In Case you have not figured it out yet - I am in love with my Pyrs (Great Pyrenees). Great Pyrenees are a unique breed and come with their own list of the good, the bad and the beautiful. If you have never owned a Great Pyrenees - please do the research before you decide this is the dog for you. We will start with some Pyr background knowledge Wait! - we are interrupting this broadcast for you to take a moment to read the text in the image below..
Now that we are off to a good start, but before we proceed any further, please read the text in the image above - got the picture! Great Pyrenees are a breed that originated in the Pyrenees Mountain region between France and Spain. These dogs are very intelligent, headstrong and not recommended for the novice owner that cannot exert themselves as the Alpha. I often have this problem myself - seeing that periodically you can find my 120 lb male sitting in my lap getting lots of loving or my 90 lb female looking at me, with her RBF, when I call her and and walks away while completely ignoring me because she knows I want hugs and kisses. Halley often has the face in the image above. I have gotten accustomed to it, seeing that she sleeps in the house when she desires, opens the door to go out when she wishes and eats whatever is left on the counters - because its food she always wants. Great Pyrenees are very capable of thinking independently and often take it upon themselves to do just that. They are barkers, diggers , barkers, roamers, barkers, "shedders" and did I mention they are barkers. A mature Pyr will land within the 80 -140 lb range depending on male or female. Of course, males tend to be larger and Great Pyrenees will continue to grow until around 3 years old. For a large breed, they have a relatively long life span of about 12 years. Pyrs should always have the double dew claws and they should never be surgically removed. If you plan to breed or show, you may be interested in an AKC or CKC registered Great Pyrenees. Learn the difference between the registering agencies to make sure the pup you choose is suitable for your needs.
Speaking of Pyrenees pups - these are some of the most adorable puppies you will ever see (of course after 2 litters I am very partial to them). Don't let these gorgeous balls of white and badger fluff fool you. While many people fall in love with these puppies, this "love at first site" often results in lots of re-homing because potential parents do not engage in their due diligence. Just like our human kids, Pyrs will go through various stages of appearances and behavioral growth. I am sure you remember those awkward years with the bad hair do, the poor socialization skills and the parental rebellion - you will have these with your Pyrenees. Pyrenees puppies tend to lose that adorable fluffy coat and it may become slick and very not-pyr looking at all. Never fear - the coat will return with a vengeance. Most Pyrenees pups can be purchased without AKC or CKC registration, particularly if they will be used for livestock guardian protection or family pets.That decision will strictly depend on the prospective parents. My first litter was eight puppies. Five went to homes that were utilizing them as pets. Three of them actually are working as service/therapy dogs. My second litter was nine puppies. We had a few repeat buyers from our waiting list - for pet/service/therapy. Most of the second litter went to families with farms and are working LGD's, two went to families with small kids for companionship and therapeutic purposes and one went to a family specifically wanting a service dog.
Great Expectations with your Great Pyrenees from nine months to 2 years - the teenage years. This is when your Pyr will need the most guidance -socialize and train. They can be very headstrong and unwilling to cooperate or listen because of that inherent ability to think independently and ascertain potentially threatening situations that we cannot see. Sometimes those potentially threatening situations can be a squirrel in a tree, an airplane flying overhead or the wind blowing! We have wild turkey that occasionally make it into our yard. Cerberus will run and bark forever when he has one up in a tree - even long after it has flown away. I guess he sees an imaginary turkey in the tree- who knows. He is just 18 months and still has that "I am going to control everything because I know everything" attitude - typical teenage behavior. Pyrenees have developed their adult coat by now. Cerberus has badger markings. Between 6 and 12 months, his badger markings all but disappeared. I was so disappointed, but shortly after that they came back very vividly and now he has beautiful brown markings with some black frosting on his ears. We also have a Chocolate Newfoundland. She is very docile and compliant. She readily learned several commands and tricks. Needless to say, we should never have had the same expectations for our Great Pyrenees, and you should probably not either. Great Pyrenees can learn tricks, easily summed up below:
So what if your Pyr does not live up to your expectations? All of our Pyrenees have been chicken killers. It was like magically one day, and surprisingly, they realized they were to protect the chickens and each one stopped in their own time. If you have Great Pyrenees as LGD's, you may experience this issue also. An acquaintance of mine adopted a 2 year old female Pyr. She said the Pyr was very illusive when killing the chickens so she could not accurately determine if it was a fox, coyote or her dog, especially since the killings had been going on previously and she only adopted the dog a few weeks prior. Turns out, her Pyrenees was pregnant and gave birth to a litter approximately four weeks after she adopted her. The chicken killing stopped as soon as she gave birth and she is very trusted with the chickens now. I think mine did it for sport because the chickens made so much noise when they chased them. They never really attacked or ate the chickens - more or less gave them a heart attack. To some people, this is unacceptable and they will want to re-home their Pyrenees. I personally look at it as chickens are disposable and cheap - my pyrs are not (neither cheap nor disposable). Once they arrive home they are part of the family for the long haul. You don't give your kids away because they have behavior problems, you work through the issues with them.
Pyrenees can be trained to protect chickens - it just takes some patience and time (or some divine intervention that taps them on the nose and says enough, today is the day you will mysteriously stop killing the chickens!). Our dogs do wonderful with the goats, mini horses, cats and even the mini pig. Sometimes your Pyr may exceed your expectations. I guess one reason Halley gets the run of my world is because she slept indoors her first several months. At around four months old, she would paw-slap me in the face until I woke up. I had just recently been diagnosed as a diabetic and did not realize my blood sugar was dropping dangerously low at night. Once she decided to occasionally sleep outdoors at night, she would still bark at my window and paw it vigorously until I woke up. By this time I knew to go eat something so she would let me get back to sleep.
So, are Great Pyrenees the best dogs in the world? It depends on who you ask. Ask my trespassing neighbors and they will likely say no. The Pyr is so huge in size and has a deep intimidating bark to go with it, my pack of Pyrs keep my neighbors off of my 10 acres - and they bark all night to keep all predators away. Personally I think that is a win-win situation and I have big beautiful dogs to boot. I have become accustomed to their different barks and know when I need to get up and eat, when something is actually out as a threat or when they are out in the woods and barking at the sound of their feet rustling the leaves as they run.