Ranking only 70th on the latest AKC list of the most popular dog breeds, the Great Pyrenees, also called Pyr or Pyrenean Mountain Dog outside of North America isn’t one of the most popular pets.
This ranking implies that dog owners looking to get a new puppy will consider 69 other breeds before giving the Great Pyrenees a chance. But does that make this breed a bad dog, or are Great Pyrenees good dogs?
Great Pyrenees are good dogs, and here are 11 reasons why:
- They are smart at what they were bred for.
- Great Pyrenees are good with kids.
- Great Pyrenees are great guard dogs.
- Their heavy shedding coat is easy to manage.
- Great Pyrenees aren’t naturally aggressive.
- They can be trained with patience and consistency.
- Pyr are friendly with family but reserved with strangers.
- They can live with other Pyrs.
- Great Pyrenees are generally healthy dogs.
- They are not big eaters.
- Great Pyrenees are good family dogs.
To help you better understand these Great Pyrenees’ qualities, I’ll discuss each one so you can find out if this is the dog for you.
So, if you want to know if the Great Pyrenees is a good dog to get, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s get started with the breed profile.
|Great Pyrenees||Breed Characteristics|
|Origin||France (Pyrenees Mountains)|
|Type||Working / Companion / Showing|
|Height||27-32 inches (Males)|
25-29 inches (Females)
|Weight||100 pounds or more (Males)|
85 pounds or more (Females)
|Temperament||Calm, Patient, Intelligent, Independent, Loyal, Energetic, Brave, Protective, Confident, Powerful, Affectionate, Playful, Good Family Pet|
|Appearance||Elegant, Majestic, Broad Head, Wide and Deep Muzzle, Black Nose, Dark Brown Eyes, Long and Bushy Tail, Well-balanced, V-Shaped Floppy Ears|
|Health Issues||Bloat (GDV), Hip Dysplasia, Eye Disorders, Cancer|
|Coat Type||Double-coated, Medium-Long Length|
|Easy to Train||Yes|
|Good for new owners||Yes|
|Cost||$1,000 – $2,500|
- 1. They Are Smart at What They Were Bred For
- 2. Great Pyrenees Are Good With Kids
- 3. Great Pyrenees Are Great Guard Dogs
- 4. Although Heavy Shedding, Their Coat Is Easy To Manage
- 5. Great Pyrenees Aren’t Naturally Aggressive
- 6. They Can Be Trained With Patience and Consistency
- 7. They Are Friendly With Family but Reserved With Strangers
- 8. They Can Live With Other Pyrs
- 9. Great Pyrenees Are Generally Healthy Dogs
- 10. Great Pyrenees Are Good Family Dogs
- 11. They Are Not Big Eaters
- Are Great Pyrenees Good Dogs?
- Let's Wrap This Up!
1. They Are Smart at What They Were Bred For
As dogs bred to guard sheep and later humans, Great Pyrenees are considered smart for the job they were bred for. They originated from the French side of the Pyrenees Mountains, and as a livestock guardian protected flocks from predators such as wolves or bears.
However, in other aspects of intelligence like trainability, Pyrs are deemed to be only of average intelligence. So, they are not the smartest of dogs, but they are intelligent in their breed role.
Generally, dog smartness is understood in terms of their ability to display behaviors associated with intelligence such as cognition, memory, information retrieval, and application in new situations, among others.
These behaviors include:
- The ability to read human body language, such as gestures.
- The expertise to hear, learn and act upon human verbal commands.
- Their ability to demonstrate a level of cognition by engaging in deception or tricking behavior such as escaping.
- Not forgetting commands when they don’t practice them for some time.
- Their ability to show concern to humans in distress with gestures like cuddling.
- Their ability to solve puzzle toys.
- Their skill to master new techniques.
According to Pet Net ID, a public pet registration platform, Great Pyrenees will score a three out of five in all these areas after completing a related IQ test. This implies that Great Pyrenees have above-average intelligence.
2. Great Pyrenees Are Good With Kids
So, we’ve established that they are good dogs, but are Great Pyrenees good family dogs?
