Great Pyrenees vs Golden Retrievers: Which is the Perfect Dog For You?

Last Updated on March 19, 2023

The Great Pyrenees and the Golden Retriever are very similar canines. These two dogs are known for their beautiful golden locks. Not only are they stunning to look at, but they are also super cuddly with unique personalities. 

And while both dogs can make great companions, they are essentially quite different, with the Great Pyrenees bred as a working, protective guard dog and the Golden Retriever, a loveable family companion initially bred as a hunting dog.

Great Pyrenees left vs Golden Retriever right
Great Pyrenees (left) vs Golden Retriever (right)

So, which is the perfect dog for you of these two blonde beauties? Keep reading as we examine the similarities and differences between these two gorgeous dogs and see which would be most suitable for your home and family.

Breed Comparison: A Quick Overview

While the Golden Retriever and the Great Pyrenees share some similarities in terms of looks, there are also some distinct differences. 

Here’s a quick comparison of these two dog breeds:

  Great Pyrenees Golden Retriever
Height 25 to 32 inches (63.5 to 81.2 cm) 21 to 24 inches (53.3 to 60.9 cm)
Weight 100+ lbs (45.3+ kg) 55 to 75 lbs (24.9 to 34 kg)
Average Lifespan 10 to 12 years 10 to 12 years
Grooming Needs Moderate Moderate
Energy Levels Moderate High
Family-Friendly Yes Yes
Dog-Friendly Often Yes
Trainability Difficult Excellent

History of the Great Pyrenees and Golden Retriever

Golden Retriever vs Great Pyrenees dog
Adult Golden Retriever (left) vs Great Pyrenees dog (right)

The Great Pyrenees is a working dog that was initially developed as a guard dog for flocks of sheep. Their history dates back to 3000 BC when they were known to protect shepherds’ flocks in the Pyrenees Mountains of Spain. 

These dogs could withstand the freezing temperatures of these high altitudes and were relentless in protecting both the animals and humans under their watch. 

On the other hand, the Golden Retriever is a member of the sporting dog class. These dogs were initially bred in Scotland in the mid-1800s as gundogs.

The first Lord Tweedmouth, a Dudley Marjoribanks, is credited with perfecting the breed over 50 years on his Guisachan estate in the Scottish highlands.

How Can You Differentiate a Great Pyrenees from a Golden Retriever?

Golden Retriever vs Great Pyrenees appearance comparison
Appearance comparison of Golden Retriever (left) vs Great Pyrenees dog (right)

Physically, both the Great Pyrenees and Golden Retriever are known for their beautiful blonde coats and cuddly fur, but it is pretty easy to tell these two dogs apart.

As their name suggests, the Great Pyrenees is the bigger of these two breeds. These dogs are known for their impressive size, often weighing over 100 pounds (45.3 kg). 

Although muscular, Golden Retrievers are medium-sized dogs with broadheads, short ears, and straight muzzles. The male dogs are considerably larger than the female dogs in both breeds.

The coat of the Great Pyrenees is often lighter in color than the Golden Retriever; in fact, it is almost white, although it may contain tan, gray, badger, or reddish-brown markings.

Both dogs have very sympathetic faces with big brown eyes and a prominent brown nose.

It is quite easy to tell the difference between the Great Pyrenees and a Golden retriever when you put these two dogs side by side, as seen in this video:

Why do Golden Retrievers look like Great Pyrenees?

The reason why some people sometimes confuse the Golden Retriever and the Great Pyrenees is primarily due to their coat color.

Both have very light cream-colored coats, although the Great Pyrenees is more white. In contrast, white is not an accepted color for Golden Retrievers according to the American Kennel Club (AKC) breed standards.

Although they look very similar, Golden Retrievers and Great Pyrenees dogs come from two separate parts of the world.

The Great Pyrenees is an ancient breed, while the Golden Retriever was created by breeding a Yellow Retriever with the now extinct Tweed Water Spaniel and the Irish Setter and the Bloodhound.

Temperament and Personality

Happy portrait of Great Pyrenees vs Golden Retriever dog
Happy portrait of Great Pyrenees (left) and Golden Retriever dog (right)

Due to their history as guard dogs, the Great Pyrenees is a highly intelligent, loyal, and protective breed. These dogs will guard your home and your family with their life.

They are also incredibly patient and calm and love attention. They will paw at you if you are not paying them enough attention.

On the other hand, Golden Retrievers are known for their dependable, eager-to-please natures, making them popular family dogs and companions. These are playful dogs that are very outgoing. 

Are Golden Retrievers calmer than Great Pyrenees?

If faced with danger, the Great Pyrenees will protect his family; however, this dog is the calmer of the two breeds in normal circumstances.

Where the Great Pyrenees is watchful and alert, the Golden Retriever is joyful, friendly, and bound with energy. 

Which breed is the perfect family dog?

The Golden Retriever is known as the perfect family companion. These dogs will show you absolute devotion and are loving with absolutely every family member.

Despite their large size, the Great Pyrenees can also be very gentle dogs, caring for even the smallest of humans and other animals, if socialized appropriately from a young age.

These dogs are sometimes unaware of their size and can climb onto furniture or cuddle up next to kids without fully grasping that they might inadvertently do some damage.

While Great Pyrenees make good guard dogs for the home, just be aware that these dogs tend not to sleep at night as this is when the family is at their most vulnerable and thus when they are on high alert.

Golden Retrievers should also be watched around children as they are pretty mouthy dogs that will love to steal toys and eat anything left lying around.

Which Breed is Easier to Train?

