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The Pyrenean mountain dog is also known as the Great Pyrenees in the USA and Canada. It is a large dog with a big heart for its family, especially children. It originated around 3000 BC in the Pyrenees mountains, thus the name. Standing 65 to 82 centimetres and weighing of 88 to 110 pounds, it is an excellent watchdog and guard dog. It is not recommended for first-time owners because, aside from its large size, it can be challenging to train.
Are you thinking of getting a Pyrenean mountain dog? Here is a brief background of this large working dog.
It is believed that the Pyrenean mountain dog originated in the Pyrenees mountains between France and Spain sometime around 3000 BC. Some of the descendants of this ancient breed are thought to be the Kuvasz, the Maremma Sheepdog, and the Anatolian Sheepdog. Bred to aid shepherds, the Pyr was considered a dog of peasants. However, its reputation changed when it was declared the Royal Dog of France in 1675. The breed then became a popular choice with the nobility and was used to guard estates.
During the 1900s, the Pyrenean mountain dog’s numbers significantly dropped, but was saved from extinction by Bernard Senac-Lagrange and M. Dretzen. Today’s Pyreneans are still considered dependable sheepdogs in France and reliable family pets because they are loyal and kind. However, obtaining one outside of France is not easy since its numbers remain low. The breed is registered with the Kennel Club under the Pastoral group.
The Pyrenean mountain dog is a large dog with a powerful and imposing appearance. At the same time, it exudes elegance and charm. It is a well-balanced dog that has an average height of 65 to 82 centimetres and weight of 88 to 110 pounds. It has a large head with a slight stop and furrow. It has a strong and moderately long muzzle, a strong jaw with a perfect scissor bite, and a black nose. It also has dark brown almond-shaped eyes that show an intelligent and thoughtful look. It has small triangular ears with rounded tips that slightly rise when alert or excited. The Pyr’s neck is strong yet fairly short, and the shoulders are powerful and lie close to the body. Its chest is broad, reaching just under the elbows, and its tail is thick and slightly curled.
The Pyr’s coat is composed of a long, coarse, thick outercoat that lies flat, and a profuse undercoat of very fine hair. It can be straight or slightly wavy. It comes in pure white or white with patches of badger, wolf grey, and pale shades of lemon, orange, or tan. Other colours are undesirable according to KC standards. This breed has high grooming needs, requiring daily brushing to avoid matts and tangles. It sheds heavily all-year round and more so during spring and autumn.
It is important to also pay attention to its teeth, ears, nails, and skin to avoid infections and diseases.
The Pyrenean mountain dog is one great example of a gentle giant because of its docile and calm demeanour. It is a loyal breed that develops an unbreakable bond with its family. It has an affinity with children of all ages. However, always keep in mind that supervision is important during interactions because it might accidentally bump a child, considering its huge size. It usually gets along with other pets that it grows up with, and, when socialised well, also does well in meeting new dogs if socialised early.
When it comes to training, Pyreneans are intelligent but can somehow be difficult to train. They are independent by nature and could take time (3–4 years) to mature, which is why they are not ideal for new dog owners. They need someone with experience in handling large and wilful dogs to lead them to the right direction. Early training and socialisation, paired with positive reinforcements, will help them become well-rounded dogs.
The Pyr is a good guard dog and watchdog. Not only does its mere size scare off intruders, it is also quick to bark at the slightest sound. Excessive barking can be a problem with the neighbours if this behaviour is not curbed, as it loves the sound of its own voice.
A typical food serving for an adult Pyrenean mountain dog is 4 to 6 cups of excellent quality dry dog food per day. Always take into consideration the age, size, build, activity level, and metabolism when feeding the dog. Regardless of the breed, each dog is unique and will therefore have unique nutritional needs.
Here are the typical calorie needs per day of an adult Pyrenean mountain dog weighing 100 pounds:
Large dogs have different nutritional needs, so make sure you provide them the right amount of home-prepared or high-quality commercial food according to their size. The top ingredient should be protein in the form of animal meat, such as beef, chicken, fish, or lamb. Also provide it with calcium as it is prone to developing brittle bones. Glucosamine can be given to mitigate hip dysplasia.
The Pyr’s generally healthy and can live up to 12 years when provided with all its needs and fed the right amount of high-quality food. However, it can be predisposed to:
The Pyr is not a high-energy dog. However, since it is an intelligent and large working dog, it needs at least 2 hours of physically draining and mentally stimulating activities. Aside from walks, it will be happy to be given a task, and loves to bond with its owners through games in a fenced yard.
If you are interested in caring for a Pyrenean Mountain Dog, you will first need to go on a breeder’s waiting list. Be ready to pay at least £900 for a well-bred pedigree puppy. To ensure it stays healthy at whatever age, be ready to spend £60-£70 a month on high-quality dog food. You also need to factor in the initial cost for dog accessories and equipment such as food bowls, leads, collars, and beds, which will likely be about £200 depending on the brand.
When it comes to healthcare, you need to be prepared in case your dog suddenly falls ill or gets into an accident. You can offset some medical bills if you get a pet insurance, which can range from £49 a month for a time-limited cover up to £85 a month for a lifelong insurance cover. These prices vary depending on your dog’s health and age, size and weight, the type of cover you choose, and whether it has pre-existing conditions.
Other outgoings to consider are veterinary expenses that may not be included in a pet insurance coverage such as vaccinations, routine checks, neutering or spaying, and annual boosters, which can have a combined cost of £1200 annually. Roughly, you will be setting aside £120-£160 a month for recurring expenses, depending on the type of insurance cover you choose. This estimate is exclusive of walking or grooming services that you might want to use at times.
Are you sure the Pyrenean Mountain Dog is the best breed for you? Take the Pet Breed Selector Quiz to find your perfect breed match.Dog Breed Selector Quiz