The Great Pyrenees dog breed’s goal in life is to protect sheep, goats, livestock, people, children, grass, flowers, the moon, the lawn furniture, bird feeders, and any real or imaginary predators that may intrude on your personal space. Oh yeah, and to give, give, and give unconditional love. Anyone who has seen this stunning white dog becomes enamored. What’s not to like? He has a strong build, a beautiful, thick coat, and he exudes elegance and majesty. One look and you can see the intelligence and steady temperament that many seek in a family dog.
The Great Pyrenees was once known as the royal dog of France and, with his stunning white coat and imposing presence, is considered to be one of the most beautiful breeds. His heritage is that of a flock-guarding dog in the Pyrenees mountains of France and Spain. Rather than herding sheep or other livestock, it was his job to protect them from predators such as wolves. The job called for a large, powerful, brave, and wary dog. He worked independently, often on his own for days or weeks at a time, and is unaccustomed to taking a lot of orders.
These days, the Great Pyrenees is primarily a family companion, although some still find employment as livestock guardians. The Great Pyrenees has many good qualities, but he is not the easiest dog to live with. If you want a calm, protective Great Pyrenees at his best, be prepared to do a lot of homework to find him and to put in plenty of effort training and socializing once you bring him home.
The Great Pyrenees is a flock-guarding breed who is placid in the home and gentle with children. He has a watchful, protective nature and is more serious than many dogs. He is only moderately active. A couple of short or moderate leashed walks daily will satisfy his exercise needs. If you love the outdoors, the Pyr’s mountain heritage makes him a good hiking companion.
Sounds great, right? Not so fast! The Great Pyrenees requires a securely fenced yard that will prevent him from roaming and attempting to enlarge his territory. He is not a candidate for off-leash walks. While he thrives in cold weather, he is sensitive to heat. And he drools. Be ready to wipe his mouth after he drinks so he doesn’t drip.
This is a giant breed. That cute little white ball of fluff will grow up to weigh 85 to 115 pounds. Because they are guardian dogs, Great Pyrenees are suspicious as a rule. They will graciously admit anyone you invite into your home, but intruders or unexpected visitors will get a very different, much more intimidating reception. If none of that fazes you, a Great Pyrenees may be your dog of choice.
- The Great Pyrenees is okay in apartments because he’s mellow. But homes with large yards are better.
- If you want a dog you can walk off leash, this may not be the dog for you because of his independent thinking and wandering tendencies.
- Expect some shedding on a constant basis and at least one major shedding period per year. On the up side, the Great Pyr only requires about 30 minutes of brushing a week.
- A Pyr can be difficult to train because of his ability to think on his own. He’s not a good match for new or timid dog owners, because he needs consistency and a strong owner who will socialize him and train with positive reinforcement.
- He’s a wonderful watchdog for the family, but he needs socialization to keep from becoming shy or aggressive to both dogs and people.
- He thrives with his family and should live inside the house. He can become bored and destructive when separated from his family or left to live out in the backyard.
- A Great Pyrenees is generally loving and gentle with younger creatures, so he’s a wonderful dog for families with children.
- He’s a hard-core barker and is not recommended for homes where his barking can disturb others.
- Great Pyrenees do best in cooler climates, but don’t clip his hair during hot weather. His coat insulates him and keeps him cool, so when you shave the hair you compromise his natural protection from the sun.
- He needs exercise, but not as much as you’d think — 20 to 30 minutes a day is fine.
- He has a double dewclaw that should not be removed but should be kept trimmed.
- To get a healthy dog, never buy a puppy from an irresponsible breeder, puppy mill, or pet store.
- The Great Pyrenees combines beauty with power. He is a large white dog with a long, thick double coat, a kind expression, dark brown eyes, and a plumed tail that may curve into a “shepherd’s crook” at the end.
- Great Pyrenees are good at pulling carts and can earn titles in drafting.
- In France, the Great Pyrenees is nicknamed Patou, a word meaning shepherd.
- AKC group: Working Group
- UKC group: Guardian Dog Group
- Average lifespan: 10 – 12 years
- Average size: 85 – 100 pounds
- Coat appearance: Dense, double coat that is weatherproof
- Coloration: White with grey, yellow, orange or tan markings
- Hypoallergenic: No
- Other identifiers: Lengthier than it is tall; wedge-shaped head; V-shaped ears; dark-brown, almond-shaped eyes; broad chest and feathered tail
- Possible alterations: May have other colored markings.
- Comparable Breeds: Newfoundland, Saint Bernard
- Belle, from Cécile Aubry’s Belle et Sébastien novel is a Great Pyrenees.
- The 2004 film Finding Neverland used a Great Pyrenees to represent J. M. Barrie’s Landseer Newfoundland dog.
- In the television series, King of Queens, a Great Pyrenees is a recurring customer of Holly the dog walker.
- In the 1965 film Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines, a Great Pyrenees is the household dog at the Lord Rawnsley estate.
- In the Marx Brothers’ Horse Feathers, a Great Pyrenees appears in the dog catcher’s wagon.
- In the Korean variety show Happy Sunday – 1 Night 2 Days, Sang Geun, a Great Pyrenees, is the mascot of the show and recently appointed as “Nation’s Pet”.
- A popular Korean singer, Hero Jaejoong from TVXQ owns a Great Pyrenees named Vick.
- In the 2009 Disney movie Santa Buddies, a Great Pyrenees puppy named Puppy Paws is the leading character.
- Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees owned a Great Pyrenees named Barnaby who was in their television movie Cucumber Castle and the video for their song “Lonely Days”.
- In the Jim Carrey movie Dumb and Dumber, a Great Pyrenees appears in the dog-mobile.
- Webcomic artist Jeph Jacques owns a Great Pyrenees named Shelby, who has appeared in his webcomic Questionable Content on occasion. He appears almost exactly the same as Mr. Tadakichi of anime fame .
- In Hanazakari no Kimitachi e, the male lead had a Great Pyrenees named “Yu Ci Lan” for a pet.
- Many Japanese manga and anime series have dogs that are either this breed or based on its appearance:
- Alexander from Fullmetal Alchemist
- Tadakichi-san (Mr. Tadakichi in the English version), owned by Chiyo Mihama in Azumanga Daioh
- Akamaru from Naruto is Kiba Inuzuka’s pet Great Pyrenees.
- Cherry, owned by Minami Iwasaki in Lucky Star.
- Baron from Noein is Haruka Kaminoga’s pet Great Pyrenees.
- Peace, a dog belonging to one of Ashirogi Muto’s assistants appears in Bakuman.
- The Japanese series Ginga Densetsu Weed features a Great Pyrenees named Hiro, who is nicknamed the “The Castrator”, due to his signature attack of neutering his opponents.
- In the book Between Mom and Jo by Julie Anne Peters, the family takes in a stray Great Pyrenees.
- In the book Futures and Frosting by Tara Sivec, Carter’s parents buy him, Claire and Gavin a Great Pyrenees puppy. Claire exaggeratingly describes it as a “900-pound animal”, “almost the same size as Gavin” and “looks like a polar bear”.
- The logo of the Sea Dog Brewing Company represents the founders’ late Great Pyrenees.
- During the live simulcast of the Stephanie Miller Show radio show on Free Speech TV, Stephanie’s two Great Pyrenees, Max and Fred, are often seen on camera and are a subject of discussion.