Pyrenean Mountain Dog


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Contents

Key Breed Facts
Breed Characteristics
Introduction
History
Appearance
Temperament
Intelligence / Trainability
Children and Other Pets
Health
Caring for a Pyrenean Mountain Dog
Grooming
Exercise
Feeding
Average Cost to keep/care for a Pyrenean Mountain Dog


Key Breed Facts


Popularity #145 out of 238 Dog Breeds.


The Pyrenean Mountain Dog breed is also commonly known by the names Great Pyrenees, Pyr, GP, PMD, Chien de Montagne des Pyrenees.
Lifespan
10 - 12 years
Pedigree Breed ?
Yes - KC Recognised in the Pastoral Group
Height
Males 70 - 82 cm
Females 65 - 74 cm at the withers
Weight
Males 50 - 54 kg
Females 36 - 41 kg
Health Tests Available
BVA/KC Hip Dysplasia Scheme
Average Price (More Info)
£919 for KC Registered
£800 for Non KC Registered

Breed Characteristics



Introduction

The Pyrenean Mountain Dog originates from France where the breed is known as the Grand Pyrénée. They are an impressive, large dogs that boasts kind, gentle natures and are particularly good around children which means they are a great choice as family pets. However, anyone wanting to share a home with a Pyrenean Mountain Dog would need to have enough time to dedicate to exercising and grooming a canine companion of this size although they are not considered high energy dogs. They would need a large home with a secure, big garden for a Pyrenean to roam around in because these large dogs take up a lot of space.


History

The exact origins of the breed remain unknown, but it is thought that the Hungarian Kuvasz, the Italian Maremma Sheepdog and Turkey's Anatolian Sheepdog were more than likely used to create the breed. The Pyrenean Mountain dog is a descendant of ancient breeds that were bred to work with shepherds guarding livestock in mountain ranges. Their ancestors herded and guarded flocks as far back as the Bronze Age. Later these large, impressive dogs became a firm favourite with French nobility and were often seen in many grand châteaux around the country.

Louis XIV named them the "Royal Dogs of France" and during World War II, Pyrenean Mountain dogs were used to carry messages and supplies to troops fighting at the front. Because they were so sure footed, the Pyrenean Mountain Dog was also a popular choice with smugglers who used these large dogs to smuggle contraband over treacherous passes between France and Spain that people were unable to negotiate.

By the early 20th century, breed numbers fell dangerously low, but thanks to the efforts of Bernard Senac-Langrange and M. Dretzen, the Pyrenean Mountain Dog was saved from vanishing forever. Today, these proud and reliable dogs are still used in France to guard livestock from predators, but they are also a popular choice both as companions and family pets both in their native France and other parts of the world thanks to their handsome looks and kind, loyal natures.


Appearance

Height at the withers: Males 70 - 82 cm, Females 65 - 74 cm

Average weight: Males 50 - 54 kg, Females 36 - 41 kg

Although most people think that a Pyrenean Mountain Dog only has a white coat, some dogs have darker markings similar to that of a badger which is called "blaireau", others have grey or pale yellow coats. However, no matter what colour coat, the Pyrenean always has a striking black nose as well as black eye rims that contrast wonderfully with them and which adds to their overall charming appeal. Pyreneans have a distinctly majestic look about them with their nicely proportioned, large heads and just a hint of a stop and slight furrow.

Their muzzles are strong and moderately long, tapering nicely to the tip. They have charming almond-shaped, dark brown eyes with an amber hue in them and dogs always have an intelligent, thoughtful look about them. Their ears are on the small side and triangular in shape with rounded tips. Dogs typically carry their ear flat to their heads, but slightly raised when excited or alert.

The Pyrenean has a strong jaw with a perfect scissor bite where their upper teeth neatly overlap their lower ones. The roof of their mouths and lips are black in colour or can be pigmented quite heavily with black. Their necks are quite short, but strong with virtually or no dewlap. Shoulders are strong, powerful and lie close to the body with dogs having well-boned, strong, straight and muscular front legs.

They have well-proportioned bodies with nicely developed chests and their ribcage extends well down their body. Backs are nice and long, muscular and broad being level and straight. Males tend to have a more pronounced waist line than their female counterparts which gives them a greater outline to their lower body.

