Meet the Giants: Great Pyrenees

I am so excited to kick off our new series, Β “Meet the Giants”. Each week we will share information about a giant breed from someone very familiar with the breed. I wanted to start this because I felt a lot of information online about Great Pyrenees was a bit off. The Meet the Giants posts will come from the minds of breed enthusiasts to try and share the most accurate information possible.

So, let’s kick it off with the Great Pyrenees! I’ll be handling this post πŸ™‚

Meet the Giants: Great PyreneesDo you currently have a Great Pyrenees?

Yes! I have two amazing Great Pyrenees – Mauja, our female who just turned 3, and Atka, our male who just turned 2. If we didn’t live on a military base, we’d have many more fluffies!

Are there any other names/nicknames for Great Pyrenees?

The Great Pyrenees is known by this name mostly in North America. In most of Europe, he is known as the Pyrenean Mountain Dog orΒ Chien de Montagne des PyrΓ©nΓ©es in France. For those of us that find “Great Pyrenees” too long to say all the time, “pyr” works just perfectly.

What are 3 words you would use to describe Great Pyrenees?

Protective, loyal, and gentle.

What is the average size of a Great Pyrenees?

Height at the withers is 27-32 inches for males and 25-29 inches for females. Weight should be proportionate to the size and structure of the dog. Typically, pyrs will range from 90-150 pounds at a healthy weight. The Great Pyrenees is considered a medium boned breed (for reference, a Newfoundland is well boned and a Mastiff is heavy boned). That means that a 120 pound pyr could appear to be the same size as a 150 pound Newfoundland. Many people are often surprised at Mauja and Atka’s weights thinking they should be much higher. The lack of density accounts for the difference. To sum it up, a Great Pyrenees should not be overly lumbering or light. The dog’s proportions are most important.

Meet the Giants: Great Pyrenees

What are the acceptable colors of a Great Pyrenees?

The Great Pyrenees is predominately white, but various shades gray, tan, and brown can cover up to 1/3 of the body. Most people refer to these markings as “badger marks“. The face can be slightly colored or fully masked and the body can have a few spots. Typically the undercoat is white, but it can be shaded or marked as well.

What is the average lifespan?

Pyrs typically live for 10-12 years, but I have seen several reach 15 or beyond.

What was the Great Pyrenees bred to do?

The Great Pyrenees is a livestock guardian dog. They protect livestock from predators such as coyotes, wolves, and bears. I have heard of several fending off mountain lions and moose as well; they’re tough dogs! Pyrs are still widely used as LGDs today, but are becoming an increasingly popular house dog. It is also common to see pyrs as therapy dogs due to their gentle nature. All Great Pyrenees need a job and many will be happy protecting you and your family.

How much exercise do Great Pyrenees need?

They tend to do well with a brisk 30-60 minute walk each day. They are not particularly active dogs, so you won’t spend time running with them for hours on end πŸ˜‰ Great Pyrenees are also fairly inactive indoors, but most prefer to spend their time outside patrolling their territory.

What are some common health problems?

Great Pyrenees are one of the healthiest giant breeds, but they do still suffer from issues such as hip displasia, bloat, patellar luxation, and osteosarcoma. Minor issues can include skin problems,Β entropion, and ear issues.

How much grooming do Great Pyrenees require?

Brushing will be the most important thing for maintaining your pyr’s coat. Ideally, brushing should occur at least 2-3 days per week. The outer coat of a Great Pyrenees is mostly mat resistant and self-cleaning, so baths are only needed a few times a year. The double dew claws should be trimmed regularly.

Great Pyrenees Hiking

What do you wish people knew about Great Pyrenees before bringing one home?

Well, I wrote an entire post with my top 5 things I wish people knew about them. To sum it up – they bark a ton (like, endlessly), they shed, they dig, they’re independent thinkers so training isn’t a priority for them, and their guard dog nature needs to be seriously considered. Another big consideration is fencing. The territory of a Great Pyrenees is as far as he can wander and a small fence won’t stop that. Most pyrs will need a minimum of a 6′ fence.

Why do you love Great Pyrenees?

Oh my, I could go on and on here. I think that, for me, their devotion to their family is the most wonderful thing. They are incredibly loyal and would fend off a grizzly without thinking twice. The bond between a person and her Great Pyrenees is unsurmountable. I also love their independence. There’s something fun about the challenge of training a Great Pyrenees when they have little to no interest. It forces you to think outside the box and get creative. I absolutely love pyrs and will always have them in my life. While they’re not the perfect breed for everyone, they’re the perfect breed for me <3

Anything else you want to say?

Please don’t go home with the adorable, fluffy puppy without doing research and talking to individuals knowledgable with the breed. Their quirks can be unacceptable to many people who aren’t prepared.

So there you have it! Our first Meet the Giants post featuring the Great Pyrenees. Stay tuned for next week when we’ll introduce our next giant!

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Our first "Meet the Giants" post is about Great Pyrenees. Check back weekly for information about other giant breeds!

