What is it that makes the Great Pyrenees so great? Could it be their majestic size and stature? How about their steadfast loyalty and commitment to a job well done? Or even their bottomless patience and kindness?
Trick question: it’s all of the above—and so much more. Great Pyrenees (pronounced pee-ruh-neez) are better than great. These fuzzy fluffballs may have been bred for business, but they’re no strangers to the title “human’s best friend,” whether they’re romping in the park or napping on the sofa alongside you. On the job or off the clock, you can always count on the Great Pyrenees to please.
Also Known As…
Pyrenean mountain dog. Chien de montagne des Pyrénées. Patou. Pyr. Protector of livestock, climber of mountains, cuddler of loved ones.
What Is The History Of The Great Pyrenees?
The story of the Great Pyrenees begins thousands of years ago. The ancestors of this large breed likely lived in Asia around 10,000 years ago before making their way to Europe.1
However, the more recent history of the Great Pyr begins closer to a thousand years back. On the steep slopes of the Pyrénées mountains that separate France from Spain, Basque shepherds found themselves in need of a guardian dog to protect their flocks from roaming bears and wolves.2 They discovered the perfect partner in the fluffy, all-white Great Pyrenees.
Over the next few centuries, France’s wealthy landowners must have noticed the intelligence and tenacity of the Great Pyr, too. Soon enough, some of these protective pooches traded mountains for mansions, guarding the massive estates of the French nobility.2
The first Great Pyrenees dogs arrived in North America in the mid-1600s.1 Over the next four centuries, they slowly but surely worked their way into the hearts of everyone who met them.
Today, while some Great Pyrenees are still employed as a ranch hand or guardian dog, most have taken on the role of family companion. And, as it turns out, they’re quite good at both jobs.
How Big Do Great Pyrenees Get?
Height: 26–32 inches
Weight: 85–155 pounds
How Long Do Great Pyrenees (Generally) Live?
The average lifespan of a Great Pyrenees is longer than most large dog breeds. It can be somewhere between 10 and 13 years.
What Is A Great Pyrenees’ Temperament & Personality Like?
Although they have more than a thousand years of guard dog genes within them, the Great Pyrenees puppy is exceptionally sweet. As soon as you move past the “Is that guy going to steal my sheep?” phase, you’ll have a best friend for life. Great Pyrenees are especially loving toward members of their flock, so most new faces you introduce will be well-received.
When around total strangers, these canines become a little more cautious. They’re not aggressive, but they do have guard dog blood pumping through their veins. You’ll have to forgive them if they seem a little standoffish at times.
Overall, in practically any situation, this large breed is super chill. They’re kind, trustworthy, well-mannered, and an absolute joy to be around.
Are Great Pyrenees Good With Kids? Cats? Dogs?
Kids? No problem at all. As long as your young ones are respectful, they’ll receive nothing but love and affection back.
The same generally goes for both cats and other dogs. Because Pyrs were raised to protect other animals—and not hunt them down—they usually see cats as charges, not chow. Likewise, Great Pyrenees are friendly toward other doggos by default. It’s only when another canine starts to snarl that a Pyr might enter protection mode.
With kids, cats, and dogs—as well as ferrets, snakes, and any other pets you might keep—the key is to introduce them to your Great Pyrenees puppy ASAP. The sooner they can socialize with critters and kiddos, the better. And, of course, Great Pyrenees owners should supervise their dog anytime they meet someone new.
Are Great Pyrenees High Energy?
Great Pyrenees are known for being calm, patient pups. And it’s a well-deserved reputation. Because Pyrs were in charge of watching the flock, they learned to conserve their energy for when they needed it most. When the wolves and bears were out of sight, these dogs patrolled with their eyes and ears—not with their feet.
This legacy of energy conservation lives on inside most modern Pyrs. Unlike fellow big dogs like Great Danes or Siberian Huskies, Great Pyrenees only need to exercise 30 minutes to an hour every day.
So remember: they’re not lazy. They’re just keeping your best interests in mind. After all, what if a wolf sneaks into the house when they’re pooped from playing fetch?
Are Great Pyrenees Hard To Train?
Yes and no. The Great Pyrenees was bred with a very specific task in mind: watching and patrolling the homestead. If you assign them any task that feels like guarding sheep, they’ll be there with bells on.
As for more traditional obedience, à la sitting, rolling over, and shaking a paw? You might have your work cut out for you. Pyrs are simply too smart for these *yawn* silly little games, similar to a Tibetan Mastiff.
