The Great Pyrenees or Pyrenean Mountain Dog is a Mastiff breed that existed in Asia Minor as early as 1800 B.C., based on fossilized remains and depictions in Babylonian paintings. The breed came to Spain with Phoenician traders and eventually became established in the Pyrenees mountains between France and Spain. During the Middle Ages, they were guard dogs for sheep flocks and castles of the mobility. In 1675, the future Louis XIV proclaimed them to be the Royal Dog of France. They are ancestors of the Newfoundland and Saint Bernard. The breed was introduced to America in 1824, possibly by General Lafayette. The breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1933. Although primarily a house pet today, many are still used to guard flocks both in their native lands and in the United States.
The Great Pyrenees is an excellent family dog. He is not a heavy eater for his size but does require a exercise. Too large to be an apartment dweller, a good-sized yard with plenty of walks is sufficient to keep him trim. He is intelligent and learns quickly but bores easily with repetitive training. He loves children and is an excellent guard dog for both the home and the flock.
The Great Pyrenees’ skull is large and wedge shaped with a rounded crown. The ears are set at eye level, triangular in shape with rounded tips and folded down the side of the face. The muzzle is broad with a scissors bite. The eyes are almond shaped, set slightly oblique and dark brown in color. There is a slight excess of skin called the dewlap on the throat. The neck is short and muscular. The chest is deep. The back is straight and broad. It slopes slightly at the rump. The tail hangs to below the hocks and is well plumed. It is carried low unless the dog is alert which causes it to curl up over the back. The gait is a rolling, ambling gait. The coat is double with a heavy, fine white undercoat and a long, thick outercoat of straighter coarse hair. Coat color is either all white or white with markings of badger, wolf-gray or varying shades of tan. Average height is between 25 and 32 inches. Average weight is between 90 and 130 pounds.
“Our Pyr came into our lives because we needed a specific animal who met the criteria for a unique job and training idea tha I had. He needed to be a giant breed of exceptional strength and endurance with a temperment of extreem good nature and patience. I needed for him to be protective and loyal and to be very good with children. We were blessed with the challenge of a multiply handicapped daughter who could walk but couldn't make decisions about the safety of where she was going. I believe that a herding breed would be able to learn to guard and protect her. I was right! Our Pyr rose to the challenge we placed before him and has become the best friend and protecter our daughter could ever have. He gently leans against her legs to direct her away from the boundries we have set and stands strongly and patiently beside her when she falls and lets her pull herself up using him as her anchor. Our daughter is 11 and tall. Our Pyr bears her weight without complaining. He is quiet and patient when in the house and has learned to be extremely careful to not knock the children down. WE love him dearly and are thrilled with how well he learned and excelled at the task we set for him. He is very independant minded and comes at his own pace. This is not the breed for someone who doesn't want a dog to think for themselves and make decisions, but for someone who needs a companion instead of a pet I think the Pyrenees is perfect.”
“I have two Great Pyrenees we adopted. Both our male and female (unrelated) were throwaways at the pound. The original owners thought they were so cute as puppies, but then they grew up. Our male, is a whopping 130 pounds and Katie is 120. They love attention, but are not constantly "in your face," as our Boston and Chinese Crested are. They have their own couches and spend the day either snoozing or running in the backyard. They are gentle with both our son and our other fuzzy kids and cats. Very little barking or growling, except at the food bowl. They do require weekly brushing to remove the undercoats and to keep the lovely white hair flowing. I love the security I feel when strangers see these giant creatures, not realizing they would rather love than fight. Our Pyrs are now seven and five years old. They are getting rather stiff and sore. The only downside to the Pyrs is their rather short life span. Yes, if other Great Pyrenees needed a home we would adopt more.”
A magnificent giant of unconditional love and companionship.
