Great Pyrenees

Type: Guardian Dog

Height: 25 - 32 inches.

Weight: 90 - 140 lbs.

Life Span: 10 - 12 years.

Litter Size: 6 - 10 puppies.

Country of Origin: France

Activity: Medium, but must be exercised daily. Long walks are good for this breed.

Watch-dog: Very High. Great Pyrenees will bark and if necessary, fight predators.

Guard-dog: High

Description: The Great Pyrenees give the distinct impression of elegance and unsurpassed beauty combined with great overall size and majesty. They are large dogs with very woolly and long coats. It is also weather resistant and allows them to withstand intense cold temperatures. They have large paws, bred for have a steady foot on dangerous mountain paths. They also have drop ears, a bushy tail and an evenly muscled body. Their fur almost resembles a white mane. They need human companionship and attention and lots of space. The Great Pyrenees will not do well with apartment dwellers. They are a pleasant, gentle breed of enormous size, extremely intelligent, and loyal to their family. They have been bred to bond very closely with their family or the flock they are guarding. They are also protective of them. The Great Pyrenees does well with other animals and livestock, and are loving with their families. Although bred to have a kinder personality, the breed still excels with predator control around the home. Great Pyrenees are gentle, affectionate and loyal to the ones they love.

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Other Names: Pyrenean Mountain Dog, Chien des Pyrenees, Chien de Montagne des Pyrenees

Colors: White, with or without patches of badger, wolf-grey, tan or pale yellow.

Coat: Long and coarse textured with a profuse undercoat of very fine hair.

Temperament: Great Pyrenees are watchful, loyal, friendly and protective. They will bond closely with their owners or the ones they are guarding. They are sweet, gentle and are good with kids. They do not do well with other pets, however, unless those pets are sheep and livestock. They are powerful, assertive when need be, and territorial. They are confident and affectionate, and a stable breed. They tend to be nocturnal; resting during the day and guarding during the night.

With Children: Usually gentle, makes a great playmate for children. Supervisions is needed, however.

With Pets: Protective of own, will chase others away.

Care and Training: Great Pyrenees require daily brushing of their long double coat, extra grooming is needed during shedding. Bathing is needed only when necessary. Great Pyrenees need plenty of exercise but a large yard with ample space to roam will give them enough exercise. Pyrs must be well trained, so that they do not attack or guard against welcome people or animals.

Learning Rate: Medium. Smart, but must learn to respect owner. Obedience - Medium.

Special Needs: Fenced yard, leash, training and socialization.

Living Environment: Rural or suburban living environments are best. Great Pyrenees should live with a family and have a job to do. They need human companionship and attention. The best owner for this breed would be a family with a job for the Pyr to do in a rural or suburban home setting.

Health Issues: Great Pyrenees are usually very healthy, but may suffer from hip dysplasia, hot spot skin conditions, and epilepsy. Other health concerns include entropion (inverted eyelids), luxating patellas, and bloat (gastric torsion; twisted stomach). Bloat is a health issue to most dogs, being the second largest killer of dogs other than cancer, but Great Pyrenees can be particularly susceptible to it because of their deep chests.

History: Great Pyrenees are one of the oldest of the natural breeds dating back to about 3000 B.C. Fossils of the Great Pyrenees have been found dating at least to the Bronze Age, or 1800 - 1000 B.C. They were developed in the Pyrenees Mountains separating France and Spain for rugged mountain work, guarding flocks against wolves and bears and drawing sleds. They were also said to have been used as a guard dog of sheep and chateaux. A favorite at the French court prior to the French Revolution, Dauphin Louis XIV was said to have named the breed the "Royal Dog of France". They are thought to be related to the Maremma Sheepdog and the Kuvasz, and are the progenitors of the Newfoundland and Landseer we know today. Peasants in the 17th century enjoyed this dog as a flock guarder, and personality was of utmost importance when obtaining the breed. Owners would either kill, abandon or sell Great Pyrenees if they did not possess the trait of bonding and protecting sheep regardless of discomfort. The second most important trait of the Pyrenees was, however, physical traits of strength, keen hearing and big paws to be sure footed on the mountainous slopes. Pyrenees were also used, regretfully, as smugglers of contraband. The dogs were strapped with a backpack and sent across the border on paths impassable by humans. By the 20th century, however, the breed was going extinct. Thanks to French aristocrat Bernard Senac-Lagrange, the breed survived by Lagrange going to their native mountains and retrieving native species to breed. They were imported into America soon after, and achieved AKC recognition in 1933. Today they have been bred down to have a much sweeter disposition, although when threatening situations arise, they will come to the aid of their family, or sheep.

First Registered by the AKC: 1933

AKC Group: Working

Class: Working

Registries: AKC, ANKC, CKC, FCI (Group 2), KC (GB), UKC