Let's talk Great Pyrenees

A huge fluffy bundle of loveliness, with thick snow-white fur and an affable expression, the Great Pyrenees was originally developed to guard flocks alongside shepherds in the French mountains. Thousands of years later, that ancient bond with humans shines through in their affectionate and protective nature. These family favourites get on well with other animals and children, once trained, and they have largely left their mountaineering days behind them: they don’t need huge amounts of exercise–they’re content to just be near their human flock.

Official name: Great Pyrenees

Other names: Pyrenean Mountain Dog, Chien de Montagne des Pyrénées

Origins: France

Great Pyrenees sitting looking away from camera in black and white
 Drooling tendencies

 Warm weather? Medium
 Shedding level Very high  Suited to apartment living? Very low
 Energy level (high, low, medium) Medium  Family Pet?
 Compatibility with other pets: High  Can stay alone?* Medium

* We advise against leaving pets alone for long stretches. Companionship can prevent emotional distress and destructive behaviour. Speak to your veterinarian for recommendations.

Every pet is different, even within a breed; this snapshot of this breed specifics should be taken as an indication.

For a happy healthy and well-behaved pet, we recommend educating and socializing your pet as well as covering their basic welfare needs (and their social and behavioral needs).

Pets should never be left unsupervised with a child.

Contact your breeder or veterinarian for further advice.

All domestic pets are sociable and prefer company. However, they can be taught to cope with solitude from an early age. Seek the advice of your veterinarian or trainer to help you do this.

Inline Image 15
Illustration of Great Pyrenees dog
Male
70 - 80 cm Height
56 - 64 kg Weight
Female
65 - 75 cm Height
50 - 59 kg Weight

 

 Baby age  Birth to 2 months
 Puppy age  2 to 8 months
 Adult age  8 months to 2 years
 Mature age  2 years to 5 years
 Senior age  From 5 years

Side view of Great Pyrenees standing on rock

1/7

Get to know the Great Pyrenees

All you need to know about the breed

This ancient breed was developed in the Pyrénées mountains to guard flocks. Modern-day Great Pyrenees are confident, independent-minded and territorial dogs by nature. But they’re also protective, gentle and affectionate, and make wonderful family pets (well… you might think they’re your pet: to them, you’re their flock).

Great Pyrenees are, as the name suggests, large animals: their size coupled with the abundant white fur that kept them warm in the mountains and their doleful dark eyes makes for a truly handsome dog. At home, they are calm and patient, including with children, once trained. They don’t need huge amounts of exercise – or too much grooming, surprisingly, given their extravagantly fluffy appearance.

If all this is sounding a bit too perfect, don’t worry, Pyrs, as they’re known by their many fans, do have their little quirks: thousands of years of working without human guidance have left their mark in the Great Pyrenees’ temperament. That’s a nice way of saying you might struggle to get them to obey commands these independent-thinkers deem pointless – “sit”, “heel” etc. But why? those big brown eyes seem to be asking.

As they were bred to guard flocks against night-time predators such as wolves, they are naturally nocturnal dogs. They also have extremely sensitive hearing and a bit of a barking habit, all of which add up to the occasional night-time wake up. On the plus side you’ll be getting an adorable canine companion and a burglar alarm in one lovable package.

Great Pyrenees dog with puppy standing in dirt

2/7

2 facts about Great Pyrenees

1. Belle and Sebastian

It’s no surprise that this lovely breed has inspired art of all kinds. The 1965 novel Belle et Sébastien by Cécile Aubry tells the story of an orphan boy, Sébastien, living in the French alps and his Great Pyrenees friend, the appropriately named Belle (French for beautiful). The book inspired a Japanese cartoon version in the early 1980s, in which Belle was renamed Jolie. It was later adapted into a trilogy of films released between 2013 and 2017. And Scottish indie band Belle and Sebastian formed in the 1990s and are still going.

2. Staying on top of things 

The Great Pyrenees may have started out as a dog of the people, guarding the livestock of peasant farmers, but the breed got a promotion during the Renaissance, when they came to the attention of French nobility and royals, swapping smallholdings for castles. In 1675, King Louis XIV’s royal court declared the Great Pyrenees to be the Royal Dog of France. Across the channel and a couple of centuries later, a Great Pyrenees featured among the canine companions of Queen Victoria, a well-known dog lover.

3/7

History of the breed

The Great Pyrenees is a truly ancient breed: these hard-working dogs have been helping their human companions in the rugged mountain terrain, guarding their flocks against predators such as wolves and bears, for thousands of years. Fossilised skeletons show they were present in the Pyrénées mountain region between 1800 and 1000 BC, but experts believe they may have been there as early as 3000 BC.

Great Pyrenees’ exact ancestry is not clear, though they may be descended from breeds including the Maremma Sheepdog and the Anatolian Shepherd Dog. Their taste of the high life in the 17th century, when Louis XIV declared them the Royal Dog of France, did not prevent a decline in numbers but luckily, a later concerted effort to revive the Great Pyrenees breed was successful, and the first breed standard was established in 1927.

Great Pyrenees dogs swapped their guardian duties for an even more physical role during World War II, hauling supplies of artillery over the Pyrénées between Spain and France.

Great Pyrenees dog sitting facing camera in black and white

4/7

From head to tail

Physical characteristics of Great Pyrenees

1. Head

Broad head with relatively small hanging ears.

2. Fur

Generally white coat, although there can be grey, pale yellow or tan patches.

3. Body

Tall, with a large, solid and muscular body.

4. Coat

Extremely thick flat, fairly long coat with some feathering.

5. Tail

Bushy tail forming a plume, carried low.

Great Pyrenees puppy sitting in snow

5/7

Things to look out for

From specific breed traits to a general health overview, here are some interesting facts about your Great Pyrenees
Great Pyrenees running towards camera across grass

6/7

Caring for your Great Pyrenees

Grooming, training and exercise tips

The Great Pyrenees’ abundant double-layer, weatherproof coat is perhaps the breed’s defining feature. You might think that level of fluffiness means intensive grooming, but in fact they only really need a weekly brush … or perhaps more during their annual shedding season when they will decorate your home with generous clumps of their woolly undercoat. It’s a good idea to check their coats regularly for any grass seeds, twigs or other debris that might have got caught and can cause skin lesions if not removed. Though strong and sturdy, Great Pyrenees only need a moderate amount of exercise. Any off-the-lead time needs to be in a securely enclosed space – with a high fence: these mountain dogs can jump! Early socialisation and kind, patient training from a young age for these independent-minded and sensitive dogs (with any food treats coming out of daily rations, of course!) will help ensure your Great Pyrenees grows up well-adjusted and content, fitting in perfectly with their human family.

7/7

All about Great Pyrenees

In short, yes. Life is full of sacrifices, but this one is well worth it: you may have to vacuum more (particularly during the annual shedding season) and no longer be able to wear black clothing (free of white hair at least) but in return you gain a faithful and adorably fluffy canine companion. A fair deal.

Yes, Great Pyrenees make lovely family pets, gentle, protective and affectionate by nature, they are devoted to their human companions. Once trained, Great Pyrenees get on well with other animals and also with children, although they shouldn’t be left alone with little ones.

Other breeds that might interest you.

Sources

1 - Veterinary Centers of America https://vcahospitals.com/ 

2 - Royal Canin Dog Encyclopaedia. Ed 2010 and 2020

3 - Banfield Pet Hospital https://www.banfield.com/

4 - Royal Canin BHN Product Book

5 - American Kennel Club https://www.akc.org/