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Great Pyrenees Dog Breed

About the Great Pyrenees

The Great Pyrenees is renowned for its majestic appearance, gentle demeanor, and vigilant nature. Originating from the Pyrenees Mountains, which form a natural border between France and Spain, these large white dogs were historically used to guard livestock against predators. With their thick, weather-resistant coat, they are well-equipped to withstand the harsh mountainous climate. Pyrs , as these dogs are often called, are known for their calm yet protective temperament, making them excellent guardians for both livestock and families today. Despite the breed’s large size and independent streak, Great Pyrenees exhibit a profound gentleness with children and family members, embodying a patient and loyal canine companion.

AKC Group

AKC Group

Working

Dog Breed Height

Height

25 – 32 inches

Dog Breed Weight

Weight

85 – 100 pounds & up

Dog Breed Lifespan

Lifespan

10 – 12 years

Highlights

Country of Origin France
Bred For Guarding
Known For Noble Appearance, Loyalty, Patience
Popularity Moderate
Temperament Intelligent, Patient, Calm
Activities Guarding, Therapy Dog, Search and Rescue, Conformation Shows, Dog Sports

History of the Great Pyrenees

The Great Pyrenees boasts a rich history that dates back several centuries. Originating in the Pyrenees Mountains, which form the natural border between France and Spain, the breed was developed on alpine pastures to guard sheep from predators such as wolves and bears.

Historical records suggest that the ancestors of the Chien de Montagne des Pyrénées were working dogs, with a lineage likely tied to ancient mountain dogs used by shepherds in Asia Minor as far back as 3,000 B.C. Over time, those dogs migrated with their nomadic shepherds and eventually reached the Pyrenees Mountains, where they were refined and bred for their guarding abilities.

By the 17th century, the elegant appearance and noble demeanor of the Great Pyrenees had garnered the attention of the French nobility. The breed served as the Royal Dog of France under King Louis XIV, who declared it the official dog of the French court.

Despite its royal status, the Great Pyrenees remained a steadfast guardian of flocks, renowned for its protective instincts, intelligence, and gentle nature with those it was tasked to protect. The breed’s ability to work independently, making decisions to protect its charges without direct human commands, was highly valued by the local shepherds.

The breed was introduced to North America in the 1800s, where it continued its traditional role as a livestock guardian. However, it also became a beloved companion animal in homes as well as on farms. The American Kennel Club officially recognized the breed in 1933.

Today, while many Great Pyrenees still work as livestock guardians, they are also cherished as beloved family pets, known for their loyalty, patience, and protective nature. The breed’s history as a working dog in challenging mountain environments has endowed these dogs with a remarkable blend of strength, intelligence, and resilience, traits that continue to endear the Great Pyrenees to discerning dog fanciers around the world.

General Appearance

Height & Weight

Adult male Great Pyrenees typically stand between 27 and 32 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh around 100 pounds. Females are slightly smaller, generally ranging from 25 to 29 inches in height and weighing around 85 pounds.

Proportion & Substance

The Great Pyrenees is a breed that exudes balance and elegance, with a frame that is only slightly longer than it is tall. These dogs possess a well-proportioned build, with strong bone and a substantial body that denotes a capacity for physical work and endurance. The Pyr’s overall proportions are harmonious, with no single feature appearing exaggerated or diminishing the breed’s elegance. The body’s substance is solid, reflecting the breed’s function as a protector against formidable predators, yet the dog’s movement conveys a surprising grace for its size, demonstrating both agility and an easy fluidity.

Coat Texture, Colors & Markings

Texture: The coat of the Great Pyrenees is one of its most distinctive features, providing not only an elegant appearance but also serving a functional purpose. The double coat is thick and weather-resistant, composed of a dense, wooly undercoat and a longer, coarser outer coat. This dual-layered coat is designed to protect the Pyr from cold mountain snowstorms and from the heat experienced at lower altitudes in the summer season. The outer coat’s texture is straight or slightly wavy, but never curly, giving the breed a rather regal appearance that is as practical as it is beautiful. The coat is more profuse on the neck and shoulders, forming a ruff or mane which is more pronounced in males. Feathering appears on the back of the front legs and along the back of the thighs as “pantaloons.” The hair on the face and ears is shorter and fine in texture, but the hair is longer on the tail where it forms a fanciful plume.

