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Great Pyrenees

Great Pyrenees


The Great Pyrenees derives its name from the Pyrenean mountain range in the Basque country between Spain and France. It was there, watching over flocks of sheep and goats, the breed began its long history as a guardian dog. French writers tell us that as early as 1407 they were used to guard the Chateau of Lourdes. In 1675 French King Louis XIV adopted the breed as the Royal Dog of France, and in 1850 Britain’s Queen Victoria also owned one. The first pair of Great Pyrenees was introduced to America in 1824, but the breed didn’t really gain popularity in the States until 1931. In 1933 the Great Pyrenees was given official recognition by the AKC.


The Great Pyrenees has a deep devotion to its family and home, but also an inborn instinct to guard and protect. This is an intelligent breed that commands respect, but also makes wonderful pets. Although boisterous up to the age of about two, once a Great Pyrenees has reached full maturity it will be placid by nature and calm around the house. Though they are not easily trained to obedience. An unusual feature of this breed is the strong double dewclaws on their hind legs, and occasionally on their front legs as well. In nature, the Great Pyrenees is confident, gentle and affectionate. They are strong willed, independent and somewhat reserved, yet attentive, fearless and loyal their charges both human and animal.

Breed Standards:

  • Working Group
  • Males are 27 – 32 inches at withers, around 100 - 115 pounds
  • Females are 25 – 29 inches at withers, around 85 - 95 pounds
  • Full body maturity is reached at 2 – 2 ½ years
  • Average litter = 6 puppies
  • Average life span is 10 - 12 years
  • Profuse undercoat of fine hairs, outer coat long and medium coarse
  • Colors = White and can have patches of badger, gray, reddish brown or tan

Everyday Care:

  • Exercise: Young Great Pyrenees should not have much lead work on hard pavements, as this could lead to problems later in life. In adulthood, a good walk each day, with plenty of opportunity for free run should become routine. Great Pyrenees should never be chained up, unsupervised, outdoors.
  • Feeding: It is best to feed two or three meals a day instead of only feeding once. A Great Pyrenees should never be exercised one hour before feeding or for two hours afterwards. And they should never be allowed to gulp water. Be careful not to overfeed, as Great Pyrenees should not become overweight.
  • Grooming:Great Pyrenees need a thorough brushing about three times each week, but should only have baths at such times when they have rolled in something. Ears should be checked weekly and cleaned if needed. And nails should be trimmed when you can hear them clicking as the dog walks across the floor.
  • Attention: The Great Pyrenees is a very independent breed, but still needs lots of love and attention. It likes its life to be consistent and predictable, and will enjoy quiet periods in which it may rest comfortably and sleep undisturbed.

Health Considerations:

  • Damp coats can cause skin problems and allergies, and also arthritis in older dogs
  • Distichiasis (mostly in puppies)
  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Patellar Luxation (rarely)

Am I Right for You?

  • I need a large area for sufficient exercise
  • If I’m going to protect a large area, my owner MUST be willing to put in the hours of training it will take to teach me my boundaries.
  • I will bark, especially at night. So I am best suited to country living, or at the least to a home with understanding neighbors.
  • Because of my independent nature, you will need to be the kind of person who doesn’t expect immediate and perfect obedience.
  • You must train me patiently and calmly.
  • Do you have other dogs? Male Great Pyrenees are not usually tolerant of each other unless they have been raised together.