The Complete Guide to the Great Pyrenees Dog

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The Great Pyrenees Dog, also known as the Pyrenean Mountain Dog is one of the large breed dogs that are characterized by their majestic look and super lovely and protective attitude towards owners and their families.

Whether you’re curious about the breed or planning to have one, this article will have everything you might be looking for!

Today, we’ll walk you through the complete guide to the Great Pyrenees dog. So without further ado, let’s dive in!

The Great Pyrenees Characteristics and Origens. 

The first thing you should do is familiarize yourself with the breed and its origins. Here is a brief overview of The Great Pyrenee’s visual characteristics, as well as their history.

The Great Pyrenees Full Grown Visual Characteristics

The Great Pyrenees Full Grown Visual Characteristics

The Great Pyrenees adult dog is a large dog with a muscular build and thick double hair coat. It has an even backline and a long tail with dense feathering that reaches to the dog’s hocks (the equivalent of the dog’s ankles).

The dog’s outer coat is made up of long, thick, and coarse hairs that can be slightly wavy or straight. The undercoat is also thick but is made of finer and softer hairs.

The coat colors are mostly white and range from solid white to white with specific tan markings, wolf gray, reddish-brown, or pale yellow.

Their eyes are usually almond-shaped and dark brown, with a medium-length white snout and black noses. They have triangular ears that are naturally flopped downwards on their flat cheeks.

The Origin of The Great Pyrenees Dog

The Great Pyrenees Dog

The Great Pyrenees Dogs are among the oldest breeds existing today. They descended from the first flock guardian dogs, which were white and large ancient Mastiff-type dogs that existed 10,000 B.C in Asia Minor.

The guardian dogs were brought to the Pyrenees Mountains between France and Spain to aid shepherds and protect their sheep around 3,000 B.C. where they were specifically bred to become livestock guardians and shepherd dogs that became today’s Great Pyrenees dogs.

The Great Pyrenees dogs worked for centuries along with the smaller breed Pyrenees Shepherds. The Great Pyrenees are excellent at their livestock guardian job because of their thick white coat that allowed them to blend in perfectly among the sheep they should protect.

They were intelligent and calm, which allowed them to protect the sheep from bears as well as wolves and even catch them by surprise.

One of the earliest mentions of the dog in literature was by a historian from the medieval times, saying that the dog was guarding nobility castles in France because of their bravery and intelligence.

In fact, it was mentioned that in 1675, the Great Pyrenees were considered the “Royal Dog of France” and was greatly admired by Louis XIV.

The first documented Great Pyrenees to reach the United States was in 1824, along with its owner and friend General Marquis de Lafayette.

Spread to America and Europe

After the royal era of France, the Great Pyrenees went into subtlety for over a century. However, the breed was spreading through Europe and America in the form of puppies sold to tourists in the French countryside.

The breed faced a huge decline in interest by the end of the 19th century, but it remained strong because there were sufficient breed quality and puppies out there to yield a good breeding stock.

By 1933, the Great Pyrenes finally received the recognition of the AKC as a certified breed, which revived the attention towards it with new owners.

As of today, the dogs maintain decent popularity, ranking 66 out of 196 breeds on the AKC breed popularity scale.

Great Pyrenees dog

What should you know before getting a Great Pyrenees dog

The Great Pyrenees Dog Size

Great Pyrenees Size

Let’s have a quick look at the average size characteristics of the male and female dog as well as the puppies:

  • Body Dimensions

One of the Great Pyrenees dog names is “Le Grand Chien des Montagnes”, which translates to “The Big Dog of the Mountains”. As the name suggests, the Great Pyrenees are rather large breed dogs.

Ideally, an adult male Great Pyrenees’ height would be around 27 inches to 32 inches (69 cm to 82 cm). However, you might find some adult males that are as big as 40 inches (1 meter).

On the other hand, females are a bit smaller at 25 inches to 29 inches (64 cm to 74 cm) on average.

  • Body Weight

In addition to their medium to large body dimensions, their puffy appearance also contributes to their “big dog impression”.

You might notice that the Great Pyrenees varies by size according to regions and nutrition. However, the majority of the dog breed lies within the same range.

The adult male Great Pyrenees is anywhere between 100 lbs and 120 lbs (50 kg to 55 kg), while a female adult one would average between 80 lbs (36 kg) and larger.