Great Pyrenees Colors

Standard Color
White ee
A Note About Color: The color of the undercoat may be either white or shaded. The outer coat’s color may be solid white or white with markings of gray, badger, reddish brown, or varying shades of tan. Variously sized marking may appear on the head (including a full face mask), ears, tail, and as a few body spots. However, outer coat markings that cover more than one-third of the body are not desirable. All acceptable markings are considered to be equally correct.

Great Pyrenees Markings

Standard Marking
Badger Markings ee
Tan Markings ee
Gray Markings ee
Reddish Brown Markings ee

Head

  • Skull: The skull of the Great Pyrenees is slightly rounded with a slight furrow between the eyes. It is neither too broad nor too fine. The length and width of the skull are approximately equal, and it transitions to the muzzle without an apparent stop.
  • Expression: The expression of a Great Pyrenees is a defining characteristic, reflecting the breed’s intelligence, calmness, and alertness. The gaze is often described as contemplative and kind, indicative of the breed’s gentle nature. It conveys a sense of nobility and indicates genuine warmth and understanding.
  • Eyes: The eyes of the Great Pyrenees are almond-shaped, medium-sized, and set slightly obliquely, contributing to the breed’s intelligent and gentle expression. The color typically ranges from dark brown to a shade that harmonizes with the coat, offering a contemplative gaze.
  • Ears: Set at eye level and relatively small in proportion to the head, the ears of the Great Pyrenees are V-shaped with rounded tips, lying flat and carried close to the head. They frame the face and enhance the breed’s elegant and alert demeanor.
  • Muzzle: The muzzle is of medium length, approximately equal to the backskull, and blends smoothly with the skull. The cheeks are flat, although there is sufficient fill under the eyes. The lips are tight-fitting and the lower jaw is strong. There is a minimal dewlap on the neck.
  • Nose: The nose of the Great Pyrenees is always black, providing a striking contrast to the predominantly white coat. It is well-developed, with open nostrils that facilitate the breed’s keen sense of smell.
  • Bite: A scissor bite is preferred, but a level bite is also acceptable. The teeth should meet in a well-aligned manner, although dropped incisors are not uncommon.

Close-up head photo of a Great Pyrenees dog.

Tail

The tail of the Great Pyrenees is set low, just below the level of the back. It reaches at least to the hock. When the dog is relaxed, the tail hangs down with a slight curve at the end, known as a “shepherd’s crook.” In moments of alertness or excitement, the tail may be carried over the back. When the dog trots, the tail may be carried either over the back or low. In the Pyr’s historical role as a livestock guardian, the tail’s visibility, even in tall grass or snow, is a valuable asset for signaling the dog’s presence and location.

The Great Pyrenees – What to Consider?

When considering the Great Pyrenees as a companion, it’s essential to understand the breed’s characteristics, needs, and common behaviors. This will go a long way to making sure the breed fits well into the home and the owner’s lifestyle. These dogs are renowned for their serene and protective nature, which can make them excellent family members for owners who are informed and prepared to act as a responsible caretaker.

Home Life

Interaction With Family

The level of affection a breed typically shows towards family members and familiar individuals will vary. While some breeds may only show genuine warmth towards their owner, remaining standoffish with strangers, other breeds will treat everyone they meet as if they are their closest friend.
Independent Affectionate

Good With Other Dogs

The innate friendliness of a dog towards other dogs can depend on its breed. Although supervision is always recommended during introductions, certain breeds tend to be inherently more or less sociable with other dogs, whether in a home setting or in public spaces.
Not Recommended Reliable With Other Dogs

Good With Young Children

The degree to which a breed will typically be patient with young children, and its overall suitability as a family member, will vary. It is important to always supervise interactions between dogs and the kids in the house, as well as with children who are not accustomed to being around dogs.
Not Recommended Dependable With Children

Upkeep

Amount Of Shedding

The amount of hair that a dog sheds will typically depend on its breed. Heavy-shedding breeds require more frequent brushing, have a higher chance of activating specific allergies, and often necessitate more frequent use of the vacuum cleaner and lint rollers.
Low High

Frequency Of Grooming

The regularity with which a breed needs bathing, brushing, trimming, or other forms of coat care is an all-important consideration. When evaluating the grooming effort required, consider your available time, patience, and budget. It is important to note that all breeds need routine ear, teeth, and nail care.
Monthly Daily

