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Great Pyrenees dog in a forest setting.

Breed overview

  • Breed group — Working group (American Kennel Club)
  • Height — 25-32 inches
  • Weight — 85-100 pounds
  • Coat length & texture — thick and lush medium length double coat
  • Coat color — Great Pyrenees sport coarse white coats occasionally marked with spots or streaks of gray, badger, reddish brown, or tan. Markings often appear on the ears and head, sometimes taking the charming shape of a full face mask.
  • Exercise needs — Moderate
  • Intelligence — High
  • Barking — Moderate to High
  • Life span — 10-12 years
  • Temperament — Calm, affectionate, reserved
  • Hypoallergenic — No
  • Origin — France/Spain

Great Pyrenees fun facts

👉 Coming up with a pet name can be fun but tricky. Search no further! According to PetScreening’s 2o24 database, the majority of our users name their male Great Pyrenees Bear; Koda is the 2nd most popular male name. Meanwhile, most of our users with female Great Pyrenees love Luna, then Bella.

  • Shepherds once relied on the Great Pyrenees’ impressive stature to ward off wild beasts like wolves and even bears in the Pyrenees Mountains.
  • Taking a break from fighting off dangerous predators, Great Pyrenees pulled carts full of military goods during WWI.
  • These pooches do like to shed, but the discarded fur can be gathered up and spun into a soft, angora-like yarn.
Great Pyrenees in the snow

Great Pyrenees temperament and characteristics

The Great Pyrenees’ storied past as a shepherd’s guard animal fostered gentle patience and care, traits which live on to this day. Great Pyrenees dogs are an excellent option for prospective owners looking for a gentle giant of a companion that’s great with children and adults alike. The Pyr only breaks from its calm disposition when it feels as if those under its care are at risk, yet another call back to its history as a diligent protector. However, with a high intelligence and a keen perception, the Great Pyrenees is unlikely to snap at house guests or friendly pedestrians walking by on an afternoon stroll; just keep a watchful eye open in case they mistake a well-meaning stranger for a threat.

Speaking of walks, the Great Pyrenees love a good walk or energetic play session, but they are cold weather dogs, so they are often content to curl up in the shade during the hotter parts of the day and nap those toasty hours away. This breed offers a wonderful blend of canine activity and calm tranquility for owners who enjoy rest as much as play.


The Great Pyrenees is a majestic and regal breed. According to the American Kennel Club (AKC) breed standards, the ideal Great Pyrenees has a double coat with a thick undercoat and long, coarse guard hairs that are either straight or slightly waved. The coat colors are white or white with markings of gray, badger, reddish brown, or varying shades of tan. We teamed up with FidoTabby Alert, and according to their database, a common coat color for the Great Pyrenees is (79%) white.  

Common Great Pyrenees health problems

As one of the larger dog breeds, the Great Pyrenees suffers from many of the same problems other large dog breeds encounter throughout their lives. Owners should also be aware of a handful of other manageable problems more unique to the Great Pyrenees.

  • Hip Dysplasia. As larger dogs age, hip joints wear down and can contribute to canine arthritis, joint degeneration, and lameness, all which can impair your dog’s ability to walk. Hip dysplasia, specifically, can cause problems early in life, too, so owners should be vigilant for any signs of discomfort. Great Pyrenees are also known to have trouble with their kneecaps popping in and out of place.
  • Bloat. Bloat is much more than a bit of gas for your Great Pyrenees. This is mainly expansion of the gut, causing the stomach to twist and rotate, which may cut off blood flow to the stomach and other vital parts of the body. Owners should be wary of their Pyr eating too quickly as this may lead to bloat.
  • Heart Conditions. Larger dogs have some pretty big bodies to move around, and all that blood pumping takes a toll. Owners should be on the lookout for signs of heart problems like persistent coughing, fainting, or other dramatic changes in behavior.
  • Eye Disorders. Great Pyrenees can suffer from eyelid conditions, cataracts, and, more seriously, canine retinopathy, a degeneration of the blood vessels in the back of the eyes which may lead to blindness.

Cost of caring for Great Pyrenees

With these health concerns in mind, prospective owners should be aware of the potential costs of treatment. In addition to the typical costs for routine vet visits, emergency fees for injuries and complications from the conditions that commonly impact large dogs can set owners back thousands of dollars.

To offset the surprise costs of such issues, owners should consider investing in pet health insurance, where a few dollars a month can end up saving you thousands. A pet savings account may also be a viable option for those looking to squirrel away a rainy day fund for their new furbaby.

Great Pyrenees puppy

History of the Great Pyrenees

Hailing from the flat-top Pyrenees Mountains that form a wall between France and Spain, the Great Pyrenees was originally bred over ten thousand years ago by the Basque peoples as a guardian beast of burden. These early herders used their might and impressive size to fight off prehistoric threats to early flocks of sheep and goats. The isolated nature of the Pyrenees Mountains and the demanding work these noble creatures faced contributed to the Great Pyrenees’ unique look and disposition. However, as the years went on and such threats became less and less common, the Great Pyrenees became more and more docile, eventually developing into the gentle giant people know and love today.

In recent years (or relatively recent for a breed with such a storied past), the Pyr has become a notable show dog, fostering a fiercely competitive scene around this popular breed. Of course, more laidback dog owners can still appreciate the Great Pyrenees’ striking profile which carries with it these thousands of years of protection and devotion to its owners.

