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  • Temperament: Smart, Patient, Calm
  • AKC Breed Popularity: Ranks 67 of 194
  • Height: 27-32 inches (male), 25-29 inches (female)
  • Weight: 100 pounds & up (male), 85 pounds & up (female)
  • Life Expectancy: 10-12 years
  • Group: Working Group

    The AKC has grouped all of the breeds that it registers into seven categories, or groups, roughly based on function and heritage. Breeds are grouped together because they share traits of form and function or a common heritage.

Great Pyrenees head facing left with snow on the ground behind
Great Pyrenees lying on a ground covered in short purple wildflowers
Two Great Pyrenees dogs lying in grass, one in front of the other
Great Pyrenees sitting facing forward
Great Pyrenees coat detail
Great Pyrenees

Find a Puppy: Great Pyrenees

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GENERAL APPEARANCE

The Great Pyrenees dog conveys the distinct impression of elegance and unsurpassed beauty combined with great overall size and majesty. He has a white or principally white coat that may contain markings of badger, gray, or varying shades of tan. He possesses a keen intelligence and a kindly, while regal, expression. Exhibiting a unique elegance of bearing and movement, his soundness and coordination show unmistakably the purpose for which he has been bred, the strenuous work of guarding the flocks in all kinds of weather on the steep mountain slopes of the Pyrenees.

HEAD

Correct head and expression are essential to the breed. The head is not heavy in proportion to the size of the dog. It is wedge shaped with a slightly rounded crown. Expression – The expression is elegant, intelligent and contemplative. Eyes – Medium sized, almond shaped, set slightly obliquely, rich dark brown. Eyelids are close fitting with black rims. Ears – Small to medium in size, V-shaped with rounded tips, set on at eye level, normally carried low, flat, and close to the head. There is a characteristic meeting of the hair of the upper and lower face which forms a line from the outer corner of the eye to the base of the ear.

BODY

Neck – Strongly muscled and of medium length, with minimal dewlap. Topline – The backline is level. Body – The chest is moderately broad. The rib cage is well sprung, oval in shape, and of sufficient depth to reach the elbows. Back and loin are broad and strongly coupled with some tuck-up. The croup is gently sloping with the tail set on just below the level of the back. Tail – The tailbones are of sufficient length to reach the hock. The tail is well plumed, carried low in repose and may be carried over the back, “making the wheel,” when aroused. When present, a “shepherd’s crook” at the end of the tail accentuates the plume. When gaiting, the tail may be carried either over the back or low. Both carriages are equally correct. Fault – Barrel ribs.

FOREQUARTERS

Shoulders – The shoulders are well laid back, well muscled, and lie close to the body. The upper arm meets the shoulder blade at approximately a right angle. The upper arm angles backward from the point of the shoulder to the elbow and is never perpendicular to the ground. The length of the shoulder blade and the upper arm is approximately equal. The height from the ground to the elbow appears approximately equal to the height from the elbow to the withers. Forelegs – The legs are of sufficient bone and muscle to provide a balance with the frame. The elbows are close to the body and point directly to the rear when standing and gaiting. The forelegs, when viewed from the side, are located directly under the withers and are straight and vertical to the ground.

COAT

The weather resistant double coat consists of a long, flat, thick, outer coat of coarse hair, straight or slightly undulating, and lying over a dense, fine, woolly undercoat. The coat is more profuse about the neck and shoulders where it forms a ruff or mane which is more pronounced in males. Longer hair on the tail forms a plume. There is feathering along the back of the front legs and along the back of the thighs, giving a “pantaloon” effect. The hair on the face and ears is shorter and of finer texture. Correctness of coat is more important than abundance of coat. Faults – Curly coat. Stand-off coat (Samoyed type).

HINDQUARTERS

The angulation of the hindquarters is similar in degree to that of the forequarters. Thighs – Strongly muscular upper thighs extend from the pelvis at right angles. The upper thigh is the same length as the lower thigh, creating moderate stifle joint angulation when viewed in profile. The rear pastern (metatarsus) is of medium length and perpendicular to the ground as the dog stands naturally. This produces a moderate degree of angulation in the hock joint, when viewed from the side. The hindquarters from the hip to the rear pastern are straight and parallel, as viewed from the rear. The rear legs are of sufficient bone and muscle to provide a balance with the frame.

