Great Pyrenees 

Frequently Asked Questions 

The AKC Great Pyrenees is a "strong willed, independent, and somewhat reserved, yet attentive, fearless, and loyal to his charges – both human and animal." A majestic-looking dog with a kindly, regal expression, the Great Pyrenees is calm, composed, and serious..

How much will a Pyrenees weigh?

A male will weigh anywhere from 90- 130 pounds and females around 90-110 pounds.

Are all Great Pyrenees white?

The Pyrenees can be all white or have wolf grey or badger markings.  At least some puppies from the litter should be colored and it is very hard to tell which pups will turn all white and which will keep their masks and markings.  Most always the markings on the body will disappear except for maybe in the summer when your dog sheds out. 

When do Great Pyrenees shed most?

It depends if you keep your dog inside or outside. Our dogs seem to not shed a lot except when they blow their undercoats in the spring. We like to brush our dogs as much as possible though, this will help prevent any matting (check behind the ears and where the collar lays).

Do Great Pyrenees bark a lot?

Yes, and sometimes no. Our first Great Pyrenees didn't bark until she was almost 10 months old, and she still is our quiet one. However if Izzy barks we know to come outside and check because she means business. Everest barked at a few weeks old and hasn't stopped barking yet, its loud and increases at night (we put our dogs in the barn at night with the livestock). Oscar is in-between in the barking department. You will also find as they mature they will bark at less and save their barks for known threats. But even when it seems as though they’re barking at nothing, it can be that they’re simply barking at something you’re not aware of. I'm thankful for all the barks!!

Do Great Pyrenees make good pets?

This question is hard to answer, because I think it depends on the person or family's definition of a "pet". Great Pyrenees will love you, your children, and do anything to protect you.  However, its nothing like a Labrador, a Golden retriever, or any type of dog like that.  They will likely not fetch and if they do they may get bored before even getting to the stick or ball you threw. They have a higher purpose in life than being your best buddy, they are bred and born to guard and that’s what they will do.  They will not always welcome strangers warmly, but should not be over aggressive either. They definately are gentle giants!.  
 

They do need some exercise but not a ton, they like to sleep and lounge a lot! They are not a breed that you can chain outside or lock up constantly. We actually don't recommend a create but more of a safe area in which they can roam around in (if being housed inside).  A large, fenced yard is a necessity for them and preferably a country setting with multiple acres for them to wander (fenced in that is).  They will not go out in the backyard and run around like most dogs, they would rather have half the day to walk around slowly and see what has changed. Most times when we look out at the pasture two out of the three dogs are snoozing.

They are such different kind of dog and its hard to explain until you own one they are so loyal and loving, but they are not for everyone.  You must be strong willed and in charge, because the Great Pyrenees will be stronger willed, and you must be able to provide exercise and space for the dog.  

 
How much do they eat and what should I feed them?

A growing puppy will eat as much as any other puppy, but, the full grown Great Pyrenees has a small appetite for how big they are. We feed all of our dogs Victor Hi-Pro Plus Formula for Active Dogs & Puppies, and found they tolerate this food best. We free feed our dogs, and never had any issues with weight. However, our dogs are working dogs and have access to open pasture 24/7. Our dogs also get fresh raw goats milk twice a day, along with the occasional egg as a treat (the benefits of being on a working farm). Consult with your veterinarian on how to feed your puppy, this is what works for us and may not work for your situation.

Do we need a fence for our dog?

Yes, yes, and yes!! A Great Pyrenees thinks its their job to provide protection as far as it can roam! A solid fence is going to be your new best friend and lifesaver when owning a Great Pyrenees. As, a puppy they will stay close by you but trust me they will begin to roam with time and there's nothing worse than a lost dog. We DO NOT recommend underground electric fence systems most Great Pyrenees don't respect the invisible fence and will run right through it but then don't want to cross back over (trust me we learned the hard way with our first dog Izzy). The other problem with underground electric fencing is that it does NOT keep strangers and animals OUT of your property. This can be a potential problem for these protective dogs. We also DO NOT recommend a "runner" or any sort of chain either.

