When you combine a guardian flock dog with royalty from France, you get The Great Pyrenees. A beautiful, majestic dog known for its amazing white coat. The Great Pyrenees is believed to have origins linking back to the mountains of France and Spain. With excellent herding skills, The Great Pyrenees has a long history of working to protect livestock from predators. Today, the Great Pyrenees is more of a family or companion dog, even though some places still use them for herding. The Great Pyrenees can be a handful to live with if not properly trained. With vast amounts of energy
and drive, this pet can at times exhibit reluctance when expected to take orders. Any potential owner of this dog breed needs to do their homework and become well informed about the temperament, behavior, and overall compatibility for their family. It is also a good idea to investigate the familial history to learn about any traits that stood out. Once an educated decision has been made to become the owner of a Pyrenees, it will be easy to see why the breed is admired for its beauty, intelligence, strength, and loyalty.
Weighing at a whopping 85 to 115 pounds and standing up to 32 inches at the shoulder, the Great Pyrenees is a large dog. With coats that are long, thick, and double layered, grooming can be a chore initself. They have dark brown eyes and a plumed tail that can curve into a “shepherd’s hook” when they stand alert. Most people believe that the Pyrenees only have solid white fur; however, other colors can appear throughout the body such as tan, red or gray but does not cover more than 1/3 of the body. This large dog is striking to look at and can give off a gentle, kind expression as its overall demeanor.
According to the American Kennel Club, The Great Pyrenees ranks number 67 out of 192 breeds for popularity. Typically described as a gentle and calm guardian dog more than likely helps to promote their popularity. A highly protective nature makes them quick to react if they feel there is an adequate threat to their territory especially if their human families are nearby. The Great Pyrenees have proven time and time again, to be independent dogs, who consistently think for themselves. It is safe to conclude that training this breed can be a challenge. These dogs tend to work by themselves when herding out in the fields so this breed will resist guidance and obedience training. A stubborn streak can show up in a Great Pyrenees, especially if they see fit to show you their defiant side. It will take patience and educating oneself on the nature of the dog to help get an owner past stubborn behaviors.
Unfortunately, this breed falls short when considering the health of the Great Pyrenees. The Great Pyrenees Club of America has stressed breeders need to be on the lookout for the following health issues:
Cancer can also show up in this breed, as well as bloat (a life-threatening condition that causes a sudden twist in the stomach). While not all Pyrenees have these health problems allowing most to live out healthy, energetic lives, it is important to know specific health concerns are possible in this breed of dog. Grooming is essential when caring for The Great Pyrenees. The thick, double layered coat, can result in large amounts of shedding around springtime. When these dogs do shed, be prepared for the remnants
of their fur to be anywhere the dog is allowed to go. Since this breed is historically herding or guarding dogs, most people believe that the Great Pyrenees are incredibly active; however, it is quite the opposite. This breed is inactive the majority of the day. The theory is that when they are out in the field guarding the flock, the Pyrenees conserved their energy just
in case they needed to bolt in defense. Considering their sedentary habits, exercise can be more on the moderate side but should not be left entirely up to the dog otherwise they will gain an unhealthy amount of weight that could cause health issues. Like all working class dogs, the Great Pyrenees needs to keep their mind stimulated or destructive behaviors can develop.
As they grow older, they may resist obedience training or become less eager to please their owners. An owner of the breed must exhibit patience and consistent training routines to help guide their dog into successful, rewarding behaviors. It isn’t unusual for this breed to be stubborn and patiently outwait their owners if they deem it necessary. Historically working alone this breed has learned to depend on themselves and do not care for the instruction of others. It’s as if this breed does
not see the need to listen to commands. They will respond with a reluctant, slow to answer, type of behavior as if to let their owners know they have better things to do. Because the Pyrenees tend to be introverted dogs, they need early socialization and possibly even obedience classes as soon as the puppy is old enough to participate. Finding activities that these dogs love can be rewarding for both the dog and the owner. This stimulation will allow training to progress at a quicker pace. Some suggested activities that may captivate the Pyrenees include:
Skijoring (a trendy dog activity where the Pyrenees pulls a person on skies)
Weight pulling (the dog is harnessed to a sled or wagon)
If given the right stimulation and encouragement, The Great Pyrenees can rise to the occasion and
impress their owners with these fun activities.
While the Great Pyrenees is a beautiful and dedicated family pet, they can be stubborn and hard to train. Families considering this breed should be prepared to deal with such a strong-willed animal. Finding the right balance between personality and attitude will lead to a beautiful, lifelong bond with a superb breed.