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Great Pyrenees Information
The Great Pyrenees is an extra-large dog that typically gives birth to up to 9 puppies at a time. Male Great Pyrenees grow up to 32 inches tall, while females grow to 30 inches. The males weigh 100-160 lbs., while the females weigh 85-115 lbs. The Great Pyrenees typically lives for 9-12 years, though some dogs have lived as long as 15 years.
The temperament of the Great Pyrenees is that of a faithful and dedicated working dog. Bred to guard flocks of sheep high in the mountains, the breed was intelligent, noble, and committed to its profession. Throughout the centuries, the breed served as a working farm dog, sentry, sheepdog, military dog, and in a variety of other capacities. Those skills and noble temperament have persevered through time, and are still very present in the modern day dog.
The breed is independently minded and able to think on its own. As the only companion of the sheepherder, the dog formed a partnership with humans and does better working with its master than following orders. The breed is a natural watchdog, and evaluates strangers and visitors before making a decision about whether they are welcome or dangerous. The breed is protective of both its loved ones and its property.
Though it is a working dog at heart, the Great Pyrenees still demonstrates a great deal of affection towards its human family. The breed is good with children from its family, but requires watching around strange children, as it will try to protect its own kids during rough play. It is also suggested that caution be taken with younger children.
The breed is trainable, though training can be a challenge. As stated before, the Great Pyrenees is used to working with humans as a partner, and therefore can be stubborn about following commands. The breed also needs early socialization in order to temper some of their overprotective tendencies.
Great Pyrenees have a high level of energy. After all, they spent much of their day following sheep through the mountains. The breed loves to play, especially in colder weather and in the snow. Great Pyrenees are said to exhibit playful puppy-like behavior for much of their lives. They crave activity, exercise, games, and play.
The primary job of the Great Pyrenees for centuries was to protect flocks from other animals. Because of that, they do show aggression toward other dogs and pets. They can be taught to get along with other animals, but socialization is extremely important.
The Great Pyrenees has a reputation for destruction. They are not a dog that is meant to be kept indoors all day. Boredom, loneliness, lack of exercise and play can lead to some serious damage. This breed does best with a large yard, an owner who is frequently home, or on a farm or large property.
While the Great Pyrenees is an excellent watchdog, it is also a vocal one. Excessive barking is another trait of the breed. Proper training can temper this tendency.
One quirk of the breed is that it has a very strong dislike for having its ears handled. Touching the ears or getting the dog used to having its ears handled can help with the ear cleanings that will be required down the road.
The Great Pyrenees has an extremely thick, long, rough coat that served to protect it from the elements and wild animals. It is a heavy shedder, and pet owners should expect to do a lot of maintenance and cleaning in regards to the coat. The coat goes through a major shedding twice a year, and loses so much hair that it is not considered shedding, but “coat blowing” instead. While the Great Pyrenees is not normally shaved, many owners choose to clip the area around the dog’s back end and legs in order to prevent anything from getting caught in the fur.
Frequent combing and brushing (2-4 times per week) can help to lessen the shedding. It will also help to prevent matting and tangles. This dog must have its dewclaws either removed or constantly trimmed, as they grow into the skin if left unchecked. Nails on the toes need regular trimming as well.
The ears will need regular cleaning, and this will have to be done with care, as the Great Pyrenees hates having its ears handled. Cleaning the ears is recommended in order to prevent infection and bacteria.
The Great Pyrenees can experience some health problems, including bloat, joint problems, eye ailments, and some skin conditions. The breed is particularly sensitive to heat, so it is important to limit activity and keep the dog cool and hydrated on warm days.
The Great Pyrenees is a high energy breed and should receive a great deal of daily exercise. This dog is not intended to spend a great deal of time indoors, and should have a large yard or area to roam in. The breed does extremely well on farms or in homes with a large amount of land. The Great Pyrenees loves to play, but is still willing to work. It is happy to pull children on a sled or cart, and still thrives as a working dog.
Training and socialization are highly important for this breed, and it is a good idea to seek advice for what methods work best. The Great Pyrenees is not the typical dog, and though it requires strong leadership, it will not necessarily respond to an “alpha.”
Owning a Great Pyrenees
Before purchasing a Great Pyrenees, the most important thing for a potential owner to consider is whether they can accommodate the breed’s need for space, exercise, and attention. If purchasing a puppy, it is always best to go through a licensed breeder. Young, adult, and older Great Pyrenees are also available for adoption through several national rescue agencies who take in owner surrenders, rescues, and strays. The Great Pyrenees is a breed that does well with rehoming and adapting to a new family.