Breed Spotlight: Great Pyrenees

“That’s a beautiful, great pair o’ knees!”

“What?  Why would you say something about a pair of knees?”  That’s probably what the average person would think or say after hearing the above sentence. For us dog lovers though, we would know that the person was mentioning a beautiful Great Pyrenees!

The breed of dog known as the Great Pyrenees, or Pyrenean Mountain Dog, is a large dog most often used to guard livestock. They have been used by shepherds since approximately the year 1407.

Breed Information

Males can top off between 110 – 120 pounds, and be as tall as 27-32 inches high. Females can weigh between 80 and 90 pounds and have a height between 25-29 inches. Their average lifespan is 10-11 years.

Physical Appearance

They have a double coat that features a long, thick outer coat on top of a dense, wool-like undercoat. The main color is white, but the coat can have shades of grey, rust or tan around the face.

A uniquely interesting feature is that they have a double dew claw on each of their back legs.


These dogs tend to be confident, gentle and affectionate. They tend to be gently with children. They can be territorial and protective of their “flock”, or family, but usually are very composed and patient. Be sure to socialize them well as puppies to help them be comfortable around other people and other dogs. They tend to get along well with cats.

Since this breed is nocturnal, they will tend to bark at night, so some training to prevent this would most likely be necessary. Training can be a bit more difficult because they tend to be a little stubborn.

Exercise, Care and Grooming

The coat needs to be brushed 1 – 2 times a week. Extra care of the coat is needed when the undercoat is shed. If you decide to shave the coat in the summer as some owners do, beware of sunburn! A bath or dry shampoo is only needed as necessary.

Moderate exercise is required, but pay attention in warmer weather to their body language. They can be a bit lazy in warmer months. Always make sure you have water available for them on long walks, as well as a towel because they will drool and slobber during exercise. They tend to prefer cold weather and snow.

Health Problems

They are prone to bloat, hip dysplasia, bone cancer, luxated patellas and can develop skin problems in hot weather.

Living Conditions

An apartment as a home is not ideal for this large breed. They need to have a good amount of room in their home. They do best with a mid-sized to a large yard and it should be fenced in. They tend to not be very active indoors, but could be destructive if they don’t have enough exercise.

Do you have a Great Pyrenees in your family?  Please share your story in the comments section below!

Juliet Carty Greene is the proud pet Mommy of Yoda, Wendy, and Willow. She has been happily married for over a year and lives in Salem, MA. Besides writing and expanding her knowledge on dogs, she’s an avid winter-time knitter and all-around animal lover.

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