Great Pyrenees

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Great Pyrenees are the watchdog to patrol your domain. Get all the information about this pup in our guide.

Breed Snapshot

Life Expectancy:
10 to 12 years
Size:

Extra Large

Maintenance Level:

High

Shed Level:

Very High

Temperament:
SmartSereneConfident
Coat Color:
White

Best For

Great Pyrenees are best for experienced pup parents who are willing to devote time to training and don't fear copious amounts of shedding. They're great with kids, need lots of land to roam and prefer cooler locales.

Great Pyrenees Traits

What makes the Great Pyrenees a Great Pyrenees? Let's find out how they stack up.

Great Pyrenees Temperament

The Great Pyrenees’ temperament exudes patience and affection. Aggression and biting aren’t hallmarks of the breed (even though they do have a powerful bite force). Instead, a Great Pyrenees dog is generally very friendly and well-suited to family life. Letting your Great Pyrenees play with kids is more than acceptable as long as the children aren’t too rough and rowdy. And as a former livestock guardian, a Pyr has a background of close contact with various farm animals, which means raising a Great Pyrenees with other dogs and even cats in the home is quite possible.

However, because this dog was bred as a flock guardian, the breed can be strong-willed, so early socialization and training are important. Even though the Great Pyr is known to be a gentle pet, they can be protective of their families if necessary.

Their characteristics also include a high level of competency thanks to their years of service as guard dogs atop snowy mountains. Neither cold weather nor extreme boredom phase a Pyr—this pup is quite used to the slow pace of watching over sheep for hours at a time.

Luckily for dog lovers, these serene Great Pyrenees traits transfer nicely to a quiet home life (maybe watching some reality TV or hunkering down with a good novel?). Of course, getting outside is part of the plan with dogs, so pet parents who can offer moderate exercise will please both the Great Pyrenees’ personality and physicality.

How to Care for a Great Pyrenees

Though generally calm and friendly, the Great Pyrenees is a high-maintenance breed.(They were pups of the French nobility; do you expect anything less?) While grooming a Pyr isn’t as overwhelming as you might think, there’s still a bit of work to be done to ensure this Pyrenean mountain dog looks handsome, stays healthy and is a well-behaved member of your family.

Great Pyrenees Health

Great Pyrenees have a life span of 10 to 12 years, and the breed does suffer from several health issues. But that shouldn’t stop you from bringing this loveable giant into your home. Armed with knowledge, regular vet visits and a healthy diet and exercise routine, you can help your pup live the longest life possible.

  • Bloat: A genetic condition common to big dogs that may also have an environmental link, bloat causes the stomach to retain air then twist on itself. Immediate surgical care is necessary as bloat is life-threatening. You can prevent the occurrence of bloat by feeding your pup smaller meals more frequently throughout the day, using a slow feeder and waiting an hour on either side of mealtime before strenuous exercise.
  • Eye Conditions: Canine multifocal retinopathy is a genetic eye disease that causes lesions to develop on the retina, usually in both eyes. It can start in a Great Pyrenees puppy and may progress slowly or even appear to heal, though it doesn’t affect the dog’s vision. While there is no treatment, breeders can screen for it. Cataracts may also affect this breed, which looks like an opaque lens in the eye and can cause blindness. Surgery can be performed to remove them.
  • Deafness: Congenital deafness can appear in any breed but is more prevalent in dogs with white skin and fur, like the Great Pyrenees. While there’s no cure for this condition, the percentage of Pyrs who are deaf in both ears is very low. And if a dog does lose their hearing, dedicated families can still help the animal lead a normal life.
  • Neurological Disorder: If you notice clumsiness, slipping or sliding in the hind legs, your pup may have neuronal degeneration. This inherited disease has no treatment, though steroids, vitamins B, C and E and exercise therapy, as well as sticking to an ideal lean weight, may slow the condition.
  • Cancer: Various types of cancer may appear in this and many other breeds, including osteosarcoma, which is bone cancer affecting the ribs, skull, spine or pelvis that can lead to lameness. Chemo and/or radiation, as well as the removal of any mass or tumor, if possible, is the usual treatment. Cancer of the blood vessels’ lining, or hemangiosarcoma, can occur on the skin, spleen or heart and may be treated with surgery as well. And lymphoma, which causes swollen glands and/or vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss and lethargy, is also treated with chemotherapy.
  • Bleeding Disorder: Glanzmann thrombasthenia interferes with the platelets’ ability to clot, causing excessive bleeding (gums, nose, cuts, scrapes). No cure is available for this inherited condition, but blood products and surgery may be considered to control bleeding.

Great Pyrenees History

The Great Pyrenees’ history—and the breed’s name— has its roots in the Pyrenees mountains, a soaring range that straddles France and Spain. This powerful breed’s lineage is indeed ancient, as remains were recovered from as far back as the Bronze Age or 1800 to 1000 BC. It’s possible this dog traveled to the Pyrenees from Central Asia thousands of years ago.

