Life With A Great Pyrenees

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The Great Pyrenees Breed

Let me preface this conversation before we get started, with I absolutely love and adore my Great Pyrenees. In fact, I have two of them and they are one year old litter mates. We brought them home when they were nine weeks old. However, you thought a but was coming didn't you? The are a handful and even though I love both handfuls, I want to give an honest account of living with our Great Pyrenees. Yes, you can scour the internet and do your research and find all sorts of quality information about the breed. You will get descriptions about size, and height and weight and you will find out about their background and history. This is why I'm not going to bore you with the same old information. What you don't find when researching, is someone that really tells you what it is like to live with Great Pyrenees dogs. I am going to do that for you so that you don't go out and purchase a bundle of fluffy white kisses and love and find out you are living with fluffy white, polar bear dog in a matter of a few short months.

Why To Get A Great Pyrenees?

Why did we get two Great Pyrenees? We have a small farm, and raise free range chickens and ducks and have a small herd of goats. We were having predator issues with fox and coyote and our poultry was rapidly disappearing. We have other dogs, small Chihuahuas, and a Black Lab/Border Collie mix, but they weren't doing much to protect the flocks. We decided to invest in two livestock guardian dogs, or you will see them labeled as LGD. I researched the livestock guardian dogs and decided that the Great Pyrenees was the breed that I wanted to add to our farm.

You will find a lot of information about how they protect flocks and herds and when you bring a dog home to be a livestock guardian dog, you treat them more like livestock than you do a pet. You ant to allow them to do their job. This breed is a working breed and they need something to guard and protect at all times. They are very good around small animals and will protect and watch over them. My Great Pyrenees get along well with our other dogs minus the bad habit of putting a paw on top of the Chihuahuas lovingly, not realizing their paw weighs as much as the Chihuahua. The Chihuahuas don't care for that much.

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Do They Make Good Family Pets?

This breed also makes a great family pet, if you have the space and the time to spend walking and exercising them. If you choose to get a Great Pyrenees as a family pet, you will find that you and your household will become their livestock and they will take very good care of you. They are not aggressive, but they are suspicious of strangers and until they realize that you are okay with these people they will be very standoffish and on alert. If getting a Great Pyrenees for a family dog, make sure you socialize them well to different sounds, smells, people and places.

Great Pyrenees are very loyal and loving, and do very well with small children. They are calm and sedate and very content to lay around on the sofa and nap most of the day. They aren't very active or hyper dogs. They do come alive when the sun goes down and want to be outside barking. Yes, they bark and bark and bark. This is one reason they aren't suited well for suburban life and are definitely not apartment dwellers. Some call them nocturnal. I would agree with this point about that label. My girls love to go outside in the evening and they do bark and bark and bark until about 2:00 a.m., then they want to come in and nap until about 6:00 a.m. Before they take another shift outside barking. I don't mind the barking, it lets everything know that they are on duty and to stay away from the barnyard. Since we have gotten the Great Pyrenees the disappearance of our poultry has stopped.

Since we have such a small farm and don't allow them to roam acre after acre protecting large herds, I consider my Great Pyrenees farm or ranch protectors because they spend all of their time near and around the house and barn and do come inside and go outside at their own choosing. They are a cross between a house pet and an LGD in our family.

Do They Shed?

They have a thick double coat and they are generally warm no matter what the temperature is outside. Great Pyrenees love the cold weather. They don't like the heat and they are less active in the warmer weather. They are not to be shaved, they have very delicate pink skin and shaving them could cause them to get sunburned when outside as well as ruin their coat. You will find a lot of different theories on this topic on the internet, but for me even living in the south, keeping their coat is important. They do need to be groomed, more often in the warmer months than the winter, but they need to be brushed a lot. In the warmer months, they shed their undercoat and it's called “blowing their coat.” The first time I heard that I didn't know what that meant until it happened. I realized quickly what blowing their coat means. The fuzz just flies off them and floats around in the air like pollen and sticks to everything you own. You sweep and brush them and vacuum and brush them and it never ends for a couple of months. Finally, they just get to a point where they shed like a normal dog, but in mass quantity. All year round, they shed and if you wear black or dark clothing, Great Pyrenees aren't for you.