Amount Of Drooling

The tendency of a breed to drool significantly varies from breed to breed. For those who prefer cleanliness or are particular about keeping things tidy, breeds that are likely to leave trails of drool on your arm or large slobbery marks on your clothing and furniture might not be the best fit.
Low High

Coat Type

smooth
wiry
hairless
rough
corded
double
curly
wavy
sikly

Coat Length

short
medium
long

Behavior

Personality

Trainability Level

The ease with which a dog can be trained and its eagerness to learn new skills can depend on the breed. Some breeds are naturally inclined to please their owners and will readily accept training, while others tend to follow their own desires, often showing independence in how, when, and where they choose to do things.
Stubborn Eager

Barking Level

The frequency of vocalization, including barking and howling, will vary from breed to breed. Some may bark at each person who passes by and every bird in the sky, while others will typically bark only for a good reason. Additionally, a few breeds that do not typically bark will still be vocal, using different sounds to communicate.
Quiet Vocal

Energy Level

The level of physical exercise and mental engagement required will depend on the breed. High-energy breeds are always on the go. They are enthusiastic about their next activity and tend to be busy most of the time, running, jumping, and playing throughout the day. In contrast, low-energy breeds are akin to couch potatoes, content to just lounge around and take naps throughout the day.
Couch Potato Busybody

Need For Mental Stimulation

The extent of mental stimulation needed to keep a dog content and healthy will vary by breed. Dogs bred for specific purposes may need tasks involving decision-making, problem-solving, and concentration. Without sufficient mental exercise, these dogs can resort to creating their own activities to engage their minds, resulting in unwanted behaviors like chewing, digging, and escaping.
Minimal Engagement Intensive Interaction

Great Pyrenees Health

The Great Pyrenees’ health needs to be a paramount concern for prospective owners. Although the breed is generally healthy, individual dogs can be predisposed to specific health concerns, just like any breed or mixed-breed.

The lifespan of a Great Pyrenees is typically around 10 to 12 years, but with proper care, regular check-ups, and a balanced diet, many can thrive beyond these years.

Potential Health Risks

The Great Pyrenees, while robust and resilient, can be predisposed to certain health conditions that potential owners should be aware of. Some of the more common health risks include:

  • Hip Dysplasia: This is a condition where the thigh bone doesn’t fit snugly into the hip socket. Hip dysplasia can lead to pain or lameness in one or both rear legs, though signs of discomfort may not be noticable.
  • Bloat (Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus): This is a life-threatening condition that can affect large, deep-chested breeds like the Great Pyrenees. Bloat occurs when the stomach is distended with gas or air and then twists on itself. It is crucial to learn the signs of bloat and get immediate veterinary treatment should they occur.
  • Bone Cancer (Osteosarcoma): Unfortunately, large breeds are also at a higher risk for bone cancer. Prompt attention to any unusual limping or swelling is essential for early detection and treatment.
  • Patellar Luxation: This condition involves the dislocation of the kneecap, which can range from being relatively benign to causing severe lameness. The Great Pyrenees can be affected by this condition, although it is more commonly seen in smaller dogs.

In light of these potential health risks, it is highly recommended for Great Pyrenees owners to maintain regular veterinary check-ups. Early detection and treatment of these conditions and other can significantly improve a dog’s quality of life. Additionally, discussing preventive care strategies, such as proper nutrition and regular exercise, with a veterinarian is key to ensuring a long, healthy life for any Great Pyrenees.

Great Pyrenees Personality

The Great Pyrenees is celebrated for its calm, patient, and confident disposition, embodying the gentle giant archetype. Despite the breed’s size, these dogs are known for their affectionate nature, especially towards family members, including the children with whom they are notably gentle and protective.

The breed’s personality is marked by a strong sense of independence and a natural protective instinct. These traits have historically made the breed an excellent livestock guardian. Pyrs are intelligent canines, capable of understanding and responding to training, but they do appreciate and respond best to positive reinforcement methods. Their independence can sometimes translate into stubbornness, so consistent and patient training is crucial.

While the Great Pyrenees is generally reserved and dignified, these dogs can be wary of strangers, making early socialization crucial to help them become good roommates and neighbors. The Pyr’s protective nature is a hallmark of breed. These white wonders are vigilant watchdogs, always on the alert to guard their family members and the family farm.

