Are Great Pyrenees Good Family Dogs?


Great Pyrenees dogs are calm and well mannered, not to mention totally devoted to their families, but does this mean that they are good for all types of families?

The correct answer is: not necessarily.

For families that lead a laid-back lifestyle and have well-behaved children, this dog would be a great pet, but not all families have these characteristics.

Are Great Pyrenees Good with Families?

One of the first things that you’ll learn about this big dog is that it was bred to be a working dog, a guard dog or sheep dog in the Pyrenees Mountains, which means that they were bred to be independent and alone much of the time.

Even though they have calm and pleasant personalities, they tend to not be overjoyed with families that have a lot of activity going on at all times.

So if you’ve ever asked yourself, are Great Pyrenees good family dogs, the answer is, “it depends.”

If you have kids that are loud and rambunctious most of the time, you might want to pass on this dog and go with another breed. But if you live out in the country and have a small family, the Great Pyrenean Mountain dog might be a great family dog.

This doesn’t mean that the Great Pyrenees dog doesn’t like any activity at all. You can play with these dogs, walk them, or help them get exercise. You just don’t have to do it all the time.

This trait also means that you need to have patience when you’re training this dog. Why? Because along with their independent streak, they also tend to be a little stubborn.

Great Pyrenees Traits and Stats

If you’re wondering about the size of Great Pyrenees dogs, here are a few stats to consider:

  • Average weight: 100 to 110 pounds for males; 85 to 100 pounds for females
  • Height at withers: 31 inches for males; 28 inches for females
  • Exercise requirements: 20 to 40 minutes per day
  • Life span: 10 to 12 years
  • Energy level: very laid back
  • Tendency to bark: high
  • Tendency to drool: high
  • Tendency to snore: low
  • Tendency to dig: low
  • Social needs: moderate

Great Pyrenees dogs are a large dog breed, and they have double coats. Their outer coat is long and coarse and tends to be either straight or just a tad wavy, while their undercoat is soft, thick, and very fine. They have naturally floppy ears and coats that are either solid white, tan, gray, or white with patches of pale yellow.

Great Pyrenees dogs have dark brown eyes and black noses, long tails that are plumed and reach to the dog’s hock or longer, and ears that flop downward and are triangular in shape. They really are a very attractive dog indeed.

In addition to the colors mentioned above, the Great Pyrenees can also be white and have markings of reddish brown, gray, tan, or badger. Despite the fact that they have two coats, they do not shed much with the exception of an annual shedding that can be quite large, and therefore have moderate grooming needs. You should, however, brush their coats regularly so that shedding can be kept to a minimum.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) classifies these dogs as Working dogs, while the UKC classifies them as guardian dogs. Both are very similar to one another and describe the Great Pyrenees perfectly.

Back to Their Personality

The Great Pyrenees is a calm and somewhat serious dog. They are gentle and very affectionate, but if you’re wondering, are Great Pyrenees good with kids, again, they do not always make the best pets for kids simply because of their fierce independence and the fact that they don’t like tons of activity.

Nevertheless, if you live in a suburban or rural area and lead a fairly calm life, this dog is definitely one that you should consider. These large breed dogs prefer quiet time inside the home and a very orderly and predictable routine.

That being said, because of their guard-dog nature, they can bark loudly and for long periods of time, but with the right training, you may be able to squash some of that behavior. And that same characteristic means that if they need to protect either their territory or their family, they will do so at all costs.

When you train a Great Pyrenees, keep in mind that even though they are adults at around one year of age, it may take another full year for them to mature completely. Because of this, a lot of patience while training is a must, and you might also never get all of the results you were hoping to get when you first started the training.

As far as their socialization, they should be socialized as early as possible since their nature is to be independent and on their own. The more places, situations, and people that you can expose them to when they’re puppies, the better they’ll be in new situations from then on. Good socialization can also help make their natural protectiveness a little less excessive.

The History of This Loveable Dog

Research shows that the Great Pyrenees has likely been around since 1800 BCE. Their name comes from the fact that for hundreds of years, they worked with peasant shepherds in the Pyrenees Mountains, which are the mountains that separate France and Spain.

Even today, the Great Pyrenees dogs are considered to be a great livestock guardian dog, and until very recently, they were used to deliver milk and pull small carts in places such as northern France and Belgium.

Do You Want a Great Pyrenees as a Family Dog?

If you think that you might want to own a Great Pyrenees, you should be ready for a dog that:

  • Is serious and not playful and silly
  • Likes to be quiet and needs only moderate exercise
  • Is large, rugged, and strong
  • Will protect your own animals, including horses, chickens, and sheep
  • Loves lots of indoor time

Keep in mind that Great Pyrenees dogs may become destructive if they are left alone too much. And if they’re outside, they should always be monitored closely. Why? Because they tend to be suspicious of other people’s animals and may even hurt them while “protecting” your family from them.

They also like to wander, so if you do keep your Great Pyrenees outside a lot, make sure that you’re right there with it and that your fence is strong and secure.

Having said all this, you should also remember that Great Pyrenees temperament and overall personality are affected by how they’re raised and how they’re trained. Translation: you can shape their personality into something that pleases you if you know just what to do.

If you’re thinking that there’s a lot to consider before adding this type of dog to your family, you are absolutely correct. The Great Pyrenees is not a suitable dog for every family.

First of all, while some exercise is good for them, their joints, bones, and ligaments can become damaged if you exercise them too much. Second, if you live in a hot or humid area, you have to be extra careful because they can easily overheat.

Understandably, the Great Pyrenees breed is happiest when guarding livestock, but if you live in a subdivision in the suburbs, you can give them something to do by letting them pull a sled or cart of some type. This also helps because if a Great Pyrenees gets too bored, they can become destructive.

Wrapping Up the Pros and Cons

Of all the characteristics of the Great Pyrenees dog breed, one cannot be emphasized enough: they are protective of their families but tend to be suspicious of people and animals that do not belong to those families. This is why they should always be watched closely when around other animals and people, especially when they’re outside in the yard.

Great Pyrenees dogs have strong temperaments and are very willful. By nature, they want to drive away animals they feel do not belong to you, and they have been known to show aggression or become very dominant towards those animals when this occurs.

Unfortunately, there have been incidents of these dogs seriously harming or even killing other animals that are nearby, which is why it is crucial to watch them closely, especially when they are outdoors.

Does this mean that you shouldn’t consider getting a Great Pyrenees? In many instances, this is exactly what it means. Great Pyrenees dogs are not for all families, but if you live out in a rural area, have only a few children or older kids, and don’t mind their independent and strong personality, you can still consider getting them for your home.

Final Thoughts

There are a lot of things to consider when trying to decide if a Great Pyrenees is the right fit for you. They are certainly not for every family, but hopefully this article has given you some suggestions as to why you should or shouldn’t avoid the breed.

Great Pyrenees dogs are beautiful, almost majestic-looking dogs, and they are incredibly affectionate with their pet parents. But they are not for everyone. It’s best to consider everything about this breed before rushing out to buy one.

If you like, you can buy an adult dog so that you already know what you’re getting beforehand. Otherwise, you can buy a Great Pyrenees puppy and work to train and socialize it properly so that its personality is a little more conducive to living in your particular home.