Height: 27-32 inches (male), 25-29 inches (female) / Weight: 100 pounds and up (male), 85 pounds and up (female) / Lifespan: 10-12 years
The Great Pyrenees originated in Europe thousands of years ago. In fact, fossils of these dogs found in the region date as far back as 1800 B.C.
Developed in the Pyrenees Mountains of France and Spain, these majestic dogs were tasked with guarding livestock from wolves, bears, and other predators. Not only did this require courage and a muscular build, it also meant these dogs needed patience and protective instincts.
The Great Pyrenees became popular with the French aristocracy during the Renaissance and were brought to the United States by a French military officer in the 1820s. Today, the breed is best known as a loyal and affectionate companion who won’t hesitate to protect its people.
A fully-grown Great Pyrenees is an impressive sight indeed, but these dogs are much less imposing as puppies. In fact, the breed’s thick, weather-resistant double coat and contemplative expression make Great Pyrenees puppies look incredibly cute and cuddly.
But they don’t stay babies forever and will quickly start to grow into much larger dogs. Great Pyrenees (or Pyrs as they’re affectionately called) are muscular, powerful dogs that can weigh 100 pounds or more. And while they may often look like masters of chilling out, they’re ready to spring into action and showcase their great strength and speed at a moment’s notice.
But the gorgeous looks of the Great Pyrenees are perhaps best summed up in the official breed standard: “The Great Pyrenees dog conveys the distinct impression of elegance and unsurpassed beauty combined with great overall size and majesty.”
At first glance, you could be forgiven for thinking the Great Pyrenees is something of a lounge lizard. Often described as being slightly serious creatures, these dogs can be such placid and laid-back characters for long periods of time. They’re also affectionate with people and usually quite tolerant of children, so they can be a great addition to a family home.
But they can instantly switch to “guardian mode” whenever the need arises. The breed’s natural protective instincts mean these dogs are quite reserved around strangers but will happily face down any threat.
They’re also well known for being strong-willed and even stubborn. These dogs like doing things their own way — they were bred to work independently after all — so your Great Pyrenees puppy will need patient training from day one.
If you’re looking for a dog that’s an absolute breeze to train, this isn’t the breed for you. While the Great Pyrenees doesn’t lack intelligence, this simply isn’t one of those ultra-obedient dogs that will do anything to please you.
You’ll need a good supply of patience when training your Great Pyrenees puppy, and positive reinforcement is a must. It’s also a good idea to avoid too much repetition, as your pet will become bored and disinterested quite quickly.
One issue potential owners should be aware of is night-time barking. The Great Pyrenees was bred to protect the flock at night while the shepherds were asleep, and those instincts remain strong to this day. This is a wonderful attribute if you’re looking for a dog that’ll make burglars reconsider their life choices, but most owners will want to train their dog to keep this behavior to a minimum.
Finally, socialization is also crucial for Great Pyrenees puppies. Remember, the breed’s protective instincts are strong, so it’s important to teach your growing pup how to get along with other dogs. Puppy obedience classes are an excellent starting point for anyone looking for ways to socialize a Great Pyrenees.
To give your great Pyrenees the best nutrition, choose a high-quality dog food specially designed for large breeds. Don’t overdo it with treats either, as they should never make up more than 10% of your dog’s daily calorie intake. As a deep-chested breed, the Great Pyrenees can suffer from the potentially fatal condition known as bloat — make sure you recognize the symptoms and get your dog to the vet immediately. In terms of exercise, the Great Pyrenees isn’t what you’d call an overly active breed. But a long walk each day is still a must, while these dogs can also excel at canine sports like drafting (cart-pulling) and even agility. Like all breeds, the Great Pyrenees can also be susceptible to a handful of genetic health conditions. Responsible breeders screen their dogs to prevent problems like hip dysplasia and luxating patellas being passed to the next generation.
That thick coat might look like it requires lots of work, but Great Pyrenees puppies are relatively low maintenance in the grooming department. A brush once a week will keep the coat looking spectacular, while nail trimming and teeth cleaning are also recommended.
You should also be prepared for your Great Pyrenees puppy to shed — a lot. Brushing will help remove loose hair from your dog’s coat, but you can still expect to find plenty of white dog hairs all over your clothes and furniture.
If you’re searching around for Great Pyrenees puppies, be aware that this is far from a mainstream breed in the United States. As a result, you may need to wait a little while for a puppy to become available.
It’s also important to ensure that you source your puppy from a responsible breeder. Dogs from puppy mills are prone to a wide range of health and behavior problems, so be sure to find a breeder who puts the needs of their puppies above all else.
A responsible breeder will let you tour their facility, see where their dogs are kept, and meet and interact with the puppies and the parents. They'll also provide advice and answer questions on how to care for Great Pyrenees puppies. And most importantly, they'll want to find out whether you’re a suitable caregiver for one of their puppies.
If a person doesn’t meet all the requirements of a responsible breeder, or if something just seems a little off, look elsewhere for your puppy.
The Great Pyrenees may be a lovely, loyal, and downright beautiful dog, but it’s not necessarily the right breed for everyone. Not only do they require regular exercise, you’ll also need to carefully train and socialize your dog from a young age. They’re also reserved around strangers and naturally nocturnal, so they simply aren’t suited to all living situations.
That said, these dogs make wonderful family pets when treated right. If you can provide your Great Pyrenees with all the love and companionship they need, you won’t ever find a more devoted and delightful family pet.