The Great Pyrenees, which is also called the Pyrenean Mountain Dog in some countries, is a large dog with a lifespan of 10 to 12 years. They are calm and great around children, and get along with other pets as well. They were originally bred around 10,000 B.C. with the goal of helping shepherds guard flocks, and they are related to the Hungarian Kuvasz and Maremmano-Abruzzese. They have thick coats that are white and can sometimes have slight markings. They are not hypoallergenic and do shed quite a bit, with a fairly high drooling tendency as well. However, they are not known to be very smelly. Although they are great babysitters and are very sweet with children, they do require proper training as they can be stubborn. They are also very vocal and have a tendency to bark.
These dogs go by the name of Great Pyrenees in the United States and Canada, but in most of Europe and the United Kingdom, they are called the Pyrenean Mountain Dog. The mountains separating France and Spain, the Pyrenees Mountains, are the place of origin of these dogs, hence the name. It is thought that the ancestors of these dogs originated from Asia Minor some ten to eleven thousand years ago. This breed was created with the goal of making a dog that would help and work with shepherds. In 1675, the Great Pyrenees were thought of as peasant’s dogs, up until it was declared by the Dauphin from the court of King Louis XIV that they would be the Royal Dog of France. From that point on, the French nobles began to use them as guard dogs for their estates. It was in Newfoundland, Canada that the first Great Pyrenees was imported. It was there that they were crossbred with the Newfoundland dog to create the Landseer Newfoundlands. The breed became more popular in Europe, the United States and England in the 1800s. They were also used in Switzerland as part of the St. Bernard’s breeding program. The breed went through a tough time during both World Wars, but survived since several of the dogs were imported to the United States before the war began. Breeders then worked to bring back the breed at the end of the war. These dogs are descended from the Maremmano-Abruzzese and the Hungarian Kuvasz.
The Great Pyrenees have double coats that are water resistant. With a coarse, long and thick topcoat that is never curly, but instead can be straight or wavy, they do well in cold weather conditions. Their overcoat is woolly and also quite dense. Around the neck there will be a rough mane that will be more visible in males. Feathering on the back of the legs will also be present. They have plumed tails and the hair around the ears and face will be short and fine. These dogs are mostly white, or can have gray, tan, reddish-brown or badger colored markings that appear as a mask, on the ears and head, on the tail, or sometimes on the body. These colored markings will not cover more than one third of the dog’s body. The undercoat will be either white or shaded. The bodies are slightly longer than tall and the backline is level. They have wedge-shaped heads that are slightly rounded, and the dog’s muzzle will be about the same length as the skull’s back. The Great Pyrenees have black lips and noses with level scissor bite teeth. The slanted eyes will be medium sized and almond shaped, and will be dark brown in color. The ears are carried near the head, low and close to eye level, and are V-shaped but rounded at the tips. These dogs have fairly broad chests, and bushy tails that can be either carried low, reaching nearly to the hocks, or high up in a wheel when they get excited, and will sometimes have a crook at the end. They also have single dewclaws on the front paws and double on the back.
As these dogs are used to roaming the mountains, they will often keep trying to gain more territory. Because of this, your yard will need to be fenced in with at least a four foot high barrier, as they can easily jump fences. They will need to begin training from when they are puppies, and it will need to be done with positive reinforcement. They have great memories, and will easily remember what you teach and how you do it. Great Pyrenees dogs will need at least 20 to 30 minutes of exercise each day to remain active and healthy. They are big and strong dogs that can carry things like backpacks, but should not be allowed to work too hard in the summer when it is hot out. They do enjoy the winter months, however, and will love to accompany you on hikes as long as the weather is not too warm. They love being with people and can become destructive if left alone for too long, as they will get bored and lonely. Dog toys can help keep them occupied and mentally stimulated. Training can sometimes be a challenge, but can also be simple if started early. The key to successful training is patience and consistency. Leash training is among the important concepts to teach your Great Pyrenees, as they will grow to be big and strong. This is also important as this breed will need to be kept on leash, lest they wander off on their own. This breed of dog should be fed about 4 to 6 cups of food twice a day, but the exact amount depends on the individual dog and its lifestyle. They do shed quite heavily, especially in hot climates. This means that they require regular grooming, but are not too high maintenance. Besides brushing, the coat will not need any other forms of care. Hair around the hocks, feet, eyebrows, forelegs, whiskers and ears are sometimes trimmed. Although it may be tempting and can seem like a good idea, the Great Pyrenees should not have their coat clipped during the summer as it serves as protection from the hot sun. Since the coat will tend to shed dirt on its own, baths will only be needed once every few months. They have floppy ears that can block air circulation and will need to be cleaned weekly to prevent problems. Although daily is best, teeth brushing will be needed two or three times each week. If they do not wear down naturally, your pet should have their nails trimmed as needed. Due to their mellow personality, they can do well in apartments but will be very happy with a large backyard, always fenced in, that they can run around in.