“After ten and a half years my big ol' "polar bear" fell victim to a heart ailment and my giant friend died at home in my arms this year. I have owned many different breeds and have truly enjoyed the uniqueness of each one which includes a Beagle, Border Collie, Toy Poodle, Siberian Huskies, West Highland White Terrier, Wirehaired Dachshund, German Shepherd and a Cardigan Welsh Corgi. After extensively researching the Great Pyrenees breed, I purchased an eleven-week-old pup. My experience with this magnificent animal is one of my most wonderful memories that will last a lifetime and it is very possible there will be another. I am definitely again considering sharing my life with another Pyr. Mine was totally devoted to his human family and all he required was just a pat on the head, a hug and praise that he was so worthy of. He couldn't love you enough. It is very true that the nature of the breed to NEVER be hurried by anything or anyone. There was definitely no hyperactivity problem ... in fact his couch potato demeanor fit perfectly in my lifestyle. Always there greeting me at the end of the day with a long hug and a look in those big brown eyes that told me all was well with the world, no matter how my day had gone. Just having him by my side as I watched TV, sitting with me on the deck and sleeping at the side of my bed was so calming. I never once heard a growl his entire lifetime. He did have a tendency to patrol the perimeter of my backyard and tell the world in his wonderfully muffled bark that he was on duty. But it was never offensive to me or any of my neighbors. I will miss that. He absolutely loved children, loved riding in the car and visiting the neighborhood pet stores to strut his regalness. For those who think this big fella has to have room to run, I say rubbish. With the proper love and attention you can't find a more loving companion. One does have to realize this will be a VERY LARGE dog (mine was 132 pounds) with A LOT of white fur, does not tolerate high temperatures well at all and does require a chin wiping (from occasional drool, though much more dry-mouthed than a St. Bernard or Newfie) usually on a daily basis. His magnificent patient personality, gentleness and genuine love for me was more than enough reward for any of the negative aspects the breed may have. I am 55-year-old grandmother with a small backyard in a regular neighborhood and I would definitely recommend this breed if you are considering a large dog. I do miss my morning ritual as I left for work saying,."Watch the house now and I will be back tonight!" And faithfully waiting he would always be at the door when I returned. What a wonderful ten and a half years it has been.”
“Ever since I was a little girl I've wanted that "big white dog." As a child, they amazed me. My huband and I bought a house with over an acre of yard, all fenced in. I looked for a Pyr everywhere before we moved so I could have her right away. Well, I found her on petfinder.com and adopted her. The minute I saw my big baby I cried, she was all I had ever wanted. She is a VERY large female and so beautiful. I did a lot of research and was well prepared for her barking and her needs. She's so loving and protective of our three small children. She needs to be brushed almost everyday and requires a lot of love and I'm glad to give it! She has squeezed out of a very small gap in our fence; they need a very large area to roam. Pyrs are wonderful protecters (not guard dogs) and will bark at anything ­p; even the wind, I believe! She will obey, if she wants! If you are interested in a Pyr please do the research, even visit someone with one. Ours was given to a shelter because the owners didn't realize she'd be that large. They need love, devotion and attention. I will always have a Pyr ­p; she's all I expected and more.”
I too have the pleasure of owning a Great Pyrenees.
“I have experienced the personalities of several breeds and my Pyr is the most loving, cuddly, and gentle dog I have ever known. I have found it to be true that the Pyr does not ever do anything in a hurry, including listening to my commands. Oh sure, she will look at me when I call her and if nothing too important is happening at that moment she will come meandering over to me. She is also a very finicky eater and at one point (she is nine months now) I had to try various moist foods and other bribes to get her to eat. I can't begin to tell you how much love this dog can give. She will sit forever with me hugging on her. In fact, she actually puts her paws on either side of my neck as if she were hugging back. She definitely does enjoy her walks and quite often entertains herself by running circles through our yard squeaking a stuffed animal or wading in her kiddie pool I fill on hot summer days. She also loves to play with other dogs and basically has playtime on the brain! She was housebroken after only three days which really amazed me and has learned anything I wanted to teach her. I must agree, though, that she gets bored with repetition! I guess I'd better stop talking about her now because I could go on forever about how wonderful she is and how much I love her, but my other two dogs might get jealous!”
