The Great Pyrenees
Pyrenean Mountain Dog

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The Great Pyrenees
Pyrenean Mountain Dog
Weight: 85 — 115 lbs
Height: 25” — 32”
AKC Rank 2008 #60
Lifespan: 10—12 yrs
Group: Working
Origin France

Dog Breed Info - The Great Pyrenees

Pyrenees mother, puppy and their pet girl.
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Breed Overview

Origin: Ancient times. Original function: Sheep guarding. Today, Companion, livestock guarding.

This breeds barks a lot and drools sometimes and is a messy drinker. Colors: White, or white with markings of grey, badger, reddish brown or tan.

When Nomadic shepherds brought their sheep to the Pyrenees Mountains, around 3000 b.c. the flock-guarding dogs came with them, forming the basis of the Great Pyrenees. These dogs excelled as livestock guardians for several centuries.

The first documented Pyrenees came to America in 1824. Many of the lesser dogs were given to tourists who brought them back to England and other countries. These dogs showed little resemblance to the great Pyrenees that had been so admired.

Fortunately, the breed still existed in adequate numbers and quality in their native mountain land so good breeding stock was obtained. These dogs served as the foundation of the modern Pyrenees. Serious importation of the breed to America occurred in the 1930’s and by 1933 the Great Pyrenees was registered by the AKC.


NOT easy to train. Stubborn. As a big, heavy dog with guarding instincts, the Great Pyrenees needs a lot of early socialization (something to check on if getting a puppy) and plenty of obedience training early in life and continuing on through. Does best with clicker training and positive reinforcement. The more time in training, the better the dog will be at home. This dog needs a really firm hand. The Pyrenees is not made for just any owner that comes along.

Crate Training

Want to crate train your Great Pyrenees puppy? It's easy and if you're interested, take a look and you'll see what to do. Crate training your puppy will save many headaches and problems.

Potty Training

Some Great Pyrenees puppies can be difficult to house train, potty train, toilet train, housebreak or whatever you want to call it. If you have a puppy, decide if you want to crate or paper potty train it. For the best results, we have a page at Crate vs Paper Potty Training which will help you decide and from there you can get all the information you need to get the job done. Always praise the pup profusely when she goes potty in the RIGHT PLACE so she knows she has done a good thing. Either method will work for this breed.

If you have an older dog, take the dog outside every two hours until she gets the idea which door leads to her potty area. Older dogs catch on to the potty or housebreaking pretty fast once they are shown what to do.

Great Pyrenees puppy frolicking in a field
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The Great Pyrenees is a devoted family guard dog that remains wary of strangers, both human and canine. As long as he is not provoked, he is calm, quiet and a bit serious. The dog is quite gentle with it’s family and with children. This dog can dominate an insecure owner due to it’s dominating nature so that should be considered before getting one. The Pyrenees must be kept on leash at all times. Maybe not a good choice for the first-time dog owner.

If you happen to get a Pyrenees with a separation anxiety problem, that can be dealt with by investing a few hours of work on your part and some "tough love."


Friendly Toward Other Dogs

No. Maybe if raised with them, but always wary due to their guarding instincts.

Friendly Toward Other Pets

No. Should be the only pet in the house.

Friendly Toward Strangers

No. Slow to make friends out of strangers. Once a friend is made, all is good.


Not very. Serious thinker.


Somewhat affectionate with family. They are a one-family dog.

Good with children?

No, not unless raised with the child. The Great Pyrenees should be kept away from toddlers where accidents can happen.

A Great Pyrenees listening intently to her owner.
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Good with Seniors over 65?

No. Too much to handle. Not very affectionate.

Living environment

House with large fenced yard where the dog could fetch balls and get exercise. Likes to be inside with his family or outdoors in the snow.


Energy level

Low energy. Indoor family guy.

Exercise needs, daily

A moderate walk on leash is needed daily, twice daily is better but it doesn’t have to be a marathon. The Great Pyrenees likes to hike, run and play in cold weather. Does not do well in hot weather.


Excellent. It’s in his blood.

