The Versatile Great Pyrenees
Most Pyrs enjoy the life of providing companionship and protection to their human families. The Great Pyrenees is however, a very versatile breed and can excel in many areas other than companionship. Many Pyr owners have found the fun and enjoyment of involving their dogs in canine specific activities. The AKC (American Kennel Club) offers numerous titles in a large variety of activities and the Great Pyrenees Club of America (GPCA) recognizes breed versatility and offers Versatility Titles for dogs that participate in these events and activities.
Breed Conformation - Pure bred Great Pyrenees that have been bred as show quality conformation dogs may compete at licensed dog shows held across the country. Not all pure bred registered Great Pyrenees are suitable for showing at conformation events but if the sport appeals to you, a reputable breeder should be sought out.
Therapy Dogs – Well-socialized Great Pyrenees are excellent Therapy Dogs at hospitals, nursing homes and schools. They are calm and gentle with children, seniors and individuals with health impairments. AKC
offers Therapy Dog titles based on the number of officially documented visiting hours accumulated.
Read to the Dogs - Because of their laid back nature, Pyrs are well suited for use in the Read to the Dogs programs found in many schools and libraries. Children have benefited from the program where they read to dogs because they are non-judgmental.
Obedience & Rally – Although not all Pyrs excel in obedience competition, they can be trained to earn obedience titles. Rally Obedience is another form of obedience competition that focuses more on fun and minimizes precision execution of obedience exercises. Sometimes this is more appealing to Pyrs and their handlers than regular obedience competition. AKC Titles may be earned in both regular obedience and Rally Obedience.
Agility - Great Pyrenees are a large breed, but given their size can be quite agile and athletic. Many Pyr owners are excelling with their dogs in this rapidly growing sport where many levels of AKC titles may be earned.
Carting/Draft Dog – Many people believe that in the past Great Pyrenees helped out on farms by pulling carts and have a natural ability with drafting activities. Drafting Titles may be earned where the dog who is harnessed to a cart maneuvers through a specified coarse and then performs a long haul exercise. Pyrs have fun pulling carts in parades and helping out with home chores.
Back Packing/ Hiking – Since Great Pyrenees originated in France as rugged livestock guardian dogs used to guard flocks of sheep in the Pyrenees mountains, their natural instincts make them suitable for hiking and back packing with their owners. A number of Pyrs enjoy helping out by wearing their own special canine back pack.
Tracking – Although training a Pyr to compete in tracking trials requires dedicated training sessions in a variety of settings, a number of Pyrs have excelled at the sport. Once they understand what you expect of them they work hard to please their owners. This is another activity where AKC offers different levels of Tracking Dog Titles.
Livestock Guardian Dog – Even though the Great Pyrenees was bred as a livestock guardian dog, a Pyr needs to have his natural instincts directed through proper training. Not all Pyrs are suited for the task but those that are do an excellent job of protecting their charges. Often several Pyrs will be put to work in teams to guard their livestock.
Skijouring - Skjouring is a combination of cross country skiing and dog sledding. The dog wears a dog sledding harness which is attached by a rope to a skjouring harness which is worn by the human. While the handler powers themselves forward using skis and poles the dog also pulls the handler. Pyrs have the strength and stamina to participate in the sport and enjoy being out in the snow.