Great Pyrenees

Canis lupus

Last updated: February 14, 2023
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff
© everydoghasastory/Shutterstock.com

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Great Pyrenees Scientific Classification

Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Chordata
Class
Mammalia
Order
Carnivora
Family
Canidae
Genus
Canis
Scientific Name
Canis lupus

Read our Complete Guide to Classification of Animals.

Great Pyrenees Conservation Status

Great Pyrenees Locations

Great Pyrenees Locations

Great Pyrenees Facts

Temperament
Calm, Patient, and Intelligent
Diet
Omnivore
Common Name
Great Pyrenees

Great Pyrenees Physical Characteristics

Color
  • Grey
  • White
  • Tan
Skin Type
Hair
Lifespan
10 to 12 years

Great Pyrenees as a Pet:

General Health
Energy Level
Shedability
Trainability
Intelligence
Tendency to Chew
Size
Family and kid friendliness
Yappiness / Barking
High
Separation Anxiety
Moderate
Preferred Temperature
Cold climate
Exercise Needs
High
Friendly With Other Dogs
High
Pure bred cost to own
$600 to $5,000
Dog group
Herding
Male weight
100-120+ lbs
Female weight
85- lbs

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The Great Pyrenees has been around for centuries.

They are likely descents of guardian dogs that were in Asia Minor around 10,000 b.c. Around the year 3,000 b.c, nomadic shepherds went to the Pyrenees mountains and brought their guarding dogs with them. This was likely the beginning of the Great Pyrenees breed.

Great Pyrenees are very large white dogs. Since they were bred to watch over flocks of sheep, they can be quite protective of their family members. When strangers aren’t around, these dogs can be very affectionate and playful with the people they love. They have a calm and patient temperament and can make great family dogs. Because of their large size, it is important to make sure these dogs have plenty of space to run and play.

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Owning a Great Pyrenees: 3 Pros and Cons

Pros!Cons!
Great family dog: The Great Pyrenees makes an excellent family dog. They are affectionate and friendly with the people they love. They can also be very gentle and patient with children.Barks a lot: Great Pyrenees can be very territorial and will bark quite loudly at strangers.
Only needs moderate exercise: A Great Pyrenees’ exercise requirements are quite manageable for most people. They will do fine with daily walks and some playtime in a fenced-in yard.Destructive: Puppies will chew on anything they can find. This breed can also be destructive if they are left home alone out of their crate.
Devoted: Great Pyrenees are very devoted and loyal to their family members.Heavy shedders: Great Pyrenees have thick and long hair, and they shed quite often. Be prepared to have dog hair all over your home.
Great Pyrenees at the seaside

This Great Pyrenees is getting in its daily exercise at the seaside

©everydoghasastory/Shutterstock.com

Size and Weight

This is a large breed of dog. Males are a little larger than females in this breed. Great Pyrenees are typically between 27 and 32 inches tall and weigh between 100 and 120 pounds or more. Females generally stand between 25 and 29 inches tall and weigh between 85 and 100 pounds or more. Three-month-old puppies weigh between 29 and 40 pounds. When they are six months old, puppies will typically weigh between 54 and 74 pounds. These dogs will be fully grown when they are 19 months old.



MaleFemale
Height27 inches to 32 inches25 inches to 29 inches
Weight100 pounds to 120+ pounds85 pounds to 100+ pounds
Great Pyrenees or Pyrenean mountain dog, 1 year old, sitting in front of white background

The Great Pyrenees is one of the tallest dog breeds alive today, with an average standing height between 27-32 inches!

©Eric Isselee/Shutterstock.com

Health and Entertainment for your Great Pyrenees

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Common Health Issues

Before you bring home one of these dogs, there are a few common health issues that impact this breed you should be aware of. While not all of them will experience these issues, knowing about them can help you prepare to provide the best level of care for your dog.

As a large dog breed, Great Pyrenees can suffer from Gastric Torsion, more commonly known as bloat. The stomach of a dog suffering from bloat becomes distended and then twists. This prevents the dog from being able to get rid of the excess air in its stomach by burping or vomiting. Bloat can be life-threatening, and you should rush your dog to the vet right away if they exhibit any signs of it. Feeding smaller meals throughout the day and limiting your dog’s exercise after eating can help prevent bloat.

