These large and fluffy dogs are well known for their goofy, smart, and calm personalities. While they might be strong and powerful working dogs, Great Pyrenees dogs are known for being loyal and wonderful companions nowadays. Many of these dogs stand at 25-32 inches tall and can weigh around 100 pounds. Their fluffy white coats are weatherproof and have helped them keep warm and dry in cold, wet climates.
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This breed was named after the region they came from: the Pyrenees Mountains between France and Spain. These mountains form a natural border between the two countries and for centuries, Great Pyrenees dogs had the job of watching flocks and deterring predators like wolves, bears, or even people. Their courage and innate patience helps these dogs care for and look after flocks.
Great Pyrenees dogs have been a part of France for generations and classes of all kinds have had these dogs. They called the French court home in the 17th century with French royalty and nobility and King Louis XIV even decreed the breed the ‘Royal Dog of France’ in 1675! These dogs have also spent generations working and living alongside shepherds in the mountains. In addition to their kind demeanor and loyalty to their families, they’re great guard dogs for homes and flocks of sheep, which means they’re great companions for work and leisure.
Origins of the breed are believed to have come from Central Asia/Siberia before coming to Europe and remains of a Great Pyrenees has even been found in fossil deposits from the Bronze Age (1800-1000 BCE). The earliest written record about this breed is from the 15th century and talks of its great ability to guard sheep and well known white color and large size.
There are so many great things about this breed: they are generally calm and well mannered, love having quiet time, and especially enjoy a predictable routine. While they can be wary around strangers (which is what makes them a great guard dog), they can be gentle and loving with their families and folks they know, especially children.
Despite being a large breed, they really only need a moderate amount of exercise but they will need daily walks and plenty of space. Some can even be a bit lazy during the summer! Although, with their dense and fluffy fur coat, it’s hard to blame them for being lazy during the heat in the summer months! Some have developed skin problems in very hot weather.
Additionally, because of their fluffy double coat, they will need regular brushing to keep their skin and fur healthy (once a week is a good habit to aim for). And they’ll need to be brushed more during the spring and early summer as they lose their winter coats (almost daily for some dogs!).
While this breed is kind and gentle, being consistent and patient in training will be important. They can be a bit stubborn at times and slow to learn commands/tricks. The blog “It’s Dog or Nothing” has a few tips on how to train a Great Pyrenees, which include being patient, positive, and confident!
Overall, this breed has been around for centuries and has lived with shepherds, farmers, families, nobility, and royalty. They’re great family and working dogs but will need regular brushing and training. If you’re thinking about getting a Great Pyrenees (whether purebred or a mix), having the space and time for one is important! They’ll love having a mid to large yard and they might not be great in apartments. Plus, they can be a bit stubborn at times so positive and consistent training is a plus.