Caring for your Great Pyrenees

The Great Pyrenees can be an intimidating breed to care for, but if you start strong with early vet visits and proper vaccinations, you can feel confident you’ll start your new adventure off on the right paw. If you’re looking for even more ways to prepare your home for a new pup or puppy, betterpet has you covered with detailed how-to guides for puppy-proofing your home and prepping for the harrowing teething process of young dogs. And, of course, to ensure you know where your dog is at all times, consider looking into FidoAlert, a community-based tool for quickly recovering missing pooches, and since Great Pyrenees are known to “dis-a-pyr” when off leash, the added security will come in handy.


Compared to most large dog breeds, the Great Pyrenees live a rather relaxed life without as much need for exercise as German Shepherds or Great Danes. Generally speaking, the Pyr likes an hour of walking a day, which can easily be broken up into shorter strolls to accommodate work and school schedules. Since this breed was originally used to guard flocks as they slowly grazed, the Great Pyrenees is used to sitting back and peacefully observing. That doesn’t mean your pup wouldn’t love a long hike or even a swim, though, so active owners can feel free to bring their Pyrs along on their outdoor adventures. Just be wary of that sun beating down overhead. If you’re hot, just imagine how your Great Pyr feels under that beautiful dense coat.

Walking a Great Pyrenees


The Great Pyrenees is known for its impressive double coat of coarse white fur, and, naturally, with such a voluminous coat comes voluminous shedding (a.k.a. “blow”) twice a year; be prepared to find fluffy white clumps of fur here and there. Fortunately, the dense outer coat sheds dirt and grime well, which keeps that lustrous white clean without too much hassle.

Of course, routine grooming will go a long way to making your Great Pyr look and feel great. Set aside about half an hour each week to brush and comb out any matted spots or knots in the fur and tend to any nails that may have grown a bit too long. For general grooming tips and tricks, make sure to check out betterpet’s extensive guides and informative articles.

Diet and nutrition

As anyone with a large dog will tell you, breeds as giant as the Great Pyrenees can make short work of a bag of dog food. Fortunately, dog food subscription and delivery services make staying stocked up on high quality kibble easier than ever, and when selecting the specific type of food, consider options that balance high-quality protein and grains. However, since the Pyr is less active than other breeds, keep an eye on their weight; these pups are known to pack on some extra poundage. If you stick to 4 to 6 cups of dry food per day, spread out over two meals, you should be able to maintain a healthy weight for your Pyr.

While you should stick mainly to vet-approved kibble and treats, if you do want to offer some special snacks, be especially wary of some of the more hazardous foods for dogs. As many know, chocolate can be poisonous to all dogs, but onions, nuts, and anything with caffeine should also be avoided at all costs.

Training your Great Pyrenees

The Great Pyrenees is a naturally docile breed, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be a few issues to consider when training your new pup. The Great Pyrenees is rather independent, which means obedience training can present a bit of a challenge at first. Owners need to be confident and assertive with a Pyr, demanding their dog display obedience by waiting before digging into their dinner, letting you lead during walks, and staying off of furniture. Use of a clicker can make this degree of training more manageable and structured. Lastly, those looking at owning a Pyr should also know that these dogs like to dig, and the earlier these behaviors are addressed, the better. They do this to stay cool in hotter climates, so ensuring your Pyr has a pleasant, shady spot may alleviate this problem.

Great Pyrenees on leash

Breeds similar to the Great Pyrenees

Not quite sure that a Great Pyrenees is right for you? Even if you are, it’s worth taking the time to research and consider other similar breeds. Here are a few to get you started:

  • Great Dane. If size is what you are after, the Great Danes fit the bill—even if they don’t fit into most other places. These gentle giants are a great alternative breed.
  • St. Bernard. Another impressively-sized pooch, the St. Bernard is another guardian dog with mountain origins for those looking for a dog they can count on.
  • Samoyed. If the white coat of the Great Pyr isn’t quite fluffy enough for you, the Samoyed may be just what you need. These active dogs are powerful and gentle and love tons of attention.

Frequently asked questions

Is the Great Pyrenees a good family dog?

These gentle giants were bred as protectors. When not warding off threats with their imposing barks, they are quite docile and gentle, making them a good option for families as long as you are willing to train them properly.

Do Great Pyrenees bark a lot?

The Pyr is a guardian dog, and it was valued for its ability to alert shepherds to nearby dangers. This means that when given something to bark at like a potential intruder or anything else the Great Pyrenees may interpret as a threat, they will bark quite a lot and with great volume.

Are Great Pyrenees high-maintenance dogs?

Between grooming the Pyr’s thick coat, tending to their hearty appetite, and making sure they are not digging craters in your yard, the Great Pyrenees can be considered fairly high-maintenance.

Can the Great Pyrenees be left alone?

Solitude is in the Great Pyr’s genes, and while they do love affection and family time, they can be content to be left alone for hours at a time. If you do leave your Pyr alone, though, provide plenty of toys to help them stay active and mentally stimulated while you’re away.

Is the Great Pyrenees a good option for first-time dog owners?

Since the Great Pyrenees is a stubborn and independent dog, first-time owners may struggle with obedience training. However, with plenty of research and a dedicated training regiment, you should be able to manage your Pyr.