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Great Pyrenees

The Great Pyrenees is a very old breed dating back to the 1400s founded in the Pyrenees mountains. As a member of the working breeds, these dogs were livestock guardians and lived in the fields and mountains with their charges (mostly sheep and goats). They are still counted on to guard flocks all over the world.

These pups are confident, independent, strong-willed, and loyal to their flock or family. They can be a challenge to obedience train because they have been bred to be so independent. When in their working environment, they have little human contact because they spend their time with their flock living with them day and night. They are not used to taking orders from humans. Having said that, they are very gentle and have a kindness to them that you can almost see in their eyes, but can become territorial if they feel their flock or family is threatened.

They are large dogs. Males weigh about 100 pounds, and females weight about 85 pounds. They are double-coated, have full fluffy fur, are heavily muscled and they shed heavily. Their fur is mostly white, but can have a tan, gray or almost peach color around the ears. They have a mane-like coat around the neck to give protection against wolves or coyotes during attacks. Their eye rims, nose, and lips are solid black that makes them resemble a polar bear. They have a longish plumy tail and have double-dew claws on the hind legs.

Great Pyrenees can make a wonderful family dog, but should be obedience trained at an early age due to their size and independent nature. They are gentle with children, but they do best with them when introduced as puppies. They require consistent exercise and tend to be more nocturnal than other breeds. They do not make good apartment dogs and yards should be fenced as they will wander or escape in search of their borders. Health concerns for this breed are bloat, luxated patellas, and bone cancer. These dogs have an average life expectancy of 10 years.

Terry Meeks is a dog trainer, APDT Member an CGC Evaluator in Pinellas County, Florida.  Find Four on the Floor Dog Training at and on Facebook.

Author: doggywoof staff

4 Responses to “Great Pyrenees”

  1. Christie says:

    I disagree with your statement about that Pyrs do not make good apartment dogs. I have worked in Pyr rescue for quite some time and I find that statement to be incorrect if owned by a responsible, committed party. Anyone who has ever owned a Pyr, knows that they sleep quite a bit during the day due to their nocturnal nature. And being bred to guard livestock meant they basically laid in the field with the herds all day (not too much movement) until the herd moved along. Pyrs can make great apartment dogs when owned as companion animals (not working dogs) due to their “couch potato” nature, but they due require someone who is willing to walk them on leash 2-3x a day, at least one of which is a good, long walk…or bring them to a fenced park/yard where they can have free roam for a bit.

  2. Laura says:

    I rescued a puppy from the pound. He is mainly black with some white and tan eyebrows (LOL). He now weighs 80 lbs. I believe he has EVERY breed in him from Border Collie, Australian Shepherd, Chow, to GREAT PYRENEES! He didn’t just have double dew claws; he had triple dew claws on both back legs! I was forced to try to keep them trimmed because of the way they grew. It was extremely traumatic for him (and me too). Finally, I had them removed, but they aren’t JUST claws, they are bone, etc. That experience was traumatic for him as well, but now he is HAPPY and well adjusted. He loves playing with my 13 year old border collie and pyrenees mix (she weighs 75 lbs). But he STILL hates having his regular claws trimmed! Thanks for the Pyrenees description; it certainly explained the shedding, mane, tail, and CRAZY undercoat. THANKS!

  3. Laura says:

    Sorry, I forgot to mention…the Pyrenees in him ALSO explains why he doesn’t follow me around like most dogs. In fact, he’ll leave the room and go into another one just to jump up and lie on the couch. It HAD been hurting my feelings, but now I understand MUCH better. THANKS AGAIN,

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