Owning a Great Pyrenees is not for the faint of heart–they bark, roam, dig, and have a very independent nature. If you’re considering adopting a Great Pyrenees, ask yourself these 6 questions:
Do I mind loud, frequent barking? Great Pyrenees are guard dogs who use their loud, booming bark to intimidate any potential threat. Threats can range from a person walking by to a leaf blowing in the distance. Since they have exceptional hearing, you won’t always know their reason for barking. Barking is an integral part of the breed, so training them not to bark is not an option. If you are interested in adopting a Great Pyrenees, ask the rescue about the dog’s current barking habits. This will give you a better idea of what to expect in your home; but remember, dogs can exhibit different behaviors depending on their environment.
Is obedience a top priority? The Great Pyrenees was bred to work independently without any help from humans. Even if you are not adopting a pyr to guard your livestock, this trait will still be apparent. A Great Pyrenees can be trained, but it will take a lot of work to convince your dog that you are worth listening to. Even then, don’t expect perfect obedience; a pyr’s independence will often win!
Do I want an off-leash dog? It is well known in the Great Pyrenees community that “an off-leash pyr is a disapyr.” It is their natural instinct to roam as far as necessary to protect their flock. As mentioned above, their independence will typically win and “come” is not in their vocabulary. This is not a breed that you will train to remain on your property without physical boundaries. A fence, at least 6 feet tall, will help keep your Great Pyrenees contained.
Do I mind craters in my yard? Dogs dig and the Great Pyrenees is no different. However, holes from a giant breed will most likely become the full-size of your pyr. A Great Pyrenees likes to dig and create cool areas to relax in the summer, so expect a grassless area the size of your dog.
Am I willing to spend time on grooming? The Great Pyrenees has a thick, double coat, which requires very frequent maintenance to prevent mats and allow the coat to function properly. While their self-cleaning coat requires very few baths, brushing should be done multiple times per week.
Can I handle white fur on everything? Even with the best grooming routine, Great Pyrenees shed – everywhere. You will find white clothes on your furniture, in your car, and in your office—even if your dog has never been there. White fur will most likely appear in your food; but hey, it’s a condiment, right?
If you think a Great Pyrenees is for you, you’re about to share your life with the most loving and loyal breed. As livestock guardians, Great Pyrenees are generally good with children and small animals and their sweet and gentle disposition makes them perfect for therapy work. A Great Pyrenees would give his life to protect yours.
The most important thing to remember when adopting a Great Pyrenees is to accept and love the breed traits. Trying to fight them will only set yourself and your dog up for a lifetime of frustration. If after answering the above questions you’re still certain you want a Great Pyrenees dog breed, here are a few tips to search for your perfect match.
1. Be honest and realistic with your expectations.
2. Discuss these expectations with the rescue and/or foster parent.
3. Be prepared for an adjustment period while your dog settles in.
4. Don’t hesitate to ask for support.
If you love the traits of a Great Pyrenees, you’ll quickly learn, “Pyrs are like potato chips – you can’t just have one!"
Kelsie McKenzie is the owner and fur-covered girl behind the scenes of It's Dog or Nothing, a resource for ‘all things Pyrenees.’ She currently lives near Seattle with her Air Force husband and two Great Pyrenees, Mauja and Atka. Kelsie is also a content creator, social media manager, and an avid animal lover.
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