The Great Pyrenees typically coexists well with other dogs and animals, particularly if they are raised together. However, the breed’s strong guarding instincts can sometimes lead to assertiveness; hence, clear, positive leadership is essential. The sensitivity of these dogs to their family’s emotions makes them empathetic companions, attuned to the moods and feelings of other household members.

Great Pyrenees Feeding & Nutrition

Proper feeding and nutrition are critical components for maintaining a Great Pyrenees’ health and well-being. Given the breed’s large size, these dogs have specific dietary needs that should be met with high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with a veterinarian’s supervision and approval.

For Great Pyrenees puppies, a diet that supports steady growth, without promoting excessive weight gain, is essential. Puppies should be fed more frequently, typically three to four times a day, with a balanced diet formulated for large-breed puppies. This regimen helps to prevent bone and joint problems later in life , ensuring growth at an appropriate rate.

Adult Pyrs, once they reach about 18 months of age, should transition to two meals per day. The amount of food, typically measured in cups, varies based on the dog’s size, age, metabolism, and activity level. On average, an adult Great Pyrenees might require 4 to 6 cups of high-quality dry food each day, divided into two meals. However, these needs can differ based on the individual dog and its energy expenditure.

It is important to monitor the dog’s weight and body condition closely, adjusting food intake as necessary to maintain a healthy weight. Obesity can lead to numerous health issues and should be avoided by feeding a balanced diet and providing regular exercise.

Providing the Great Pyrenees with clean, fresh drinking water is essential, as hydration is vital for this working dog’s overall health. Consultation with a veterinarian can offer more personalized guidance on the Pyr’s nutritional needs, ensuring a diet that supports good health, vitality, and happiness.

Great Pyrenees Training

Training a Great Pyrenees requires patience, consistency, and an understanding of the breed’s independent nature. These dogs are intelligent and capable learners but often exhibit a level of independence that stems from their historical role as autonomous livestock guardians. Training, therefore, should start early, be consistent, and continue into adulthood to ensure the Pyr develops into well-mannered and obedient companions.

Socialization is a key aspect of training any dog, but especially the Great Pyrenees. Introducing these natural guardians to a variety of people, environments, and other animals at a young age can help to foster a well-rounded and adaptable demeanor. Positive reinforcement techniques, such as using treats and praise, can be very effective in motivating a Pyr during training sessions.

While these dogs are generally calm and gentle, Great Pyrenees can exhibit the breed’s inherent protective streak, making early training crucial to manage guarding behaviors appropriately. As capable watchdogs, they are known for their bark, which they use to alert their owners to anything unusual. Training can help to manage excessive vocalizations, especially if it becomes problematic for the neighbors.

The Great Pyrenees’ intelligence means these dogs can learn commands and behaviors quickly, but their independent nature may sometimes lead to selective listening. Consistency and patience are key, and professional training classes can be beneficial for providing structured guidance and socialization opportunities.

As a dog developed to monitor their flocks, the Pyr typically has a low to moderate potential for wanderlust. Providing a secure, fenced yard and supervision during outdoor time are important to prevent the dog from roaming. Training for recall is crucial, given the breed’s size and protective nature.

Great Pyrenees can adapt to living in a variety of situations as long as their needs for exercise, mental stimulation, and companionship are met. With the right approach to training, they can be loyal and loving companions, well-adjusted to family life and a busy schedules.

Great Pyrenees Exercise

The exercise needs of a Great Pyrenees are moderate compared to other breeds, but regular physical activity is essential to maintain the dog’s health and happiness. Despite the breed’s large size and calm demeanor, these dogs benefit from daily exercise to manage their weight, improve joint health, and reduce the risk of behavioral issues.

Exercise Expectations

Energy Level Moderate
Exercise Requirements 30 Minutes/Day (Minimum), Daily Walks, Vigorous Running, Regular Exercise, Mental Stimulation

A Great Pyrenees doesn’t require intense exercise routines but enjoys consistent, moderate activities that may include walks, playtime in a securely fenced yard, and opportunities to amble and explore in a safe environment. The breed’s energy level is relatively low to moderate, yet these dogs possess the stamina and endurance reflective of their working heritage.

