Pyrenees Mountain Dogs, also called Great Pyrenees by North Americans, are well-known for their ability to serve as livestock guardian dogs.
They are closely related to a number of large, white European guardian dogs such as the Akbash in Turkey, the Kuvasz in Hungary, and the Sheepdog in Italy.
Description of the Great Pyrenees
How heavy and big the Great Pyrenees can get is determined by gender.
On average, the males grow to 110-130 pounds (50-59 kgs) while the female can reach 90-115 pounds (41-52 kgs). With an average lifespan of 10 to 11 years, the Pyrenees Mountain Dogs can grow to 26-31 inches for the females and 27-32 inches for the males.
They have a weather-resistant double coat comprising of thick outer coarse hair and a woolly undercoat.
The coat is more profuse at the neck, especially in males where it plays protective roles against wolf offenders.
The primary coat color is white and comes in a wide range of shades including tan, red, and grey around the face.
The ears may also have these shades. The coat is lighter in younger Pyrenees Dogs and gets thicker as they mature.
The Pyrenees Mountain Dogs have a jetblack color on the nose and eye rims. The ears may at times have a little tan.
History of the Pyrenees Mountain Dogs dates back centuries ago when they were bred to server as herding dogs in Spain and France.
The earliest description of this breed dates back to 1560 explaining reasons why shepherds preferred white puppies with an exception of those born with black spots.
According to the Fray Miguel Agustín description, the wool cattle dogs ought not to necessarily be so big like the guard dogs but should be strong and sturdy to run and guard against wolves.
The color of these dogs should be white for easy visibility when running after the wolf.
Pyrenees Mountain Dogs at a glance
- Male – 110-130 pounds
- Female – 90-115 pounds
- Male – 27-32 inches
- Female – 26 – 31 inches
- Floppy ears
- Double coat
- White coat
What to expect
- 20 to 40 minutes of exercise per day
- Laid back energy levels
- 10 to 11 years lifespan
- High tendency to bark
- Low tendency to snow
- High tendency to drool
- Moderate socializing needs
- Needs more socializing training when a puppy
- Patience in obedience training exercises
- Moderate grooming needs
- Adults at 1 year of age
- Could take up to 2 years to mature
How the Pyrenees Mountain Dogs spread to other regions
As already highlighted above, the Great Pyrenees originate from Spain and France.
Their spread to other regions is often tied to Spanish Conquistadors.
Also called conquerors, the conquistadors were soldiers, knights, and explorers from the Spanish Empire who sailed beyond Europe to the Americas, bringing the Pyrenees Mountain Dogs with them.
However, the real spread of these dogs happened in the 19th century when Romanticism was born.
As an artistic, musical, literary, and intellectual movement, Romanticism paved the way for true appreciation of this breed for its poise and beauty.
Its innate temperamental characters led to its increased popularity across Europe.
General Lafayette is attributed for having brought the Pyrenees Mountain Dogs to America in 1824.
The French aristocrat and military officer is famous for fighting in the American Revolutionary War where he commanded American troops in numerous battles.
Towards the end of 19th century, Pyrenees Mountain Dogs had established a thriving market in mountain towns.
The dog’s agile stature greatly helped in its increased popularity and even formed a part of the mixture that formed the Leonberger.
Personality of the Pyrenees Mountain Dogs
Pyrenees Mountain Dogs are generally calm and gentle while at the same time showing characteristics of a shy and nervous, but aggressive dog.
The kind of socializing you do in his puppy days come in handy in determining how these traits develop.
Proper training makes him a well-mannered companion.
Just like most dogs, the Pyrenees Mountain Dog is devoted to his people and could soon become the best friend you can ever ask for.
He is also warm and comforting, making him a lovely therapy dog.
As an intelligent dog, he has a way to work on his own as he figures things out.
Their independence traces back to their earlier role as guard dogs for sheep in mountain valleys.
Thus, you can depend on him as an independent thinker although you would have to put up with his stubbornness.
For instance, obedience training might prove to be quite a challenge. Besides being calm, friendly, and gentle, he is also a pretty effective guard dog.