  • Size Development

A 3-month-old male puppy would usually be about 35 lbs to 40 lbs (16 kg to 18 kg) while a female Great Pyrenees of the same age weighs a bit less at 28 lbs to 33 lbs (12 to 14 kg).

Whether it’s a male or a female, the Great Pyrenees will reach 90% of its final size during the first year and will most likely stop growing at around the 18th to 20th month of their life.

The Great Pyrenees Life Span and Health Concerns

The Great Pyrenees Life Span

The Great Pyrenees dog life span is about 10 to 12, which is a bit close to most dog breeds’ average lifespan.

Just like all humans are prone to some genetic problems and may inherit diseases, dogs also can get them, and the Great Pyrenees is no exception to this rule.

Among the most common health issues that this breed has are the digestive and musculoskeletal ones.

For example, all Great Pyr owners should expect their dog to suffer from bloats, which can also advance into a life-threatening condition known as Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (GDV) where the stomach dilates and twists.

If you’re planning to own a Great Pyrenees, you’ll have to learn how to spot and deal with bloats before bringing your doggie home.

Other recurring issues among the Great Pyr population are the hip dysplasia, luxating patellas, autoimmune disorders as well as some eye and skin problems.

It’s suggested that you perform various tests on the hips, knees, and eyes before adopting your Pyr no matter how trustworthy the breeder is.

Here’s a brief list of other medical concerns that Pyrs are mildly prone to:

The Great Pyrenees Nutrition

For a dog that big, you might think that the Great Pyrenees eats tons of food every day. However, this isn’t the case at all!

In fact, a lot of the breed owners noticed the Great Pyrs don’t eat relatively smaller amounts that you might ever think.

For that reason, it’s important to feed them with highly nutritious foods to keep them healthy and make up for their small meals. 

Ideally, most breed experts believe that low-protein dry food formulas that are specifically made for large breeds are the best food for Great Pyrs.

As you already know, the breed is highly susceptible to digestive issues, such as bloating, gastric colics, and GDVs. 

While the cause of these issues is yet to be understood, it’s easily avoided by preventing exercises around mealtimes and dividing the food into 3 to 4 mini-meals per day.

The Great Pyrenees Shedding and Grooming

Almost all dogs with fur coats will shed some hair and require grooming. However, the level of shedding varies greatly from one breed to another.

On one hand, some dogs will continuously shed their hair all hair while others blow their hair on a seasonal basis or even do both. On the other hand, some dogs might hardly shed any hair at all.

Although the Great Pyrenees has a double hair coat, it naturally resists dirt as well as forming tangles and mats, so they don’t require as much grooming as you might’ve thought!

The Great Pyrenees has a double coat, with a long rough outer coat and soft undercoat. They usually shed their undercoat during spring, which can cause a lot of mess.

Also, if burr, foxtail, or other debris get caught in their fur, it might tangle it, which is a problem for outdoor working dogs.

Luckily, you can reduce the seasonal shedding and tangles’ impact by brushing their hair for 30 minutes once every week. Avoid shaving the hair coat during the summer because they can experience serious sunburns.

This helps in keeping the hair clean and gets rid of the dead hair follicles, which reduces the amount of hair mess around the house.

In addition to the hair, there’s a basic case routine that you’ll need to maintain for a happier and healthier dog. 

For example, you’ll need to clean their ears regularly and even clip or grind their nails as they grow long because they cause a lot of discomfort to them.

You should also brush their teeth with a dog-specific toothpaste to prevent dog breath and keep their teeth healthy. Also, you may occasionally use dog shampoos to keep their skin healthy and dandruff free.

The Great Pyrenees Temperament

When it comes to the Great Pyrenees dog’s personality, their unique mountain instincts and their long history of being a working dog have a huge impact. The following list discusses some of the most essential aspects of the dog’s temperament. 

However, it would be best if you kept in mind that these are generalized behaviors and individual Pyrs might vary greatly in personality among the same house.

The Great Pyrenees Temperament

  • General Temperament

The Great Pyrenees is usually known for being a fearless, confident, and affectionate dog that packs a lot of tolerance, especially towards children.

For that reason, they’re considered great family dogs despite being overly protective and territorial in some cases.

The Great Pyrenees are usually strong-willed and independent dogs. In fact, some owners believe that they’re quite stubborn.

The size of the dog as well as its muscular body yet calm and well-composed nature makes it an imposing guardian.