37 comments on “Meet the Giants: Great Pyrenees”

  1. They can be extremely protective of children, so one needs to be very observant when other children come to play. An innocent rough house play date could become a protective issue to your pyr. They don’t understand the difference. I have older children so it is not an issue. Again do your research before you adopt any dog. Just because they are cute, fluffy, and totally beautiful doesn’t mean they are the right dog for you.

    • They’re protective of everyone. My Pyr used to go shopping with us, and he would not leave a store aisle if my girlfriend was still shopping in that aisle. It’s one thing to have a protective 20 pound lap dog. It’s quite another to have one that weighs in at 100 – 150 pounds.

      These dogs are NOT white, fluffy Neufs. People need to seriously research the breed, and consider the ramifications of having one of these in your world. If a plumber enters the house, and the dog thinks that the plumber means to harm the family, really bad things are going to happen.

      Research, research, research.

  2. Great info! Love the pyrs, such a great creature. Loving, loyal bankers πŸ™‚ that can’t be stressed enough that they bark, alot

    • People always say to me, “my dog barks a lot so that won’t be an issue”. Then they get a pyr and realize their dog really didn’t bark all that much πŸ˜‰

  3. Great series! I love my Pyr, and do recommend people do research first. We didn’t my husband fell in love with the fluffy white puppy and I went to work ensuring we knew what to do to make a good home. It wasn’t hard to love him but you do have to adapt to lots of hair, slobber and barking. 😘

  4. Looking forward to seeing and reading about the other giant breeds you are featuring. I love huge dogs, but they just don’t fit my lifestyle too well right now.

  5. This Is a great idea. It’s so important for people to understand the breed before bringing them into their life and home. I can’t wait to see the next post in the series. I thought about adopting a Black Russian while searching for a new addition to my family. Is that a giant breed? If so hopefully you include that one because I would still like to know more.

  6. It’s impressing to see them the furst time in pawson. Easy and his silly vizsla-frenemy barked like crazy as they dicovered a GP who walked in their direction at a show. But the two troublemakers turned into mice as they noticed how big this guys really are :o)

    • Haha! They can be quite intimidating. Many people were surprised at how big they are when they got to meet them at BlogPaws. They’re not even full-grown yet πŸ™‚

  7. This is a great article! Looking forward to the next installment!
    You forgot to mention, though, that unless you have a couple hundred acres, they need a VERY high fence. They can be escape artists and will expand their territory to the next county!

  8. I have Pyrs, not as farm or flock guard dogs, but as family dogs. By socializing them from very early on, you can minimize the barking issue. As puppies, I would carry them down town and walk them for 15 minutes and then sit with them in front of a store or on a park bench. They’re like movie stars, attracting all sorts of attention. They eat it up, while they get to know people. That helps with the barking. Be cautious with exercise, however. Pyr pups should not get more than 15 minutes of activity (walking) per day. They need their little joints to grow slowly to fuse together, or they can have issues by a year old.

  9. Pyrs also really hate car rides. We love them but they do jump fences a lot!!!!! Our fence is 52″ cattle panels, it’s not tall enough. We are on our second pyr, there probably won’t be a third as they are very strong and I’m not as strong as I used to be.

    • I am going to have to disagree on the car ride part of your post, as soon as they hear me pick up my car keys, they are at the garage door demanding if they get to go.

  10. On size and weight… you should have your vet show you how to check the dog’s body condition, to ensure s/he’s not overweight or underweight. There are charts online, but it’s harder to tell through all that fur. So learn how to do it.

    Petting or massaging the dog tells it you love it, but it also tells you how the dog’s body feels when it is in good shape. That helps you know if the dog is sick or injured later on by changes you notice. Massaging puppy paws gets them used to being handled so you can trim dew claws more easily. Petting/rubbing the dog helps you find ticks to remove. If it’s a working dog, you give the attention out in the pasture where it works… or in the barn… It also makes it easier to take the dog to the vet. In emergencies, the police or firemen are greeted more cheerfully by the dog as well. Even working LGD’s need attention this way. Not socializing a pyr that is a working LGD is just W R O N G!

    I’d add to your 3 words of description: stubborn or strong willed, giver of unconditional love and a thinking dog.

    When you get a pyr you need to learn how to be a firm but loving alpha pack leader. You may even need to remind yourself as I used to with my first pyr, that “failure on my part is NOT an option”.

    Raising a pyr is like raising a child. The challenges are similar. Patience and positive reinforcement work; anger and yelling do not.

  11. I have two Great Pyrenees both of them I recused. One of them was part of a hoarding case where the woman had 42 of them living in a house and never let them out. The other was from a family that got this cute fur ball that did not know what they was getting them selves into. My recommdation to any first time owner was to see the movie Jurassic World and ask yourself do you want a Raptor living in your house. They are great pets, but not a breed for everyone.