Golden Retriever vs Great Pyrenees on field
The Golden Retriever (left) vs Great Pyrenees dog (right) on-field training

The Golden Retriever is an easier breed to train than the Great Pyrenees. These dogs are known as quick learners, thanks in large part due to their eagerness to please nature.

They are so trainable that they often work as search-and-rescue dogs and therapy dogs.

And while the Great Pyrenees is also an incredibly smart dog, they have a strong independent streak.

They require firm owners that can stamp their authority as these dogs become bored easily and will try and show you that they are the boss.

The Great Pyrenees are also guardians at heart and so need plenty of socialization from a young age to get used to other dogs and strangers. 

Which Dog Breed Has Higher Maintenance?

Great Pyrenees vs Golden Retriever running outdoor
Great Pyrenees (left) vs Golden Retriever (right) running outdoor

The Great Pyrenees and the Golden Retriever have similar maintenance needs, although the Great Pyrenees require less devotion.

This breed is less energetic and sheds a little bit less than the Golden Retriever. But you’ll spend that extra time and energy on training if this is the dog you decide to get for the home.

Which dog is more energetic?

Of these two breeds, the Golden Retriever is the more energetic. These dogs will do well in an active home with plenty of daily exercise.

They will enjoy playing outdoors, swimming, and joining you for long runs and bike rides. As they were bred to hunt, they will also enjoy a game of fetch, agility challenges, tracking, and obedience training.

Although the Great Pyrenees is quick to act when they perceive a threat and can do so with great speed, they have moderate energy levels.

While these dogs will enjoy accompanying you on a walk, they can also wander and should be kept on a leash when out and about. These dogs will enjoy being given a job such as a cart pulling or dog sports.

Which dog sheds more?

Great Pyrenees vs Golden Retriever close-up portrait
Close-up portrait of a Great Pyrenees (left) vs Golden Retriever (right)

Both the Golden Retriever and the Great Pyrenees have a lot of furs. For both these breeds, seasonal shedding is inevitable, and during this time, you are likely to find blonde hairs all over your house.

Regular brushing once or twice a week will help keep all that hair under control and eliminate any loose strands.

The Great Pyrenees has a double coat consisting of a long outer coat and a soft undercoat that sheds a bit less than the shiny coat of the Golden Retriever.

As they were bred in a cold climate, these dogs do not adapt well to warm temperatures. These dogs should never be clipped as all that hair does work to keep them cool in hotter weather.

Golden Retrievers also have a double coat which is also water repellent to help them during duck water retrievals when used for hunting purposes.

Nutritional Needs

The Great Pyrenees do not eat a lot for a dog of his size due to its lower energy levels. As adults, these dogs require about 2200 calories per day.

The Great Pyrenees is susceptible to bloat. However, this can be avoided by giving your dog small meals throughout the day and not exercising your dog immediately before or after eating. 

Although they have higher energy levels, Golden Retrievers eat less than the Great Pyrenees because they are smaller.

These dogs will consume between 989 and 1,272 calories if they are not very active; however, this number can go up to 1,353 and 1,740 calories per day if they are high-energy dogs. 

Be careful you don’t overfeed your Golden Retriever, as these dogs tend to develop obesity quickly. They will also grab anything left lying around, although they may just be content to carry it around rather than eat it.

Golden Retriever vs Great Pyrenees Average Lifespan

Both the Golden Retriever and the Great Pyrenees are generally healthy dogs with a life expectancy of between 10 and 12 years.

Golden Retriever vs Great Pyrenees laying down
A Golden Retriever (left) vs Great Pyrenees (right) laying down

Alongside Gastric Dilation-Volvulus, Great Pyrenees are prone to developing hip and elbow dysplasia and luxating patellas, both diseases which can affect your dog’s movement.

They are also susceptible to cancers, eye disease, and brain and immune disorders.

Golden Retrievers can also be prone to eye disease, elbow and hip dysplasia, and certain heart conditions.

Learn more: Tips to Increase your Golden Retriever’s lifespan

Puppy Cost and Price

Great Pyrenees vs Golden Retriever puppy
Adorable Great Pyrenees puppy (left) vs Golden Retriever puppy (right)

The Great Pyrenees costs about the same as the Golden Retriever. A puppy from either of these breeds is likely to set you back between $500 and $3000.

That said, the Great Pyrenees from award-winning bloodlines that are bred for the competition can cost twice as much. 

Learn more: How much do Golden Retrievers cost?

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Great Pyrenees vs Golden Retriever side view portrait
Side view portrait of a happy Great Pyrenees (left) vs Golden Retriever dog (right)

Which is more popular?

Golden Retrievers are undoubtedly the most popular dog in the United States, thanks to the fact that they are such brilliant family dogs and get along well with most other family pets.

They are also a very manageable size for the family home compared to a dog like the Great Pyrenees.

Do these two breeds get along?

Both Great Pyrenees and Golden Retrievers can get along well with other dogs.

While the Golden Retriever is more likely to be immediately accepting of other dogs, the Great Pyrenees will require plenty of socialization and a firm owner that can provide adequate training to prevent any bad habits from forming.

Which is Better, the Great Pyrenees or the Golden Retriever?

As you can see, there are some noticeable differences between the Great Pyrenees and the Golden Retriever.

The Great Pyrenees is a large dog that can be difficult to train but will be a devoted guard dog and requires less exercise with a calm temperament. 

At the same time, the Golden Retriever is a loveable bundle of energy that would be an ideal companion for an active family.

You’re guaranteed a devoted companion with a golden coat that makes for some fantastic cuddles, whichever one of these beautiful breeds you choose.

Do you have a Golden Retriever or Great Pyrenees at home? In the comments below, we would love to hear all about your blonde-locked flurry family member.

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