The intensity of exercise should be adjusted according to the dog’s age, health status, and individual needs. Young puppies should not be over-exercised, as their growing bones and joints are susceptible to damage. Similarly, older dogs may require shorter, gentler walks to remain active without causing discomfort.

Playfulness is part of the Great Pyrenees’ character, and these dogs often enjoy interactive games that stimulate their mind as well as their body. Activities that engage their natural instincts and abilities can be particularly rewarding, such as gentle herding games or seek-and-find exercises that utilize their keen senses.

While the Great Pyrenees is not a high-energy breed, these dogs appreciate having a job to do or being included in family activities. Adequate exercise helps to prevent boredom and the development of undesirable behaviors, promoting a harmonious relationship between the dog and its human family.

Great Pyrenees Grooming

Grooming is an essential aspect of caring for a Great Pyrenees. Given the breed’s thick, double-layered coat, year-round and seasonal shedding are a simply fact of life. Regular grooming sessions not only help to manage the hair loss, they also provide opportunities for making sure the coat and skin remain healthy, reducing the likelihood of matting while providing an opportunity to check for any skin issues or parasites.

Grooming Expectations

Coat Type Double, Dense, Long, Straight to Wavy
Grooming Requirements Weekly Brushing, Occasional Bathing, Routine Ear Cleaning, Periodic Nail Trimming, Regular Tooth Brushing

The Great Pyrenees requires weekly brushing with a pin brush or slicker brush to remove loose hair, prevent tangles, and distribute natural skin oils throughout the coat. During shedding seasons, usually during spring and fall, more frequent brushing may be necessary to manage the increased hair loss.

Bathing a Great Pyrenees should be done as needed, typically every few months, unless the dog gets particularly dirty or smelly. It is crucial to use a dog-specific shampoo that will not strip the coat of its natural oils. Given the breed’s thick coat, thorough rinsing is essential to prevent soap residue from causing irritation to the skin.

Attention should also be given to other grooming tasks, such as trimming the nails regularly to prevent overgrowth and discomfort. The ears should also be checked weekly for signs of dirt, wax buildup, or infection, and cleaned as needed. Dental care is important too; regular tooth brushing, or use of dental chews, can help to prevent moist oral issues from becoming chronic.

Despite the breed’s impressive size, Great Pyrenees can be taught to tolerate and even enjoy grooming sessions if introduced to them positively and gently from a young age. Regular grooming not only contributes to the dog’s overall well-being, it also strengthens the bond between the dog and its dedicated groomer.

Living with a Great Pyrenees

Living with a Great Pyrenees can be a uniquely rewarding experience, but it requires an understanding of the specific needs and characteristics of this elegant working breed. These majestic dogs can fit well into a variety of lifestyles, provided their physical and emotional needs are met.

In terms of housing, Great Pyrenees can adapt to their surroundings. However, these dogs thrive in environments where they have enough space to move around comfortably. A home with a securely fenced yard is ideal, as it allows them to patrol and relax safely in an outdoor setting. Regardless of yard size, daily walks (onlead or off) and mental stimulation are crucial.

The breed’s thick coat provides insulation against cold temperatures, making this breed well-suited to colder climates. However, these dogs can also adapt to many climates. With proper care, such as providing shade, ample water, and avoiding excessive exercise during the hottest parts of the day, most Pyr can thrive in warmer environments.

Great Pyrs are known for their calm and patient demeanor, making them excellent companions. However, their independent nature and protective instincts mean they require consistent training and socialization to make sure they are well-behaved members of the family and the neighborhood.

The Great Pyrenees typically forms a strong bond with its family and is generally protective of the children. Despite the breed’s impressive size, these gentle but giant dogs can be sensitive and usually respond best to positive interactions. Their tendency to bark, especially at night, is a natural behavior for this guardian breed and should be carefully considered, especially by people living in close-knit and quiet neighborhoods.

Great Pyrenees Puppies

Deciding to bring a Great Pyrenees puppy home is a significant commitment that comes with immense rewards. These fluffy bundles of joy grow up to become majestic, loyal companions, but it’s essential to understand the responsibilities involved in their care and upbringing. This will ensure they will develop into well-adjusted adults.

Caring for a Great Pyrenees Puppy

Caring for a Great Pyrenees puppy requires attention to the youngster’s physical and behavioral development from the moment it arrives in its new home. As a large-breed dog, the pup will have specific growth and developmental needs that are crucial to its long-term health and well-being.

