether they are the right breed for you and your lifestyle. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Great Pyrenees dogs are large breeds, requiring ample space to move around and exercise. If you live in a small apartment or lack a large, secure yard, this breed may not be suitable for you.
  • Their independent nature may require experienced dog owners who can provide consistent training, socialization, and leadership.
  • Great Pyrenees dogs make great family companions, as they are gentle, loyal, and protective of their loved ones. However, their large size and guardian nature should be taken into consideration, especially if you have young children or other small pets.
  • Regular exercise, mental stimulation, socialization, and grooming are essential for the health and well-being of a Great Pyrenees dog. If you are unable to commit to these needs, it may be best to consider a different breed.

Ultimately, the decision of whether a Great Pyrenees dog is the right breed for you should be based on careful consideration of your lifestyle, living situation, and ability to meet their specific needs. Now, let’s wrap up this ultimate guide with a conclusion.


In conclusion, Great Pyrenees are a majestic and intelligent breed that can make wonderful companions. From their rich history to their impressive size and beautiful coat, there is much to appreciate about these dogs. They have a calm and gentle temperament, making them great family pets. However, they do require regular grooming and have specific health needs that should be taken into consideration. Training and exercise are also important aspects of owning a Great Pyrenees, as they are an active and protective breed. If you are considering adding a Great Pyrenees to your family, it is essential to understand their unique needs and ensure that they are the right fit for your lifestyle. With proper care and attention, a Great Pyrenees can bring joy and love to your home for many years to come.

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