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Great Pyrenees



           Left-Arkan's Jim Dandy (Seamus) and Right-Tuatara's Jasmine Iguana (Jasmine)                                                                      Photo Photo courtesy of Susan Irving



What is a Great



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    Their outer coat is long and coarse. The undercoat is soft and thick. The coat is weather resistant which allows it to live outdoors year round in very harsh climates.


    They come in solid white, or white with patches of tan, wolf-grey or pale yellow.

    The long, feathered, plumed tail curves upward slightly at the tip and reaches at least to the hocks.


    The nose, eye rims and lips are black, and the lips are fairly tight. So they don't drool as say a Saint Bernard.

    The Great Pyrenees has single dewclaws on the front legs and double dewclaws on the hind legs.                


    Weight: Male: 110-130lbs; Female 90 - 100 lbs

    Height: Male: 27 - 32"; Female 25 - 29"      



     Blue Steel Great Pyrenees                                                  Maranatha's Murphy's Moment (Murphy) 




Ch. Maranatha's Cold Blue Steel (Gunner)

Photo's courtesy of Dianne Migas


For a ton more wonderful photo's which show Pyr's at different stages of development; not to mention alot of adorable and goofy photo's.... check out the Pyr Friends Album. The photo's are courtesy of my Pyr friends on the PyrNet-L egroup.

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    Character Traits

    Please carefully consider all of the Pyrenees character traits, if there is even one trait that you feel you can not handle or live with......don't get a Pyr.

    This is so important; Great Pyrenees rescue groups are often filled with dogs that were purchased without the understanding of the size, independence, and the personality quirks of the breed.

    Energy Level

    Adult Pyrs are placid by nature and calm in the house. They usually spend alot of time sleeping in a cool spot. But they mature slowly mentally. It is nothing to hear the antics of "My 120 lb Puppy" from the people who are owned by them. They don't usually reach mental maturity till they're between 2 and 3 years of age.

    So be prepared for a bouncy 100lb+ puppy charging through your house!

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    Over all temperament

    It is important to socialize and train this breed properly to insure a good companion and LGD. Male dogs can be dominant or aggressive with other dogs of the same sex.

    They are good with non-canine animals, and usually like cats.

    Pyr's are natural guardians; this is ingrained and not taught. They are aloof or wary of strangers, but should never be aggressive. They will accept people who they are introduced too.

    Their guardian instinct must be guided through obedience training and socialization, beginning at an early age.

    Well socialized Pyr's are usually calm and indifferent towards strangers. Off their property they are actually quite friendly and love meeting everyone, especially children. On their own property they should be introduced to visitors and reassured that theses people are welcome.

    Their low key temperament as adults, make them suitable as house dogs.

    Personality and Breed Quirks

    These dogs do not reach maturity until they are about 2 years old. Most are not good off the leash and may wander away.

    The Great Pyrenees tends to bark ALOT!.....I mean...Can you handle a dog, who will bark at a leaf that dares to fall on your property? If not don't get a Pyr.

    How close are your neighbours? Will they have a problem with their barking? ...... They tend to bark more at night. The amount of barking varies from individual to individual, but they all bark to some extent. If you live in urban or suburban settings, your Pyr must be kept indoors at night to avoid problems with neighbours.

    Some have looser lips and tend to drool and slobber. But all will dribble water across your floor after a drink. Keep the mop handy! ;)

    The Pyrenees sheds..... ALOT!

    If you cannot handle white tuffs of hair on your floors, furniture or clothes, don't get a Pyr.

    Do to their independent nature, it is important for you the owner to assure this dog that YOU are infact the boss of the house....not them.

    Please see this article: Alpha Boot Camp

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    Ease of Training

    Pyr puppies grow rapidly, it does not take them long to reach 100lbs. Therefore they must be trained to walk on a leash, taught basic good manners, and be well socialized to other dogs/people; before they get too big to handle.

    They will not do well with harsh corrections, in fact it could very well back fire on you.

    Great Pyrenees are not the poster child for Obedience Clubs ;) Because of his independent nature and stubbornness.

    It takes alot of patience and a soft, but firm hand to effectively train a Pyr and earn his respect, and get the respect you deserve.

    LGD ability

    As guardian dogs, the Pyrenees are instinctive. They are calm, intelligent, strong, confident, and courageous. Nothing is more important than protecting their charges....even to the point of self sacrifice.

