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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Temperament :


Size :

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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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      Tendency to run away

      These dogs won’t run away on purpose, but they do have a curious nature and an instinctual desire to explore. So make sure all outside spaces are properly secured and that gates and fences are at least four feet high. These dogs can jump.

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      This depends. As long as their needs are being met, these dogs will rarely become destructive. However, if they're bored or lonely, they’ll soon start expressing their frustration through destructive behaviour. And given its size, the Great Pyrenees can do a lot of damage.

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      Greedy / Gluttony

      Like most big dogs, the Pyrenees has a substantial appetite. However, they’re not known for being particularly greedy.

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      Guard dog

      The Great Pyrenees is an ideal watchdog. It’s what they were bred for! These guys are constantly on alert and will quickly let you know about anything they don't like the look or the smell of. In fact, these dogs can be a bit too good at their job!  An untrained Pyrenees will start barking at pretty much anything, and especially at night.

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      First dog

      These big, powerful, and independent dogs are not suited for the first time owner. They’re not the easiest to train and their strong wills will quickly “break” an inexperienced handler. However, if you’re set on getting one of these dogs, you’ll need to enlist the help of an expert dog trainer.

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        Pyrenean Mountain Dog in a flat

        Otherwise known as the Pyrenean Mountain dog, this natural working breed is not suited to living in a flat or a small house with no outdoor area. This active animal needs to roam and explore;  a flat doesn't have enough space for these big dogs.

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        Need for exercise / Sporty

        Working breeds need lots of exercise and the Great Pyrenees is no exception. Ideally, they need around two hours of exercise each day, which must include plenty of time off the leash. If you've got the time, you can take them for one long walk each day. Alternatively, you can split it up with a morning walk followed by a more intense late afternoon run out.

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        Travelling / easy to transport

        These big dogs are not the easiest to travel with. Given their huge frames, cars or other enclosed spaces can feel quite claustrophobic.  They’re also a bit too big for a crate and its not in the nature to lay motionless for long periods of time.


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          Pyrenean Mountain Dog and cats

          These dogs are generally ok around other family pets, especially if they come into contact with them at an early age. But they can be very territorial and may not be as welcoming to new cats or dogs.

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          Pyrenean Mountain Dog and dogs

          This big dog likes to feel in charge, especially around other animals. This can be a source of conflict when they come into contact with other pooches, but the right kind of training from a young age will help them "unlearn" these competitive behaviours.

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          Pyrenean Mountain Dog and children

          Underneath that tough exterior, the Great Pyrenees has a gentle and playful soul, making them a great companion for children of all ages. However, given their size and strength, they should always be supervised around younger children. It’s also important to teach your children how to approach a dog and when to leave them alone.

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          Pyrenean Mountain Dog and the elderly

          The Great Pyrenees is a dog that comes with huge responsibilities. Training them requires time and lot of expertise, and they also have very demanding physical requirements. This might not suit elderly people who prefer a more sedate lifestyle.



          The average cost of a purebred Great Pyrenees is somewhere between  £960-£980.

          You'll also need to budget around £100 a month for feeding costs, and the average cost of a basic insurance policy is around £20.00 per month, although this varies from dog to dog.


          The Great Pyrenees is a medium to heavy shedding breed, especially during the warmer times of the year. Their pure white coats will need a weekly brush, and you'll need to pay close attention to the extra fluffy parts around the neck and tail.  They do a pretty good job of keeping themselves clean, although they will a bath once every 8 weeks or so.


          Although they shed quite regularly, they’re not at risk of any permanent hair loss.

          Nutrition of the Pyrenean Mountain Dog

          The Great Pyrenees has a substantial appetite. They need around 4 to 6 cups of high quality dog food split into two meals. They also need access to fresh drinking water.

          Health of the Pyrenean Mountain Dog

          Life expectancy

          The average lifespan for these dogs is between 10-12 years.

          Strong / robust

          The Great Pyrenees is one of the most robust breeds. These strong, sturdy dogs were developed for the great outdoors and are well equipped to thrive in harsh weather conditions and inhospitable environments. They're brave, tough, and independent.

          Withstand heat

          These dogs were not designed for warmer climates and may struggle in very hot temperatures. They do shed during the warmer months but avoid exercising then during the hottest parts of the day.

          Withstand cold

          The Great Pyrenees has a thick, insulating undercoat covered by a long, weather resistant outer layer. They have no problems getting through the average British winter.

          Tendency to put on weight

          The Great Pyrenees isn’t prone to obesity or weight gain. Still, they will pile on a few extra pounds if you let them. So feed them the right amounts and make sure they’re getting the right amount of exercise.

          Common illnesses

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