The Great Pyrenees is a large, shaggy white dog with a majestic carriage. Their fluffy coats are deceiving, and while they may appear to be large, heavy animals, they are actually of medium substance and are not considered a giant breed. The head is wedge-shaped with a slightly rounded skull, and should be in proportion with the rest of the body. The eyes are almond-shaped, dark brown, and give the dog a thoughtful expression. The eye rims, nose and lips are black. The coat is either all white or white with yellow, reddish brown, tan or gray. The rear dewclaws should never be removed – they have bones that are functional. The tail is plumed, carried low, and may be carried over the back, "making the wheel," when aroused. When present, a "shepherd’s crook" at the end of the tail accentuates the plume.
Size and Weight
The average height for a male Great Pyrenees is from 27 to 32 inches at the shoulder and for females, 25 to 29 inches. The dog's weight should be proportionate with the overall size of the dog, but a 27 inch dog weighs about 100 pounds. Great Pyrenees are slightly longer than they are tall, creating a rectangular shape.
Coat and Color
The Great Pyrenees wears a weather resistant double coat that consists of a long, flat, thick, outer coat of coarse hair, straight or slightly undulating, and lying over a dense, fine, woolly undercoat. The mostly white coat may include some areas of yellow, badger (a combination of gray and yellow hairs), reddish brown, tan or gray. How these colors are interspersed is not important, but no more than 1/3 of the body can be non-white. The thick double coat is even thicker around the neck and shoulders, forming a mane that is more pronounced in males than females. The backs of the legs are feathered and the long, plumed tail reaches at least to the hocks, curling upward at the end in the "shepherd’s crook.”
The thick coat of the Great Pyrenees may look high-maintenance, but is actually easy to care for, when the dog is a family dog only. Show grooming is time consuming and a breeder can teach the proper technique for show grooming a Pyrenees. The coat is naturally water and dirt resistant, so only bathe the dog as needed. Brush the dog every two or three days to remove loose and dead hair – but over-brushing can actually break off the ends of the hair. The Great Pyrenees varies as far as shedding. Some dogs shed once a year, while others seem to drop hair all year long. Warm baths can help release shedding hair.
Check the dog's ears on a regular basis for signs of irritation, infection, or wax buildup. Cleanse with a cotton ball and a veterinarian-approved cleanser. Brush the teeth every week to remove tartar buildup and keep breath fresh. If the dog does not wear down his nails naturally, trim them monthly.