We are often asked if Pyrs make good pets and if we would sell a
Great Pyrenees for a pet.
Our answer to both is an unequivocal yes but...
The but... means that there are some things you should know
about Pyrs before you can even think about making an intelligent decision about
whether a Great Pyrenees should be your choice for a pet:
||Pyrs can be loving and enjoyable pets. Here is
Barrèges lounging in her favorite relaxing position and again
relaxing with Pierre.
1. Pyrs drool. Drool isn't necessarily something we
think about often when we think of pets. We usually think about love and
petting and loyalty. Well, Pyrs are loving and loyal and they love to be
petted but the fact is they drool, too. Some are bigger droolers than
others but when any Pyr drinks water in your home, you're going to be walking in
water over what can sometimes be a considerable area, depending on how far your
Pyr moves immediately after drinking. This may not be a subject included
in your dreams about a really great dog but it's one you need to include if you
think that really great dog might be a Pyr.
2. Pyrs shed. Great Pyrenees have a beautiful
coat. It's a gorgeous, self-cleaning, relatively maintenance-free coat for
an LGD. For a pet, it's still gorgeous, not quite as self-cleaning as we'd
like, and quite a bit higher maintenance. Part of the reason that the
Pyrs' coat tends to take care of itself is that the coat sheds hairs, lots of
them, so that you will have a hair coat on any furniture or carpet where your
Pyr lies. If you have tile or hardwood, the hair based dust bunnies can
grow to truly staggering proportions unless you keep that dust mop busy on a
regular basis. Owners of Great Pyrenees never wear dark
clothing. All of this is during the normal part of the year. Pyrs do
what is called "blowing their coat" usually on an annual basis
although some dogs will do it twice a year. Blowing the coat might be
compared to Spring Housecleaning for the Pyr's coat. Almost everything
must go! Great clumps of hair can be gently pulled from the coat or they
fall out. The Gorgeous coat starts to look a little thin and raggedy as
it's "out with old and in with the new". During this time the mild
distribution of Pyr hair on all domestic items seems insignificant compared to
the explosion of hair during the "blowing of the coat".
3. Pyrs roam. Great Pyrenees have been bred for
thousands of years to keep their territory free from predators. To them,
this often means they need to run patrols beyond their boundaries to ensure that
predators are not sneaking up on the Pyrs' home territory. In the Pyrenees
Mountains, this worked well. It also works in the huge ranches of the
Southwestern US. It doesn't work well in a city, a small town, or even in
the countryside in most areas of our country. To protect the Pyr from its
own instincts which may lead to being hit by a car, being shot by a neighbor,
being apprehended by the local Animal Control Authorities, being adopted
by some well-meaning pet needy family, being stolen for research, or any of
several other less-than-desirable alternatives, Pyrs must never be allowed out
without being on a leash or in a Pyr-proof fenced enclosure. Pyrs will lie
and tell you they'll be good and stay with you but in this respect they are
Pyrs Dig. Pyrs love to dig. Usually it seems to be to
find a cool spot to lay in but sometimes they do it just for the enjoyment.
Pyrs are also not above tunneling out when they're trapped in a place where
they just don't want to stay any longer. Right is a picture of
Barrèges landscaping the Sittingers' yard to better suit her whims.
5. Great Pyrenees are protective, especially of
children. Sometimes they will protect children from playmates who appear
to be trying to cause harm to their children and sometime they will protect
children from adults who appear to be causing the children harm. In many
cases this is exactly what you want the dog to do. At other times, it can
be a bit awkward trying to discipline your child with an adult Great Pyrenees
standing between you and your child, especially when it's telling you you're not
getting near the child until you present a much different attitude. How
would you handle that? It is a real possibility and something to consider
ahead of time. You also need to consider how other children and their
parents might react if your Pyr tells the children that they aren't getting near
your child until they present a different attitude.
