English Mastiff vs. Great Pyrenees

The Mastiff and the Great Pyrenees are both large dog breeds but they have different characteristics and personalities. The Mastiff tends to be calmer, more affectionate, and more trainable. It’s a good companion and guardian for the family.

The Great Pyrenees on the other hand is independent, relatively hard to train, and reserved with strangers. Despite being aloof, they’re very good with children, protective, and are excellent livestock guardians.

Choosing between a Mastiff and a Great Pyrenees mainly depends on your lifestyle, the amount of time you can give for training, and your specific requirements from your pet.

Last Updated on September 20, 2023

Quick Summary: The Great Pyrenees share many traits with English Mastiffs. When discussing these breeds’ appearances, it is difficult to ignore their size and weight – the Mastiff is generally bigger and heavier than the Great Pyrenees. Mastiffs don’t need much exercise, so they are great breeds for city dwellers. Compared to the Pyrenees, they also shed very little throughout the year. Both dog breeds are susceptible to illnesses including eye disorders, hip and elbow dysplasia, luxating patella, bloating, and neurological-mediated disorders. Despite their health issues, both the English Mastiff and Great Pyrenees have lifespans averaging 10 to 12 years.

Are you comparing an English mastiff with the Great Pyrenees to be your next guardian at home? These two dogs are gentle giants. Giant breed lovers who want to adopt a larger dog breed often compare them.

These two dogs have many differences, but they share one thing in common: which is their size. Below you will find all of the information you need to make an informed decision about getting one of these doggos.

This article will help you learn what behavioral traits they share, so let’s compare these large-breed dogs in more detail.

English Mastiff vs. Great Pyrenees

Breed Background and History

Both of the breeds that we are looking at today have long histories. Both fall under the Working category, but they have different work histories. Both breeds were bred as guard dogs.

English Mastiff: An Overview

According to the Old English Mastiff Club, which claims the dog to be a British breed, the Mastiff may have its origins as far as 2,000 years ago. Romans would likely have adopted this massive breed while visiting England and brought it home to play in popular games such as lion hunts in the Colosseum.

The name “Mastiff” likely came about from French immigrants to England who called the giant dogs “Mastin” or “watchdog.” Around the time of the pilgrims, an English Mastiff was likely aboard the Mayflower.

Skip forward 1,800 years, and the Mastiff had found its more or less modern occupation in England as a guard dog for large provincial houses. Aristocrats would have several Mastiffs to guard large estates. Mastiffs were also trained to be gentle and patient with their families and friends.

Great Pyrenees: An Overview

The history of the Great Pyrenees and the English Mastiff is similar. Some genealogists have suggested that the original breed came from Asia Minor to the French and Spanish border about 3,000 years ago. Though we don’t know what they looked like, they were sheepherding dogs with their famous all-white coat that developed early on.

Great Pyrenees are often referred to as “Pyrs or Pyrenees,” but they share many traits with English Mastiffs. We can also examine their history to determine if they were related breeds. We’ll focus on the teeth!

Pyrenees have what’s known as a “lupomolossoid” tooth structure. Mastiffs don’t. This indicates that they are likely to be descendants of an Asian wolf (lupo is the prefix meaning “wolflike”) and were not part of the Mastiff migration. History can be used to determine why both breeds, which are among the most popular, were likely derived from different animals.

The Great Pyrenees Club of America provides a lot of extraordinary history behind the breed. They were originally bred to be peasant shepherd dogs, caring for large flocks in high Pyrenees mountains.

When the French-Basque people sailed to Canada in the 17th century, the traders met Englishmen and their favorite black curly-coated retrievers. The Newfoundland breed was born.

Today’s Pyrenees is a versatile, hard-working dog for some livestock farmers and a wonderful home companion for all.

Appearance and Size

When discussing these breeds’ appearances, it is difficult to ignore their size and weight. The Mastiff is heavier than the Pyrenees. On average male Mastiffs weigh between 150-250 pounds, with females 30 pounds less. The Pyrenees male averages 100 pounds, a female 85.

The height and weight comparisons yield similar results. Generally, these breeds have heights between 27-32 inches, with females two inches below.

The Pyrenees are well-known for their dazzling, white, dense coat. Many dogs also have spots in red, brown, or grey. They were initially bred to withstand cold winters in the mountains, and their fur is just as coarse and luxurious as you’d imagine. Although Pyrs can thrive in colder climates, they can also adapt to warmer summers. Just don’t cut their hair!

The Mastiff wears a short, flat coat. It comes in several color options from fawn through apricot and brindle. You will be unable to ignore his sad looks and floppy ears. His body is rectangular and has defined muscles.

When considering adopting a dog, it is important to consider your dog’s physical appearance. Thicker coats will need more care in the house, and drooling can cause some problems. It’s all part of the package!

Temperament and Behavior

There are many similarities when comparing the temperaments and behaviors of these two breeds. It’s not surprising that they behave similarly, as they both have a common ancestry of being guardians for one type or another of Mastiffs, Pyrenees, and the flock.

The Pyrenees love to bark at the natural world. Their ears are the most sensitive of all dog breeds. This means that they bark to alert homeowners. They are also known for their calm and zen-like nature.

Mastiffs have a calm, gentle demeanor more often. They don’t bark very often. They make great family members, but they may not be the best fit for children and toddlers because of their size.

Families with young children will also find the Pyrenees a great addition to their families. They live a quiet and peaceful life together with their family, much like Mastiffs. The Pyrenees can be stubborn, however. This is due to the sheepdog heritage that was instilled in them. Some owners mistake this for being dumb, but it’s nothing but. This just means that training Mastiffs can take longer.