Originally bred to work with peasant livestock herders, French royals and the noble class later took a shine to this giant dog and put them to work guarding castles in southwest France. King Louis XIV even bestowed the special moniker of “Royal Dog of France” upon the Great Pyrenees breed.

As a constant guardian, Pyrs are nocturnal by nature and worked alongside shepherds and herding dogs to protect sheep flocks at night from both animal predators (wolves, bears) and thieves. The Pyr has a high tendency to bark, in part because their job was to sound the alarm if anyone underhanded were to approach.

Queen Victoria of England also had a Pyr, and the breed was brought to the US in 1824 by the great French military officer the Marquis de Lafayette, who served alongside George Washington during the American Revolution. The Pyr breed continued their military service with heroism during World War II. Their job? Hauling artillery supplies over the Pyrenees mountains in frigid weather.

Recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1933, today’s Pyr is a beloved family canine who’s equal parts guard dog and cozy companion. If you’d like to have this pretty (huge) pup, their price ranges from $1,750 to $2,500, and you can find reputable breeders at the AKC Marketplace. For that price, you’re likely getting a pup who’s been screened for health and temperament issues and may come with pedigree papers. If you’d like to adopt a dog, contact Great Pyrenees rescues or keep an eye out for the breed at your local animal shelter.

FAQs

Are Great Pyrenees hypoallergenic?

No, Great Pyrenees are not hypoallergenic. This high-shedding breed has lots of fur and dander, making sensitive noses itch and scratch.

How long do Great Pyrenees live?

The Great Pyrenees lives about 10 to 12 years, which is similar to other large breeds.

Do Great Pyrenees drool?

Yes, Great Pyrenees will drool a little, usually when eating or if they’ve been exercising. Pyr pups aren’t well-suited to warm weather, so they may pant (and drool) when overheated.

Are Great Pyrenees good with kids?

Yes, Great Pyrenees are good with kids. They’re an excellent family companion as they’re bred to protect and serve. A watchful flock guardian at heart and not known to bite, the Pyr can easily use this gentle nature to their advantage with small children.

Do Great Pyrenees like water?

Great Pyrenees like water—to drink (and lots of it). In general, the Great Pyrenees isn’t really a big swimmer, though some puppies can be introduced to water early and learn to love it. With such a heavy double coat and only moderate energy reserves, don’t expect your dog to paddle around the pool the way a Labrador will.

What are the most common Great Pyrenees mixes?

The most common Great Pyrenees mixes are:

  • Great Pyrenees-German Shepherd mix (Germanees)
  • Great Pyrenees-Labrador mix (Pyrador)
  • Great Pyrenees-Golden Retriever mix (Great Pytriever, Golden Pyrenees)
  • Great Pyrenees-Australian Shepherd mix (Great Aussie Pyrenees, Aussie Pyrenees)
  • Great Pyrenees-Husky mix (Pyrenees Husky)
  • Great Pyrenees-Poodle mix (Pyredoodle)
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Top Takeaways

Patient and kind, the Great Pyrenees breed probably isn’t for a city slicker who wears only dark clothing. But if you’re cool with copious shedding, are willing to patiently train them and you have some outdoor space for your Pyr to stroll, this dog is an excellent choice.

Expert input provided by veterinarian Jerry Klein, DVM and certified animal behaviorist, Dr. Mary Burch.

Search for Adoptable Great Pyreneess Near You

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Leave a tip about Great Pyreneess

From food and training to health, travel and play (and everything in between) share your best, most puptastic tips with your fellow pet parents for raising a healthy, happy dog. Your email address will not be published.

Tips from Great Pyrenees Parents

  1. Great Pyrenees are awesome dogs, sweet and extremely protective of you. When going for a walk they try to protect you by balking at all. When out by themselves they’re quite friendly with everyone, because they don’t have to protect you.

    1. Clearly you love your sweet pooch. Thanks for sharing your experience which is very helpful to other pet parents deciding which breed they might want to adopt!

  2. I have a pry and Berner mix he is 8 months old he started limping on his front right so the vet gave me carprofin it made him sick to his stomach they thought growing pains so he loss five pds he won’t eat he started limping on the back left leg he is on gabapentin an antibiotic and pepcid it is in his right back leg now he is better on the front right and back left still will not eat I am very worried they took x rays saw no blockage in his stomach and intestines I f he drinks fast he gags he ate some beef stew meat 7 pieces I have tried everything we probably have him to much dry food 3 cups x 2 daily please help I love my Hankley

    1. I had a purebred Berner. I took her to the emergency vet hospital. They found out she had a immune mediated hemolytic anemia. Look up IMHA in dogs. There are many things that can cause this. I spent over $3,000.00 before taking her to a specialist and found out to late that it was caused from her having cancer and she was born with only one kidney. She was on all kinds of medications. And she was only 5 years old. I see your message was a while ago. But I thought I would take a chance. Hope everything has worked out for you and Hank.