These big dogs are NOT for you if...

(source The Great Pyrenees Club of Southern Ontario)

You cannot tolerate hair… lots of hair… in the house, on your clothes, in your car… you will never wear a black suit again. You get the idea. There’s lots of hair! But you can have it spun to make a dandy pair of mittens!

You cannot tolerate barking, or your neighbours cannot tolerate barking. Many Pyrs bark… that’s their job. Barking is an early line of defence against anything that encroaches on their property. And Pyrs like lots of property, so it could well include much of your neighbourhood. Our Pyr barks at everything it sees, smells, hears or imagines.

You want an off-leash dog. That’s right… most Pyrs like to roam and protect… large areas… acres and acres! Sometimes referred to as a DisaPyr, this is not the kind of dog that will hang around while you work in the garden. Well he may, for a while, until something attracts his interest and he needs to clear the land of perceived predators. Then call him “GONE”!

You want a dog to respond to your every command… instantly… whenever you want. No, that is not how it works with a Great Pyr. These dogs have been bred over thousands of years to think on their own without any help from us mere mortals. They will respond… sort of… when they are ready which is usually when they see something in it for them. Sure they respond, but they respond more like an Oil Tanker than a Sports Car.

You cannot deal with slobber… yes slobber. Well-bred Great Pyrs do not slobber…well not much anyway. Like most giant dogs, Pyrs will drool at the sight of food, especially if it’s a favourite treat. Hey, and what treat isn’t? And of course after drinking they slobber a bit too. But then I have seen people like that, haven’t you? Just don’t be too close when a Pyr gives a vigorous shake of its massive head!

You want a dog to play catch. It could happen… sometimes. But don’t count on it. Although they like to play, catching and retrieving is not a strong suit for a Great Pyr.

You are passionately in love with your pristine, landscaped property. Chances are that a Great Pyr will do a little landscaping of its own. And those big front paws really do work quickly… like a Bull Dozer in a Flower Bed! A Great Pyr can change your landscape.

 

You want a lapdog. Do we really have to explain? Sure they are cute and cuddly as puppies, but adults exceed 100 pounds! That lapdog puppy training can be hard to break!

 

You want a dog who wants to please. The Great Pyrenees Mountain dog is a big, strong, willful dog. Bred to protect sheep and livestock without the help of humans, these big dogs are genetically wired to think for themselves, and are inclined to not wait for, nor even follow, your commands. As with any dog, you need to respect the Pyr for its natural instinct. As they develop into adulthood, their guarding instincts kick in, too. You need to be ready to work with this dog, not as a boss, but like a partner in dance and you lead. As a Great Pyr develops towards adulthood, it requires constant socialization around people and other dogs to ensure that its temperament remains balanced. A well-balanced Great Pyr should be neither aggressive nor timid, but should show confidence and poise.

 

You are unable to be patient and gentle when working your Pyr.That is to say… you are impatient and tend to become angry. A developing Great Pyr will test your patience because they are independent thinkers (we cannot emphasize that enough). It is that simple. Being wilful and independent, they are sometimes slow to respond. But that is not due to lack of intelligence. Pyrs learn quickly. They also bore easily if the routine is not varied. Pyrs respond better to calmness and patience …and certainly not to anger or aggression.

Training a Livestock Guardian Dog and other useful websites:

Helpful Information about Great Pyrenees

Training your LGD to chickens step by step

https://www.forloveoflivestock.com/blog/training-livestock-guardian-dogs-the-ultimate-guide

http://www.canismajor.com/dog/livestck.html

What to do when you encounter a working livestock guardian dog

Advice on putting a puppy in with livestock

Puppy bonding to livestock part 1

Puppy bonding to livestock part 2

When and why to spay/neuter your Great Pyrenees