The difference between these two types of training is the amount of mental stimulation involved. Pyrs need something that will challenge them. Otherwise, they’ll be bored. And, as you might know, bored dogs tend to find less constructive outlets for their energy (read: pulling apart pillows).
If you really want your Pyrenees puppy to listen well, you might want to consider obedience classes while they’re still young.
Do Great Pyrenees Have Health Issues?
As a Great Pyrenees owner, you should be on the lookout for dog health issues like:1
- Osteosarcoma (bone cancer)
- Hip dysplasia (joint dysfunction)
- Panosteitis (bone disease)
- Entropion (inward curling of the eyelid)
Luckily, because these conditions are well-known, there are many available screenings and treatment options. And if your pup does suffer from one of these problems, know that it’s most likely manageable with care and attention. Take your furry friend for frequent vet visits, and you should be good to go.
Do Great Pyrenees Need To Be Groomed?
Even with all of that fluffy white fur, Great Pyrenees are surprisingly low maintenance. Thanks to a rugged outdoor upbringing, Pyrs have developed a weatherproof coat that keeps dirt and tangles at bay. Weekly brushing of their coat is enough to keep them (and your favorite black pants) looking their best.
Other than that, you’ll have to keep up with standard doggy grooming needs: trimming nails, cleaning inside the ear, and brushing those canine canines.
How Much Does It Cost To Care For A Great Pyrenees?
Everyone cares for their dog a little differently, so your actual budget might fluctuate, but between food, vet bills, and all the extras, you should set aside around $2,000+ per year.
As massive mountain climbers, Pyrs have enormous appetites. This adult dog will typically eat 3–6 cups of food every day, bringing your total bill to $60–90/month.
Ready to save money and give your Pyr the dog food they deserve? Try BARK Eats! Once a month, a bag of nutritious, high-quality kibble will come right to your doorstep. This food is already loaded with doggy dietitian-approved nutrients, specifically formulated to meet your pup’s needs. Get 50% off your first month!
Routine Vet Care (Healthy Dog)
Whether or not your Great Pyrenees is facing one of the more common conditions for the breed, regular vet visits are a must. Ideally, you should head in at least two or three times per year.
While you’re there, you might spend some cash on:
- Vet fees ($50–60)
- Vaccines ($20–$30/dose)
- Heartworm medicine (~$45)
Preventative Medications For Great Pyrenees
One of the best options for dogs who are prone to dysplasia is glucosamine chondroitin. Usually taken in treat form, this supplement can save your pup from the worst of arthritis—and your wallet from the biggest vet bills. A year’s worth should only cost you around $100. Just make sure your vet signs off on it before you buy a lifetime supply!
The other essential preventative medicine expense is anti-flea and tick treatment. Typical costs come in at around $120 per year.
Great Pyrenees Grooming
If Great Pyrenees owners learn to brush and bathe their Pyr themselves, they can save a few hundred dollars per year; the only upfront cost would be the shampoo and nail trimmers (~$60). Otherwise, expect to spend about $100 each time you take your big buddy for a spa day.
Toys, Treats, Beds, & Accessories
Pampering your Pyr doesn’t have to break the bank—you can score some toys and treats for about $60–100 per year.
For the ultimate experience, treat your pup (and yourself) to an exciting selection of novelty treats and toys in a BarkBox, delivered to your doorstep each month. For $23/month, your pup will enjoy 2 toys, 2 treat bags, and a meaty chew. Spend $29/month and you’ll receive 2 durable Pyr-proof chew toys, 2 hearty bags of treats, and 2 delicious chews. Plus, now you can double your first box for free!
And finally, with all the excitement of multi-colored tug-o-war ropes and chicken-stuffed bacon-wrapped treats, don’t forget about the less glamorous essentials, like:
- A leash and collar combo ($30–45)
- A large dog bed ($45–90)
- Food and water bowls ($15–40)
- A sizable dog crate ($65–130)
- Great Pyrenees Dog. History of the Great Pyrenees. https://www.greatpyreneesdog.net/history-of-great-pyrenees/
- Great Pyrenees Club of America. Livestock Guardian Dogs. https://greatpyrenees.club/livestock-guardian-dogs/
- The People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals. Pyrenean Mountain Dog. https://www.pdsa.org.uk/pet-help-and-advice/looking-after-your-pet/puppies-dogs/large-dogs/pyrenean-mountain-dog