The Great Pyrenees is the perfect combination of being both calm and protective. This intelligent breed is self-assured and steadfast in its love for its family and job. Great Pyrenees are affectionate, cuddly giants whose tolerable and easygoing personalities do well in homes with children and other pets. Keep reading to learn more about these gentle guardians and why they are terrific sidekicks.
The Great Pyrenees, also known as the Pyrenean Mountain Dog, has existed for centuries. Great Pyrenees were named after the Pyrenees Mountains where they acted as livestock guards and herding dogs for peasant shepherds. This breed has amazing patience and could sit and watch livestock for days to protect them against bears, wolves, and raiders. The cold temperatures and weather of the mountains didn’t faze this breed or hinder its endurance. With the Pyrenees Mountains standing between France and Spain, the Great Pyrenees soon became a favored breed among the French nobility and were used to guard royal estates and chateaux. In the late 1600s, King Louis XIV of France named the Great Pyrenees the “Royal Dog of France.”
Great Pyrenees continued to grow in popularity throughout Europe in the 1800s among people of status, such as Queen Victoria of England. Around this time, these dogs also found their way to the United States when they were brought over by Marquis de Lafayette. In 1933, the well-liked Great Pyrenees became registered with the American Kennel Club (AKC).
Great Pyrenees Characteristics
Appearance & Coat
The Great Pyrenees is a large dog that stands around 25 to 32 inches tall and weighs between 85 to 100 pounds. These dogs have ears that are feathered and hang down beside their eyes, as well as long, fluffy tails that can be plumed or relaxed. This massive breed is muscular and can deter threats with its size and appearance alone despite its peaceful demeanor.
The Great Pyrenees has an outer coat that is long, wavy, and dense with a soft undercoat. These dogs have bold white coats that occasionally have gray or tan markings on their faces and/or tails. Sadly, this breed is not hypoallergenic as the Great Pyrenees sheds heavily throughout the year, with the most fur shed when seasons change. As a result, these dogs are poor fits for families with allergies.
The Great Pyrenees has a wonderful temperament that’s patient and affectionate. This breed is a great family dog as it’s known to be gentle and tolerant of children, in addition to getting along well with other pets. While Great Pyrenees are loving and well-behaved, they tend to mistrust and be wary of strangers. Their caution around strangers makes them protective watchdogs that frequently bark to sound the alarm. If you’re looking for a devoted and loyal companion that can also be a guard dog, the Great Pyrenees may be your perfect match!
The Great Pyrenees has a lifespan of 10 to 12 years. Similar to other large breeds, however, the Great Pyrenees has an array of health issues owners should be aware of. For example, Great Pyrenees are more prone to Osteosarcoma, which is a type of bone cancer. Thankfully there are treatments for Osteosarcoma like surgery, chemotherapy, and pain-relieving medications.
In addition to cancer, Great Pyrenees are also susceptible to hip and elbow dysplasia, bloat, eye problems, luxating patellas, and immune-mediated diseases like Addison’s Disease. Great Pyrenees can also pass along neurological disorders to their litters, such as Neuronal Degeneration, so you should only buy this breed from reputable, ethical breeders that do thorough health checks.
Caring for a Great Pyrenees
The Great Pyrenees’ Ideal Home
Great Pyrenees have been known to get along well with other pets such as dogs and cats. While this is generally the case, owners should be aware that this is dependent on their Great Pyrenees’ personality and socialization. Between its large size and barking tendencies, the Great Pyrenees is not a good fit for apartment living.
This breed will greatly benefit from a home that has plenty of space for roaming and lounging. A house with a fenced-in backyard would be perfect for a Great Pyrenees, however, frequent inspection of the yard and fence is required to make sure this adventurous dog can’t escape. For example, when it snows make sure to shovel around your fence so your Great Pyrenees can’t stand on top of the snow and jump over the fence.
Training Best Practices
Great Pyrenees are intelligent and independent problem-solvers. These traits are great but can make this breed stubborn and difficult to train. The Great Pyrenees is a strong-willed dog that’s not a great fit for first-time dog owners. Training these dogs requires firmness and consistency.
This breed will also need early and ongoing socialization to ensure they don’t become overprotective and aggressive. When training a Great Pyrenees, you will need to be confident and extremely patient as this breed may try to test you. Above all, being kind and staying positive during training will help your dog thrive as it learns it can trust you.
Great Pyrenees make wonderful adventure companions. These dogs will enjoy joining you on a hike or participating in family games to burn off energy. That being said, owners should always keep these dogs on a leash as they’re quick to wander off on their own. Owners can expect to give their Great Pyrenees daily walks that are around 30 minutes to 1 hour long. However, the Great Pyrenees is built for cold, freezing weather and should avoid hot temperatures that are 70 degrees Fahrenheit or above.
Grooming & Hygiene
Great Pyrenees shed a lot. These dogs will need to be brushed at least once a week throughout the year to collect loose fur. Owners of this breed can expect to clean up shed fur in their homes on a regular basis. In the spring, the Great Pyrenees will need to be brushed daily to keep up with its heavy seasonal shedding.
While this breed has long and wavy fur that sheds a lot, the Great Pyrenees’ coat doesn’t require much cleaning. This breed has a coat that doesn’t tangle and is resistant to dirt. Because their coats stay so clean on their own, Great Pyrenees can be given baths on an as-needed basis. However, due to having floppy ears, you will need to check weekly for any signs of an ear infection. Like other breeds, regular nail trimming and teeth brushing are important to keep your dog comfortable and healthy.
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