Is This the Breed for You?
The adult Great Pyrenees is a stunning sight and an 8 week old Pyr puppy is an irresistible white (or predominately white) fluff ball! Raising a Pyr from puppy to adult, however (a Pyr is not truly mature until 2-3 years old) takes time and patience. Below are some of the basic points that you must consider before bringing a Pyr into your home.
SIZE: Are you physically able to handle a large dog? Basically gentle, Pyrs are strong, independent and can be a real challenge. Males are 27" - 32" (27"= 100 lbs) and females are 25" - 29" (25" = 85lbs). Because of their size, Pyrs need a good size yard, as well as extra-large sizes in crates, beds, food bowls, brushes, vehicle transportation etc. Yard cleanup duty is more for a large dog too!
COST: Pyrs are big dogs and are big eaters on their way to maturity. In addition, many boarding kennels, groomers, medications, vaccines, rental properties etc are priced according to size.
HEALTH: Pyrs are generally a healthy breed and can live a full, healthy life of 10-12 years. As with any other large breed dog, however, there are things you should be aware of: bloat (gastric torsion), heatstroke, cancer, skin problems, hip dysplasia, patellar luxation to name a few.
DOG HAIR: The correct coat is a double coat that sheds dirt easily, but still requires at least 30 minutes of brushing a week. Please don't shave! Their coats act as body temperature regulators and protect their skin from the sun, insects and the weather. If you feel you need to shave your Pyr this is not the breed for you. They shed considerably twice a year so there are always white hairs in Pyr homes and on Pyr people. The bonus is that their hair can be spun into yarn and beautiful garments and throws can be crafted from the yarn.
TIME: A Pyr needs love, attention and to interact with his family on a daily basis. A lonesome dog is a bored dog and a bored dog is destructive. Many Pyrs like to dig and they make large craters to sleep or lounge in. If you have a perfect backyard, expect to have it riddled with potholes, the shrubbery dug up and flowers flattened. If this is unacceptable to you this is not the breed for you.
TEMPERAMENT: The Great Pyrenees was not bred to get along with other dogs, but to guard livestock, keep the shepherd company and to work with small herding dogs. Trouble may occur when Pyrs are asked to live with other large, dominant breeds or another same sex Pyr. Correct temperament is NOT, however, aggressive towards people. The dogs may be dominating due to the job they were bred to do and therefore a challenge in the hands of an inexperienced, timid or frail owner. Good socialization and obedience training are a must.
ROAMING: Pyrs are large and must be confined in a 6 foot high well-fenced area or they will exercise their powerful instinct to establish and patrol a large territory. They are known to be fence climbers and diggers. They must be on a leash at all times when out of the fenced area.
If you are looking for a dog that will be great "off-leash" for your outdoor activities or a dog that will follow your every command, the Pyrenees is probably not the dog for you.
BARKING: Like all livestock guardian breeds, Great Pyrenees are barkers, especially at night. The amount of barking varies among individuals but the instinct is there and in some cases can cause major problems with neighbors. Most Pyrs in urban settings must be kept indoors at night.