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Saint Pyrenees (Great Pyrenees & Saint Bernard Mix): Info, Pictures, Characteristics & Facts

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By Nicole Cosgrove

Saint Pyrenees

Height: 25-32 inches
Weight: 100-180 pounds
Lifespan: 8-10 years
Colors: White, badger, grey, tan, red, brown, brindle
Suitable for: Active families or individuals, families with children, experienced dog owners, those with lots of space
Temperament: Loyal, watchful, tranquil, benevolent, protective, affectionate, fun-loving

The Saint Pyrenees is a large dog with a lot of love to give. It’s a hybrid breed of two very large, very sweet mountain dogs: the Saint Bernard and the Great Pyrenees. The resulting canine is the epitome of a gentle giant and makes a great companion for families with children.

The Great Pyrenees was bred in the Pyrenees Mountains as a flock guardian. They are believed to be related to the other sheepdogs from Asia and Europe, like the Maremma and Akbash. In the 17th century, they became popular companions of French nobility. They were brought to the United States in the 1800s.

The Saint Bernard is well known as the legendary hero of the Alps. The breed’s story started in the 17th century when Swiss monks at the Hospice of Saint Bernard developed them. The center was a refuge for those crossing mountain passes between Switzerland and Italy. The dogs were used for guarding, drafting, and search & rescue since their highly trained sense of smell allowed them to find lost travelers in the snow. Saint Bernards are likely descended from Roman Mastiffs, or Molossus, and the dogs were first brought to the United States in the 19th century.

The physical and regional similarities of these two breeds make them natural choices to breed together. In fact, by 1870, the Saint Bernard was almost extinct due to massive avalanches and sickness. Pyrenean blood, as well as that of other large dog breeds, was used to bring back the Saint Bernard from the brink of disappearing.

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Saint Pyrenees Puppies

Saint Pyrenees puppy on snow
Saint Pyrenees puppy on the snow. | Image credit: audreyelizabeth, Shutterstock

An adorable mix of fluffy and clumsy, Saint Pyrenees puppies are cuddly teddy bears. Though it may take a small adjustment period for these smart pups to warm up to a new person, when they do, you will find yourself with a devoted snuggle buddy.

Though not as long-lived as other breeds, a Saint Pyrenees can easily live more than a decade. Take that into account when you consider what it means to commit to caring for, teaching, and loving a puppy that will grow into a large, bright dog. If you get your puppy from a breeder, get to know the breeder and their practices too. The more you know about how a puppy is being raised — what they are fed, how they are socialized, what health concerns may be present — the more likely you are to go home with a healthy and good-tempered dog.

3 Little-Known Facts About the Saint Pyrenees

1. Saint Bernards have saved thousands of lives.

The iconic picture of a burly mountain rescue dog finding travelers lost in the snow and helping them back to safety is absolutely true! Saint Bernards are believed to have saved over 2,000 lives through their work at the Hospice of Saint Bernard. One dog, named Barry, saved over 40 individuals in his lifetime.

2. The Great Pyrenees was brought to the United States by a French revolutionary.

The first Great Pyrenees in America were brought there in 1824 by the Marquis de Lafayette, a close friend to George Washington, and a pivotal figure in the American Revolutionary war.

3. Saint Pyrenees love children.

The Saint Pyrenees is a dog that really loves kids! It’s partially because they are so big and cuddly, but these attentive dogs also appreciate having a job to do. Their herd guardian heritage means that they are especially inclined toward calmly and gently protecting their family.

Parent Breeds of the Saint Pyrenees
Image Credit: Jumpstory

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Temperament & Intelligence of the Saint Pyrenees 🧠

The two massive mountain dogs that the Saint Pyrenees comes from have been bred together for over a century because of their winning personalities and big hearts. They are tranquil, thoughtful dogs that have a moderate energy level. There are, however, a few differences between the Great Pyrenees and the Saint Bernard that you should be aware of.

The Great Pyrenees has never lost their watchful, protective herding nature. While the Saint Bernard is a generally friendly dog with everyone right off the bat, a Great Pyrenees is far more likely to reserve judgment on strangers until they can make sure they pose no danger to their family.

It is commonly acknowledged that while the Great Pyrenees makes an excellent watchdog, the Saint Bernard is a terrible one. Often, a Saint Pyrenees falls somewhere in the middle, but you should be ready for either: a reserved and loving watchdog, or a sweet and silly people lover. Or anything in between!

Also, oddly enough, the Great Pyrenees is often nocturnal. They were bred to watch over their flock during the night and sleep during the day. For this reason, we recommend letting your Saint Pyrenees have their own access to the backyard, so you won’t be inconvenienced.

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 🏡

The Saint Pyrenees is an excellent family dog. They are naturally patient and nurturing with children and watch over them like it’s their job! You couldn’t ask for a better babysitter.

