The Great Pyrenees Dog: A Big Puppy with an Even Bigger Heart!

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By: Rita Cunha Updated: June 30, 2020

great pyrenees puppies playing on the beachThe Great Pyrenees is a dog from the mountainous regions of Spain and France. He’s independent, calm, but with a very strong mind of his own.

The Great Pyr is courageous, great with children, and loyal. They are the type of dog’s who need a lot of socialization, training, and an owner who is patient.

This dog breed tends to be a little stubborn and not the best for inexperienced dog owners. But, if you have the time and patience to train them, you’ll have found a loyal and amazing friend and companion.

What is a Great Pyrenees?

The Great Pyr is now famous for its role in animal-based therapy, in rescue searches, as a family and a guard dog. But they haven’t always played these parts.

These dogs have come a long way since they were first bred. They continue to stun everyone who looks at them with their majestic white mane and their imposing build.

But the Great Pyrenees breed is so much more than this!

A Dog From the Pyrenees Mountains: History of These White Dog Breeds

The first Great Pyrenees breeders had a very clear image in mind of what this dog should be. They were bred in the Pyrenean mountain region of France and Spain. Great Pyrs are such an old breed that their fossil records were found dating back from 1800 to 1000 B.C.

Their role was to gather and watch over flocks of animals and protect them from predators. Because bears and wolves were such a threat to livestock, Great Pyrs had to be brave and protective.

Until the 17th century, the Great Pyr was known as a peasant, shepherd dog, who worked long arduous hours safekeeping the flocks. But their beauty had not gone unnoticed.

There are statues in France dating back to the 12th century honoring this dog’s beauty. In the 14th century, several documents were written praising the Pyr’s nurturing and caring nature.

Finally, in 1675, the court of the French king Louis XIV declared the Great Pyrenees breed a royal dog. This led to an increase in popularity — even Queen Victoria owned one of these dogs!

Nowadays, the Great Pyrenees rescue people from mountainous regions. They’re also great therapy and emotional support animals! The fact that they’re loyal and protective makes them the perfect dog for this job.

Although they’re sometimes stubborn and complicated for new owners, they stick by and defend their family. They guard houses and protect children from perceived dangers.

The Pyrenean mountain dog has come a long way from being a livestock guardian to working with people. Despite that, they’ve always done an outstanding job.

 

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Appearance and Personality of the Snowy Coated Great Pyrenees Dog

The Great Pyr’s appearance is one of their most striking features — no wonder there are so many Great Pyrenees pictures online! First of all, their white, snowy coat is dreamlike.

They have a double coat, which is perfect for the cold weather from the Pyrenean mountains. The top coat should be long, thick and coarse. It can be either wavy or straight, but it’s usually never curly.

The undercoat has a wooly and dense texture. Around the neck, the Great Pyrs have a mane. This is especially true of males.

These dogs also have long hairs on the back of their legs and thighs. The tail, face, and ears have shorter hair, contrasting with the rest of the body.

great pyrenean mountain dog on top of the rocky mountains

The coat is usually always completely white, but some dogs might have traces of tan or light gray. They can have distinctive-looking coat features around the head, on the ears or tail, and sometimes on their body.

But these features never cover more than a third of the dog’s body.

Affectionate as Ever! Pyrenees Dog Height and Weight

Great Pyrenees puppies have a lot to grow until they reach adulthood. According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), adult males can measure between 27 and 32 inches in height.

Females measure between 25 and 29 inches in height. They’re some of the tallest pet breeds out there, together with the Great Dane and the Rafeiro do Alentejo.

They’re also quite heavy! Males can weigh anywhere between 100 and 160 pounds. Females weigh upwards of 80 pounds.

They’re also very muscly and have an athletic body, perfect for their livestock guardian roles of the past.

Because the Pyrs were bred to protect livestock, they had to be big and heavy in order to intimidate predators. It also means that you need to train them well. No one wants an uncontrollable heavy and large dog at home.