Another potential health issue for these dogs is hip dysplasia. This is a genetic condition where a dog’s thighbone doesn’t fit properly into the joint at the hip. It causes the two bones to rub against one another which can be quite painful and can cause a dog to limp. Since this is an inherited condition, you should check on the health history of the parents before buying a Great Pyrenees from a breeder.

These dogs can also suffer from Addison’s Disease. Also called hypoadrenocorticism, this condition occurs when a dog’s adrenal gland isn’t able to make enough adrenal hormones. Adrenal hormones control the level of potassium and salt in the body. Signs of this condition may include loss of appetite, vomiting, lethargy, or, in some cases, heart arrhythmia. Vets can treat Addison’s disease with corticosteroids or fludrocortisone acetate.

To recap, here are some of the more common health concerns that could impact these dogs:
Bloat (Gastric Torsion)
Hip dysplasia
Hypoadrenocorticism (Addison’s Disease)

Tallest Dogs: Great Pyrenees

When caring for a Great Pyrenees it is important to monitor for a plethora of potential health issues.

©iStock.com/creativex

Temperament and Behavior

The Great Pyrenees has a very affectionate and patient personality. They are also very calm and intelligent. These traits make the Great Pyrenees a great family dog. They can exhibit playful behaviors, making them a good companion for a child. These dogs will do best with young children when they are socialized from an early age and have opportunities to interact with children.

Because they were bred to be mountain dogs to watch over sheep, Great Pyrenees do bark quite a bit. They will bark loudly to alert their owners if a stranger is nearby. Great Pyrenees can also be destructive if left alone; it is important to crate train your dog.

Great Pyrenees dog outdoor portrait against sky

Great Pyrenees are well known for their calm demeanor in spite of their intimidating size.

©everydoghasastory/Shutterstock.com

How to Take Care of a Great Pyrenees

As you prepare to take care of your Great Pyrenees, there are a few things you will want to keep in mind. These dogs have unique health concerns, training needs, nutritional needs, temperament, and more, making caring for this dog breed different from caring for other breeds.

Running Great Pyrenees puppy

Socialization is important for Pyrenees pups! Their protective nature means they need to get used to meeting new people early on.

©DTeibe Photography/Shutterstock.com

The Best Dog Food for Great Pyrenees

When choosing food for your dog, always select high-quality options from trusted manufacturers. Since Great Pyrenees are susceptible to bloat, you will want to avoid feeding them a large meal and then having them exercise a lot. Rather, choose to feed your dog multiple smaller meals each day and give your dog some time to digest before giving them exercise. This will help reduce the chance of them suffering from bloat.

Compared to other large breeds of dogs, this breed typically eats less food. However, they need to get enough omega-3 and omega-6, so be sure to look for foods that are high in these healthy fats.

Puppies have smaller stomachs than their adult counterparts. It will be important to feed them even more frequently throughout the day. Each meal should be relatively small. As the puppies get older, you can slowly reduce the number of times you feed them and increase the amount of food they receive with each meal.

With all their dietary needs in mind, the A-Z Animals choice for the best dog food for Great Pyrenees is Purina Pro Plan Performance 30/20 Salmon & Rice Formula Dry Dog Food.

With salmon as the main ingredient, this food is enriched with tons of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for the joints, skin, and coat. The probiotics ease digestion while natural glucosamine and EPA offer even more protection for the joints to help avoid hip dysplasia.

Try out Purina Pro Plan High Protein Salmon Dog Food, available on Chewy or Amazon.

Best for High Energy Breeds
Purina Pro Plan Performance 30/20 Salmon & Rice Formula Dry Dog Food
  • Purina Pro Plan 30/20 Sport High Energy, High Protein Dog Food
  • Salmon and Rice recipe contains probiotics for digestive and immune health
  • Glucosamine and EPA provide joint health and mobility
  • Omega-6 fatty acids and vitamin A for healthy skin and coat
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Maintenance and Grooming

great pyrenees laying in a field

The Great Pyrenees has dense, layered fur that can withstand harsh weather conditions.

©Ingrid Curry/Shutterstock.com

Great Pyrenees have long and thick white fur. They will shed a lot of fur from their undercoat during the spring. Brushing your dog with a slicker brush or a pin brush once a week, or even more frequently, can help limit the amount of hair that they’ll shed.

In addition to regular brushing, it will also be important to brush your dog’s teeth a few times a week to reduce the build-up of plaque and tartar. Trim the nails regularly to keep them from getting too long. If their nails become too long, it can become painful for them to walk.