    Their size is intimidating to predators. Their size is intimidating to predators. They use a deep warning bark before using any physical force. Which usually is enough to keep predators at bay. But if necessary they are a serious, imposing challenger to any who dare threaten his herd.

    They can be trusted with newborn lambs or other hoof stock. The Great Pyrenees, guard anything they are raised with. Their devotion to a family or herd is undeniable.

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    Health Problems

    As a large breed they are remarkably healthy and long and some have been known to live until 14!. Compared to other large breeds, actually alot of small breeds as well....they have few major genetic problems. 

    Like other large breeds, the Pyr is susceptible to:

    Hip Dysplasia: A developmental malformation or subluxation of the hip joints.

    So puppies should come from parents with hip certification from PennHip or the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals.

    Entropion: an abnormal rolling in of the eyelid.

    OCD: A group of developmental diseases resulting in abnormal formulation of joint cartilage. Commonly involves the shoulder, stifle, hock or elbow. A form of inflammation of the cartilage of certain joints which causes arthritis

    Bloat: Bloat is a stomach condition of dogs that is potentially fatal. Bloat (gastric dilatation-volvulus or GDV) refers to the stomach becoming very dilated with food, water and air. The most serious form of bloat occurs when the stomach also twists on its long axis after it is dilated. This is an emergency situation for the dog. If not treated early on, especially when the stomach twists, the dog can die in a matter of hours.

    Factor XI deficiency: A rare clotting disorder of several dog breeds. Protracted bleeding from surgical procedures is a feature. Affects both sexes.

    Hypothyroidism: a common endocrine disease where the body produces an abnormally low amount of thyroid hormones. An autoimmune destruction of the thyroid gland which affects more than 50 dog breeds.

    Acute moist dermatitis: known as "hot spots," a localized area of a severely itchy, inflamed and oozing dermatitis exacerbated by the animal's intense licking and chewing at the spot. Usually caused by hot weather.

    The breed is also subject to heat stroke; lameness; and bone cancer.

    The definitions were found at: (Guide to Hereditary and Congenital Diseases in Dogs)

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    Feeding and Orthopaedic problems

    Believe it or not, Pyr's are surprisingly small eaters for their size. They have a very efficent metabolism so they eat very little as an adult. Zeus ate less than my Sheppard cross.

    Again, Pyr puppies grow quite rapidly. Be careful of over feeding which can cause orthopaedic problems, such as Rapid Growth Syndrome.

    Rapid Growth Syndrome means that the bones are growing to fast for the muscle tissue to keep up with, which results in the bones curving.

    Most orthopaedic problems are caused by overfeeding. The first 6 months of the dog’s life is the time of largest nutrient needs to support rapid growth. But if fed too much this can cause problems, particularly in large breed dogs.

    Overfed, rapidly growing large and giant breed dogs may develop a variety of orthopaedic problems, including: Rapid Growth Syndrome, Osteochondrosis, Hip Dysplasia, the Wobbler Syndrome and Enostosis.

    You should familiarize yourself with the proper body condition of the breed, and do not trust the feeding recommendations on a dog food bag.

    Young growing animals should be maintained in a lean body condition. The ribs should be easily felt, and just barely seen in smooth coated dogs.

    The animal who is kept in this condition and not over fed, WILL still reach its genetic potential for adult size. And you will minimize the risk of orthopaedic problems.


    You should feed a highly digestible, nutrient-dense growth diet. Or a properly prepared Natural RAW diet. 

    I feed my dogs a balanced RAW diet. If you are unfamiliar with "Natural" or "BARF" (Biologically Appropriate Raw Foods) feeding, please see my friend and mentors site at:

    Roberta Jamieson-Lepus 'Reg ; Naturally raised Whippets and Borzoi

    She has been feeding her Champion dogs the natural way for over 15 years. Her site has alot of excellent information and links about natural rearing.

    You could also join BARFpyrs, a egroup for people who feed their Pyr's a raw diet. You can get lots of helpful advice and support.

    Also Dianne Migas has put together a wonderful page about nutrition with many informative links at:

    Your goal is to maintain a portion-controlled feeding regimen. Feeding 3 or 4 small meals per day, is better than feeding one or two large ones. This should be done for up to 4-6 month's of age, then it can be changed to 2 meals per day. You want an average growth rate; to maintain a lean body composition. Avoid overfeeding! Also your puppy should be provided regular daily exercise.