  12. Gret site but just a few comments. What happened to the link to the Badger Markings page? Misinformation: Pyrs bark all the time. Wrong, I never met a Pyr that barked when sleeping. We have two Pyrenees with dwarfism. The older one (8 years old), Connor is also deaf (common with dwarfs). The Badger marked puppy (Britta) is only four months old and has normal hearing. They are both rescues. Breeders tend to euthanize them to keep anyone from finding out that there might be a genetic defect in their line. You can see pictures of these little giants on my Facebook page.

  13. I have a sheep farm on 6 acres in Southern Wisconsin, and I have been thinking about getting a Great Pyrenees for the past year or so. I have a 2 year old border collie, but I cannot leave him in with the sheep for too long because collie’s tend to gnaw on the sheep when they get bored. I have a 48 inch mesh fence with electric wire a foot off the ground and another that runs along the top of the fence. Would this be adequate fencing for the Pyrenees?

  14. I just got a Great Pyrenees mix puppy who I named Commodore Scrimshaw. He has already doubled in size (I got him at 8 wks and now it is 4 wks later). He is so much fun, but is teething, so he likes to bite things a lot with his needle like teeth (including me) πŸ™‚ So besides him biting my nose occasionally when he is giving me kisses, he is just a wonderful dog. My two other big dogs, a Corgi/Lab mix and a Terrier Cow-dog mix have gotten used to him and his playful ways. Yay me!!!!

  15. We have a beautiful dog that we just adopted and he is a border collie/pyr mix named Mammoet (Dutch for mammoth).

    The day we picked him up, his extra-large, calm (mainly black) border collie father (with ice-blue eyes) was tethered to the farm and on alert. Our puppy’s mother was a large/medium beautiful white pyr that ran away when we drove up to the home.

    His original human Dad put Mammoet in the back of our truck and kiseed him on his head and said “be the good boy I know you are”. He gave us vet papers, dog food and said his name is “Junior”. There was a definite misty cast to his eyes as well.

    We left quickly because all of Mammoet’s original family (human/dog) seemed to be in distress. As we were driving away his beautiful pyr mom started to bark a great deal and then she raced back to his border collie dad and attacked him. Upon hearing this, our new puppy started to cry and climbed on to my lap in the front of the truck. We had no clue what to expect from this whole scenario but we were in it deep and we knew it. For the next 2 hours Mammoet slept on my lap and tried to fight off motion-sickness.

    The 2-hour drive took all of us to my husband’s son’s place. It was here, Mammoet met 2 dogs, a fully entrenched adult dog and a brand new puppy (they taught him a lot that night/day). He tried to fit in, climb the stairs, play, get a bath (he was flithy from his original farm home in Stettler, AB) etc. At the end of the night, he finally hide away behind a table, furthest away from all of us and seemed so sad. All the scents of his original home was gone after the bath πŸ™ and he slept the entire night in a coat closet, after a meal though.

    After driving him to our home (12 hours away on Vancouver Island, 7 weeks ago) his wonderful personality is amplified every day (it was always there). We don’t know what to expect.

    His border-collieness is there but what about his beautiful pyr Mom, it seems to come out. We don’t know much about this breed but he is displaying more and more I think. He has very stubborn moments but also we see his guardian side. I am very excited to know more about his breed and newly-formed characteristics.

    We love him very much πŸ™‚

  16. We kennel and foster dogs, including an older Great Pyr, ANDY, and now 8 more – parents plus 6, just turned 6 weeks old, puppies. We’ve pinned your site for folks to reference in considering adopting one of these dogs. Sure, they’re great looking dogs and adorable puppies (“pupcakes” and “puppy bears” come to mind…), but not for those just wanting any old dog. Folks definitelty need to know beforehand what they’re getting into!

    About Andy: he’d been left to roam on a property and had never been inside when he came into our care. He wasn’t used to people or much of anything. He was all mats, had heart worm and was malnourished. My daughter spent half her time at the veterinary just loving on him and pretty much baby-ing him back to health. Now, well now, he loves couches and would sleep on my daughter’s bed if she’d let him! He is the biggest baby. He does like to bark, but usually a gentle word or two in a firm voice is enough to nip it in the bud. We train most of the dogs in at least AKC puppy school manners and beginner “tricks”. ANDY is NOT food motivated and definitely has a mind of his own. Slow, but steady is the name of the game with him. It’s all about RELATIONSHIP – he minds me because I love on him and for no other reason. (He will sometimes take a treat, then drop it a few feet away.)
    We’ll be starting much sooner with the puppies. Right now they’re learning their names (recall) and being pad trained, along with socializing with both people and other critters (it’s a very busy place). I’m looking forward to working with them, as I am finding Pyr’s to be a very different sort of breed.
    One question I do have is about summertime puppy cuts for the older dogs – have you tried it? They are not a common breed in this area – summer’s are hot – and none of our groomer’s seem to know. (We ended up getting Andy his own fan in addition to the A/C.)
    Thanks for all the info!

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