Nutrition is paramount for the Great Pyrenees puppy, as it needs a balanced diet formulated for large-breeds. This supports rapid growth without accelerating it unduly, which can lead to joint and bone problems later in life. Feeding a high-quality puppy food in appropriate amounts, typically divided into three to four meals a day, is essential for healthy growth and development.

Socialization and training should begin early and continue consistently throughout puppyhood. Exposing the Pyr pup to various people, pets, and environments will help it become well-rounded and confident as an adult. Gentle, positive training methods work best for this breed, reinforcing desired behaviors and establishing clear boundaries.

Regular veterinary check-ups are crucial to monitor the puppy’s growth, administer necessary vaccinations, and address any health concerns promptly. A veterinarian can also provide guidance on preventive care, including parasite control and dental care.

The Great Pyr puppy is energetic and curious, requiring safe spaces to explore and play. Providing a variety of toys and opportunities for mental and physical stimulation will help to channel the pup’s energy positively and foster its cognitive development.

Finally, integrating routine grooming from an early age is vital, as it accustoms the Great Pyrenees puppy to being handled and helps with maintaining healthy skin and coat. Regular brushing, nail trims, and dental care should also be part of the pup’s weekly routine, establishing habits that will benefit the dog throughout its life.

Great Pyrenees Activities & Dog Sports

The Great Pyrenees is a versatile dog that can engage in a variety of activities that cater to the breed’s physical and mental needs. Despite the Pyr’s calm demeanor, these dogs typically enjoy being involved in tasks that are challenging and allow them. Here’s a list of dog sports that can be suitable for the breed:

  • Obedience: Essential for every dog, Obedience helps to establish good communication and a strong bond between dog and handler. Great Pyrenees are more likely to respond well to positive reinforcement.
  • Rally Obedience: This sport combines elements of Obedience and Agility, with dogs guided by their handlers through a course with signs indicating different exercises to perform. It’s a great way to engage a Pyr both mentally and physically.
  • Carting/Draft Work: Given the breed’s strength and history as a working dog, Great Pyrenees can excel in Carting and Draft Work. Pulling small carts or wagons can be both a fun activity and a practical way to transport items around the farm or ranch.
  • Tracking: With the breed’s strong sense of smell, Great Pyrenees can learn to follow a scent trail and participate in Tracking events. These can be particularly satisfying for the dog and are a good way to engage the body and mind.
  • Herding: Although not traditionally a herding breed, some Great Pyrenees may be able to apply their guarding instincts at Herding Trials, working to guide livestock under the direction of their handler.
  • Weight Pulling: This sport involves the Pyr pulling a load while wearing a harness. It can be a good outlet to demonstrate the dog’s strength and determination, although proper training and conditioning are essential to prevent injury.
  • Conformation Shows: Participating in dog shows allows the Great Pyrenees to be evaluated against the Breed Standard, highlighting the dog’s beauty, structure, movement, and temperament. It’s also an opportunity for continued socialization and bonding time with the handler.
  • Therapy Work: With their calm demeanor, Great Pyrenees can make excellent Therapy dogs, providing comfort and support to individuals in hospitals, schools, and nursing homes.
  • Canine Good Citizen Program: This program teaches good manners at home and in the community, rewarding dogs with a title upon passing. It’s a good foundation for so many other activities.
  • Hiking & Outdoor Adventures: Great Pyrenees enjoy being outdoors and can make excellent hiking companions, exploring trails in natural settings. This can be a great way for them to exercise and enjoy time with their families.

These activities and organized sports provide physical exercise, mental stimulation, and opportunities for socialization, all of which will contribute to the well-being and happiness of a Great Pyrenees.

