by Terry Meeks
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.