Great Pyrenees Temperament

The Great Pyrenees breed is rather protective of their family and suspicious of strangers because of their livestock guardian past. But these characteristics don’t make him a bad family dog.

They have a good reputation for being caring and loving, particularly with children. As soon as they come into a family, they bond quickly and a great friendship is developed.

They’re gentle and docile and aggressiveness is not common at all within the breed. However, you should also expose your Pyr puppy to other dogs and people to socialize them.

Just like with any other dog, this will make them more easygoing and less shy.

Pyrs are also very intelligent. They’ve had to be if they wanted to survive the harsh conditions of the Pyrenean mountains.

They were left alone with the flocks for weeks at a time, which made them very independent. Because of this, they can sometimes be difficult to train, especially for inexperienced dog owners!

But nothing is impossible, you just need to be patient and persistent.

 

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5 Facts You Need to Know About the Great Pyrenees Dog

  1. Despite their athletic build, Great Pyrenees dogs don’t need that much exercise. A moderate or light leashed walk with them for about 20 minutes each should be more than enough.
  2. Walking a Pyr without a leash is a no-no. They like to run away if they’re given the chance.
  3. If you have a Great Pyrenees dog in your yard, don’t forget to get it fenced around. They like to explore new territory, so you need to make sure they don’t run away.
  4. Great Pyrenees dogs are very vocal — it was part of their job, after all! It’s wise to invest in a pair of earplugs.
  5. They like to chew things, especially if they’re separated from their families for too long. Because they’re so big and have very strong jaws and teeth, it can lead to them ruining furniture.

A Big White Dog: Maintenance Requirements of the Pyrenees Dogs

Despite having a thick fur, Pyrenees dogs don’t need a lot of grooming. They do shed a lot, but thirty minutes of thorough brushing per week should help a lot with this.

Compared to a curly-coated Retriever, for example, they are not high maintenance at all!

This breed has double dew claws. You should never remove them or cut them off completely. Trimming them on a semi-regular basis should be enough.

Here is a trick to know if your dog’s claws are too long: if you can hear them tap the pavement when walking, you should trim them.

Claws that are too long can hurt your puppy or break, something you don’t want.

How much exercise they need is something that confuses a lot of people, too. Although they’re very large and athletic, they only need between 30 and 40 minutes of exercise per day.

This really isn’t a lot when compared to other large dogs. Think of German Shepherd dogs and how they need two hours of exercise every day. No wonder this dog (Great Pyrenees) copes well with living in an apartment.

great pyrenees dog looks out in the distance

If you’re thinking of getting this breed, know that you’ll have to socialize your dog really well. They are independent and stubborn by nature, and if you don’t expose them to new experiences, people, and other dogs, they can become aggressive or shy.

It’s also important to train them from a young age. If you don’t think you can do it, hire a professional.

This is a step you can never skip if you want a healthy Great Pyrenees.

Pyrenees Puppies: Trainability!

These dogs are very independent and like to follow their own rules and whims. It’s something that comes from when they were lonely flock-gathering dogs in the Pyrenees.

However, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to get them trained. Great Pyrenees puppies should only be family dogs if they go through training and socialization.

Despite being very intelligent, their independent nature and their tendency to be stubborn make them a greater challenge than other breeds.

If you are an experienced dog owner and have trained dogs in the past, you should be fine training this one. If you’re not comfortable with it, puppy training schools are a great place to start.

You should make sure your Great Pyrenees dog knows some basic commands. Orders such as sit, stay, wait, and come are very handy.

Training them to walk on a leash without pulling too hard is also incredibly important. It’s not recommended to walk these dogs without a leash.

 

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Is A Pyrenean Mountain Dog A Healthy Pooch? Health Concerns

The Great Pyrenees dog is overall a healthy dog. However, like what happens with all other breeds, they’re more likely to develop certain conditions — it’s in their DNA.

This doesn’t mean that all dogs will get one of these diseases, but that there’s a higher risk of it when compared to other breeds.

Some Pyrs will have to fight against hip dysplasia at some point in their lives. Hip dysplasia happens when the thighbone doesn’t fit perfectly into the hip joint socket.

