breed
breed

Great Pyrenees

avatarChristy McDowell, LVT, VTS (ECC)

Height25 - 32"
Weight85 to 100 lbs
TypeWorking
Life Expectancy10 - 12 years
Area of OriginFrance

Energy Level

Playfulness

Friendliness to dogs

Friendliness to strangers

exercise requirements

affection level

friendliness to other pets

watchfulness

Grooming Requirements

Vocality

The most common of the flock guarding breeds, the Great Pyrenees is incredibly loyal, intelligent, and confident. Hailing from France, this ancient breed protected herds of sheep from dangerous predators, such as wolves and bears. Nowadays, their guarding duties have diminished, and they have adapted to the role of human companion. Being bred for protectiveness and loyalty has made them wary of strangers.  

Energy Level

Playfulness

Friendliness to dogs

Friendliness to strangers

exercise requirements

affection level

friendliness to other pets

watchfulness

Grooming Requirements

Vocality

Where Are Great Pyrenees Dogs From?

The Pyr is believed to have originally descended from the Mastiff breeds of Asia or Siberia. They are one of the oldest natural breeds, having followed the human migration into Europe, eventually settling in the Pyrenees mountains between Spain and France. For the next several centuries, the Pyr served as flock guardians, fending off fearsome predators, such as bears and wolves; their success earned them the nicknames the Pyrenean Wolf Dog and the Pyrenean Bear Hound. They were often fitted with iron collars adorned with large spikes to protect their necks. Combine this with the protection of their thick coats, and this breed was nearly unbeatable.

In the 17th century, the Pyr gained popularity with French nobility, and were often seen at court. Around the same moment in history, the first settlers of Newfoundland brought Great Pyrenees with them, to provide companionship as they discovered uncharted territory. Here, they were cross bred with English Retrievers, creating the Newfoundland breed.

With the decrease in the predator population in the mountains of France, the Pyr came dangerously close to extinction in the early 20th century. They experienced a resurgence of numbers after they were brought to America, and were eventually accepted by the AKC in 1933.

Where Are Great Pyrenees Dogs From?

The Pyr is believed to have originally descended from the Mastiff breeds of Asia or Siberia. They are one of the oldest natural breeds, having followed the human migration into Europe, eventually settling in the Pyrenees mountains between Spain and France. For the next several centuries, the Pyr served as flock guardians, fending off fearsome predators, such as bears and wolves; their success earned them the nicknames the Pyrenean Wolf Dog and the Pyrenean Bear Hound. They were often fitted with iron collars adorned with large spikes to protect their necks. Combine this with the protection of their thick coats, and this breed was nearly unbeatable.

In the 17th century, the Pyr gained popularity with French nobility, and were often seen at court. Around the same moment in history, the first settlers of Newfoundland brought Great Pyrenees with them, to provide companionship as they discovered uncharted territory. Here, they were cross bred with English Retrievers, creating the Newfoundland breed.

With the decrease in the predator population in the mountains of France, the Pyr came dangerously close to extinction in the early 20th century. They experienced a resurgence of numbers after they were brought to America, and were eventually accepted by the AKC in 1933.

Care

What Kind of Diet Does a Great Pyrenees Need?

Due to their relatively slow metabolism, the Great Pyrenees does not eat as much food as one might think. Feeding a large-breed formula food with a low-protein content is ideal. They are prone to gastric dilatation volvulus (GDV or bloat), so it may be helpful to feed smaller, more frequent meals and to avoid exercise around mealtime.

Caring for a Great Pyrenees

What Kind of Diet Does a Great Pyrenees Need?

How Much Grooming Does a Great Pyrenees Need?

Are Great Pyrenees Healthy Dogs?

Can You Train a Great Pyrenees?

How Much Exercise Does a Great Pyrenees Need?

What Kind of Diet Does a Great Pyrenees Need?

Due to their relatively slow metabolism, the Great Pyrenees does not eat as much food as one might think. Feeding a large-breed formula food with a low-protein content is ideal. They are prone to gastric dilatation volvulus (GDV or bloat), so it may be helpful to feed smaller, more frequent meals and to avoid exercise around mealtime.

What Are Physical Characteristics of a Great Pyrenees?

Great Pyrenees have a large (but graceful) body and a very dignified demeanor. Their average height is 27 – 32″ at the shoulder for males and 25 – 29″ for females. They generally weigh 85 to 100 pounds.

Great Pyrenees dogs have intelligent, dark brown eyes with black-rimmed eyelids. Their ears flop closely to the sides of the head. The head itself is triangular and proportionate to the body.

The body of the Great Pyrenees is thick and broad. They are greater in length than height, carrying a rectangular shape overall.

Not typically. The Great Pyrenees tail is long and feathered, flipping upward atop the back.

The shoulders are strongly muscled, the forelimbs are straight, and the front feet have a single dewclaw which may be removed.

The Great Pyrenees’ coat is mainly white, though it may contain gray or brown markings, usually on the ears, tail, and head. They have a thick undercoat which provides protection from harsh climates.

The hindlimbs are powerfully muscled. The hock is moderately angled when viewed from the side. The rear feet have double dewclaws and may toe out slightly.

Great Pyrenees Facts

1

Remains of the breed have been found in Bronze Age fossil deposits (1800 - 1000 BC).

2

Pyrenees were used as smugglers, since they could take mountain paths that were inaccessible to humans. They carried illegal goods in packs and crossed the border between France and Spain undetected by customs officials.

3

They were adopted as French Court dogs in the 17th century when the Marquis de Louvois became enamored with the breed.

Other Breeds to Explore

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Boxers - Choosing a Boxer - Dog Breeds

References

  • American Kennel Club. The Complete Dog Book. Random House Digital, Inc., 2006.
  • Morris, Desmond. Dogs: The Ultimate Dictionary of Over 1,000 Dog Breeds. Trafalgar Square, 2002.
  • Wilcox, Bonnie and Chris Walkowicz. The Atlas of Dog Breeds of the World. T.F.H. Publications, Inc., 1995.

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