Their hindquarters are powerful and strong with dogs having muscular, broad loins and quite prominent haunches that slope slightly to the rump. Their topline curves gently to the tail. Pyreneans have well-muscled back legs and double dewclaws. Their feet are compact and short with slightly arched toes and nice strong nails. Tails are thicker at the root, but taper gently to the tip and have a slight curve in them. Their tails are nicely covered in long hair that forms a plume when raised. When alert or excited, a Pyrenean carries their tail high over their back in a curl.

When it comes to their coat, the Pyrenean Mountain Dog has a profuse double coat that consists of a longer, harsher, thick topcoat that lies close to the body which can be either slightly wavy or straight and a much finer, very thick undercoat. The hair is longer at the tail and around a dog's neck and shoulders which forms a mane. Their front legs are nicely fringed and the rear of their back legs boast having long, dense and much woollier hair on them which gives the impression of dogs wearing pantaloons. Females have smoother coats than their male counterparts and they have less of a mane too. Accepted breed colours are as follows:

  • White
  • White with badger, grey, paler shades of lemon, orange or tan markings

A dog can have markings on their head, ears or base of the tail with a few being permissible on the body.


Temperament

Pyreneans are gentle giants even though they are quite impressive and imposing looking dogs. They are exceptionally gentle around children which is just one of the reasons why they have always been a popular choice as family pets for so long. However, like some other large dogs, the Pyrenean matures very slowly and only really reaches full maturity when they are anything from 3 to 4 years old which has to be taken into account when training them.

They are extremely loyal by nature and form strong, unbreakable bonds with their families. They are outgoing and confident dogs, but they also boast having a stubborn streak in them thanks to their rather independent nature which means they can prove challenging to train. As such, they are not the best choice for first time owners because they might just get the better of them.

The Pyrenean Mountain Dog needs to be socialised from a young age which has to include introducing a puppy and young dog to as many new situations, noises, people, other animals and dogs once they have been fully vaccinated for them to mature into well-rounded, happy dogs. In the right hands and with the correct amount of training which should never be rushed, the Pyrenean will do as they are told but only when they feel like it. As such, owners need to show their dogs a lot of patience and understanding.

They respond well to positive reinforcement, but any harsh correction or heavier handed training methods would not achieve good results and may even end up causing a dog to be even more disobedient. Without the right amount of early socialisation, the correct amount of positive training and being handled with a firm yet gentle hand, a Pyrenean can become quite wilful and unmanageable. These large dogs are never happier than when they know their place in the pack and who to look to for direction and guidance. They are known to like the sound of their own voices and will bark at the slightest thing which is a trait that needs to be nipped in the bud when dogs are still young.


Intelligence / Trainability

The Pyrenean is a smart dog, but because they boast a stubborn streak in them it means they can prove challenging to train. It takes a lot of understanding and patience to train one of these large dogs which is why they are not the best choice for novice dog owners. Their training has to start as early as possible and it must be consistent because Pyreneans mature so slowly. In the wrong hands, dogs can become dominant and unruly which can make living with such large dogs quite a problem.

It cannot be stressed strongly enough that Pyrenean Mountain Dogs need to be well socialised and trained from a young enough age for them to grow up to be more manageable mature dogs. Taking a dog along to puppy classes is a great way of starting their education because not only do they get to meet lots of other dogs, but people too.


Children and Other Pets

Pyreneans are kind dogs by nature and they love being in a family environment. They revel in being involved in everything that goes on around them which includes playing with the children. They are always extra gentle around children, but because of their large size any interaction between toddlers and a dog should always be supervised by an adult to make sure nobody gets knocked over albeit by accident.

If they have grown up with other pets in a house, they generally get on well together. However, if a neighbour's cat ventured into a Pyrenean's territory, they would think nothing of chasing them off. Pyreneans have been known to be a little aggressive to other similar sized dogs, but otherwise as long as they were well socialised from a young enough age, they usually get on with other dogs they meet thanks to their placid natures.

For further advice please read our article on Keeping Children Safe around Dogs.


Health

The average life expectancy of a Pyrenean Mountain Dog is between 10 and 12 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.