Training

Great Pyrenees can be a little challenging to train. They were bred to be very independent and don’t always immediately follow commands. Great Pyrenees will do best with experienced dog owners who know how to train a dog. You can also consider signing your dog up for an obedience training class.

Positive reinforcement training methods work best for Great Pyrenees. If Great Pyrenees don’t get proper training, they can become uncontrollable. A 100+ pound dog that does not know how to behave can be a real problem.

Exercise

A Great Pyrenees is not an overly active dog, but it will still need moderate exercise. They were bred to be mountain dogs to protect livestock. While they will patrol the area they are protecting, they do not exert a great deal of energy, unless there is a threat they need to fend off. Daily walks to time to run around in a fenced-in backyard can meet the exercise requirements for this breed. Great Pyrenees also do well participating in obedience trials or cart-pulling activities.

Puppies

If you are thinking of bringing a Great Pyrenees puppy home, you should first confirm that your home and lifestyle will be conducive to this dog breed’s needs. Great Pyrenees will grow to be very large dogs, so they will need a large space where they’ll be able to run around. They do well in farms, ranches, or homes with large fenced-in yards.

Shortly after bringing your puppy home, you should begin to crate train him or her. Crate training can help Great Pyrenees find a quiet place to rest and will also help with your potty-training efforts. Great Pyrenees can be destructive if left to roam around alone, so you’ll want to get them used to going in their crate.

Great Pyrenees puppy

The Pyrenees pup above may be small now, but within a few months, it will grow to be up to 100 lbs.

©iStock.com/ktatarka

Great Pyrenees And Children

Great Pyrenees are an excellent dog breed for a family with young children. These dogs are affectionate, patient, and playful. Especially when they are exposed to children from a young age, a Great Pyrenees can make an excellent companion and playmate for a child.

As with other dog breeds, it is always important to closely supervise children when they are around a Great Pyrenees. This will avoid accidental injury. Toddlers and babies should be very closely supervised due to the large size of the Great Pyrenees.

The Great Pyrenees may act like a guardian for a child. They can quickly become quite protective of their owners. You will want to make sure your dog is properly trained and socialized to prevent them from acting too aggressively toward strangers.

While your puppy may be quite small depending on how early you adopt him, be ready for him to grow quickly. Adult dogs can reach 120 pounds. Your puppy will also need plenty of exercise, so be sure to take him for walks, play with him, or let him out in a fenced-in yard to play.

Great Pyrenees laying in front of tree with white buds

The Great Pyrenees is a wonderful breed for active people who enjoy playing with their pets.

©iStock.com/JZHunt

Similar Breeds

Three dog breeds that are similar to these dogs are Samoyeds, Irish Wolfhounds, and Bernese Mountain Dogs.

  • Samoyed: Samoyeds have a dense white coat like Great Pyrenees. Both dogs also shed quite a lot. They are also both known to be very territorial. Samoyeds were bred to be sled dogs, while Great Pyrenees were bred to be herding dogs. Samoyeds are also significantly smaller than the Great Pyrenees. The average weight of a male Samoyed is about 55 pounds, while male Great Pyrenees weigh 100 pounds or more.
  • Irish Wolfhound: Irish Wolfhounds and Great Pyrenees are both very large dogs. While an Irish wolfhound is larger than a Great Pyrenees, both weigh over 100 pounds. A big difference between these two breeds is that Great Pyrenees have a much higher tendency to bark than Irish Wolfhounds.
  • Bernese Mountain Dog: Bernese Mountain Dogs are another very large dog breed. They can be nearly as large as a Great Pyrenees with an average weight of just under 100 pounds. Great Pyrenees are all white, while Bernese Mountain Dogs are black, white, and rust-colored. Both dogs are territorial and can make a great watchdog.
Irish wolfhound standing outside, looking up

The Irish Wolfhound is an excellent alternative choice when considering adopting a Pyrenees.

©iStock.com/Ashva

History of the Great Pyrenees

This majestic breed has ancestors whose fossils have been dated more than 3,800 years old! This ancient relative of the Pyrenees was native to Asia, but gradually with the expansion of the Roman Empire made its way to the region from which it would acquire its name: the Pyrenees Mountains, which border France and Spain.

