Great Pyrenees

Also known as the Great Pyrenees, the Pyrenean Hound or the Chien de Montaigne des Pyrenees. The Pyrenees was primarily used to guard livestock against bears and wolves. They exude a quiet confidence and today are more commonly found playing the role of loveable family pet but they need an experienced dog owner.


This huge, heavy-bodied dog with its thick white coat is perhaps the best-known of the large flock guards in the highlands of Europe. Its great white bulk is so impressive that it has been referred to as the "animated snowdrift".

During its dangerous working days, this great dog was given the special advantage of a spiked iron collar, bristling with long nails, that helped to protect it if it was being savaged by wolves during the defense of its flocks.

In the 17th century, early French settlers took some of these dogs with them to Newfoundland to produce the breed we now know as the Newfoundland.

With the disappearance of most of the Pyrenean predators during the 19th century, the breed gradually found itself out of work and out of favour. At the start of the 20th century it was verging on extinction, but was saved by its beauty. It became the darling of the show-ring and by 1935 had already been registered with both the AKC in the United States and the CKC in Canada. England was slower to follow suit and it was not until 1988 that the breed was accepted by the Kennel Club in London. Today it is to be found competing in dog shows all over the world and, whatever may happen to its working role in the Pyrenean Mountains, it is safe for the future in its new capacity as a much loved companion dog. In this respect it differs from some of its closest relatives, which have proved too aggressive to make the transition.


This is a very imposing dog with heavy bones and a deep body. The males should be 27-32 inches/68.5-81 cm tall and weigh 99-125 pounds/45-56 kg. Female should be 25-29 inches/63-5-74 cm tall and weigh 90-115 pounds/40-52 kg. The head should be large and wedge shaped with lovely, knowing, dark brown eyes and drop ears. The lips should be tight and black tipped; the chest quite deep but flat sided. The feet should be large and tight with double dewclaws on the lower part of the rear legs. The tail should be long, should reach below the hock and form a wheel when alert. The coat is thick, double and completely white, though gray, tan or badger markings are permissible.

The Great Pyrenees is in the Working Group in the United States.

Height: 65-70 cm+ at the shoulder

Weight: 40-50 kg+

Coat and Grooming

The medium double coat is waterproof and comes in all white or white with patches, wolf-grey, paler shades of lemon, orange or tan. Brushing is required at least twice a week. They also shed twice a year.


Consult your breeder for your puppy's specific dietary requirements. In general, the Great Pyrenees is very healthy, although it can suffer from hip dysplasia. Only dogs that have been X-rayed and found normal at two years of age should be used for breeding. Possible eyelid defects and epilepsy.

Lifespan is generally 8-12 years old.

Environment and Exercise

This breed needs a large sized yard. The Great Pyrenees is happier in a cool climate. Puppies require only gentle exercise while they are still developing. Excess strain could cause problems later on such as hip dysplasia. Instead of going out for walks, they should be played with in the backyard. Adult dogs will benefit from a daily walk.

Compatibility with Kids and other Pets

Most like the company of children of all ages. Great Pyrenees highly compatible with other pets, but some have the tendency to be aggressive with strange dogs of a similar size.

Gallery of Great Pyrenees