Like so many other breeds, the Pyrenean is known to suffer from a few hereditary health issues which are worth knowing about if you are planning share your home with one of these large and impressive dogs. The conditions that seem to affect the breed the most include the following:

  • Hip dysplasia - Test available, breeders should have their stud dogs hip scored
  • Deafness
  • Brittle Bones
  • Blue Eye 
  • Bloat

Caring for a Pyrenean Mountain Dog

As with any other breed, the Pyrenean needs to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in top condition. They also need to be given regular daily exercise to ensure they remain fit and healthy. On top of this, dogs need to be fed good quality food that meets all their nutritional needs throughout their lives.


Grooming

Pyreneans have a profuse double coat that consists of a dense, soft undercoat and a thick, coarse topcoat. As such they are high maintenance in the grooming department. Ideally, their coats need to be brushed every day to prevent any matts or tangles from forming and to remove dead and loose hair. They shed profusely only more so during the Spring and then again in the Autumn when more frequent brushing is typically needed to keep on top of things.

It's also important to check a dog's ears on a regular basis and to clean them when necessary. If too much wax is allowed to build up in a dog's ears, it can lead to a painful infection which can be hard to clear up. In short, prevention is often easier than cure when it comes to ear infections.


Exercise

Although not considered high-energy dogs, the Pyrenean needs to be given the right amount of daily exercise and enough mental stimulation for them to be truly happy, well-rounded dogs. This means exercising a dog for at least 2 hours a day.

A shorter walk in the morning would be fine, but a longer more interesting one in the afternoon is a must. These dogs also like to be able to roam around a back garden as often as possible so they can really let off steam. However, the fencing has to be extremely secure to keep these large dogs in because if they find a weakness in the fence, they will soon escape out and get into all sorts of trouble.

With this said, Pyrenean puppies should not be over exercised because their joints and bones are still growing. This includes not letting a dog jump up and down from furniture or going up or down the stairs. Too much pressure placed on their joints and spines at an early age could result in a dog developing problems later in their lives and the Pyrenean is known to have brittle bones.


Feeding

If you get a Pyrenean puppy from a breeder, they would give you a feeding schedule and it's important to stick to the same routine, feeding the same puppy food to avoid any tummy upsets. You can change a puppy's diet, but this needs to be done very gradually always making sure they don't develop any digestive upsets and if they do, it's best to put them back on their original diet and to discuss things with the vet before attempting to change it again.

Older dogs are not known to be fussy or finicky eaters, but this does not mean you can feed them a lower quality diet. It's best to feed a mature dog twice a day, once in the morning and then again in the evening, making sure it's good quality food that meets all their nutritional requirements. It's also important that dogs be given the right amount of exercise so they burn off any excess calories or they might gain too much weight which can lead to all sorts of health issues. Obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years so it's important to keep an eye on their waistline from the word go.

Because Pyreneans are known to suffer from bloat, it is really important for them to be fed twice a day instead of giving a dog just one larger meal a day. It's also a good idea to invest in a stand for their feed bowls which makes it easier for these large dogs to eat comfortably without having to stretch their necks to reach their food. You should never exercise a Pyrenean just before or just after they have eaten either because this puts them more at risk of suffering from gastric torsion.


Average Cost to keep/care for a Pyrenean Mountain Dog

If you are looking to buy a Pyrenean Mountain Dog, you may need to register your interest with breeders and be put on a waiting list because not many puppies are bred and registered with The Kennel Club every year. You would need to pay anything from £900 to over £1000 for a well-bred pedigree puppy. The cost of insuring a male 3-year-old Pyrenean in northern England would be £46.69 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £82.02 a month (quote as of June 2016). When insurance companies calculate a pet's premium, they factor in several things which includes where you live in the UK, a dog's age and whether or not they have been neutered or spayed among other things.

When it comes to food costs, you need to buy the best quality food whether wet or dry, to feed your dog making sure it suits the different stages of their lives. This would set you back between £60 - £70 a month. On top of all of this, you would need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with a Pyrenean and this includes their initial vaccinations, their annual boosters, the cost of neutering or spaying a dog when the time is right and their yearly health checks, all of which quickly adds up to over £1200 a year.

As a rough guide, the average cost to keep and care for a Pyrenean Mountain Dog would be between £120 to £160 a month depending on the level of insurance cover you opt to buy for your dog, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a pedigree or other puppy.


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