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Great Pyrenees dog breed profile

Great Pyrenees are the definition of gentle giant.

Whether your dog is a purebred Great Pyrenees, or a Great Pyrenees mix, learning about their breed can explain a lot about your pet’s personality, habits and overall health. Or maybe you're looking to adopt a Great Pyrenees and want to do a bit of research first — we can help with that.

Great Pyrenees bring the best of both worlds: They're a big dog breed that will benefit from mental and physical stimulation but also appreciate a calm environment to snuggle. But there’s so much more to learn about this dog breed, like their unique personality traits and the health conditions they're susceptible to. 

What do Great Pyrenees look like? 

Arguably, this dog breed looks like a polar bear — and their size proves it. Great Pyrenees are between 25 to 29 inches tall when measuring from their shoulder to the ground and usually weigh between 85 to 100 (or more) pounds, Dr. Aliya McCullough, Fetch by The Dodo's on-staff veterinarian, says.  

Do Great Pyrenees shed? 

Great Pyrenees have long, thick fur that’s usually white, but they can sometimes have gray, tan or red markings. This dog breed isn’t hypoallergenic, and actually no dog or cat breed fully is. If you’re prone to dog-related allergies, talk to your doctor about ways to prevent discomfort before welcoming a Great Pyrenees into your life. 

What is the Great Pyrenees’ temperament like?

This dog breed tends to be calm and patient and make great pet siblings if they’re well socialized, Dr. McCullough says. A heads up though: Great Pyrenees are loyal to people they’re familiar with (especially family members) but can be wary of strangers. 

“Great Pyrenees dogs tend to enjoy a quiet lifestyle as they’re not a high-energy breed,” she adds. “They’re very intelligent and need mental challenges and stimulation. They can also be stubborn when it comes to training.”

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What health issues do Great Pyrenees face? 

Like most breeds, Great Pyrenees are at risk for developing health conditions specific to their makeup. And while these potential issues might seem worrisome — it’s better to know about the condition in advance so you can have an informed conversation at your first vet visit. That way, your veterinarian can let you know if your specific pup is at risk and ways to prevent the conditions from happening. 

These are the most common health issues Great Pyrenees face, according to Dr. McCullough: 

Hip dysplasia 

Hip dysplasia happens when one or both of a dog’s hip joints become loose. You can spot this condition if a dog starts limping, has a swaying or bunny-hopping gait, deterioration of the back leg muscles, difficulty laying down or standing up and a reluctance to use stairs or jump, Dr. McCullough says. 

However, some dogs may not show obvious symptoms, so it’s important to talk to your veterinarian about this condition at their checkups. 

“Treatment for hip dysplasia depends on the severity of the condition and can include pain medications, joint supplements, steroids, holistic and alternative therapies like acupuncture, physical therapy, laser therapy and in some cases, surgery,” she adds. 

Patellar luxation

Can you imagine how uncomfortable it’d be for your kneecap to shift or move in an unnatural way? Well, that’s what dogs with patellar luxation have to deal with, Dr. McCullough explains. Dogs that have experienced this usually suddenly, intermittently limp or skip. 

Veterinarians will likely recommend rest, physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications, joint supplements or surgery (for severe cases) to treat patellar luxation. 

Gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV)

When a dog’s (or puppy’s) stomach fills with air and twists on itself, they’re experiencing GDV, aka bloat. You can spot GDV symptoms by noticing abdominal pain, intense lethargy, decreased appetite, retching, weakness or collapse, Dr. McCullough shares. This condition is usually treated with intensive nursing care. 

Entropion

If you notice eye discharge, conjunctivitis or inflammation on the outer surface of your dog’s eye, they might have entropion. This is a condition where a dog's upper or lower eyelid rolls inward toward their eye, Dr. McCullough says. Your pup will likely need surgery to fix their eyelid if entropion happens. 

Osteosarcoma

Dogs that have osteosarcoma, which is a type of bone cancer, will often experience sudden or slow limping (which can get progressively worse) and sometimes a firm swelling. According to Dr. McCullough, it's usually treated by amputating the affected limb and chemotherapy. 

Great Pyrenees rescue

Are you interested in adopting a Great Pyrenees, Great Pyrenees mix or any pet at all? Check out our shelter partners to find your new best friend. If these shelters aren’t in your area, rest assured — these dogs can be found in many shelters and breed-specific rescues. 

The Dig, Fetch by The Dodo’s expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too. Fetch provides the most comprehensive pet insurance and is the only provider recommended by the #1 animal brand in the world, The Dodo. 

Photo by Lubo Curny on Shutterstock

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