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Your Pet, Our Passion.

Pyrenean Mountain Dog

Possibly the best known of the livestock guardian breeds, the Pyrenean Mountain Dog is an immensely strong, huge, heavy bodied dog with a thick coat. Despite their size they should be elegant and well balanced with a smooth movement driven by powerful hindquarters.

The need-to-know
  • Dogs suitable for experienced owners
  • Extra training required
  • Generally healthy breed
  • Enjoys active walks
  • Enjoys more than two hours of walking a day
  • Giant dog
  • Some drool
  • Requires grooming every other day
  • Chatty and vocal dog
  • Barks, alerts and may be physically protective/suspicious of visitors
  • Might not like other dogs
  • May need additional training to live with other pets
  • May need additional supervision to live with children
  • Needs a large garden
  • Best suited to countryside
  • Can be left occasionally with training
Generally healthy breed

The Pyrenean Mountain Dog is generally a hardy breed but can be prone to: 
- Hip dysplasia
- Panosteitis 
- Laryngeal paralysis¹, a condition where nerve damage develops in the vocal cords and this can lead to problems breathing.
- Deafness²
- Multifocal retinopathy³ which is a disease affecting the back of the eye which may lead to vision loss but may also not cause any signs.
 
Priority Kennel Club health schemes and testing:
- Hip dysplasia screening scheme 

¹H. Vandenberghe, 'Juvenile‐onset polyneuropathy in American Staffordshire Terriers', 2018, Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine
²G. M. Strain, 'Genetics of Deafness in Dogs', 2015, Fronteers in Veterinary Science
³B. H. Grahn, 'Multifocal retinopathy of Great Pyrenees dogs', 1998, Veterinary Ophthalmology

Key Facts

Lifespan: 10 – 12 years
Weight: 36 – 54kg
Height: 66 – 81cm
Colours: They are typically white or white with patches of badger, wolf-grey, lemon, orange or tan on their heads, ears and root of the tail
Size: Large
UK Kennel Club Groups: Pastoral

Ratings

Family-friendly: 4/5
Exercise needs: 5/5
Easy to train: 1/5
Tolerates being alone: 3/5
Likes other pets: 4/5
Energy level: 5/5
Grooming needs: 4/5
Shedding: 5/5
Pyrenean Mountain Dog is standing near the mountain slopes

Personality

Whilst Pyreneans can make affectionate and loving companions to their families, they are inclined toward aggression to strange dogs, particularly those of a similar size. Strangers will be at best mistrusted and at worst, a Pyrenean may react aggressively to those they deem unwelcome and threatening, so careful socialisation and training is advised.

Often described as headstrong and stubborn, the reality is that this is a bred long bred for a willingness to use aggression if they think necessary and an independent nature, ready to make decisions for themselves without the input of their owners. This means they really are not suitable for first-time owners as they are hard to motivate in training and must be managed very carefully.

Pyrenean Mountain Dog is walking near the mountain

History and Origins

Country of Origin: France

From the French side of the Pyrenean Mountains, the exact history of the breed is unknown, but we do know they have been used as a livestock guardian breed to protect sheep and cattle grazing the mountains for millennia. Fossils suggestive of this breed type predating the Bronze Age (1800-1000BC) have been found.

These dogs were generally taken as very young puppies (sometimes as young and four or five weeks old) and placed with the sheep so that they will think of them as family and bond very closely to them - and then will protect them. They were often helped in this job by being given a fearsome looking spiked iron collar to help protect their throat from wolf attacks.

Exactly which breeds contributed to the Pyrenean Mountain Dog are unknown, but it is likely that the Kuvasz of Hungary, the Anatolian Sheepdog of Turkey, and the Maremma Sheepdog of Italy were involved, all being very similar types with a similarly long history. Prior to the French Revolution, the Pyrenean was also used to guard French Chateaus and these dogs were also used by smugglers in the late 19th century, as they could carry heavy backpacks of forbidden goods across the Pyrenees, taking paths impassable to humans and so avoiding customs or checkpoints. And even if officials did spot them, nobody was going to argue with a dog this big!

did you know?

Did You Know?

  • The Pyrenean Mountain Dog is strangely popular within the Japanese manga and anime culture, with characters featuring in several manga series’ including Fullmetal Alchemist and Naruto amongst others.
  • In 2014 a Pyrenean Mountain dog, ‘Duke’ became Mayor of Comorant, a small town in Minnesota where he held the (ceremonial) role for four consecutive terms!
  • This breed is naturally nocturnal as they were bred to guard flocks of sheep and herds of cattle at night.
  • Queen Victoria of England owned a Pyrenean Mountain Dog in the mid-19th century.
  • In 1870, blood from Pyrenean Mountain Dogs was used at a hospice in Switzerland to help revive the St. Bernard after so many had suffered injuries from avalanches and distemper.