This makes walking and standing painful for dogs with this condition. Because it’s an inherited disease, there’s no cure for it.

You can get a puppy tested to see if they’ll have the problem in the future. Keep in mind that dogs with this condition should not be bred.

Because Pyrs are such a large breed, they can have bone problems growing up. They only fill out when they’re three or four years old.

Until then, you should treat them like they’re made of glass. Growing pains are not uncommon and you should pay special attention to your dog’s bone health.

Great Pyrenees Mix

Breeders have crossed the Great Pyrenees with several other dogs. Even though they’re looked down upon by some people for not being purebreds, they’re equally as adorable and loving.

A Great Pyrenees mix will make a great addition to a dog-loving family.

Great Pyrenees Husky Mix

What happens when you take two cold-climate adorable dogs and cross them? The result is the absolutely adorable Great Pyrenees Husky mix.

They are particularly great companion dogs and are amazing with children. They’re usually smaller and lighter than the Pyrs, usually measuring 18 to 20 inches tall and weighing between 75 and 95 pounds.

Anatolian Shepherd Great Pyrenees Mix

This cross was created in the United States. It mixed the independent and caring nature of the Anatolian Shepherd and of the Great Pyrenees. They’re big dogs, measuring up to 32 inches in height.

They usually weigh between 80 and 120 pounds. They’re cream colored and their coat is short. This is a dog that is suitable for families with children.

Great Pyrenees Lab Mix

When you crossbreed a Great Pyreneese with a Labrador Retriever,  you get a very friendly and playful pooch. They’re family oriented and have a lot of energy in them. You should exercise them regularly, as well as brush them every week.

Also known as Pyrador dogs, they weigh between 55 and 100 pounds and measure 22 to 32 inches tall.

Great Pyrenees Golden Retriever Mix

The Great Pyrenees Golden Retriever mix is a particularly affectionate puppy. They’re relaxed, easy going, curious, and great with children.

It’s the best traits of the Golden Retriever and the Pyr together! They shed a lot and need some exercise every day. They also don’t like being away from their family for long. Usually, they can grow to be up to 30 inches tall and weigh 120 pounds.

Great Pyrenees Puppies for Sale

Who can deny it, Pyrs are terrific company dogs!  When getting a Pyr puppy, it’s important to make sure they’re perfectly healthy and have no health problems.

great pyrenees puppy laying in grass

Pyrenees Puppies: Price!

This is not a cheap breed. The average price for a Great Pyrenees puppy is $600. Depending on where you live and the breeder you buy your puppy from, the price can be higher or slightly lower.

There have even been cases of Pyrs being sold for $5,000!

If you don’t want to spend this much on your pooch, you can always rescue one. Animal shelters are always looking for owners to adopt their dogs.

Alaqua Animal Refuge is just one of the many places looking for new homes for their animals.

Great Pyrenees Puppy Breeder

It’s very important to only get Pyr puppies from qualified and trusted breeders. You don’t want to end up getting a puppy with a high likelihood of developing painful conditions.

Make sure you read reviews online and that your dog has a full medical history record with them.

The American Kennel Club has created a tool where you can see reputable Great Pyrenees breeders. Just apply some filters and you’ll have a list of trusted breeders at your fingertips.

5 Tips for First-Time Pyrenees Dog Owners

  1. It can be very hard to train a Pyr, especially for new owners. Look at obedience training dog schools in your area and enroll your puppy there.
  2. Don’t forget to socialize and exercise your dog.
  3. Although grooming isn’t very intensive, you should do it for 30 minutes every day.
  4. Don’t get rid of your dog’s nails! Trim them just the right amount so that they’re not in pain.
  5. When getting your Pyr, make sure the breeder is trustworthy so you don’t end up with a sick puppy.

Common Questions on the Great Pyrenees Dogs

Is this dog suitable for inexperienced dog owners?

Are they high maintenance?

How much exercise do they need?

What are their temperament and personality like?


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