Looking for a companion that can be protective of their family, gentle with children, and loves cats? Do you prefer a giant breed over a tiny one? If shedding doesn't bother you, and a breed that can easily weigh up to 125 pounds is appealing, consider the beautiful, soulful Great Pyrenees.
The Great Pyrenees will thrive in a rural lifestyle. They were originally bred to guard sheep in the mountains of France, but are believed to originate from Asia. The Great Pyrenees is known for many jobs on the farm and foothills of the mountains like: cart and sled pulling, patrol and rescue, companion, and protector.
This breed is a hard working dog that does best in an environment that provides them with a job. The Great Pyrenees was mainly used to guard sheep, and will still have their natural instinctual behavior to guard. They naturally will protect their family, so pet-parents should make sure the Great Pyrenees doesn't take their protection mode to an aggressive mode. Early training, and socialization with strangers, will help the Great Pyrenees to keep things in check.
Consider giving this giant breed a job as a Therapy Dog, pulling carts, or sleds. Even carrying a backpack on a hike will make the Great Pyrenees a happy dog!
Calm, Serious, and Affectionate
The Great Pyrenees is considered a calm breed, when not alerting you to visitors. They take everything they do as a "serious" job of importance. The Great Pyrenees can be an independent thinker with a stubborn streak, making training sometimes difficult.
This breed is affectionate towards their family members, loyal, loving, and is happy to be with their family at all times.
If properly socialized at a young age, they will be fine around other animals, especially cats. The Great Pyrenees tends to take a liking to cats, protecting and cuddling with them.
Setting rules and boundaries is imperative for any dog, but especially for a dog that tends to have an independent attitude. Establishing rules will help prevent future behavioral problems such as: counter-surfing, jumping, excessive barking, nipping, digging, and much more.
Not Overly Busy
The Great Pyrenees is not an overly busy dog. They will enjoy a daily 45 minute hike or walk. The backpack is a great tool that offers a "job," drains energy, and this breed will be happy to oblige. A backpack should not be used until a dog is 1 year old to prevent damage to the joints.
They are happy and content patrolling their yard, so a fenced in-yard should be considered, otherwise the Great Pyrenees will wonder off. Puppies are much more active then the adults, but will settle down at about 2-3 years old.
Although not a busy breed, this is not an apartment/condo type dog either. They do require regular exercise outside.
High Maintenance Grooming
Their beautiful, white, lush coat requires attention. They shed all year round, so brushing daily to help maintain and keep the shedding under control will be required.
This breed should not be shaved! Their coat is a protective barrier to help protect their skin against sunburn and heat. The Great Pyrenees is a breed that thrives better in cooler climates.
The breed is known to have health issues with bone cancer, hip dysplasia, luxating patellas, entropion, skin problems in hot weather, and is prone to bloat.
The average life span of the Great Pyrenees is 10-12 years.
As you begin looking for a Great Pyrenees, please check with rescue organizations first. Every year there are millions of dogs being euthanized - not because they are bad dogs, but because there is no home for them and insufficient resources to care for them at rescue agencies. By adopting a dog, you are truly saving a life!
At the very least, NEVER purchase any dog from a pet store. Unfortunately, those puppies almost always come from puppy mills. Instead, look for a reputable breeder to work with.
On a final note, it is important to spay and neuter your puppy by 6 months old to have a healthy and happy pet for many years to come!
Original Dog Bible, 2nd Edition by Kristin Mehus-Roe