To build up a better personality for the Pyrenees Mountain Dog, you need to spend sufficient time on his socialization and exposure to people, sights, and sounds. Early socializing gives them an opportunity to grow into well-rounded dogs.
Living with Pyrenees Mountain Dogs
If you’ve been planning to get yourself a Pyrenees Mountain Dog, then you can comfortably do so.
They are wonderful companion for those living in suburban or rural areas.
Also, they are sure to lead a quiet life in the house and run a predictable and orderly routine.
Socializing the dog in his puppy days is an important thing you cannot afford to ignore.
Remember that they are naturally guard dogs, hence will need more exposure as they build up a desired personality.
Do this to moderate their excessive protectiveness.
Trainers have no choice but to be extremely patient with Pyrenees Mountain Dogs.
Their independence and stubbornness can set you off if you do not understand them.
Even with much patience, do not expect these dogs be full obedient to the training routine administered.
Their woolly appearance calls for moderate grooming.
Regularly brush their double coat to keep it in good condition but be prepared for an annual shedding period.
Luckily, you are sure to have an easy time caring for the outer coat because it does not mat.
When planning for a vacation, you are strongly advised not to board your Dog in a conventional boarding facility.
Since they are generally livestock guardians, they have extremely strong senses and could easily get over-excited in kennels.
There are actually cases where the Pyrenees have gone “kennel crazy”.
Is a male or female Pyrenees Mountain Dogs better
Choosing between a male and female Pyrenees Mountain Dog can be quite a tricky thing to do.
One thing you need to know about both genders is that even though they are large and protective, they are extremely sensitive.
They are quick to sense the mood of their people and will stand by your side in times of need – both protective-wise and therapy-wise.
If you are looking for a Pyrenees Mountain Dog that rules the show and more strong-willed, then the female version will best suit your needs.
When you do so, be careful not to bring home two females or a female and a strong-willed male.
Study both personalities before making your pick.
If you want the largest possible Pyrenees Mountain Dog, then you are better off gong with the male version.
He is large and can grow to 27-32 inches.
Generally, both dogs do well with children and other small animals.
However, you ought to remember that they take up to 2 years to mature. Before that, they can be clumsy puppies and accidentally knock down your toddler.
Do Pyrenees Mountain Dogs like to cuddle?
Pyrenees are very gentle and loving woolly dogs. Their gentleness makes them a great target for snuggling sessions and can put up with just anything from its people.
They love being affectionate and the physical touch is very important to them. However, they can be pretty hard on your furnishings.
You do not have to worry about their coat because it is self-cleaning.
In the event it gets muddy after a playing session, simply let it dry then brush it. The coat will keep looking good with just a few baths in a year.
Pyrenees Mountain Dogs may or may not get any of these diseases but it is important to be aware of them.
- Bone care – These dogs bones grow at such a rapid speed that they can easily develop bone pains. The more mature the breed gets, the more it requires special attentions especially on bone-related cases.
- Hip Dysplasia – An inherited disease where thighbone tends to slide over each other around the hip joint. Some legs develop a lame walk as a result while others do not show any outward sign of discomfort. The best way to diagnose the problem is through X-ray scanning.
- Addison’s Disease – It is a serious disease that occurs when the adrenal gland fails to produce sufficient adrenal hormones. Some signs to watch out for include poor appetite, vomiting, and lethargy. Salting your dog’s food can help mitigate the condition.
- Cataracts – Cataracts form in the eyes, leading to poor vision. Looking over your dog’s eyes will reveal a cloudy appearance to suggest that they are suffering from the condition. It is a condition you are likely to get more concerned about as old age sets in.
- Elbow Dysplasia – Just like Hip Dysplasia, Elbow Dysplasia is a degenerative disease. Abnormal growth and development are cited as the number one causes of the condition, leading to weakened joints around the elbow. Also, old age sets the way for the condition to manifest.
- Anesthesia Sensitivity – Dogs with low metabolism have the greatest risk to this condition. Have a discussion with your vet over the possibility of the condition manifesting.
The bond between you and your Pyrenees is something to marvel about.
If you can accommodate their independence nature, you are sure to have a great time together.
Their medium size makes them a perfect fit for families in both apartments and their own compounds.