  • Wandering Around and Getting Lost

Some breeds were specifically bred to run for long distances, which makes some dog breeds more free-spirited than others.

This is known as the “wanderlust trait”, which describes the dog’s tendency to follow its nose, chase wild animals, and just simply take off after anything that will pique their curiosity.

Just like most mountain dogs, the Great Pyrenees is a natural wanderer. However, they’re also quite intelligent and learn their boundaries easily.

They can still wander around, but they won’t easily get lost if you train them to never leave you behind.

However, without training, the Great Pyrenees can easily get lost if he or she roams too far away from you.

While they have an excellent sense of smell, a lot of environmental and modern-day factors can throw them off and make your pooch lose its way.

You should expect the dog to patrol around the house frequently, so you need to make sure that the house space is well fenced and capable of preventing the day from wandering outside its range.

Mouthiness

Mouthiness is a common trait among all breeds in puppy stages and continues to be an issue for some breed, such as the Retriever family in general.

Mouthiness is the tendency of the dog to use its mouth more often in everyday life. A mouthy dog is more likely to nip and chew on things as well as play-bite its owner, which is a painless soft bite that doesn’t break the skin.

Fortunately, the Great Pyrenees dogs are an excellent choice if you don’t want a dog that doesn’t need mouthiness training.

Of course, just like all dogs, they’ll have a phase in life where they chew and nip a lot when they’re puppies. Remember that because of their size, they can inflict more property damage than puppies of other smaller breeds.

For that reason, during their mouthy puppy stage, you shouldn’t give them the entire house space to roam around and reserve it to when they reach a trustworthy maturity. 

However, as they grow up, they’ll easily get rid of the behavior and learn to gnaw on chew toys rather than people or furniture. 

Yet, you should always keep them busy with training, socialization, playing, because they can be a bit destructive when they’re bored.

Trainability and Exercise Needs

The Great Pyrenees isn’t a highly active dog breed. Since they’re bred to protect, they might patrol their territory but tend to conserve their energy for whatever threatens the flock.

For that reason, Pyrs are highly prone to obesity if they don’t move around. A moderate exercise like walks is usually enough to keep them in shape. They enjoy walks, especially in cold and snowy weather.

Additionally, since they’re fairly intelligent and well-composed dogs, they’re easy to train using positive reinforcement training

However, their stubbornness and independence may sometimes get in the way, so you’ll have to be patient.

The Tendency to Bark, Howl, and Snore

As previously mentioned, Pyrs are great family dogs and can be really friendly and protective. However, they stay reserved with strangers and keep their suspicion for a long time. Unfortunately, this devotion and extreme loyalty come with its problems. 

While the dog won’t think twice to risk its own life to protect you and your family, it has a huge tendency to bark loudly at anything that might pose a threat in their opinion, which is basically “just about anything”!

In other words, if you don’t train your Pyr not to bark and be very selective with its barks, you should expect a lot of complaints from your neighbors. Despite being vocal during the day, most healthy Pyrs won’t snore while sleeping.

The Great Pyrenees Dog Drooling Potential

Some dogs are prone to intense drooling and some dogs aren’t. As you already know, the Great Pyrenees dogs are essentially mountain dogs with a thick fur double coat, so they enjoy snow and cold weather in general.

However, as the Great Pyrenees dogs experience heat from weather or exercise, they may tend to drool.

In fact, the Great Pyrenees will drape lines of slobber around and you’ll most likely encounter the drooling while you’re petting or playing with them.

They usually leave large and wet spots on your clothes whenever they’re around. You may find some on bedsheets as well if you allow them on the bed.

Ideally, keeping them in a relatively cool temperature and a stress-free environment might significantly decrease the drooling problem, but it won’t make it completely go away.

If you’re okay with some slobber and have a laid back attitude towards drooling, you won’t have a problem with that. 

They’re not excessive droolers, but if having slobber is a deal-breaking trait, you may want to look for other dogs that don’t drool as much.

Great Pyrenees Dog

Wrap Up

There you have it—a complete guide with everything you need to know about the Great Pyrenees Dog.

As you can see, it’s a wonderful pick for a family that lives in a rather large household with a lot of space to run around and play.

Great Pyrenees dogs get along with other dogs and cats in the house. They tend to ignore harassment from other pets and won’t easily resort to fighting, so it can also be an excellent addition to your pet family!

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