Although Great Pyrenees do enjoy some popularity today as
pets and show dogs,
they are primarily a working dog, most at home in the field and forest with
their charges and keeping predators at bay. They are generally gentle dogs and
advise predators to keep away by advertising their presence. If, however, a wolf
or coyote is foolish enough to disregard that warning, the Great Pyrenees will
easily show why they are so highly regarded as herd guardians and the foolish
predator, if it’s lucky, will escape with its life. Once the predator has fled
the area, Great Pyrenees will return to their herd or flock. They are most effective
when working in pairs or more where they use team work to insure one dog stays
with the flock and doesn't leave their charges exposed to attack from another
Like all individuals, Great Pyrenees have their quirks. While we have
no qualms about leaving our grandchildren in the tender care of our Pyrenees, we
take great care that each Pyr is able to eat in privacy without competition from
its friends. Apparently, sharing food was never a valued trait in the Pyrenees
Mountains of France and Spain. Never ask two adult Great Pyrenees to share a helping
of food. If you're ever foolish enough to do it once, we guarantee you won’t
do it twice.
There are two schools of thought about working
Great Pyrenees. One says never touch
them more than necessary and they must be with the animals they’re to protect
by the time the dog is five weeks old or they’ll never be an LGD. This may
have some validity if the dog will be working in isolated areas, miles from anyone.
In the U.S., only some areas of Texas and parts of the Southwest have that much
room. For those of us on farms in the slightly more crowded part of the world,
the other school of thought is that Great Pyrenees are genetically LGDs and nothing,
not a late start, not time as a pet, and certainly not friendship with the
people whose flocks and herds they guard, will prevent their natural ability
from coming to the fore if it's given a chance. We’ve had informal rescue dogs that
were well over a year old (some with a known history of only being a pet) and
the longest it has taken any of them to adapt is three months. After six months
of practice they’re ready to start a new life as a guardian for someone’s
livestock. Our dogs are our friends but they live with and protect our goats.
Those who believe in the other school of thought undoubtedly also have good herd
guardians but they’re missing some delightful experiences.
The Great Pyrenees
Livestock Guardian Dogs of Bountiful Farm have worked their way
into our hearts, as I’m sure they will for any of you who choose to meet them.