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Adopt a Great Pyrenees

Great Pyrenees Dog Breed

Picture: Kent and Donna Dannen


livestock Dog, flockguard

Area of origin:


Original function:

sheep guardian

Average size of male:

Ht: 27-32, Wt: 100

Average size of female:

Ht: 25-29, Wt: 85

Other names:

Pyrenean mountain dog, chien des Pyrenees, chien de montagne des Pyrenees

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    Friendliness towards dogs

  • Friendliness towards other pets

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    Friendliness towards strangers

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    Ease of training

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    Watchdog ability

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    Protection ability

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    Cold tolerance

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    Heat tolerance

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Great Pyrenees Dog Temperament

The Great Pyrenees is a capable and imposing guardian, devoted to her family and somewhat wary of strangers, human or canine. When not provoked, she is calm, well-mannered and somewhat serious. She is very gentle with her family and children. She has an independent, somewhat stubborn, nature and may try to dominate a less secure handler. Some are not good off leash and may wander away. The Great Pyrenees tends to bark a lot.

Great Pyrenees Dog Care

The Great Pyrenees needs daily exercise to stay in shape, though her needs are not excessive. A moderate walk will usually suffice. She enjoys hiking, especially in cold weather and snow. She does not do well in hot weather. This breed enjoys being with her family indoors. Her coat needs brushing once or twice weekly, daily when shedding. She may drool at times, and she tends to be a messy drinker.

Great Pyrenees Dog Health

Major concerns: CHD, patellar luxation
Minor concerns: entropion, OCD, skin problems, osteosarcoma
Occasionally seen: ChD, gastric torsion, otitis externa, panosteitis
Suggested tests: hip, knee, (eye)
Life span: 10-12 years

Interested in the history of the Great Pyrenees dog breed?

Also known as the Pyrenean mountain dog, the Great Pyrenees is a very old breed, probably descending from the Tibetan mastiff. She may have come to Europe with the Aryans from Central Asia, as well as with Phoenician sea traders. They settled in the Spanish Pyrenees and in various mountain valleys in Europe. She was used from the earliest times to guard flocks. A painting of the times shows a pair of these guards, each wearing a spiked iron collar to protect her throat from animal or human adversaries. In medieval France, the Pyrenees became a formidable fortress guard, and eventually a band of these imposing dogs was the pride of many large chateaus. In the late 1600s, the breed caught the eye of the French nobility, and for a brief time they were in great demand in the court of Louis XIV. In fact, in 1675 the Great Pyrenees was decreed the "Royal Dog of France" by Louis XIV. Around the same time the Great Pyrenees came to Newfoundland, where she may have played a role in the development of the Newfoundland breed, but she did not herself continue as a pure breed. The first documented Pyrenees came to America with Gen. Lafayette in 1824. By the 1900s, the breed had disappeared from French court life, and the remaining dogs were those found still working in the isolated Basque countryside. Many of the poorer puppies were sold to tourists who brought them back to England and other countries. These dogs bore little resemblance to the magnificent Pyrenees that had once been so admired, however. Interest in the breed declined in England, but fortunately the breed still existed in sufficient numbers and quality in her native mountain land so that later fanciers were able to obtain good breeding stock. These dogs served as the foundation of the modern Pyrenees. Serious importation of the breed to America occurred in the 1930s, and by 1933 the Great Pyrenees received AKC recognition. She attracted great attention as well as new pet parents; today the Great Pyrenees enjoys moderate popularity.

Copyright © 1998, 2005 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc. based on

Shelters with Great Pyrenees Dogs

Some animal welfare organizations with Great Pyreneess ready for adoption:

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