Great Pyrenees…

about the breed.

Great Pyrenees were originally bred to be livestock guardian dogs (LGDs) and are often still used for this purpose today. Great Pyrenees can make wonderful house pets as well, though, but it is important to thoroughly research this breed as they have some unique and sometimes challenging characteristics. Learning as much as you can prior to owning a Pyr will help you decide whether this breed would be a good fit for your situation as well as make the transition into your home as smooth as possible.

Great Pyrenees are highly intelligent guardian dogs and were bred to be independent thinkers, thus allowing them to work without human direction. While they are calm, well mannered, gentle, and devoted to family, they can also be stubborn, wary of strangers, and are instinctive protectors. Proper socialization, positive reinforcement, and consistent handling ensure good canine citizenship with this breed.

As guardian dogs, it is natural for the Pyr to want to wander and explore. A secure, visible, tall fence will be needed to keep your Pyr at home. Pyrs routinely and instinctively walk the boundaries of their territory and good fencing will help define these boundaries for your dog. For the same reasons, a good leash is a must when you go for a walk. Pyrs are not good candidates for an off-leash walk. (Note: Underground electric fencing is not recommended for a Great Pyrenees. Not only will a Pyr cross over the fence line, underground fencing also make it problematic for him or her to return home. This type of fence also fails to keep strangers and other animals out of the yard, presenting potential problems for a guardian dog.)

As you might suspect, due to a Pyrs independent nature, they respond differently to traditional obedience training. Unlike breeds that originated to obey human commands and possess a high desire to please their owners (think retriever!), Pyrs prefer to think for themselves. Instant responses to commands are just not a high priority. However, if you can appreciate their independent spirit and approach to training, you will be able to establish a relationship based on mutual respect. Like all dogs, Pyrs respond well to the consistent use of language and positive reinforcement.

Considered one of the giant breeds, Great Pyrenees are large, strong animals. They are primarily white but can have markings of tan, wolf-gray, or pale yellow. They have a thick double coat of long, course, straight, or slightly wavy outer coat, and a fine soft downy undercoat. The magnificent coat of the Great Pyrenees requires regular care. Brushing not only removes hair, but also removes dirt from the coat. Your Pyr will look cleaner after a good grooming session. Pyrs "blow" their undercoat yearly, which requires extra grooming work (and a sense of humor) for a short period of time. Pyrs have single dew claws on the front legs and double dew claws on the hind legs. This is a defining characteristic of the breed. Pyrs range in height between 25 to 32 inches and generally weigh between 85 and 125 pounds.

Pyrs don't miss much of what is going on around them, and will move from room to room to keep tabs on the activities of the household. Many Pyr owners have commented on the intuitive qualities of their dogs and how they seem to know what to do in any given situation. Having a bad day? Need some comforting? Chances are your Pyr will know it and act accordingly.

Are all Great Pyrenees pretty much the same? Yes and no. "It depends on the dog," is an answer frequently given to questions about these dogs, which refers to the socialization and previous experiences of that particular Great Pyrenees. "Are they good with children?" It depends on the dog. "Will a Pyr get along with my cat?" It depends on the dog. "If I get a Pyr, will it bark at absolutely nothing?" It depends on the dog. Besides the general characteristics, choosing the right Pyr for you depends on a dog's individual characteristics. Obviously, a Great Pyrenees is not for everyone, but if you do feel this breed is what you are looking for, there are many rescue Pyrs our there looking for wonderful, loving homes.

The following are some very useful links that will give additional information on the breed: