great pyrenees

monarae_gwSeptember 28, 2009

We are thinking of adopting a great pyrenees. He is around 1 1/2 - 2 years old. Beautiful, big, white boy. I have had large dogs before, but not this breed. He seems to understand some basic comands, such as sit and down. He definately does NOT like being in a house though. If we choose to do this, we will be putting up a kennel with a heated dog house. I know that they are equipped with all that fur, and can stand extreem cold, but I won't leave him out, without good protection. Anyway, are there other great pyrenees owners out there? Any words of wisdom? I know that they are herding dogs and will need plenty of excercise. Other than that, I don't have alot of info. Looking on the net is one thing, but would love to hear from actual owners!

Thanks in advance!


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Unless you live at the south pole, they won't even need the heat in the doghouse. A dry spot out of the wind, just big enough for him to curl up in, is more than enough shelter. If it retains body heat, he'll stay plenty warm.

A friend's GP sleeps outside almost all year and in an unheated, enclosed porch a few nights - it has a dog door onto the porch but likes to sleep on top the outdoor table unless it's nasty and wet.

They aren't "herding dogs" in the way Border Collies and Aussies are, more like "I stay with the herd and protect them" herding. Less exercise needed and less active than the small ones that can round up sheep.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2009 at 3:22PM
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They are big droolers and shedders - be prepared for a lot of grooming. Also, they tend to bark a lot to protect their territory - so if you live in close proximity to neighbors, you'll need to watch out for that and train them to bark less. My friends have had them for many years. Beautiful dogs but not for everyone.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2009 at 7:52PM
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They can also be quite the escape artists.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2009 at 9:42PM
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My best friend has had several of these dogs over the years. They are beautiful and great dogs.

Make sure he has a good temperament. They are guard dogs and can be aggressive if not properly trained. My friend did have to put one of her rescued pyrenees down for aggression several years ago. It broke her heart, but it also had bit several people. She just couldn't keep that one contained.

The one she has now is a gentle giant, with a heart of gold.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2009 at 10:39AM
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I don't own Pyrs, but do have several other livestock guardian dogs and have fosted some Pyr/Anatolian/Akbash mixes. LGD's are NOT herding dogs and do not need the tremendous amount of exercise that herders such as border collies and aussies need. They don't round up livestock; they were bred to protect livestock from predators such as wolves, bears and cougars.

Livestock guardian dogs in their original jobs needed to be able to think and act quickly and independently to protect their flocks. This means that they want to make up their own minds, and decide for themselves, how best to deal with a potentially dangerous situation. To give examples: they are likely to think the garbage man is stealing from you; they may think a plumber with a tool in his hand plans to attack you or your property; they may think Uncle Bob is accosting the children if he goes to give a hug. In other words, to live easily with an Anatolian you have to be able to foresee situations which look "potentially dangerous" to your dog. This is not to say that LGD's make good personal protection dogs in the vein of GSD's, Dobermans or Rotti's - they don't becasue it is very very difficult to teach them to reliably "out". Personal protection training is never recomended for LGD's. While it is possible to obedience train them (they are dogs first!) you will not get the same level of compliance and reliability you would get with, say, a golden, without A LOT of work on your part. Many are willful, obstinate, and dominant (they want to be the boss) and will make you prove that you can make them do things. You must show them, through absolute consistency, that you mean what you say.

They are very often dog-aggressive. They will accept other pets in the family as part of their "flock", but will very often not tolerate strange dogs. This means that dog parks are not a good thing and that the dog will be suspicious of strange dogs while on walks or in the waiting room of the vet. You must ensure at all times that you have control of the mind and body of this 120-150 lb dog.

in general, LGDs bark and they bark a lot. Loudly. Especially at night. Don't think you are going to "break them of the habit". It is not a habit, it is their instinct. This is their job, this is what they were bred to do, and this is what they will do. You will need to get up, recognize the "threat" (be it an intruder or grass having the audacity to grow)and give a "all-clear" signal. Why do you think that the Pyr cannot be kept inside? Will the Pyr be kenneled outdoors at night as well? Do you live in an urban or suburban environment? The nocturnal barking will annoy neighbors.

These dogs shed, and they shed a lot. In the spring they will "blow" their heavy undercoat, and it will be enough to stuff several king-sized comforters. People will wonder why your yard is the only one in the neighborhood where it snows in May. While other LGD's have fairly dry mouths, Pyrs drool quite a bit. Not a much as a bloodhound, but certainly on par with Newfies.