Guard dog

Excellent. It’s in his heritage.




Brush twice weekly. Brush daily when shedding. The dog will ap[appreciate the extra attention. Get a stiff bristle brush from your pet store.



Suggest Reading For The Great Pyrenees
Click on the cover photo for more book information and reviews.

The book on the right is by the American National Red Cross and deals with dog emergencies, illnesses and injuries. It is a valuable reference book and I keep one close at hand.


Great Pyrenees Breeders

In the event you decide to go looking for Great Pyrenees puppies, be SURE to find reputable breeders that really know what they are doing. Be sure the puppy has been well socialized and started in obedience training.
Great Pyrenees Breeders with puppies for sale.

Great Pyrenees Rescue

In the event you are seriously considering the adoption of an older dog and are looking for a Great Pyrenees Rescue group or groups in your state, here are several links that might help:
Petfinder - Great Pyrenees Rescue If adopting one, try to locate the dog health papers as they may come in handy later on.
Adopt A Pet This is an interesting site but you might want to surf the web for Great Pyrenees Rescue groups or kennels closer to you if necessary.

Dog Health Issues For The Great Pyrenees
Below: The dog illness / illnesses or medical problems listed for the Great Pyrenees by various vets.

This is basically a healthy breed. Don’t let the list below scare you! Your own dog will probably never have ANY of these problems. These are dog illness and medical issues this breed is prone to that have been listed by various veterinarians at different times over the past decade or so and some pertain to puppies and very young dogs that a breeder would deal with.

The information contained herein has been gathered from numerous books by veterinarians and is intended as general information only. Every dog and situation is different. You must see your vet. Our information is for general interest only and not intended to replace the advice provided by your own veterinarian.

  • Hip dysplasia - Hind end limping, back leg acts lame. Wear and time causes the femur to fit poorly into the pelvic socket with improper rotation causing great pain, lameness, arthritis and difficulty walking for the Great Pyrenees. You may notice the dog “hopping”” like a rabbit when running plus hesitating to climb stairs, all due to pain in the hind quarters. The problem actually starts as a very young puppy with an abnormal formation of the hip joint and grows progressively. A vet can locate this with a diagnostics test.

  • Patellar luxation—Limping, Hind Leg Held Up, Can’t straighten back leg. Caused by an unusually shallow spot on the femur, weak ligaments and misalignment of tendons and muscles that align the knee joint and allow the knee cap (patella) to float sideways in and out of position. This can be caused by injury or be present at birth and can affect both rear legs. If your Great Pyrenees has trouble straightening the leg, is limping, or is walking on three legs and holding one hind leg up, look for patellar luxation. Several of my dogs have had the problem and all I’ve done is reach down, massage the knee a little until they drop their leg, and we’re good to go for another 3 or 4 months. Severe cases require surgery for a fully lame leg.

  • Elbow Dysplasia—Dislocated elbow joint. This, as with hip dysplasia, is something the dog is born with. Wear and time in the front legs (elbow joints) cause lameness by the time the Great Pyrenees is roughly a year old. If you have a dog prone to this disease, have an early x-ray to see if surgery to the joints will stave off further damage to the joints. Typically, there has been no cure, but recently doctors have come up with some ideas. 1) Keep the weight of your dog down. 2) Use anti-inflammatory medication. 3) Look into injections of stem-cells to help regenerate bone-covering cartilage to cause the bones to line up properly again. (This is new research and some vets may not know about it so ask around.)

  • Entropion—Eye irritation caused by the eyelids and lashes rolling inward. The problem is usually inherited and found in young, adult dogs. It can come from an eyelid spasm. Affected eyes will be held partially shut and tear excessively. Both eyes will usually be affected the same. Treatment for the condition requires eye surgery.

  • Atopic dermatitis's—Atopy. Hereditary. Shows at 1 to 3 years age. Skin allergy triggered by dust mites, pollen, poor quality foods and other garbage we put into the dog’s environment. Many breeds are prone to this. The dog will lick, rub, chew and scratch the infected areas. Allergens can also come from fleas, bacteria and yeast infections. See your vet. There are many treatments ranging from medicines, antihistamines, diets, bathing, cleansing the house of dust mites and so on.

