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Pyrenean Mountain Dog

Other names: Great Pyrenees

Pyrenean Mountain Dog

The Great Pyrenees is a large, powerful dog. Breed to guard sheep and other livestock, the Great Pyrenees is a brave and fearless animal. This dog will quickly confront any perceived threats to the pack but displays gentle and affectionate behaviours towards it other members. The Great Pyrenees is a bit of night owl and has a tendency to bark late at night, especially if they haven't “unlearnt” this instinctual behaviour. Like the majority of large working breeds, this dog is smart but stubborn. These strong-willed dogs need a confident and experienced handler.

Key facts about the Pyrenean Mountain Dog

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Origins and history

The Great Pyrenees was developed in and around the Pyrenean mountain range. They were used as both guard dogs and sheepdogs. They would herd the flocks during the day and then switch over to guard duties during the evenings. This explains their nocturnal behaviour and tendency to bark during the night. The Great Pyrenees is still more of a working dog than a domesticated canine, although they're popularity is slowly starting to grow, especially among active dogs lovers living in more rural environments.

FCI breed nomenclature

FCI Group

Group 2 - Pinscher and Schnauzer - Molossoid and Swiss Mountain and Cattledogs


Section 3 : Swiss Mountain and Cattledogs

Physical characteristics of the Pyrenean Mountain Dog

Adult size

Female : Between 26 and 30 in

Male : Between 28 and 31 in


Female : Between 110 and 130 lb

Male : Between 123 and 141 lb

Coat colour

Type of coat

Eye colour



The Great Pyrenees is a large, imposing dog with a confident posture and measured gait. They have deep, powerful chests, a long body, and powerful hindquarters. Their thick white coat gives them a “softer” look, although these tough dogs should never be underestimated. The fur is much more profuse around the neck area, especially in males, and they have a long, curved tail that hangs down quite low.

Good to know

Like many larger dogs, the Great Pyrenees is sensitive to anaesthesia. Given that they're a fairly rare breed, make sure your vet is aware of this before performing any surgical procedures. 

The Great Pyrenees has a unique double dewclaw. This should only ever be trimmed and never removed.

Unlike most other breeds, the Great Pyrenees has nocturnal tendencies. They can become quite active at night and have a tendency to bark a lot.


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    As well as being a fearless protector, the Great Pyrenees is a loving and affectionate dog that loves human company and contact.

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    Working dogs have active minds as well as active bodies, meaning that regular playtime is really important for both their physical and mental health. These lively, active dogs love stimulating games and activities.

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    Generally speaking, the Great Pyrenees is a calm and relaxed breed. However, these guys are constantly on alert and will quickly activate those guard instincts at the first signs of any potential threats. Unless they’ve been well trained, these dogs will bark at visitors, knocks on the front, and even passers-by. A poorly socialised Pyrenees may also become quite confrontational.

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    These dogs are very smart,  but they’re also quite stubborn. An inexperienced owner will have trouble keeping them engaged and stimulated. Training the Great Pyrenees is a job for a confident, well-skilled dog handler.

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    Although they're more of a protector than a hunter, these big and athletic dogs still have a high prey drive. This can make them difficult to handle in built-up, urban environments; these dogs need lots of time off the leash and are much more suited to country living.

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    Fearful / wary of strangers

    He trusts no one but his master and his family.

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    The Great Pyrenees is a willful animal with an independent mind. It’s really important that they are socialised from a young age. If not, their strong natures can overwhelm their owners and they may start displaying some dominant, and even aggressive, behaviours.

    Behaviour of the Pyrenean Mountain Dog

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      Tolerates solitude

      These social dogs thrive off being part of a family and should never be left alone for long periods of time. Not only will they get lonely, but they'll also get bored and frustrated. If such feelings persist, they will have a negative impact on the dogs mental health.

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      Easy to train / obedience

      This depends on the ability and knowledge of the trainer. An inexperienced handler will have a very tough time keeping this dog focused.  In fact, if you've haven't trained a pet before, then the Great Pyrenees is not the right dog to start with.

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      These dogs were breed as nocturnal watchdogs, and they become more active and alert at night. This means that they can be very vocal when they see or sense something they don't like.  It’s important to properly socialise a Great Pyrenees. Otherwise, you and your neighbours could be in for some sleepless nights.

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