Great Pyrenees Breed Information: The Livestock Guardian Patou

Great Pyrenees Dog Breed

Pure White fur like a snow bag, moves among the mountain’s grassland and makes the sheep and goat herds limited to meadows, the Great Pyrenees is a livestock guardian dog that is also called the Pyrenean Mountain Dog, or simply Patou.

The Great Pyrenees is a majestic and impressive dog breed hailing from the French Pyrenees mountains. They were bred to guard livestock herds and are considered one of the oldest dog breeds in Europe. These dogs are large, rugged, and muscular with a thick white double coat that protects them from the cold mountain winters. They have a calm and dignified demeanor but are also fiercely protective of their family and property.

Want to learn more about living with this large dog? Continue Reading.

The Great Pyrenees At a Glance

CharacteristicDescription
ColorWhite with gray, brown, or tan markings.
Coat typeDouble coat
EarsFloppy
HeightMale: 27-32 inches
Female: 25-29 inches
WeightMale: 100 lbs
Female: 85 lbs
Life expectancy10 to 12 years
Bred forLivestock (sheep) Guardian
Drooling amountMedium
Exercise neededMedium (20-40 mint per day)
TemperamentGentle, Calm, willful, aloof, and protective
Good withChildren, cats, and other family members
BarkingHigh
Overall grooming requireModerate

History

The fossil remains of dogs similar to the Great Pyrenees have been found in Bronze Age deposits dating back from 1800-1000 BCE. Centuries ago, they were bred to work with peasant shepherds and herding dogs in the Pyrenees Mountains separating France from Spain. 

The dog’s job was to protect the flock from predators such as wolves, bears, or rustlers. Sitting on a freezing mountain for days, only watching sheep, the Pyr’s thick coat and heavyweight allowed them to endure harsh weather conditions making them suitable flock guardian dogs.

In 1675 Louis XIV declared the Great Pyrenees to be the Royal Dog of France, and the breed gained popularity among the french nobility. The breed was introduced to North America in the late 1800s, and the American Kennel Club (dog breed club) recognized it in 1933.

In the recent past, the Great Pyrenees were popular for pulling small carts and delivering milk around Belgium and northern France. They’ve also been known as excellent sled dogs, pack animals, and most importantly family companions. Even today, they’re considered a valuable livestock-guarding dog breed.

Physical Characteristics

Appearance

Pyrenean mountain dog is a large, muscular dog with a thick, white weather-resistant double coat for protection from the elements. They have black facial markings and may have gray, badger, reddish brown, or tan patches on their ears and tail tips. Their body is slightly longer than it is tall and they have deep chests and strong hindquarters.

Weight and Size

Male Great Pyrenees can weigh up to 100 pounds and stand up to 27-32 inches tall at the shoulder. Females are slightly smaller, weighing around 85 pounds and standing up to 25-29 inches tall.

Fur Shedding

Great Pyrenees have a thick, dense double coat made up of a soft, wooly undercoat and a longer, coarse outer dog’s coat. They shed heavily once or twice a year (typically in the spring) during their shedding season and will require daily brushing to remove excess fur.

Drooling Level

Great Pyrenees do not have any issues with excess drooling and they are considered to have a low drooling tendency.

Barking Level

Great Pyrenees have a deep, booming bark that can be heard from far distances. They may bark to alert their owners of any potential threats or intruders but typically do not bark excessively.

Personality and Temperament

Great Pyrenees are calm, gentle, and dignified dogs who make excellent family companions. They have a strong guardian instinct and will protect their family and property without hesitation. They have a natural suspicion of strangers and will often bark at unfamiliar people or animals approaching their territory. However, they are not aggressive dogs and will only act in defense if necessary.

Training

Great Pyrenees are highly intelligent and independent thinkers, making them somewhat challenging to train. They require consistent and persistent training from an early age to establish their role in the household. Early socialization is also important to prevent shyness or aggression toward strangers.

With their impressive size and protective instincts, it is important for Great Pyrenees owners to establish themselves as the pack leader and provide consistent leadership throughout the dog’s life for obedience training. If not properly trained and socialized, they may attempt to assert themselves as pack leader and become overly protective or even aggressive.

Due to their independent nature, Great Pyrenees are not the best fit for first-time dog owners. They do well with experienced owners who can provide consistent training and leadership.

Interaction With Family

These gentle giants make great companions for active families and individuals with a strong pack leader mentality. They do best in homes with a securely fenced yard where they can roam and burn off their energy. The great Pyrenees is not the best fit for apartment living due to their size and tendency to bark.

While they may do well with children in their own families, the Great Pyrenees may be too large and protective for small children or roughhousing. They do well with other pets if raised with them from a young age but may be overly protective and aggressive towards unfamiliar animals.

Activity Requirements

The great Pyrenees need daily exercise to stay physically and mentally healthy. They enjoy going on long walks or runs, hiking, and playing in a spacious, fenced-in yard. However, they do not tolerate hot weather well and should not do vigorous exercise in the heat.

Diet and Nutrition

Great Pyrenees are like every other animal in that they need a balanced diet and proper nutrition to stay healthy. They should be fed high-quality dog food that meets their nutritional needs.

Puppy Nutrition

The MSD Veterinary Manual recommends that all puppy kibbles should have a minimum protein content of 22%, with the Great Pyrenees requiring even more at 26%. This can be sourced from high-quality kibbles such as those made by Royal Canine. In addition, the manual recommends a minimum fat content of 8%. This can come from good sources like salmon oils and chicken fat, which help with things like bone growth, coat health, brain function, and eyesight. By providing your puppy with the right nutrients, you can help ensure they reach its full potential!