During the reign of the French monarch King Louis XIV, the Pyrenees was appointed as the Royal Dog of France after proving themselves to be welcome additions to the ranks of the Royal Guard. Hereafter, the breed became exceedingly popular in the kingdom and surrounding territories throughout the 1800s.

As time went on, the popularity of the Pyrenees in its namesake region steadily declined to the point of near extinction in the early 1900s. One French aristocrat by the name of Bernard Senac-Lagrange was determined to change this, collecting the most respectable examples of the dog from the French mountainside and officially registering the Pyrenees as a recognized breed, as well as taking further conservational efforts which led to the Pyrenees once again experiencing a resurgence in interest.

In the 1930s the first Pyrenees made their way to the shores of North America, where they soon earned their title of “Great.” The breed was accepted into the American Kennel Club in 1935 under its newly christened name, where it quickly became a major competitor in dog shows and pageants. 

Famous Examples

Over the years, there have been some famous Great Pyrenees. Here are a few:

  • Muffin was Elvis Presley’s Great Pyrenees.
  • A Great Pyrenees dog was in the movie Santa Buddies from the Air Buddies series.
  • A Great Pyrenees was featured in the TV show Belle et Sébastien in the 1960s.

Types of Colors

The Great Pyrenees’ distinguished white coat can come in 5 different variations:

  • Solid White– This is the most popular and recognizable color for the breed.
  • Tan– This variation features subtle cream-colored patches intermingled with the standard white fur.
  • Badger– These Pyrenees usually have two distinct blotches of brown on both sides of their head, and sometimes large spots on the end of their tails.
  • Gray– Gray Great Pyrenees look similar to the badger type, but with a gray pattern instead of brown that manifests less consistently in its distribution.
  • Reddish Brown– This type has a rust-colored pattern that resembles the gray and badger Pyrenees.

Below are a few popular names for Great Pyrenees if you’re looking for the perfect name for your new companion.

  • Charlie
  • Samson
  • Trapper
  • Oliver
  • Marley
  • Belle
  • Sandy
  • Sable
  • Lola
  • Chloe

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My name is Corinna! In my profile photo you can see me with one of my two cats, Bisky! The other's name is Yma and she's a beautiful black Bombay kitty. I'm 24 years old and I live in Birmingham, AL with my partner Anastasia and like to spend my free time making music, collecting records and reading. Some other animals I've owned were a hamster, 2 chihuahuas and many different kinds of fish.

Great Pyrenees FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

How much does Great Pyrenees cost to own?

Buying a Great Pyrenees from a shelter costs about $600 on average. However, the price could range from $1,400 to $5,000 for a show-quality dog. If you adopt a Great Pyrenees from a shelter or rescue organization, it will likely cost a few hundred dollars to cover vaccinations and the adoption fee.

In addition to the price you will pay to adopt a Great Pyrenees, you will also want to be prepared for all the additional costs of dog ownership. Your Great Pyrenees will need medical care, training, food, toys, a collar and leash, a crate, dog beds, and many other supplies. Your first year owning the dog will likely be the most expensive since you will need to purchase all of the supplies your dog will need. You should expect to spend at least $1,000 that first year, but it could possibly be more. Each year after that, you should budget between $500 and $1,000 to cover veterinarian expenses, food, and anything else that your dog may need.

How long do Great Pyrenees live?

The life expectancy for a Great Pyrenees is between 10 and 12 years.

When do Great Pyrenees stop growing?

Great Pyrenees will finish growing when they are about 19 months old.

How big do Great Pyrenees get?

Great Pyrenees are a large dog breed. Males weigh between 100 and120 pounds or more and are between 27 and 32 inches tall. Females weigh between 85 and 100 pounds or more and are between 25 and 29 inches tall.

Do Great Pyrenees shed a lot?

Yes, Great Pyrenees are heavy shedders. They have long and thick white hair that will be left around your home. Regular brushing can reduce the amount they shed, but some hair will still fall out on its own.

Is a Great Pyrenees a good family dog?

Yes, a Great Pyrenees can make a great family dog. Great Pyrenees know how to be gentle and patient with children. They also can be loving and will have fun playing with a child. However, Great Pyrenees do bark quite a bit, so it could interrupt nap time for younger children. Great Pyrenees were bred to watch over sheep and other livestock, so they will often act as a guardian towards your children. Make sure they receive early training and socialization to prevent them from getting too aggressive.