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About the Great Pyrenees

Frequently described as “majestic,” Pyrs are big, immensely strong mountain dogs standing as high as 32 inches at the shoulder and often tipping the scales at more than 100 pounds. These steadfast guardians usually exhibit a Zen-like calm, but they can quickly spring into action and move with grace and speed to meet a threat. The lush weatherproof coat is all white, or white with markings of beautiful shades of gray, tan, reddish-brown, or badger.

National Breed Clubs and Rescue

Want to connect with other people who love the same breed as much as you do? We have plenty of opportunities to get involved in your local community, thanks to AKC Breed Clubs located in every state, and more than 450 AKC Rescue Network groups across the country.
Great Pyrenees

Find a Puppy: Great Pyrenees

AKC Marketplace | PuppyFinder

AKC Marketplace is the only site to exclusively list 100% AKC puppies from AKC-Registered litters and the breeders who have cared for and raised these puppies are required to follow rules and regulations established by the AKC.
Find Great Pyrenees Puppies

Care

NUTRITION

Some owners note that Great Pyrenees seem to eat a relatively small amount for a dog of their size. “Of course, if another dog wants what’s in their bowl, they will snarf down the food like they hadn’t eaten in months,” says one breed devotee. A high-quality dry dog food that is low-protein and specially formulated for large breeds is a good idea. The breed is susceptible to bloat, or gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV), where the stomach distends and twists. The causes of bloat aren’t fully understood, but experts agree that multiple, small meals per day and preventing vigorous exercise around mealtimes may help reduce the chances of it happening.

GROOMING

For all their abundant fur, Pyrs don’t require a lot of grooming, as their coat is dirt- and tangle-resistant. They have a double coat, with a long outer coat and a soft undercoat. They will shed this undercoat with great enthusiasm—“leading to a snowstorm,” one owner says. She laughs, “They shed in the spring, after whelping, in honor of certain Druid festivals, and after you enter them in a show!” A thorough brushing with a pin brush or slicker brush at least once a week will help to reduce the shed hair that ends up all over the house. The Pyr’s nails should be trimmed regularly, as overly long nails can cause the dog discomfort. The teeth should be brushed often, using a toothpaste designed for dogs.

Grooming Frequency

Occasional Bath/Brush
Specialty/Professional
Weekly Brushing

Shedding

Infrequent
Frequent
Seasonal

EXERCISE

Pyrs are not a highly active breed. The breed was developed to be a livestock guardian and has been used since ancient times to protect flocks from wolves, bears, and human foes. When working, they will patrol their territory but tend to conserve their energy for fending off whatever may threaten their flock. Moderate exercise such as walks with their owner will help keep them healthy and happy. The breed also exercises mind and body by participating in canine activities such as obedience trials and cart-pulling.

Energy Level

Couch Potato
Needs Lots of Activity
Needs Lots of Activity

TRAINING

Pyrs were bred to be independent thinkers, to work without guidance watching and protecting their flock. Although they are intelligent, standard obedience training will be met with great indifference. They don’t see the point of all that sitting, heeling, and staying. They will let their boredom show by performing any task you deem important with extremely slow responses. Nonetheless, early socialization and puppy training classes are recommended to help give the Pyr a good start in becoming a well-adjusted, well-mannered companion.

Trainability

May be Stubborn
Eager to Please
Independent

Temperament/Demeanor

Aloof/Wary
Outgoing
Reserved with Strangers

HEALTH

Ethical Pyr breeders have excelled in their commitment to health issues. The Great Pyrenees Club of America has stressed having all dogs tested for a variety of conditions that can affect the breed, including elbow and hip dysplasia, eye disorders, luxating patellas, and neurological and immune-mediated disorders. Some cancers occur in the breed, as well as bloat, a life-threatening condition where the stomach suddenly distends and sometimes twists. All Pyr owners should educate themselves to know the signs of bloat, and what to do should it happen.

 

Recommended Health Tests from the National Breed Club:

  • Hip Evaluation
  • Patella Evaluation

Read the Official Breed Club Health Statement.

Great Pyrenees
Great Pryenees
Great Pryenees
Great Pryenees
Great Pryenees
Great Pryenees

History

​Pyrs were bred centuries ago to work with shepherds and herding dogs in the Pyrenees Mountains, the natural border between France and Spain.

The Pyr’s job was to watch the flock and deter predators, whether wolves, bears, or livestock rustlers. Their innate patience came in handy when sitting atop a freezing-cold mountain for days on end with nothing to do but look at sheep. Their courage when defending the flock is legendary.

Did You Know?