This Is A Must Have With Great Pyrenees! I use it constantly and it really gets the undercoat well.

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What Else Can You Tell Me?

They drool, they will happily come up to you and want to get close and give you the “nose bop” that Great Pyrenees are known for and yes, it will be messy because most often their jowls are soaking wet with water and drool. If you love them, you don't mind because that “nose bop” is such a special treat!

If you are looking for a dog that you can play fetch with and go outdoors and take for long walks off leash, then don't get this breed. If you throw something, even their favorite toy, and expect them to bring it back you will be waiting for a very long time for that to happen. They just look at you as if saying, “you threw it so you go get it.” They love to play in the water, and then get filthy. However, they are self-cleaning. Let them dry and you can brush them and they are white once again. They love dirt, and yes they dig! My backyard looks like the craters of the moon.

You cannot trust a Great Pyrenees out of a fence or off leash. They are roamers and can roam up to five miles a day. They are very curious and are often looking to guard their boundaries. However, their idea of boundaries and your ideas will definitely not be the same. Do not get a Great Pyrenees if you don't have adequate fencing to contain them.

This breed of dog is meant to be a free thinker, evolving from roaming the mountains in France protecting large herds of sheep and they like to make their own decisions. This means that they are hard-headed and stubborn. They don't like to come when called. Yes, they know their name but if they don't want to answer you, it's like they have never heard your voice or that name before in their life. They can hear a butterfly land on a flower but if they aren't interested in what you have to say, you would think they have hearing issues. This breed does require a strong-willed and patient owner so that they don't take over and rule the roost.

Should We Get A Great Pyrenees?

The Great Pyrenees doesn't have a long life span, it's about ten years. They can get serious health issues like bone cancer and hip dysplasia. If getting a Great Pyrenees is your dream, make every moment a positive one and create those memories because they don't last forever. They do love to be spoiled rotten just as much as they like working in the fields with livestock. You can find either one of mine or both at any time during the day lounging on their favorite couch catching a nap because they are exhausted from barking all night. For our family, we love them, even when they crawl in bed early in the morning with wet jowls to give you a “nose bop” and tell you its time to get up. Before getting a Great Pyrenees do your homework, really ask yourself if you are ready to commit to many years of dog hair, barking and possible health issues. There are far too many Great Pyrenees being handed over to shelters because they were so cute and fluffy when they were puppies and then grew to be huge and unable to live in a small home or suburban environment. If you are ready to bring one of these amazing dogs into your life, I can't tell you how much love you will get in return and how much joy they will bring into your life.

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Comments 4 comments

dianeknaus profile image

dianeknaus 22 months ago from Anne Arundel County, Maryland

Thank you so much for this article on Great Pyrenees breed. I have often wondered about them as a pet for myself. Now I know they would not be practical for me at this time. They are a beautiful animal and if I ever get a big place, I'll change my mind. Thanks again for a well written article on animals that you truly have a love for.

D.Knaus


jrpierce profile image

jrpierce 22 months ago from Ellijay, Ga Author

Thanks for stopping by to read my article! I do love the breed, and I love my girls so much, but to be honest I THOUGHT I had done my homework to find out that there was a lot more to know about them then I knew when I brought them home. Luckily, we have plenty of room for them to run and are in the woods so their barking isn't an issue. If you ever get a bigger place, they are amazing dogs.


Larry Fields profile image

Larry Fields 22 months ago from Northern California

Hi Jaymie. You wrote:

"If you are looking for a dog that you can play fetch with and go outdoors and take for long walks off leash, then don't get this breed."

I have a stooopid question: If you take your Great Pyrenees hiking in a mountain wilderness area, will they stay with you to protect you against all of the ferocious Golden Retrievers, or will they feel the need to roam way ahead of you, and possibly get lost?


jrpierce profile image

jrpierce 22 months ago from Ellijay, Ga Author

I know of a couple of people that I know that can take their Great Pyr off leash for long hikes, but honestly that is a rarity in this breed. They are self-thinkers, curious and will take off and won't even look back at you as you run after them, screaming their name. If you go for long hikes and keep them on their leash, they will definitely protect you from the ferocious Goldens. :)

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