Great Pyrenees Dogs

Great Pyrenees are handsome dogs—inside and out. Not only are they hardworking and tough, but they also have a keen understanding of people. Some dog experts believe this is a genetic quality earned from years of mountainside isolation with shepherds. They are gentle, patient and obedient—quick to learn and eager to please. And they’re also extremely soft and huggable.

Great Pyrenees

Great Pyrenees Pictures

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Quick Facts

  • 100 - 125 pounds
  • 27 - 32 inches

Ideal Human Companions

    • Singles
    • Families
    • Outdoorsy types
    • Cold-climate dwellers

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Trademark Traits

    • Handsome
    • Distinguished
    • Gentle
    • Intelligent
    • Loyal
    • Protective
 

What They Are Like to Live With

Great Pyrenees could be described as “everybody’s pal.” They get along with the whole family, friends, strangers and other pets. However, they are not happy-go-lucky types. Great Pyrenees have a serious side—an interesting mix of “lone-wolf” independence and selfless concern for others. If you live in the country, your Great Pyrenees might wander off for hours to make sure “the borders” are safe. In every sense, they make superb watchdogs—protective, intimidating and calm.

Things You Should Know

Great Pyrenees have a tender, sensitive side. When training them, offer lots of positive reinforcement and rewards. Facing harsh criticism or impatience, they will most likely turn away and ignore the rest of the training.

These dogs were built for cold weather. If you live in a hot climate, try to keep them indoors or allow them plenty of shade and water. Also, they tend to drool and slobber when exerting themselves, so you might want to keep a few rags handy.

A healthy Great Pyrenees can live as long as 10 years. Common health issues include skin problems, hip dysplasia and some skeletal disorders. Their thick double-coat needs regular brushing. They have one heavy shedding season, but you should expect to see clumps of fur year-round.

Great Pyrenees History

Great Pyrenees have been guarding sheep in the Pyrenees Mountains (on the border between France and Spain) since 1800 B.C., but historians believe they originally came from Asia. Their excellent sense of smell and intelligence made them invaluable herders on the steep mountain slopes. Since the early 18th century, Great Pyrenees have won the hearts of many, proving themselves time and again as popular show dogs, farm dogs and companions.

The Look of a Great Pyrenees

Great Pyrenees have large, solid frames covered in coarse, white coats that are either straight or wavy. Their snowy fur can also have patches of gray and tan. Great Pyrenees have broad chests and wide backs that give them a boxy look. They have wedge-shaped heads with slightly rounded skulls and medium-sized muzzles. Their dark brown eyes have a dignified but alert expression, and their noses and lips are black. They have well-plumed tails that hang low. Overall, the look of the Great Pyrenees mingles nobility with strength and endurance.

Talk About Great Pyrenees 

Beautiful and gentle

I love my Great Pyrenees. She makes a great therapy dog. People always stop to say what a beautiful dog she is and ask about her breed (the Pyr is not abundant in Canada). I wanted a rescue and a therapy dog, and she fits the bill. She loves to be hugged, and I love to see the smiles she brings to everyone.

She is as gentle as they come, laid-back, carefree, a true couch potato, and gets along with any other breed she has met. She is a wonderful family dog.

They do however, require frequent brushing to keep them from being matted and to keep their coats luxurious. She's not fond of water, but loves to be brushed.

Pyrs can be known to drool, but my Pyr is not one of them. They can also be protective, but her protection is barking to alert a car entering our property. Then her tail starts wagging, waiting to be acknowledged.

They are a large breed but low-energy. The Pyr is also known to wander, and requires a leash and a fenced yard. I have owned many wonderful pure and mixed breeds, large and small, but love my Pyr for her beauty and calm demeanor withhumans and dogs.

~Jasper, owner of a Great Pyrenees


You'll need a leaf blower for the hair

We have had Great Pyrenees for about 18 years now. And if experience tells us anything, here are the three things you need to know before you buy or adopt one.

First, they need plenty of running room -- a 6-by-9-foot rug is usually good. They are guardians, not herders. They will lie in their favorite spot all day until they sense something that they think you should know about.

Second, you need patient neighbors. Pyrs are guardians -- they bark at the smallest threat. We've had no luck with bark collars with our Pyrs. They simply continue to do their job and tolerate either the shock or the citronella.

Third, you need a leaf blower for the hair. They shed year-round.

What you get in return is the most loyal giant you'll ever want to meet. They are protective of children and adults alike, but not dominant. We run a no-crate kennel out of our home, and our Pyrs always get along with our clients' dogs.

~Rick L., owner of Great Pyrenees


A protective dog around children

These dogs might seem tough, but when it comes to kids, I have never known a better dog. They are protective, gentle, and patient.

My 18-month-old daughter used my Pyr as a jungle gym and fell asleep on him. He just sighed and took a nap with her! Playing around, he would butt in if he felt things were getting too rough for "his" kids.

The Great Pyrenees is my favorite breed, especially for a family. I figure if anyone is stupid enough to break into a house with that deep, rich bark, the brave souls are welcome to the DVD player if they can get past the dog!

~Jaq B., owner of a Great Pyrenees


Dependable guardians

I have had three Great Pyrenees, all for livestock guardians. At six-months-old, two of them took on a Mountain Lion and chased it off! They were very scared but stood their ground in order to protect the sheep and goats they were with.

Personally, I do not like to have them indoors as they can be tremendous barkers, occasionally drool and leave hair all about. But they are so gentle and kind with my small grandkids, have saved me and my livestock from rattlesnakes, badgers, coyotes, etc. and are quiet and calm around strangers (after letting me know they are here).

They are very independent when bred to work and can figure things out for themselves. I don't want to ever be without them, they have such lionhearts!

~Jeanne C., owner of three Great Pyrenees


A real gentle giant

Hubby and I adopted MacDougal six months ago and have been in love with him ever since. He loves everyone and everything. His favorite girlfriend is the tiny shih tzu next door, even though she is always bossing him around.

Mac wouldl like to believe he's a lap dog, but is quite happy to allow us on the couch with him. He craves affection and belly rubs. He's very obedient when he wants to be. Thank God he's not a digger like many Pyrs, but he will let loose with barking if he senses something unusual around his house or yard. He's more alert to animals than humans, though.

He's not a problem drooler, but he does shed -- but so do the cats, and that's why we have a vacuum cleaner. We've gone through one molt with him and that was wild. I swear I got enough fur off him to knit a puppy!

We have always had bichons, but once you get a Pyr you can't imagine any other breed to share your lives with.

~ew D., owner of a Great Pyrenees


They only bark to protect you

This breed can't be beat for love and loyalty. Yes, they are barkers, but they do that because it's their job to protect you.

My Pyrs, Louie and Rufus, are huge, standing 35.5 inches at the hip. Despite this, they think they are lap dogs and love to sit on our laps. They work as therapy dogs and are gentle with people. Louie and Rufus have had hundreds of pictures taken of them because people are amazed at how big they are!

~Debra A., owner of two Great Pyrenees