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Great Pyrenees vs Golden Retriever: Key Diffenences Explained (With Pictures)

Written by: Ashley Bates

Last Updated on April 5, 2024 by Dogster Team

Great Pyrenees vs Golden retriever

Great Pyrenees vs Golden Retriever: Key Diffenences Explained (With Pictures)

Sometimes, choosing the right dog breed can be hard—especially if you haven’t seen any warm, fuzzy faces in person to get a feel for personality. If you love gentle, long-haired dogs that make excellent family companions, the Golden Retriever and Great Pyrenees certainly fit the bill.

But just what makes these two breeds unique with their special sauce, and what can you expect from owning them? While they share many similarities, they equally have differences to mention. Let’s get to know the breeds a lot better!

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Visual Differences

Great Pyrenees vs Golden Retriever - Visual Differences
Image Credit: Left – Ryan Leeper, Pexels | Right – Shayna Douglas, Unsplash

At a Glance

Great Pyrenees
  • Average height (adult): 26-32 inches
  • Average weight (adult): 85-160 pounds
  • Lifespan: 10-12 years
  • Exercise: 40+ minutes a day
  • Grooming needs: Heavy
  • Family-friendly: Yes
  • Other pet-friendly: Often
  • Trainability: Docile, intelligent, great judge of character
Golden Retrievers
  • Average height (adult): 20-24 inches
  • Average weight (adult): 55-75 pounds
  • Lifespan: 10 years
  • Exercise: 1 hour a day
  • Grooming needs: Moderate
  • Family-friendly: Yes
  • Other pet-friendly: Often
  • Trainability: Stranger-friendly, gentle, intelligent


Great Pyrenees Overview

great pyrenees dog sitting outdoor
Image By: outdoor-Mikhail Farina, Shutterstock

The Great Pyrenees is a guardian and protector. The breed has a solid reputation in farming communities for keeping flocks, herds, and other animals safe from predators. In addition to their work ethic, they also have such a strong appeal to a family lifestyle.

If you are familiar with this breed, you might know that they absolutely love the outdoors. Many folks choose this dog for rural settings because they love staying in their perimeter without wandering off, protecting anything and everything around the home.

This is one useful breed that even loves the colder temperatures. While they might enjoy cozying up with their favorite humans, they equally enjoy roaming the property and enjoying the great outdoors.

Personality / Character

The Great Pyrenees is the absolute poster child for “gentle giant.” These guys and gals might be large and sturdy, but they are big teddy bears with lots of love to give. With kind hearts and terrific discernment, these dogs keep a protective yet composed outlook on pack life with their people.

These dogs are super friendly and terrific with all age groups. Often, they make excellent first “best friends” for children and irreplaceable companions in homes. The Great Pyrenees will have no trouble alerting you that a stranger is near but will meet them with tails wagging—unless they feel a direct threat.

If you have a hyper pup, they might not realize their size until they grow into their feet. None of that is a character flaw—they’re just super big! However, their massive size might not handle their puppy stage well among seniors or toddlers.


Since the Great Pyrenees are a cooperative breed, training should be relatively easy. They are incredibly brilliant and pick up on concepts quickly. Potty training should be a breeze—in fact, they prefer the outdoors most of the time.

Advanced training is not only entirely possible, it’s expected for the breed standard. Even though you might come across bull-headed Pyrenees, they are generally receptive to direction and guidance from their person. These dogs are guardians, and they will gladly do the job as directed.

Even though the Pyrenees isn’t often used in areas of service work, they can make excellent support animals. These dogs are emotionally intuitive, easily scoping out the mood of the room without much effort. Loving and patient, these dogs are definitely capable of taking on the caretaker role.

great pyrenees dog on a leash
Image by: Amanda Poulin, Shutterstock

Health & Care

The Great Pyrenees is literally bred to be a sturdy, healthy dog able to withstand harsh elements. They are incredibly resilient to environmental factors and have significant health conditions plaguing the breed.

With proper breeding and routine care, these dogs can live full lives, primarily problem-free. Other factors come into play, like lifestyle, diet, mental health, and injury. But with proper vet care, this is a very hardy breed that will likely take it easy on your virtual wallet at vet visits.

That’s not to say that certain issues can’t crop up. Some conditions are seen in the Great Pyrenees more frequently than some others. These issues include:

  • Entropion
  • Osteosarcoma
  • Skin problems
  • Cataracts
  • Chondrodysplasia


The Great Pyrenees provides extra care with grooming—especially if they are full-time in-home residents. They have a lot of fun! They need routine and regular brushing to combat all the hair loss, which increases as the season’s change.

Daily brushing is really recommended for these pups to prevent mats and tangles and to remove any dirt and debris between baths. It might also be a great idea to buy a de-shedding tool to get to the undercoat, removing dead follicles to promote healthy new growth.

Baths might be another fun endeavor—and it might be best to do it outside rather than in the tub (permitting it’s warm enough.)Like most dogs, these big-boned beauties need a bath once every four to six weeks.