Called Le Grande Chien des Montagnes ("the big dog of the mountains"), Le Chien des Pyrenees ("the dog of the Pyrenees"), or, as he is known in most places in England and the Continent, the Pyrenean Mountain Dog.
Remains of the Pyrenees breed are found in the fossil deposits of the Bronze Age (1800-1000 BC).
The Pyrenees was adopted as a French court dog in the 17th century.
Dog of French royalty and nobility and working associate of the peasant shepherds high on the slopes of the Pyrenees Mountains.
Believed that the Pyrenees breed came originally from Central Asia or Siberia and followed the Aryan migration into Europe.
The first pair of Great Pyrenees were brought to the United States in 1824 by General Lafayette for his friend, J. S. Skinner.

The Breed Standard

GENERAL APPEARANCE

The Great Pyrenees dog conveys the distinct impression of elegance and unsurpassed beauty combined with great overall size and majesty. He has a white or principally white coat that may contain markings of badger, gray, or varying shades of tan. He possesses a keen intelligence and a kindly, while regal, expression. Exhibiting a unique elegance of bearing and movement, his soundness and coordination show unmistakably the purpose for which he has been bred, the strenuous work of guarding the flocks in all kinds of weather on the steep mountain slopes of the Pyrenees.

HEAD

Correct head and expression are essential to the breed. The head is not heavy in proportion to the size of the dog. It is wedge shaped with a slightly rounded crown. Expression – The expression is elegant, intelligent and contemplative. Eyes – Medium sized, almond shaped, set slightly obliquely, rich dark brown. Eyelids are close fitting with black rims. Ears – Small to medium in size, V-shaped with rounded tips, set on at eye level, normally carried low, flat, and close to the head. There is a characteristic meeting of the hair of the upper and lower face which forms a line from the outer corner of the eye to the base of the ear.

BODY

Neck – Strongly muscled and of medium length, with minimal dewlap. Topline – The backline is level. Body – The chest is moderately broad. The rib cage is well sprung, oval in shape, and of sufficient depth to reach the elbows. Back and loin are broad and strongly coupled with some tuck-up. The croup is gently sloping with the tail set on just below the level of the back. Tail – The tailbones are of sufficient length to reach the hock. The tail is well plumed, carried low in repose and may be carried over the back, “making the wheel,” when aroused. When present, a “shepherd’s crook” at the end of the tail accentuates the plume. When gaiting, the tail may be carried either over the back or low. Both carriages are equally correct. Fault – Barrel ribs.

FOREQUARTERS

Shoulders – The shoulders are well laid back, well muscled, and lie close to the body. The upper arm meets the shoulder blade at approximately a right angle. The upper arm angles backward from the point of the shoulder to the elbow and is never perpendicular to the ground. The length of the shoulder blade and the upper arm is approximately equal. The height from the ground to the elbow appears approximately equal to the height from the elbow to the withers. Forelegs – The legs are of sufficient bone and muscle to provide a balance with the frame. The elbows are close to the body and point directly to the rear when standing and gaiting. The forelegs, when viewed from the side, are located directly under the withers and are straight and vertical to the ground.

COAT

The weather resistant double coat consists of a long, flat, thick, outer coat of coarse hair, straight or slightly undulating, and lying over a dense, fine, woolly undercoat. The coat is more profuse about the neck and shoulders where it forms a ruff or mane which is more pronounced in males. Longer hair on the tail forms a plume. There is feathering along the back of the front legs and along the back of the thighs, giving a “pantaloon” effect. The hair on the face and ears is shorter and of finer texture. Correctness of coat is more important than abundance of coat. Faults – Curly coat. Stand-off coat (Samoyed type).

HINDQUARTERS

The angulation of the hindquarters is similar in degree to that of the forequarters. Thighs – Strongly muscular upper thighs extend from the pelvis at right angles. The upper thigh is the same length as the lower thigh, creating moderate stifle joint angulation when viewed in profile. The rear pastern (metatarsus) is of medium length and perpendicular to the ground as the dog stands naturally. This produces a moderate degree of angulation in the hock joint, when viewed from the side. The hindquarters from the hip to the rear pastern are straight and parallel, as viewed from the rear. The rear legs are of sufficient bone and muscle to provide a balance with the frame.

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Colors & Markings

Colors

Description Standard Colors Registration Code
White Check Mark For Standard Color 199

Markings

Description Standard Markings Registration Code
Badger Markings Check Mark For Standard Mark 001
Gray Markings Check Mark For Standard Mark 028
Reddish Brown Markings Check Mark For Standard Mark 040
Tan Markings Check Mark For Standard Mark 012

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