6. Great Pyrenees is a large breed of dog. They are
large enough that an exuberant tail wag can clear a coffee table. They are
also large enough that your dinner, which you left unattended only for a minute,
can disappear without a trace, except perhaps, for a little slobber, a few white
hairs, and some drippings that were too quick to be caught.
7. Pyrs are independent. Great Pyrenees have been bred for thousands of
years to make their own decisions. This trait makes them excellent
guardians but is responsible for causing some human canine behavioral
specialists to rate the Great Pyrenees as "not very intelligent"
because they don't seem to understand quickly what the "specialist"
wants them to do. The truth is, Pyrs catch on almost immediately, they
just don't care unless what the human wants matches what the Pyrs want.
The effective outcome of this trait is that Pyrs are a bit willful when it comes
to obedience. Our house dog, Bob, has been to obedience school on and off
leash. He still has to decide to obey every time. Don't expect
instant obedience as you would from a breed that has been bred to please humans
and the earlier you start, the better.
8. Pyrs bark. A lot. At night! This is
part of their genetic make-up for warning predators to stay away. This has
also caused major problems for Pyr owners who bought a cute little puppy without
knowing much about what they were doing. No one of whom we are aware
recommends surgical de-barking and we would never place a dog where this would
be a requirement. If your Pyr won't be able to bark, don't get one.
9. Pyrs are usually food aggressive toward other
dogs. This means that they don't share their food with other dogs,
although we can remove any food from our Pyrs' mouths any time. Pyrs
practice food aggression with their litter mates when they're little so they are
pretty good at it when they grow up. If you have other dogs in the home,
your Pyr can be trained to live with them and often learn to bond with them, but
sharing food requires a very special relationship. Be prepared for fights
With all of this, "Why", you might ask, "would
anyone not out of their mind want a Great Pyrenees for a pet?" The
only answer we can give is that they are the most marvelous dogs in the world.
A picture of Blanca enjoying the scenery on her car trip to her
new home in CA. Note the pet safety restraint system she's
At a stop in CO, it didn't take Blanca long to win the heart of a
grandchild in her new family.
All Pyrs that leave our home as pets are puppies that have been
spayed or neutered or are sold with a spay/neuter deposit. The pup is
brought into our home for at least a month to make the adaptation from being an
LGD to being a house pet and to have a final evaluation of their personality to
make sure they'll do well in a home environment. Consequently Pet Pyrs
will usually be about 12 weeks of age when they leave here.
In order to more closely align our practice with our principles,
we feel it's necessary for us to restrict our customer base in regards to the
purchase of Great Pyrenees for pets.
We will not sell
a Great Pyrenees to any family that has children younger than 8 years of age
living at home unless the family owns a Great Pyrenees or has had a companion
Pyrenees pass away recently. We believe a family with
young children should not own a Great Pyrenees as a pet unless they already have
extensive experience with the breed. We do this not for the safety of the children who
would never be endangered by their Pyrenees, but for the safety of the dog
who is not prepared to deal with the intricacies of our modern world and
whose efforts to protect the children could easily be either mistaken or
inappropriately handled by someone acting in ignorance. We have found
no way to screen potential buyers and satisfy ourselves that this would not
We will not sell a Great Pyrenees for a pet to
someone who has no previous experience with them. People who have
owned livestock guardians or previously owned a pet Pyrenees will be
We will not sell a pet Great Pyrenees to a home
where all the family members work out of the house or the dog is left
unattended several hours every day.
We will not
sell a Great Pyrenees for a pet to anyone who represents to us that color is
of vital importance. When we have pure white Great Pyrenees
born on this farm they are sold as a normal puppies and not
as "special" dogs because of color. We feel that Great
Pyrenees are special enough in their own right and will not traffic in
To those of you who may think these criteria
are arbitrary, we can only agree. Nevertheless, they are criteria with
which we must abide to satisfy ourselves and our consciences when placing a
pet Great Pyrenees.
Dan & Paula Lane
Copyright © 2002 [Bountiful Farm]. All rights reserved.