Group Classification & Standards

The Great Pyrenees is recognized by the world’s leading registries and kennel organizations, which categorize the breed into a specific Group based on its unique characteristics. This breed is recognized worldwide under the following Group designations:

International Organizations

Organization Group Designation
AKC (American Kennel Club) Working
UKC (United Kennel Club) Guardian
CKC (Canadian Kennel Club) Working
ANKC (Australian National Kennel Council) Utility
RKC (The Royal Kennel Club) Pastoral
FCI (Fédération Cynologique Internationale) Group 2: Pinscher and Schnauzer Molossoid Breeds – Swiss Mountain and Cattle Dogs; Section 2.2: Molossoids, Mountain Type

The ideal Great Pyrenees is described by a Breed Standard that is approved by each of the world’s leading registries and kennel organizations. The Breed Standards for this breed may be found in the following links:

Breed Standards

Organization Breed Standard
American Kennel Club AKC Great Pyrenees Breed Standard
United Kennel Club UKC Great Pyrenees Breed Standard
Canadian Kennel Club CKC Great Pyrenees Breed Standard
Australian National Kennel Council ANKC Great Pyrenees Breed Standard
The Royal Kennel Club RKC Great Pyrenees Breed Standard
Fédération Cynologique Internationale FCI Great Pyrenees Breed Standard

Great Pyrenees Clubs

Membership in a club can offer immense benefits for both Great Pyrenees owners and breed enthusiasts. Breed-specific organizations serve as an essential resource, providing education, support, and community for those who are passionate about a breed.

Founded in 1934, the Great Pyrenees Club of America is the leading organization for the breed in the United States, fostering a network of owners, breeders, and admirers who are dedicated to the welfare and betterment of the breed. The club’s members and officers are instrumental in organizing events, offering educational resources, and advocating for the breed’s health and well-being. It also plays a crucial role in connecting members, facilitating the exchange of knowledge and experiences, and promoting responsible ownership and breeding practices.

In Canada, the Great Pyrenees Club of Canada, founded in 1971, serves a similar purpose, advocating for the breed, providing information on care, training, and health, and connecting owners and enthusiasts across the country. This club also organizes events and offers support and guidance to its members, playing a crucial role in the Canadian Great Pyrenees community.

The United Kingdom is home to the Pyrenean Mountain Dog Club of Great Britain, catering to the Great Pyrenees, known in Great Britain as the Pyrenean Mountain Dog. This club offers resources, organizes events, and provides a passionate community for members who promote both education and advocacy for the breed throughout the UK.

Being a member of these clubs can enhance the experience of owning a Great Pyrenees, offering avenues for involvement in breed-specific activities, access to a wealth of knowledge, and the camaraderie of fellow enthusiasts.

Great Pyrenees Rescue Groups

Great Pyrenees rescue groups play an essential role in providing care, rehabilitation, and loving homes for vulnerable dogs of this noble breed. These organizations are found across the United States and Canada, each dedicated to supporting Pyrs in need.

In the United States, the National Great Pyrenees Rescue (NGPR) is a prominent organization that extends its services throughout the nation. The group’s volunteers focus on rescuing, rehabilitating, and rehoming Great Pyrenees and offer resources for those who are interested in learning more about the breed or considering adoption.

The Great Pyrenees Rescue Society is another notable entity, primarily active in the Southern US and Pacific Northwest. The group emphasizes rescuing and rehoming Great Pyrenees and similar breeds, relying on a network of foster homes and volunteers to prepare dogs for their forever homes.

The Great Pyrenees Club of America provides an extensive network of regional rescue contacts throughout the United States, facilitating rescue operations and adoption processes across various states.

The Great Pyrenees Club of Canada is an organization whose volunteers offer connections between various rescue operations and can provide resources for Canadians who are looking to adopt or foster a Great Pyrenees.

State-specific organizations, such as Northeast Pyr Rescue, Michigan Great Pyrenees Rescue, and Carolina Great Pyrenees Rescue, offer localized support within a specific area, providing specialized care and adoption services tailored to meet the needs of disadvantaged Pyrs in those regions.

Great Pyrenees Facts

  • Ancient Lineage: The Great Pyrenees has a long and noble lineage that dates back several thousand years. Originally used as livestock guardians, they share ancestry with other large breeds like the St. Bernard.
  • Royal Connection: In France, the Chien de Montagne des Pyrénées gained popularity as a guard dog of chateaus and was favored by French nobility. In the 17th century, King Louis XIV declared the breed the Royal Dog of France.
  • Mountain Rescuers: Beyond the breed’s role as livestock guardians, Great Pyrenees have been used for mountain rescue operations given their strength, intelligence, and keen sense of direction in challenging terrain.
  • Distinctive Coat: The double coat of the Great Pyrenees provides insulation against extreme weather, making the breed well-suited for work in the mountains. The Pyr’s coat is mostly white, which helped shepherds distinguish their dogs from predators.
  • Gentle Giants: Despite their large size, Great Pyrenees are known for their gentle and affectionate nature, often referred to as “gentle giants.” They are particularly patient with, and protective of, children.
  • Barking at Night: Historically used to work at night to guard flocks, Great Pyrenees have a natural tendency to bark in the evening and nighttime hours, a behavior that can be traced back to their role as nocturnal protectors.
  • Independent Thinkers: Bred to make decisions independently while guarding flocks, Great Pyrenees can be quite independent-minded, which can be a challenge during training sessions.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Do Great Pyrenees shed?

