Golden Pyrenees

Linda Simon
Dr Linda Simon (MVB MRCVS, University College Dublin)
Photo of adult Golden Pyrenees
K2sleddogs /

The Golden Retriever is one of the best-loved and well-known dog breeds around the world so it is little wonder that their hybrids are becoming just as popular. They are known for making excellent family pets, as they are endlessly tolerant and loving. The Golden Pyrenees combines them with the Great Pyrenees – a giant dog with a naturally protective nature and a somewhat reserved personality.

Likened by some to smaller polar bears, Golden Pyrenees are large and broad dogs with dense fur coats that are often white, cream or grey. They have dark eyes and a large black nose, simply adding to their bear-like appearance! Their coat can be rather high maintenance, especially if they take more after the Great Pyrenees, so owners need to stay on top of their grooming routine.

About & History

Golden Pyrenees are thought to have been developed within America, as is true of many of the more recent hybrid dogs. As they are so new to the scene, we are still learning about their personality and they are continuing to develop their unique appearance. However, we know plenty about each parent breed, which can give us a good insight into the Golden Pyrenees.

The Golden Retriever

Golden Retrievers are Scottish dogs that originated in the 19th century when Wavy Coated Retrievers were bred with Tweed Water Spaniels (a breed that no longer exists). They were deliberately bred to create a breed that could retrieve effectively on both land and water.

It was important that they had a soft mouth and would bring the prey back to hunters undamaged. Their speciality is duck among other waterfowl. While a select number continue to work, nowadays most are kept as companion animals and service dogs. Indeed, their sweet temperaments make them excellent therapy dogs. The UK Kennel Club credit Lord Tweedmouth as founding the breed and classify them within their Gundog Group.

The Great Pyrenees

The Great Pyrenees is also known as the Pyrenean Mountain Dog and they are thought to have a much longer history than the Golden Retriever, originating about 200 years before them. These dogs were found on the Pyrenean mountain range and would fearlessly protect the local farmers’ livestock from dangerous predators, such as wolves.

Natural guardians, these dogs continue to have a personality that lends itself to guarding property and people alike. In recent times, Great Pyrenees dogs are not proving particularly popular and many people will never have actually met one in real life.


Golden Pyrenees Large Photo
Brooke /

Though irrefutably colossal, the Golden Pyrenees manages to maintain its athleticism, which is admirable and has not always been possible in the canine world. They maintain a rather elegant appearance and confident stance. Their large and powerful bodies have deep chests and they stand proudly with a good abdominal tuck-up. Their limbs are long and strong, with particularly well-developed hind-limb muscles.

One of their most endearing features is their long and well-plumed tail, which is often held in a characteristic stance straight down to the ground. They have a wide forehead, almond-shaped brown eyes and a muzzle with an upper lip that droops slightly over the lower one. Their ears hang down yet face forward and are usually widely-spaced apart. A fully-grown Golden Pyrenees will, on average, weigh between 34kg and 52kg and measure from 61cm to 76cm at the withers.

For many, the coat of the Golden Pyrenees is their most appealing physical quality. It is long, thick and straight; perfect for stroking all day long! While the majority will be solid, light colours, such as cream and golden, they can have darker brown and black patches of fur. They have a pronounced mane of fur around their neck which makes it appear even larger and wider than it already is.

Character & Temperament

The Golden Retriever and Great Pyrenees have quite different personalities so, as expected, the temperament of the Golden Pyrenees can be tricky to predict. Most will inherit the gentleness of the Golden Retriever, though will be more protective and less laid-back. They should be energetic and playful and will never say no to a game.

They are friendly and gentle with their immediate family but when it comes to socialising with those outside of their inner circle, they will be more wary than the Golden Retriever and can take longer to warm to new people. Due to their size, these are not the ideal pet to have around young children, as injuries can happen when the Golden Pyrenees is unaware of its size and strength in comparison to little ones.

Suitable guard dogs, Golden Pyrenees are always eager to protect their home and will intimidate even the bravest of intruders with their loud and deep bark.


Photo of Golden Pyrenees puppy
aaron /

Training is key if this dog is to adapt to indoor family life as they are large and can be unruly without the correct training. Starting a programme from a young age and implementing it consistently will ensure a more contented dog that understands and is comfortable with its place in the home. Truthfully, these are not the easiest dogs to train as some are headstrong and will only take direction or a set amount of time until their attention span wanes.

These dogs quite enjoy being trained when the process is going well and trainers utilise positive reinforcement methods rather than punishment-based techniques. Care should be taken to socialise them thoroughly as early as possible to ensure they’ll take well to other dogs, as dominance can become an issue for some.


There are a range of health issues that typically affect large and giant breed dogs. The Golden Pyrenees can certainly suffer from these conditions and screening breeding parents for them is ethically the right thing to do in order to maintain a healthy Golden Pyrenees population for the future.

Hip Dysplasia

Dogs with hip dysplasia typically start to display symptoms from six months of age and may bunny hop when running, sit with their knees to the side and hesitate before jumping. Hip dysplasia is actually easy to diagnose and will show up on plain x-rays, which can be taken under deep sedation or general anaesthetic. It is strongly advised that those that are affected are neutered as this is a condition that is known to be inherited.


Bloat is a potentially devastating condition that can present within hours. While we do not know the exact cause, we do know that those with deep chests are far more likely to develop it. Golden Pyrenees owners should inform themselves of the symptoms, which can include sudden onset panting, retching and a noticeably bloated abdomen. Immediate veterinary treatment is required as those that are left untreated can pass away within hours.


A malignant and aggressive cancer of the bone, osteosarcomas generally affect the arms and legs and are known to cause a great deal of pain. They can spread around the body quickly, meaning many dogs already have cancer away from the primary site at the time of diagnosis.

Owners may initially mistake the sudden lameness and limb swelling for an injury and delay diagnosis. This is why any lameness that does not resolve in the amount of time expected should be looked into more urgently in larger breed dogs.


A tumour of blood vessel walls that tends to appear on the spleen and heart, most are not diagnosed until they have caused an internal bleed and the dog presents suddenly collapsed. Diagnosis is made on histopathology and treatment can consist of tumour removal and medical interventions, such as chemotherapy.

Exercise and Activity Levels

For most, an hour to ninety minutes of exercise each day will suffice. They are happy to go on long walks and hikes, enjoying the opportunity to explore off lead when possible. Failing to provide the Golden Pyrenees with enough exercise can result in obesity, which is particularly detrimental to this large breed who can suffer with mobility issues and arthritis in their senior years.


The thick fur of the Golden Pyrenees should be brushed every other day to keep it in good condition and prevent tangling. If left un-brushed, many can develop thick matts close to the skin which need to be clipped out to prevent dermatitis. It is wise to get these large dogs used to being handled from a young age to ensure they are tolerant of ear cleaning and claw clipping.

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