AKC Dog Breeds: Great Pryrenees

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Working  Group
Height: 25-32 inches   Weight: 85-100 pounds  Color: white or white with markings

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. The dogs that are known throughout Europe as mountain dogs seem to all be descended from a single breed that is first recorded in Eastern Europe and Western Asia as long as 12,000 years ago. The Great Pyrenees as its own distinct breed is known to go back to at least 5,000 years in the area of the Pyrenees Mountains in what is today Southern France and Northern Spain. They were little known outside the region until people began visiting the mountain countries in the late 19th century. The Great Pyrenees was registered with the AKC in 1933.

General Appearance
The Great Pyrenees is also known as the Pyrenean Mountain Dog. Full grown this is a very large animal with a solid muscular body. The long, coarse, outer coat is either straight or slightly wavy, while the fine undercoat is soft and thick. The coat is weather resistant which allows it to live outdoors year round in very harsh climates. Coat colors come in solid white, or white with patches of tan, wolf-gray or pale yellow. It has a black nose and dark brown, almond-shaped eyes with a thoughtful, intelligent, dignified expression. The Great Pyrenees looks a lot like a brown bear except for its light coloring. The body proportions are somewhat rectangular; the length is slightly more than the height at the withers; the topline is level. The chest is fairly broad. The head is wedge-shaped with a slightly rounded skull with no apparent stop. The medium-sized ears are triangular and pendant. The muzzle is wide and slightly pointed, and its lips are not pendent. The teeth should ideally meet in a scissors bite, but level bite is allowed. The Great Pyrenees has single dewclaws on the front legs and double dewclaws on the hind legs. The long, feathered, plumed tail curves upward slightly at the tip and reaches at least to the hocks.


A gentle, friendly, and affectionate breed, the Great Pyrenees loves the companionship of humans, and is a great choice for a family pet for those that have adequate space for this giant dog to get some exercise. The Great Pyrenees is very intelligent and quick to learn, and is a courageous and protective dog that makes for a good watchdog. These dogs can be stubborn and very independent, which makes them more suited to those with some experience of dog ownership. Although generally quiet and inactive indoors, these dogs love to release some of their pent up energy when outdoors, and love to play and enjoy a range of outdoor activities. The Great Pyrenees gets on well with children when raised with them, but their size can prove a problem when it comes to very small children. He is gentle and protective with children. He will usually be protective of other animals in the household too, but may chase strange animals away. It is important to be assertive and confident with the Great Pyrenees, as he can otherwise assume leadership and become bossy. Early obedience training and socialization are important for this breed. The Great Pyrenees is a dog that likes to wander off and explore, so you should ensure that he is always in a secured area with appropriate fencing or on a leash.


Those with Great Pyrenees can attest to the mountains of hair that come out of this dog. It's because this undercoat fur is continually being shed that the dog stays so clean. There are few dogs that produce quite so much hair as the Great Pyrenees. It falls out constantly, but really flies off them in the biannual "coat blowing" where it seems to come out in sheets and buckets. There is little that can be done to stop the coat blow once it has begun - all the brushing in the world will just seem to keep bringing more hair. It is vitally important that you keep their dewclaws trimmed. These don't get worn down by exercise and can actually grow right into the dogs leg if they're not kept short.

Health Problems and Life Expectancy

The life expectancy of the Great Pyrenees is around 8-12 years, and there are a number of health problems that are associated with the breed. This includes elbow dysplasia and HD, luxating patella, entropion, cataracts, bleeding problems, and spinal problems.

Activity Level
The Great Pryrenees require at least two hours of exercise each day and will happily take much more. They have incredible stamina and if they're inclined to run around after something, they can do it all day long and still not seem to be tired.


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