Great Pyrenees have a thick double coat that sheds moderately year-round and more heavily during the shedding seasons in spring and fall. Regular grooming is essential to manage the hair loss and to keep the coat clean and healthy. Despite the shedding, however, many owners find that routine brushing can significantly help to control the amount of loose hair around the house.

How long do Great Pyrenees live?

Great Pyrenees typically live between 10 and 12 years. Their lifespan can be influenced by various factors, including genetics, diet, exercise, and access to preventive veterinary care. Providing a loving home environment, proper nutrition, and regular health exams can contribute to a longer, healthier life.

Can Great Pyrenees be black?

The standard color for the Great Pyrenees is white, with or without markings of gray, tan, reddish-brown, or badger. Some dogs can have darker markings that may appear black in color.

Are Great Pyrenees aggressive?

Great Pyrenees are not typically aggressive; they are known for their gentle and protective demeanor. However, like any dog, individuals can become aggressive if not properly socialized or if they feel their family or territory is threatened. Proper training, socialization, and understanding of the breed’s protective nature are crucial.

Are Great Pyrenees good with kids?

Great Pyrenees are known to be patient and protective, making them generally good with children. They are gentle and affectionate with family members and can be excellent companions for kids when properly socialized. However, due to the breed’s large size, interactions with very young children should always be supervised.

When do Great Pyrenees stop growing?

Great Pyrenees typically reach their full size by the age of 1 to 2 years. However, they may continue to fill out and gain muscle mass until they are about 2.5 years old. It’s essential to provide these dogs with proper nutrition throughout their growth period to ensure healthy development.

Will a Great Pyrenees attack an intruder?

Great Pyrenees are natural guardians and may act to protect their home and family. However, these dogs are more likely to use their size and voice as deterrents rather. Training and socialization can help to manage their protective instincts and will ensure they respond appropriately to threats.

Are Great Pyrenees good family dogs?

Great Pyrenees can be wonderful family dogs, known for their loyalty, affection, and protective nature. They are typically gentle with family members and can coexist peacefully with children and other pets. Their calm demeanor makes them good companions, though their size and exercise needs should be considered.

Are Great Pyrenees hypoallergenic?

Great Pyrenees are not hypoallergenic. They have a double coat that sheds, especially during the change of seasons. Regular grooming can be helpful, but the hair and dander can still trigger allergies in sensitive individuals. Consequently, this breed may not be the best choice for people with severe allergies.

Are Great Pyrenees smart?

Great Pyrenees are intelligent and capable of independent thinking, traits that were essential for their historical role as a livestock guardian. While they can be trained, their independent nature can sometimes be mistaken for stubbornness. Consistent, patient training is necessary to engage their intelligent minds.

Where are Great Pyrenees from?

The Great Pyrenees originated in the Pyrenees Mountains, which form a natural border between France and Spain. The breed has been used to guard livestock on the mountain slopes for several several centuries, and their careful breeding has equipped them well to handle the varied terrain and challenging weather conditions.

Are Great Pyrenees good with cats?

Great Pyrenees can be good with cats, especially if they are raised together or properly introduced. Their protective nature often extends to all family members, including pets; however, individual temperaments can vary, so supervision is recommended to ensure harmony in the home and on the farm.

Do Great Pyrenees bark a lot?

Great Pyrenees are known to bark, especially if they perceive a threat to their territory or family. Their vocalization is part of their natural behavior as a livestock guardian dog. Training, and providing appropriate mental and physical stimulation, can help to reduce any unnecessary barking.

Do Great Pyrenees like water?

Some Great Pyrenees may enjoy swimming, while others might not be so inclined. Interest in water will vary from dog to dog. If water activities are introduced positively and safely, a Pyr can learn to enjoy them (or at least tolerate them).

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