The huge, white, gentle dog known as the Great Pyrenees is a wonderful companion pet. These dogs are a great match for many different living conditions although they do need space and outdoor time to be truly happy. Relatively inactive indoors, they can do fine in apartments and homes in the city provided they have a yard to run in, daily time at the dog park, and at least two long, brisk walks per day.
The Great Pyrenees is a flock guardian, which means they are naturally very protective and excellent watchdogs. They typically bark only to alert you that strangers are around, but they are not prone to problem types of barking. They are very smart, highly social, and definitely loyal to their families. They are independent because, as flock guardians, they had to be able to think and act to protect the sheep. They were originally bred to be agile so they could herd sheep on mountain slopes.
This dog is a great match for families with children and, despite their size and somewhat serious demeanor, can be very playful and love to romp with the kids. This is a breed of dog that really enjoys the company of other non-aggressive dogs and seems to do very well with cats in the family.
A very large breed, the Great Pyrenees can measure up to 40 inches at the shoulders and weigh over 100 pounds when fully mature. Males are usually taller and heavier than females but both are gentle natured. Some owners report that males are more affectionate and females slightly more independent in the breed. This breed can also have double dewclaws, also called polydactyl, usually on their back feet.
These dogs have a typical life span for a giant breed of dog and average about 10 years. They will stay moderately active well into their senior years and love to have a job to do about the house. This can be accompanying you on a daily walk or simply acting as the house protector.
The dense, double coat of the Great Pyrenees is generally easy to care for. They are moderate shedders year round but they blow their coats twice a year resulting in massive hair loss. During this time daily grooming can really help and it is not uncommon to literally brush out a garbage bag full of white to cream colored hair during the seasonal shed. This double coat also means that they are not ideally suited to very hot climates unless they can be kept in a cool location during the hottest parts of the day. Did you know that the coat is more profuse around the neck, especially in males, to ward off wolf attacks while guarding sheep?