  3. My 6 month old puppy tries to attack me. For real, she doesn’t do that to my husband and she knows I’m afraid of her. Any tips please???

    1. Don’t let your fear take over because a dog can seance when someone is afraid of them.
      Try to go to her when you are very calm

  4. One important thing that is missing is discussion about their rear double few claws which are breed standard. Also the most common mix for the Pyrenees is an Anatolia Shepherd.
    They typically are lazy dogs who do very well in the city and can live comfortably and happily in an apartment if given proper mental and physical exercise.

  5. Just too many to count.
    My. Wife wanted to know if we would see Dutchess when we died. I said sure all dogs have souls. When she died JoAnn and Dutchess visited me. 4 the next morn. She said you were right all the dogs are up here waiting for there masters. Dutchess put her paw on the bed letting me know she was all right. And both were gone like that…poof.
    I MISS THEM. BOTH SO MUCH AND LOVE THEM MORE!!! I could go on.

  6. I recommend a 6 ft. cinder block wall around back yard. One metal gate that locks securely. A tip? Make sure your Pyr is brushed at least 4 times a week to prevent mats. Their skin tends to be dry, so NO frequent bathing. They don’t have a strong doggie odor and don’t need it. Keep the gate locked because Pyrs like to roam if they get out. Must be chipped! They make wonderful companions, but must have good care, and NOT left alone for long periods of time.

  7. If you have a house with a porch or raised space to be used as a “den” your pyr will love it summer especially and enjoy their hangout any other season too. Our pyr absolutely LOVES car trips, hikes and so we put a tarp in the suv to help with fur shedding.

  8. I love my great pyrenees! I adopted him from a local shelter.
    One of the most important things I invested for him is a folding ramp for the car. I drive a Subaru outback. Before the ramp sometimes he would hurt his back jumping out of the car. The ramp totally solved the problem. I do belly lifts on him to align his back. Basically scratching his belly while he is standing.

    1. I agree with the ramp! I started calli on a ramp into the truck when she turned two. Two tries and she had err down.(there soo smart) Figured it would possibly keep problems from developing later.

  9. Love them with all your ❤ and they will show you loyalty on a whole new level. One of the most gentle and mellow dogs I’ve ever had, yet in an instant will ferociously protect hers. I am amazed how quickly they move foe such a large dog.
    I will never forget the day I picked her up at 8 weeks old.. Sooo cute!
    But seriously as the owner of a female pyr who now 3-1/2 I can say they require early socialization and consistent positive reinforcement.
    Oh yeah and let em sit in the front seat once in a while.

  10. I own two Pyr’s and am trying to order a monthly subscription for them. However, upon registering I am not able to find their breed in the list provided. It’s a shame, I was really looking forward to utilizing chewy’s services as this company came highly recommended by other pet parents. (that do not own this wonderful breed)

  11. Some common issues with Great Pyrenees dogs are that they can be very difficult to deal with. They are often stubborn and uncooperative and will ignore their masters in favor of resting. Getting them to listen to you can be quite a task, which is why only very patient people should adopt these dogs!

    By the way I found out about your website from https://petlifefix.com/. They do food reviews. I was looking for dog food after your website became known and here I can learn a lot through this article.

    Thank you very much.

  12. My Great Pyrenees/White Wolf mix is jealous of his own Mama White Wolf. He likes to lean on me even when I am just standing there. He craves lots of attention & loves to be brushed. He also Loves vanilla ice cream.

    1. I’m looking for an adult Great Pyrenees as an emotional support dog. I lost my 10 year old 125 pound golden retriever a year ago and still miss him very much. When I was alot younger I trained and showed a dog ((she won the blue ribbon). Later I had a lab/ neufi mix so I’m an experienced dog owner. Any ideas dog lovers who might have an adult dog who might need to be rehome? Thanks!

  13. My very large, middle aged Great Pyrenees lives to stand watch over “her” property and bark at any intruders…foxes are especially upsetting! She is very gentle and pretty lazy otherwise, enjoying frequent naps. When I take her for a walk away from her territory, other animals, including foxes elicit no attention, or barking from her. She tolerates wild turkeys, squirrels running right by her, is unbothered by somewhat aggressive ravens and magpies, and other insults without getting upset….she will just get up and walk away if she is bothered. She LOVES to eat, and will easily be overfed and gain too much weight, so portion control is essential. Female Great Pyrenees strongly prefer men and vice versa. She will not chase a thrown ball (she is too dignified for that) and is not interested in dog toys (I’ve spent lots trying to interest her in them). She is intelligent but not very obedient. My dog saved me after I collapsed from low blood sugar while I was walking in the forest….she went and got help for me after I unleashed her and told her to go home. This breed is great for rural areas and likes to have a property guarding job. They are loyal without exception.