During routine care, you can pamper your pup by cleaning their ears and trimming those long nails! The more you upkeep the coat, the better off you will be with one of these fur monsters in your home.

two great pyrenees in the field
Image by: Danita Delimont, Shutterstock

Suitable for:

The Great Pyrenees is a terrific playmate for older kids, an efficient guardian for livestock and property, and absolutely loves outdoor living. If you’re looking for a furry farm hand or outdoor watcher, you couldn’t pick a better pooch.

Not for:

If you have limited mobility, physical restrictions, dog allergies, or very small kiddos, this might not be your best breed choice. Also, due to their massive size and desire to wander, they don’t make excellent candidates for apartment or city living.


Golden Retriever Overview

male golden retriever
Image by: Helena Lopes, Unsplash

The Golden Retriever might have started out as a hunting dog, but they have come so far since the beginning. These American favorites are selected all the time for their friendly demeanor, intelligence, and acts of service to mankind.

Goldens are very dependent on owners—meaning that once they form a connection with you, it’s hard to be without you. They will want to tag along for all the adventures you come up with. These dogs acclimate well to almost any living situation.

Once you have a Golden as part of the family, it will be hard to imagine life without one. These dogs are popular for so many good reasons!

Personality / Character

The Golden Retriever didn’t become a favorite everywhere for its lack of personality. They are incredibly good-spirited, intelligent dogs adapting beautifully to nearly every social situation. This breed acclimates well toward people and all living things.

Some Goldens can be a bit more boisterous than others; some Goldens will be laid back and calm. It just depends on the individual dog—but we highly doubt you’ll find one with a more positive outlook on life. Wearing a permanent smile, they simply love to exist alongside their pack simply.

Goldens are so terrific with folks, they even are elected to perform service duties like medical, emotional, and other support service roles. They are capable of learning advanced concepts and live to please their owners. They are smart cookies!


Exercise is the best way to keep your Golden healthy. Goldens will love walks, runs, jogs, tug of war, toss, fetch, and all games in between. They are the type of dog you can take to the dog park to run off some steam. They typically do amazingly well with other canines—even strange ones!

Goldens will need lots of room to run and exercise when they are young. This need might decrease slightly as they age. However, they need roughly 60 to 120 minutes of exercise per day. These demands can be a little high if you don’t get out of the house much—so consider it for slower lifestyles.

Since some Goldens are prone to being overweight, it’s ideal for getting a good exercise regimen going. It will reduce the likelihood of obesity, increasing other health risks.

golden retriever
Image Credit: youngryand, Shutterstock


Goldens are top tier in terms of training. They can retain so much information and have so many hidden talents! All dogs are smart, we know that! But Goldens take it to a whole new level. Unlike German Shepherds, who make terrific police dogs, Goldens are dogs of humanitarian service.

Now, don’t get us wrong, all canines are special—but Goldens have a special knack for picking up emotional and physical body cues that can warn people of oncoming diabetic attacks, increases in anxiety, and all sorts of other problems we face.

Along with Labrador Retrievers and German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers are the most common dogs used for service purposes. Goldens are excellent for this role because they tend to take a comma reproach to life without getting tense or nervous in high-stress situations.

Health & Care

Health for every Goldie will be different based on lifestyle, diet, and other environmental or genetic factors. Naturally, it will depend from dog to dog. Unfortunately, they have quite a few health issues that are pretty serious.

Your Golden will get to know its vet very well during the first year of life. They will need all their shots, possible boosters, microchipping, growth monitoring, and spay or neuter, should you choose.

The most common issues Goldens face include:
  • Cancer
  • Hip and elbow dysplasia
  • Skin conditions
  • Allergies
  • Luxating patella
  • Obesity


Your Golden will love their trips to a professional groomer to get spruced up and pampered. They have long feathery hair that requires daily brushing—if you want to reduce that inevitable Goldie shed they are so known for. Their coats are definitely not allergy friendly.

If you want a Golden but don’t want to deal with the allergy triggers, consider a G0oldendoodle mix—a Golden Retriever mixed with a Poodle. It takes on the hypoallergenic qualities of the Poodle parent in most cases—but it’s never 100%.

Like other dogs, your Golden needs a bath once every four to six weeks—preferably with an all-natural shampoo to avoid potential allergic reactions.

bath foam to a Golden Retriever dog
Image Credit: 135pixels, Shutterstock

Suitable for:

Golden retrievers are fantastic for just about any living situation. They make wonderful companions for children to seniors. They can learn incredible concepts during training and make terrific service dogs. Golden retrievers make excellent pets that will bring love to your life for years to come.

Not for:

Unfortunately, golden retrievers do not make excellent companions for allergy sufferers or apartment living.


Which Breed Is Right for You?

These gentle dogs make amazing family companions, but it depends on what works best for your lifestyle and living situations. Neither dog makes an excellent apartment dog because of its size—but the Great Pyrenees tends to enjoy outdoor living much more than Goldens.

No matter which one of these awesome dogs you choose, you will surely have a best buddy for years to come. There is no wrong choice here—it’s just a matter of preference and compatibility!

See Also:

Featured Image Credit: Top – Tychon Krug, Pexels | Bottom – Svetozar Milashevich, Pexels

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