How big a kennel do you plan on building? How will the dog get exercise when not kenneled? How big is your yard? Is the yard fenced? Pyr's need some room to roam, but they need to be able to do so safely. They are not dogs that can be safely off-leash or dogs that can be expected to learn to "stay home" If permitted to escape, they will expand their territory... and neighbors tend to get a touch annoyed when the big white dog feels that their yard is also his yard and refuses to allow them access. Six foot fences are standard and are often reinforced with no-dig and no-climb supplements. Invisible fencing is not suitable as primary containment, especially because it allows other people and other dogs to enter the property and the Pyr will respond to what it views as a threat. IF does make a decent no-dig/climb supplement to barrier fencing though.

1-2 years is the primary time that LGD's come into rescue. As they enter their teens, they naturally become more protective and owners who didn't have a good (or any) idea of what LGD's do (unscrupulous breeders portray them as "gentle giants" - I detest that term!) are often shocked by the "sudden" onset of territoriality. Do you know why the dog was originally surrendered? Are you obtaining the dog from breed rescue, all-purpose rescue or from a shelter? has the dog been fostered? Evaluated or temperament tested? Do you have plans to attend obedience classes?

    Bookmark   September 29, 2009 at 1:17PM
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Wow! What great responses! Like I said, we are thinking about it.... He has no history, other that the last week that I have spent with him grooming him, working on commands and such. I live in a part where we don't have many rescue centers. He showed up in our little town, about a month or so ago. We are doing everything that we can to find an owner. He has no chip. The folks that have him live in town. I live in the country. On 3 acres....I am not a novice when it comes to rescue dogs. I have helped place many, and have fostered quite a few myself. I just have not ever run across this breed before. We usually get labs, pointers, and a few that we really don't know what they are! lol! He "hit" my heart. He picked me out of the people that has been working with him.

I have always had my dogs inside, but he is not comfortable with that. He does not seem too territorial, ad he is staying with two other dogs right now. But, I know that sometimes, their personality changes after they are placed.

Thanks for all the advice. I will let you know what we decide.


    Bookmark   September 29, 2009 at 8:33PM
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I've owned Pyrs for the past 13 years and currently have a male and a female. All have been indoor dogs. You've received some great responses, so I'll just add what I've observed.

Some cons:
- They shed tons. We have fur tumbleweeds everywhere.
- As shroppie said, they tend to bark a lot and very loudly. We've been able to train them to not bark at night inside but all bets are off when they're outside. Do you have close neighbors that may be annoyed by the barking?
- They are smart but definitely independent thinkers. When training you have to be willing to be more stubborn than the Pyr.
- Outside of a fenced area, they cannot be trusted off leash. They'll take off in a heartbeat.
- They can be escape artists. We've had dogs go both over and under our fence. I tend to keep a close eye on them whenever they're out.

For the most part they're very laid back and sleep a lot. Our males have tended to be much more easy going than our females. The females seem to be more active, alert and protective. All have been very gentle and huge cuddlers. They also eat a lot less than you'd think a large dog would.

I know you said the dog you're considering is uncomfortable inside. Our current male was a rescued stray who was very uncomfortable inside at first, but having an outside dog wasn't an option for us. When we first got him, he had a horrible six-week transition that almost drove us crazy, but he did adjust and is doing great inside now.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   September 30, 2009 at 8:10AM
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"fur tumbleweeds" LOL. Once when I visited my friends for a few days, I found Pyr hair in my bra, LOL!

    Bookmark   September 30, 2009 at 4:51PM
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I will second what everyone else said here, especially Shroppie. I don't have a Pyr now, but it is likely our next dog. We use to get them a LOT in the shelter (thank God Pyr rescue here was really cool about coming to pick them up).

Remember that they aren't herders,they are protectors. I will also note that Pyrs are notoriously a nurturer. They protect AND nurture and will often adopt anything as their own.

On the downside, when they go bad, they go really bad. We had a situation of a couple of pyrs brought in for the same thing repeatedly - animal aggression (pyrs are not known to be aggressive to this extent...). They actually killed the owner's two mules. Do I think that owner properly took the time to train his pyrs? NO. I think the situation could have been avoided. However, once the "killing spree" started, there just didn't seem to be any good end in sight.

Because Pyr rescue around here is so overwhelmed, we will gladly take on one when some of our other dogs are "gone". I already have the superlarge doggie door. Don' just assume the one you are set on is outdoor only. Some of my rescues were also when we got them. Like any animal, they take their pack cues from you -- the leader. If they become attached to you, they will want to be where you are. As a protector by nature, they will likely learn to be try to be where you are. As someone else suggested, they are also very independent thinkers. That is something you will have to work with and learn about them. Good luck and let us know how it turns out!

    Bookmark   October 1, 2009 at 12:45AM
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