Looking at the parent breeds, we can see why they are such a great choice for families. Great Pyrenees are beloved for their drive to work and protect, as well as their calm demeanor. And the Saint Bernard has long been bred to assist their human companions but also for their playful and loving personalities.

Saint Bernards are so good with children that it has become a bit of a pop-culture joke: the nanny in Peter Pan is actually just a Saint Bernard, and the dogs in the Beethoven movies are always rescuing kids while their parents are too busy to notice.

All that being said, we do still recommend socializing your dog and children with each other early. Just because the Saint Pyrenees is big doesn’t mean they can’t be bullied. Healthy mutual respect is essential, especially when your canine companion may reach well over 100 pounds.

Does This Breed Get Along With Other Pets? 🐶 😽

Though every dog has a unique personality, you usually don’t have much to worry about with the Saint Pyrenees and other pets. Especially if socialized early, their composure and gentle nature mean they are not prone to sudden or aggressive reactions.

However, to ensure peace and harmony in your home, we recommend socializing your Saint Pyrenees early with any other animals. Also, interactions with your canine and any small or prey animals should be supervised for safety. Even a gentle giant may enjoy chasing the occasional rabbit!

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Things to Know When Owning a Saint Pyrenees

Adding a new family member is exciting and fun but also a big decision. Here is some more information to help you decide if a Saint Pyrenees is the right dog for you:

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

Just like humans, dogs are omnivores who require a wide range of foods in their diet to get all their nutritional needs. A high-quality kibble should supply most of these on a daily basis, but you can also talk with your vet about adding various veggies and fruits.

Given how large the Saint Pyrenees becomes, it’s important to keep an eye on their weight, as injuries in the hip and joint area can crop up and are made worse from carrying excess pounds.

Exercise 🐕

Saint Pyrenees are moderately active dogs who need plenty of room to exercise. They are not the type to constantly be waiting by the door, but due to their incredible size, they should have multiple opportunities a day to play outdoors.

A bored Saint Pyrenees is not one you want inside the house. Due to their massive size, they can cause some serious chaos with a minimum of effort. These guys are not “apartment friendly” either. We recommend a rural or suburban setting and access to a large backyard at the very least.

A sizeable, fenced-in plot of land is preferable for this dog. The Great Pyrenees, in particular, is independent and loves to patrol their territory, and this patrolling instinct is strong in the Saint Pyrenees as well. Let them do their job and you’ll have a relaxed and happy canine in the house.

Saint Pyrenees smiling
Image credit: audreyelizabeth, Shutterstock

Training 🦮

A mix of two different hardworking breeds, the Saint Pyrenees is a dog that enjoys working with people. They can be very independent though, so training may be beyond a novice. If you have no previous experience training dogs, find a professional dog trainer that can teach you how to communicate effectively with your new canine.

We highly recommend instilling reliable, basic commands in your Saint Pyrenees early on. Due to their large size, you will need to make sure you show your Saint Pyrenees who is in charge. If you start training your big friend when they are still small, however, you’ll have no problems when they grow up.

Grooming ✂️

The Saint Pyrenees has a medium-length but incredibly dense undercoat and topcoat. This makes for amazing insulation but also plenty of shedding. They need to be brushed once a day to help their fur stay soft and unmatted, as well as collect any dead hair before they clog up your vents.

While the Saint Pyrenees excels at weathering cold, they do not do well in hot climates and can easily suffer from heat exhaustion. During hot months, do not take your friend for their daily walk during the hottest part of the day, and always make sure they have access to a cool place to rest out of the sun.

You should trim their nails regularly to prevent cracking and discomfort but also because these big guys tend to paw people lightly to get their attention. Great Pyrenees have a back dewclaw, so your Saint Pyrenees might as well.

Clean their ears regularly to avoid infections and mites. We also recommend brushing your canine companion’s teeth every so often to promote healthy gums — and better dog breath!

Health Conditions ❤️

Hybrids dogs are often healthier than purebred, but there are still a few conditions you should be aware of when getting a Saint Pyrenees.

Minor Conditions
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Luxating patellas, which causes kneecaps to be easily dislocated
  • Entropion, an abnormality of the eyelid
  • Albinism
  • Skin allergies
  • Laryngeal paralysis
  • Temperament problems
Serious Conditions
  • Gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV) or bloat
  • Epilepsy

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Male vs Female

There are very few statements that are true of an entire sex. Mostly, the difference between male and female Saint Pyrenees is physical. Male Saint Pyrenees are most often larger sized and are also more prone to sexually aggressive behavior. Female Saint Pyrenees fall on the smaller end of the scale and are sometimes a little more docile.

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Final Thoughts

So, is this cross between a Great Pyrenees & Saint Bernard for you? For an active family or experienced dog owner who wants a big dog with a big heart, maybe! If you’re willing to give your Saint Pyrenees space to roam and the firm direction they need, you will have a sweet and loyal giant for many years.

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Featured Image: audreyelizabeth, Shutterstock

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