  • Osteochondritis dissecans—A common type of elbow dysplasia except it can occur in any joint. Flaps of cartilage run against tissue causing irritation, pain, lameness and in time, joint degeneration disease. Pieces can break loose and float around limiting movement, or getting lodged or wedged inside the joint itself. Look for lameness, pain and swelling in joints. Treatments include Non-steroid anti-inflammatory meds, weight loss, confinement to rest the joints, and dietary supplements for joint health. Surgery is the last option for very severe cases.

  • Osteosarcoma—A leg bone cancer in large breed dogs of any age but usually in large, older dogs. Osteosarcoma in the limbs is “appendicular osteosarcoma.” The Great Pyrenees will be in great pain as the disease destroys the bone from the inside out. The dog’s inability to walk will progress over only about 3 months time as the bone is destroyed by the tumor. Unfortunately, surgery to remove the leg is the only way to give your dog the only total relief needed.

  • Cataracts—Hazy or cloudy vision similar to humans and can cause blindness if not treated.

  • Chonodrodysplasiia—A hereditary, genetic growth deficiency with shortening, bowing of the legs, a myriad of eye problems, skin problems, abnormal skulls and trachea, hearing loss, patellar luxation, and even abnormalities with the heart, liver and kidneys in some cases. Some dogs have one or two of these problems, others have many. Some corrective orthopedic surgery may be performed by the time the dog is 1 year old.

  • Panosteitis—So called "growing pains" in the legs of 6 to 12 month old puppies. The dogs experience an alternating lameness in the legs due to acute pain. Large dogs and especially German Shepherds and the Great Pyrenees are affected. The pain generally goes away as the dog matures.

  • Tricuspid valve dysplasia—Hereditary. Malformation of the tricuspid valve in the heart allowing a backflow of blood, or “tricuspid regurgitation. Narrowing of the valve is also possible. The heart is working inefficiently. The dog may have cold limbs, no tolerance for exercise and a distended abdomen as the liver enlarges and may collapse. In severe cases, the dog may develop right-sided heart failure. The disease is more common in males than females. Mainly a problem for the breeder.

  • Gastric Torsion—Sometimes called Dog Bloat or “Twisted stomach.” Mainly in larger, deep-cheated dogs. Here's a brief description of the problem:
    Symptoms include excessive drooling, nervous pacing, agitation, weakness, attempt to vomit, bulging stomach area, heavy breathing, retching and gagging, shock or total collapse.

  • Otitis externa—Inflammation and infection of the outer ear, especially dogs with long, floppy ear flaps. Dirt and moisture collect and breed yeast and bacteria. Ear hair and wax contribute to the infection environment. If left untreated it can become a serious infection. If at home treatments with cleaning and meds don't work and the problem worsens, surgery might be the last resort.

  • Epilepsy - A serious seizure disorder that appears at aroundtwo to four or five years of age.

  • Dermoid sinus—Hereditary—An infection and inflammation noticed at birth in the sinus or tubes running along the spine from the rear end to the neck. These are a thick-walled tubes with skin cells, fiber tissue, hair and oils. When the sinus becomes infected with bacteria and inflamed, it can cause swelling and infection in the spinal cord which causes encephalitis and abscesses. Surgery is the remedy.

  • Deafness—Hereditary or caused by: Excessive loud noise, Intolerance to anesthesia, drug toxicity, and Otitis (middle ear infection), In some cases, one ear can have no hearing from birth and the other ear can be losing the ability to hear over time, undetected, then suddenly one morning the hearing is totally gone. There is no reversing once that happens.

  • Spinal muscular atrophy—SMA A weakness and deterioration of the voluntary muscles in the arms and legs. No known cure.

Other problems could occur with your Great Pyrenees. If you notice any problems with your dog, take it to the vet immediately. This website is for general information only and is not intended to, in any way, be a medical guide.


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