Will Great Pyrenees bite?

While Great Pyrenees can be protective of their family which can make them aggressive, they will rarely bite someone. However, you will want to make sure your Great Pyrenees is properly trained and socialized from an early age to reduce their aggression and decrease the chances that they will bite or hurt someone.

Are Great Pyrenees herbivores, carnivores, or omnivores?

Great Pyrenees are Omnivores, meaning they eat both plants and other animals.

What Kingdom do Great Pyrenees belong to?

Great Pyrenees belong to the Kingdom Animalia.

What phylum do Great Pyrenees belong to?

Great Pyrenees belong to the phylum Chordata.

What class do Great Pyrenees belong to?

Great Pyrenees belong to the class Mammalia.

What family do Great Pyrenees belong to?

Great Pyrenees belong to the family Canidae.

What order to Great Pyrenees belong to?

Great Pyrenees belong to order Carnivora.

What type of covering do Great Pyrenees have?

Great Pyrenees are covered in Hair.

What is the scientific name for the Great Pyrenees?

The scientific name for the Great Pyrenees is Canis lupus.

What is the difference between a Kuvasz and a Great Pyrenees?

At a glance, it can be hard to see any differences between these two large, loyal breeds. Both are livestock dogs with thick, light-colored coats with similarly protective personalities. However, even their similarities aren’t identical. The Kuvasz can come in a variety of shades of white, and it has more definitely textured fur than the Great Pyrenees.

What is the difference between the Maremma Sheepdog and the Great Pyrenees?

Overall, the Great Pyrenees and Maremma Sheepdog are fairly similar. After all, both have thick white coats and are used as farm dogs to help protect livestock. However, the Great Pyrenees is around 8 percent taller and tends to be more strong-willed and independent, whereas the Maremma Sheepdog is eager to please. This also means that the sheepdog is easier to train, as they won’t be as likely to test boundaries. The Maremma Sheepdog also lives considerably longer, with a life expectancy of over 13 years.

What is the difference between the Great Pyrenees and the Golden Retriever?

There are many differences between the Great Pyrenees and the Golden Retriever. First, aside from sharing a double coat, they have entirely different coats. The Golden Retriever has a cool or warm golden coat with a thin topcoat. The Great Pyrenees has a thick, fluffy white coat that may have different color markings. They’re also double the size of even the largest Golden Retrievers. Their personalities are different too, with the Golden Retriever being more playful and aloof than the serious guard dog that is the Great Pyrenees.

What is the difference between the Great Pyrenees and Samoyed?

The key differences between the Great Pyrenees and Samoyed are their size, appearance, coat colors, lifespan, trainability, grooming needs, drooling level, energy level, and noisiness.

What are the key differences between Pyrenean Mastiffs and Great Pyrenees?

The key differences between Pyrenean Mastiffs and Great Pyrenees are size, coat, lifespan, tolerance to children, energy level, grooming needs, drooling, and barking level.

What's the difference between the Great Pyrenees and the Newfoundland?

The key differences between Great Pyrenees dogs and Newfoundlands include size, appearance, lifespan, drooling level, and barking level.

What's the difference between an Anatolian Shepherd and a Great Pyrenees?

The key difference between the Anatolian Shepherd and Great Pyrenees is their appearance, including coat length, color, and size.

Other differences include lifespan, temperament, trainability, and drooling level.

What are the key differences between Bernese Mountain Dogs and Great Pyrenees?

The main difference between a Bernese Mountain Dog and the Great Pyrenees is fur color. Other differences include size, lifespan, temperament, energy level, trainability, grooming needs, and shedding level.

What are the key differences between Akbash and Great Pyrenees?

The key differences between Akbash and Great Pyrenees are size, appearance, origin, and AKC recognition.

What is the key difference between Great Pyrenees and St Bernard?

The key difference between the Great Pyrenees and St. Bernard is their health. Other differences include size, coat, lifespan, temperament, and drooling frequency.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.

Sources
  1. American Kennel Club, Available here: https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/great-pyrenees/
  2. Petfinder, Available here: https://www.petfinder.com/dog-breeds/great-pyrenees/
  3. Dog Breed Info, Available here: https://www.dogbreedinfo.com/greatpyrenees.htm
  4. Love To Know, Available here: https://dogs.lovetoknow.com/wiki/Great_Pyrenees_Puppies

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