Exercise Requirements

Judging from the Mastiff’s sad expression, it is easy to think he’s a great dog for a couch potato. It would be correct. Mastiffs can tend to be under-exercised, but owners will love their dog much more with regular workouts of at least 30 minutes a day.

Mastiffs don’t need a lot of exercise, so they are great breeds for city dwellers. This breed is also suitable for rural homes.

The Pyrenees are a more active breed, despite being laid back with the family or on lazy afternoons. A rural or suburban environment would be ideal for this breed. Even if the dog is running in the backyard, this breed should get at least an hour of exercise each day.

Plus, their tendency to bark makes having more space always better. Trust us. It will be a blessing to your ears. And it’s worth noting that because of their size, both breeds will need a plethora of extremely large dog toys to keep them occupied.

Training and Socialization

Mastiffs should socialize early to familiarize themselves with other dogs and their guarding tendencies. Training Pyrs is essential to overcome their inborn independence and help them live a happy, social lifestyle.

One of the best things about Mastiff training is that they are naturally motivated to please their owners. This makes socialization and obedience training relatively simple compared to stubborn breeds such as the Pyrenees. Training Mastiffs should be done in short sessions every day. Because their attention spans can be very short, it is best to train Mastiffs in several short sessions per day.

The Pyrenees are proud to be one of the more stubborn breeds. It’s not wrong to think negatively about stubborn behavior. However, it’s part of what makes this breed so special!

The Pyrenees’ independence was rooted in their sheepdog heritage, which meant that the dogs had to be able to think for themselves. Early obedience training includes sitting, heeling, and staying. Be prepared, however, that they may initially react slowly and be bored with your training.

Training is likely to be an essential skill for both breeds. The Pyrenees will be trained to obey commands, and the Mastiff will be taught socialization skills.

Grooming Requirements

Mastiffs are slobbery and couch-hogging houseguests. Mastiff grooming can be a time-consuming task. Owners should realize this and treat it as a labor of love.

Mastiff owners have good news: these breeds shed very little throughout the year. The Mastiff’s coat is short and stiff, with very few sheds, except for the two seasons when shedding is most severe. Your attention should be devoted to the eyes, muzzle, face, and ears. 

The coat is one of the main differences between the two breeds. Pyrenees owners will tell you that making that white, shining coat takes a lot of work. Their double coat makes it easy to do a lot of the work. It repels dirt naturally and is tangle-resistant.

Pyrenees owners only need to brush their dogs weekly, usually with a pin brush or slicker. Vacuuming carpets will be easier if you take a few minutes each week to clean out the undercoat.

Nutrition Needs

For giant breeds such as these two, owners need to pay close attention to proper feeding from puppyhood to age two. Calcium and phosphorus are essential minerals to include in the Mastiff’s and Great Pyrenees’ young diets to grow their skeletal structure

The ideal Mastiff diet will be high in calories, dispensed throughout the day instead of once or twice daily. The food should have a protein percentage no greater than 26 percent. Calcium and phosphorus should be given at approximately 1.2 to 1.

The Great Pyrenees share many of the same nutrition requirements, being a giant breed itself. Owners must be careful not to overfeed them. Many owners believe that this breed is much more tolerant of food than larger dogs. You can’t be sure that the Pyrenees will have a low appetite, so it’s best to keep an eye on your dog and not overfeed them.

Both breeds have a propensity to suffer from bloat, also called GDV (gastric-dilatation-volvulus). Bloat-prone dogs should be fed smaller meals several times per day by their owners. Additionally, watch your dog for at least 30 minutes after eating to ensure they don’t engage in exercise.

Health Issues

Responsible dog owners should be aware of the specific illnesses and health issues that their dogs may have. The Mastiff Club of America (MCOA) recommends that breed owners perform a few tests on English Mastiffs for the following:

  • Cardiac exam
  • Hip evaluation
  • Elbow evaluation
  • Ophthalmologist Exam

The Mastiff is one of the largest dogs and requires special attention. Hygromas are expected, harmless “cushions” that can develop around the elbow joints when this breed lies on the ground.

The Mastiff can also be susceptible to eye problems, seasonal allergies, heart disease, cancer, and eye and hip dysplasia. Von Willebrand’s epilepsy and degenerative myelopathy are all possible. Despite the diseases it is susceptible to, it has a lifespan averaging 10-12 years.

The Great Pyrenees breed is generally healthy. It is large and requires a lot of care. It shares some health issues with the Mastiff, including eye disorders, hip and elbow dysplasia, luxating patellas, and some neurological-mediated disorders.

Bloat is a common problem in both breeds. This condition can be fatal for many athletic purebreds. Bloat is when the stomach twists or deforms from its natural position.

Reputable Breeders and Puppy Prices

The Mastiff, which ranks as the #32 most popular breed by AKC internet searches, usually costs $1,000 to $1,500. The Old English Mastiff Club has always been meticulous in certifying purebred sales. New owners should feel confident that breed standards are being maintained and updated. The AKC recognizes the Mastiff as one of the oldest breeds.

The Great Pyrenees, ranked the #69 most popular dog by AKC, averages $1,300 to $5,000. The rarity of certain color schemes and the popularity of breeders are two factors that contribute to the higher price.

Many Pyrenees owners often note that shelters frequently have purebreds. Although the prevalence of these shelters is variable, it is a good idea to keep an eye on your local shelter to find these puppies.


Here’s a complete look at these two amazing breeds. These dogs make great guard dogs and are loyal, independent dogs. These dogs are loving family pets who will do anything for their owners.

If you are looking for a large-sized dog that will guard you and then relax in your arms, the English Mastiff might be the right dog for you.

Or maybe the Great Pyrenees is for you. This high-altitude sheepdog will be a loyal friend and fiercely independent dog who’ll tell you when he finds something new.

These two breeds are both bold and friendly dogs that will make great pets.

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