“After living with a Great Pyrenees for the last thirteen years, I realize, despite his deep, intimidating bark, grandiose size, and large fangs, the Great Pyrenees has a heart which matches his size. This dog loves to be cuddled , brushed, and being included in the family. Although he can be territorial and bark at strangers walking past his house or his food, he never gets past barking. Great Pyrenees will not bite, growl, or behave viciously unless if severely provoked. He is great with small children even small animals like cats and turtles. The only drawback of this breed is that the average life expectancy is around 8 years. If given an exceptionaly good home, he can last beyond twelve. Also, people with allergies may be agitated by his thick sheep like hair especially when he sheds his winter coat. The Great Pyrenees is not a hyper-active dog. After he has become a full grown dog and finished teething, forget the rawhide bones and frisbees. If you like taking long walks, savoring the fresh air outdoors, sprinting with your dog across the yard, or occaisionaly tracking the backyard wildlife, then the great Pyrenees is a good dog for you. The Great Pyrenees will not bring home any dead animals and playing "tug of war" or "fetch" is insulting. Still, he posesses and independant spirit. When you walk him, he might stubbornly insist on walking the other way. If his desire to go for a walk is not placated, he will find away to walk himself - he is industrious enough to open a sliding door or undo the latch on a cage door. Before you buy him consider his character: he is mellow, a picky eater, sensitive to human emotion, and very tolerant of others. He will sit by a crying child's side or lower his head when he is chastized. He is an uncommon breed that will cause passing traffic to slow in awe of his lion-like stance and regal luster, but he needs and returns love and affection.”
The great cuddly white ball of fur is not for everyone.
“Six years ago I was given a 7 week old Pyr for my birthday by a friend. (Surprisingly, she is still a friend.) I have raised and trained quite a few different breeds of dogs, including Pembroke Welsh Corgis (amazing sense of humor), Yorkshire Terriers (fearless hippy mice) and German Shepherds (no comment), Australian Cattle Dogs (love them). As you can tell by my choices of breeds, they are all relatively quick, intelligent, alert breeds, eager to be trained and included totally in your life. Then came the Pyr. She did not care if I wanted her to come when I called. If she had better things to do, she would acknowlege my calling her by looking over her massive white shoulder, and calmly continue to do whatever it was she was doing, and then return at her own speed. She wandered even as a small puppy, causing me to frantically call all the neighbours to see if she had been spotted. Finally, frustrated by this enigma, I bought a book, The Complete Pyrenees, to try to help me understand the nature of this dog I had grown to love despite her (in my opinion then faults). I read the book and I understood. The Pyr is NOT a dog to get if you expect instant obedience. They will obey, but basically on their own timeline. You cannot force a Pyr to do anything. They will obey you from love or respect or not at all. They also tend to wander, but it is the protection instinct bred in them for centuries of selective breeding to circle vast mountain areas to protect the sheep (or cattle) or humans, with a barrier that not many wild animals or evil humans will mess with. The Pyr must be free to do what Pyrs were bred to do. In my opinion, by observing my own Pyr and all the Pyrs that friends purchased (sadly because they liked mine so much), these dogs should never, ever be kept in a small fenced yard or tied. It will slowly kill their souls. They need to guard. Once I got over my own insecurities that Carly did what she did to spite me, I realized the nobility of the breed, her willingness to put herself between me and danger has been proven many times. She has driven off an bears, cougars, and has engaged coyotes in territorial feuds from which she has always emerged victorious (with the help of my other two dogs of course.) She has on too many occasions to account, protected my livestock from feral dogs, and my household from intruders. This is a noble dog, a dog that deserves huge amounts of respect for just being themselves. They are sweet natured and gentle (unless challenged by strangers), beautiful, brave and generous wonderful dogs. They love completely and forever. BUT THEY ARE NOT FOR EVERYONE. It would be criminal to deny these amazing dogs the freedom to do what they were bred to do. A leashed pet walking around a park is not acceptable. If you are considering one of these dogs, please ensure it will be permitted to do what it was bred to do. If you have the room and the time they will enrich your life endlessly. I feel privileged to have met Carly and to have been allowed to love and be loved by her.”