Frequently Asked Questions (Great Pyrenees FAQs)
What is it like to live with a Great Pyrenees?
The Great Pyrenees is probably the most powerful breed in existence. Fortunately, the breed is known as the “gentle giant” and carries a kindly nature with its immense frame. They are obedient, loyal, and affectionate but capable of guarding. Adult Pyrs are typically placid by nature and calm in the house.
What should a person consider before adopting a Great Pyrenees?
Ask yourself these questions: Can you physically handle a large dog? Does dog hair around the house and on your clothes bother you? Can you and your family provide daily love and attention? Do you or your family have time to train a strong, independent dog? Do you have room for a Pyr? Can you and your neighbors tolerate barking? If you answered all of these questions honestly and would still like to adopt a Great Pyrenees, you are perfect to be adopted by a Great Pyrenees.
IS A GREAT PYRENEES THE RIGHT DOG FOR YOU?
The Great Pyrenees Temperment:
The Great Pyrenees is a calm, gentle, affectionate, and loyal dog. While territorial and protective of his flock or family when necessary, his general demeanor is one of quiet composure, both patient and tolerant. He is strong willed, independent and somewhat reserved, fearless and loyal to his charges both human and animal.
A Pyr’s general demeanor is one of quiet composure, both patient and tolerant. They are relatively low energy dogs – not requiring a large amount of exercise – but alert and with a serious disposition. A well-bred and well-socialized Pyr is amazingly tolerant of small things – children, lambs or kids, small dogs and even cats. Pyrs are generally calm and dignified as adults. Adult Pyrs are usually somewhat reserved around visitors. Once introduced, a Pyr will never forget a person; however that doesn’t mean that person is automatically welcomed. Out in public, the well-socialized Pyr will permit petting by strangers, but never solicits it.
Independence is another typical Great Pyrenees trait. It allows him to make his own decisions based on his experience and best judgment, and not wait for a human to tell him what to do. The Pyr is attentive to his owners desires, but is not a “velcro” dog. Obedience training is absolutely necessary for a Great Pyrenees. It not only builds a bond between you and the dog, but teaches him that he must grant you some degree of control if he wants to go on rides, walks, and have house privileges.
Great Pyrenees are guard dogs by instinct, and members of the great family of livestock guardian dogs. Pyrs are not herding dogs, but were bred to be left alone to protect their flock of sheep up in the mountain valleys. They do not need to be trained to be guard dogs. Neither can they be trained NOT to guard.
A good Pyr only uses as much force as is needed in a given situation. When protecting its territory, the first line of protection is the scent marks left around the perimeter of its yard or field. The next line of defense is barking – an announcement that someone big is on duty and trespassing might be hazardous. When not directed and controlled at a young age (6-9 months), barking can become a habit born of boredom and is a leading reason for Pyrs being given away as adults.
If, despite scent marking and barking, an intruder enters a Pyr’s territory, the next line of defense is to chase it away. A Great Pyrenees must be taught by his owner what really constitutes an intruder. The owner teaches which “intruders” are welcome, which are accepted conditionally and which are not welcome. This includes both people and other animals. Good, consistent socialization and training are necessary to produce a dog that understands the proper degree of protectiveness, and uses it when necessary.
A Pyr considers his “territory” to be as far as he can see, so the territory his owners want him to claim has to be surrounded by good fencing. When taken outside the fence, his territory has to be limited by a leash. We require a fenced yard for all our Pyrs. Most Pyrs are not happy without the job of patroling and guarding their territory – even if it is only a small yard.
A Great Pyrenees is fiercely loyal to his flock, both human and animal. He feels responsible for you and your family and your property. He is your friend and not your slave. This characteristic makes for a dog that is very protective of his territory and everything that is in it. On a farm or ranch, this protectiveness is welcomed and channeled into a superlative livestock guardian dog. In the urban environment, the degree of protectiveness must be tempered by early socialization and obedience training.
Things to consider when you are thinking of adopting a Great Pyrenees:
- Can I physically handle a dog who typically weighs between 90-140 pounds?
- Am I prepared to have a large dog who doesn’t mature until around 2 years old? They are puppies for a long time!
- Does dog hair around the house and on your clothes bother you? If so, you do not want a Pyr! They shed 365 days a year and you will have to learn to love white fur on your clothes, furniture, and floors. Wearing black becomes a real challenge.
- Can you and your family provide daily love and attention? These dogs bond completely with their families and need to be treated as a family member.
- Do you and your family have time to train a strong, independent dog? Obedience training is a MUST with a Pyr. There is nothing adorable about a 100+ pound dog who has knocks down guests, or drags you down the street during your ‘walks’.
- Do you have room for a Pyr? We require a fenced yard for all our Pyrs. Please do not ask us to make an exception to this rule. The fence must have a minimum height of 4 feet. Electric fences, as a rule, do not successfully work with Pyrs. Pyrs must always be on a leash when outside a fenced area.
- Can you and your neighbors tolerate barking? All Pyrs bark – some more than others. Almost all Pyrs bark at night – to warn potential intruders that they are “on duty”. They are not incessant barkers, unless they are left unattended for long periods of time and become bored.
- Can you live with a dog who is protective? Your Pyr may not love everyone who comes in your house, but should always accept anyone whom you allow in. You must be willing to socialize your Pyr extensively, both on and off its territory. This means taking him for walks, riding in the car, trips to Petsmart, etc. Because this is a large and powerful dog, an aggressive or unpredictable Pyr can be dangerous to both people and other animals – and must be under control at all times. Socialize, socialize, socialize!!