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    Grooming Requirements

    Their coats have an amazing ability to self clean resulting in low maintenance. With regular brushing, it is very easy to keep their coat in good condition. The outer coat does not mat, but watch for matting of the softer hair behind the ears. They actually are very good at removing burrs on their own. Bathe only when necessary.

    Pyr's should not be shaved in the summer. If he is outside, provide a cool shady spot, with plenty of fresh water instead.


    Pyrenees should get plenty of exercise to stay in shape. It does not need to be vigorous though, a good long walk or two shorter ones per day are fine.

    Living Conditions

    Being a large breed, Pyr's are not recommended for apartment life. They do need space, not necessarily a farm but at least an averaged-sized yard. Pyr's do prefer the cooler climates. They can developed skin problems if they don't have enough shade in the hotter months.

    Fencing Requirements

    You will need a good fence, 6-foot height all way round is preferable.

    The Pyr is a roamer. If allowed to wander unattended, they often will travel large distances, and expand their territory. Problem is, they rarely find their way home. A common saying, is "a free Pyr, is a Disapyr"

    A Pyr also must not be tied out continuously, for tying can cause frustration that leads to aggression.

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    Importance of Early Socialization and Training


    Socialization and Obedience training can be critical in nurturing the human animal relationship.

    The Livestock Guardian Dog (LGD) needs socialization to strangers, children and other dogs as well; You do not want your guardian going through the fence at your neighbour walking her dog.

    Please see this article : Socializing Your Puppy by Catherine de la Cruz, of Poste de Pompier Working Pyrenees, regarding the importance of socialization and training you're LGD.

    Socialization is the process of becoming familiar with the world and new situations, and how to handle new experiences in a calm and confident way.

    Familiarizing a dog with its environment through exposure to all sorts of situations. If you want to raise a confident well-adjusted puppy, socialization is a must! By socializing your puppy early on with a variety of new and unfamiliar people (including calm and gentle children), on a regular and ongoing basis; you can help prevent serious behavioural problems such as shyness, timidity, and aggression from developing as the puppy matures.

    The period from 6 to 18 weeks is critical because once it ends, familiarizing the dog with new things is more difficult. But it is important to continue their socialization and training at least until their second year.

    You should take your puppy for car rides and visits to town. (beginning when the puppy is around 8 to 10 weeks of age) Getting them used to the noise can be very helpful in preventing environmental phobias. In order to prevent exposure to disease, puppies with fewer than 3 or 4 series of vaccinations, should avoid contact with unfamiliar dogs. But should be frequently socialized with dogs of other family members and friends.

    Once a puppy has all of his puppy shots (usually by 16 weeks of age), he should also be socialized with other friendly dogs, and acclimated to new environments beyond the owner's home and property. One way is by being taken for regular daily walks on a leash.

    Puppy kindergarten classes may are helpful. This way they are meeting alot of different puppies and strange people.

    Ideally, an experienced dog trainer or behavioural consultant should supervise all play activity and be present to prevent any overly aggressive interactions between puppies.

    Obedience Training

    Again I stress......... Socialization and Obedience training can be critical in nurturing the human animal relationship.

    Its basic manners training - sit, down, stay, come and heel - are essential to shaping a good companion, or LGD.

    For example, dogs taught to lie down at the arrival of visitors, after barking their warnings are much more reliable and trustworthy. Plus they are readily accepted by your friends and family. Instead of having to be locked up when people arrive.

    Or if your dog accidentally gets out, his recall reliability could very well save his life.

    With the help of a competent instructor, you can see early warning signs of dominance or fear, and can effectively curb the behaviour, before it gets out of control.

    Obedience training is basically an education in good manners.

    Training can be positive and fun, and create a very strong bond between the dog and the owner. Think of it as "together time".

    Socialization and basic training are the foundations for this bond. A well-socialized dog with good manners is a treasured family pet and an asset to the community, not a liability.


    Sariena Foley

    Regalia Great Pyrenees

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    The comments in this article are solely and completely the "opinion" of the author. It is based on her experiences and information she has gathered from other reputable sources over the years.

    ***Anyone thinking about buying a puppy of any breed, are more than welcome to print this article, for future reference.

    Furthermore, this article in its entirety may be reproduced and used anywhere, for educational purposes. So long as proper credit is given to the author. I would appreciate an email notification***  

    TM} and Copyright © 2002 by {R&S Foley Farms}. All rights reserved.
    Revised: 10 Apr 2002 11:43:29-0400

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