Adult Nutrition

Adult dogs should be given kibble with 18% protein content, in contrast, puppy kibbles have higher fats and protein levels. For large-breed adult dogs, the minimum amount of protein required is 23%.

As an adult, your Great Pyrenees should maintain a well-balanced diet. Healthy carbohydrates will provide him with energy, while wholesome fibers can help keep him feeling fuller and prevent unhealthy snacking. It’s especially important to make sure he doesn’t become overweight – excess weight puts added pressure on his joints and leads to further health problems.

Common Great Pyrenees Health Issues

The great Pyrenees are generally healthy dogs but may be prone to certain health issues when the dog ages. Some common health issues are hip dysplasia, joint problems, obesity, eye disorders, and skin problems. However, with proper care and treatment, many of these health problems can be managed and your dog can enjoy a long and healthy life.

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a condition in which the hip joint does not fit properly into the socket, and it can be painful for the dog. This hereditary condition is more common in large breeds, and the Great Pyrenees is no exception. You may notice your dog struggling to stand up or climb stairs, and he may be in pain when you touch his hips.

If your dog has hip dysplasia, he may need to visit a vet for physical therapy or surgery to correct the problem. If you’re considering a Great Pyrenees puppy, be sure to ask the breeder about the parents’ hip health.

Osteosarcoma

Osteosarcoma is a type of bone cancer that is most common in larger breeds of dogs as well as in the Great Pyrenees. This condition creates tumors in the bones, and if left untreated, it can be fatal.

The first signs of osteosarcoma are usually limping or lameness in the affected leg. Your dog may also seem painful when you touch the area around the tumor. If you notice any of these symptoms, take your dog to the vet as soon as possible for diagnosis and treatment.

Osteosarcoma is a very serious condition, but with prompt treatment, many dogs are able to live happy and healthy lives for years after diagnosis.

Obesity

Obesity is also a common health issue in Great Pyrenees, as they are prone to overeating and becoming overweight. This can put a strain on their joints and increase the risk of other health problems such as joint problems, respiratory difficulties, and even heart disease.

If you think your dog is overweight, talk to your vet about the best way to help him lose weight. You may need to change his diet and increase his exercise. With a little bit of help, your Great Pyrenees can get back to a healthy weight and enjoy a long and healthy life.

Eye Disorders

The great Pyrenees are also susceptible to a number of eye disorders, such as entropion, cherry eye, and glaucoma.

Entropion

Entropion is a condition in which the eyelid rolls inward, causing the eye to water and the eyelashes to rub against the eyeball. This can be very painful for your dog and may require surgery to correct it.

Cherry Eye

Cherry eye is a prolapse of the gland in the third eyelid. This condition usually requires surgery to fix, but it can be treated with medication if it is caught early.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a condition in which the pressure in the eye is too high. This can be very painful for your dog and may eventually lead to blindness if not treated promptly. If you notice your dog’s eyes are red or watery, or he seems to be in pain, take him to the vet right away.

Skin Problems

The great Pyrenees are also prone to a number of skin problems, such as allergies, hot spots, mange, and bacterial and fungal issues.

Allergies

Allergies are a common problem in dogs and the Great Pyrenees. Allergies can be caused by a number of things, such as food, environmental factors, or even the dog’s own shampoo. If you notice your dog scratching excessively or has red, irritated skin, he may be allergic to something. A trip to the vet can help you determine the cause of your dog’s allergies and get him relief.

Hot Spots

Hot spots are areas of inflamed, irritated skin that can be very painful for your dog. They are often caused by allergies, but they can also be caused by insect bites or other skin irritations. If you notice a hot spot on your dog, take him to the vet as soon as possible. The vet can prescribe medication to help heal the hot spot and relieve your dog’s pain.

Manage

Mange is a condition caused by mites that can be very itchy and uncomfortable for your dog. There are two types of mange, demodectic and sarcoptic, both of which can be treated with medication. If you think your dog has mange, take him to the vet for diagnosis and treatment.

Bacterial and Fungal Issues

Bacterial and fungal problems are also common in Great Pyrenees causing skin problems. Some of the most common bacterial problems include pyoderma, which is a skin infection, and ear infections. Fungal problems include yeast infections and ringworm.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Strong Are a Great Pyrenees Bite?

The Great Pyrenees has a very powerful bite force, with an average of around 500 pounds per square inch (PSI)! That’s actually stronger than Rottweilers and Pitbull. While this varies between individuals, it still makes these dogs some of the strongest biters.

Do Great Pyrenees Bark a Lot?

The great Pyrenees are known for their deep, booming bark that can be heard from afar. They will often bark to alert their families of strangers or perceived threats. However, with proper training and socialization, they can learn when it is appropriate to bark and when it isn’t.

What 2 Breeds Make a Great Pyrenees?

According to The Great Pyrenees Club of America Pyrenees are descendent of wolves without any influence from mastiffs or mossoloid dogs.

Why Do Great Pyrenees Put Their Paw on You?

If your Great Pyrenees is constantly pawing at you, it’s likely because they want your attention. Whether they see you as their pack leader or just enjoy being around you, this behavior is usually a sign of affection.

Final Thought

The Great Pyrenees is a loyal and loving dog that makes a great family pet. However, they are also a large breed with a lot of energy. If you’re thinking of adding one of these dogs to your family, be sure you’re prepared to provide them with the exercise and training they need. With proper care, your Great Pyrenees will be loyal friends for life.