Great Pyrenees are good with kids and will put up with a child’s playful nature while taking the role of the child’s protector and companion. In their guarding nature, Great Pyrenees consider children as their flock to watch over.
As such, Pyrs will enjoy playing tug of war, a game of tussle, or even pulling a carriage with your kid on it. However, the Great Pyrenees will not give up their guarding dominance even with children. This means that your Pyr will play the role of protector and companion with your children but won’t let the kids be his masters.
This is why Great Pyrenees should be supervised around children and should never be left alone with overly active children that can get on their nerves.
3. Great Pyrenees Are Great Guard Dogs
Great Pyrenees are perfect guard dogs because they were initially bred to guard sheep. They will show common guard dog qualities like being:
- Hostile with strangers
- Loyal with family members
As the keen guard dogs that they are, Great Pyrenees consider any stranger, human or animal, to be a predator that should be kept away. They will readily bark at strangers and unknown guests to the home.
According to the US National Great Pyrenees Rescue, Pyrs are often surrendered to rescue homes because their noise-making behavior often upsets their neighbors.
This implies that the Pyrenees might not be your dog of choice if you live in an apartment (not to mention their large size), but it is a perfect pick for homeowners living in the countryside.
Watch This Great Pyrenees In Action…
4. Although Heavy Shedding, Their Coat Is Easy To Manage
Great Pyrenees are heavy shedders and will shed all year long. They will also blow their coat when seasons change, creating a snowstorm of fur. This means Pyrs are not hypoallergenic and will leave plenty of their white fur around your house.
Because of their continued shedding, you should brush Great Pyrenees’ coats once or twice weekly to remove loose fur. Nonetheless, there’s a good side to their heavy-fur coat; it does not tangle and is dirt-resistant. That’s why your Pyr will always carry that elegant white or white with markings coat.
Also, do not clip your Great Pyrenees fur in summer because they need their hair to protect their skin from the sun.
If fur stirs up your allergies, do not go for a Great Pyrenees. If you already own a Pyr, you know that white fur on your black clothing is inevitable. Overall, owning a Great Pyrenees should be paired with owning a good vacuum cleaner!
5. Great Pyrenees Aren’t Naturally Aggressive
The Great Pyrenees are not aggressive in nature. However, because they naturally tend towards guarding and protection, Pyrs can turn aggressive when they perceive a human or another animal as a threat.
The AKC breed standard for the Great Pyrenees describes this breed as:
- Of quiet composure
Although Great Pyrenees can be independent and self-willed and tend to be territorial and protective towards their own, excessive aggression toward humans should be considered a fault.
Proper training early in life is essential in taming any aggressive tendencies in Pyrs. Older, well-trained Pyrs may show signs of aggression if they become less tolerant or suffer pain and discomfort due to diseases.
However, being aggressive in older age is not exclusive to Great Pyrenees. A study of purebred dog breeds (Pyrs not included) found that advanced age increased the likelihood of aggression toward people among dogs.
6. They Can Be Trained With Patience and Consistency
The Great Pyrenees aren’t easy to train. As working dogs developed to independently guard sheep, Pyrs have a mind of their own and will readily ignore your commands or act on them indifferently. However, that doesn’t mean they can’t be trained with a bit of patience and the right techniques.
Although working dogs are placed among the most trainable categories of dogs, every dog is unique, and each dog breed can show variation from this general rule.
For example, in Stanley Coren’s ‘Intelligence of dogs’ list, Doberman Pinschers feature at number five in the category of the brightest dogs, while Great Pyrenees are listed at position 64 in the category of dogs with a fair working and obedience intelligence. But both are working breed dogs.
Dogs in the category of “fair working and obedient intelligence” will:
- Understand new commands only if repeated 40-80 times.
- Obey a command the first time it’s given only 30% of the time.
This could explain why Great Pyrenees require extra patience and persistence in obedience training. However, as with all dogs, Pyrs will learn better and faster if training is started early in life and if trainers use positive reward-based techniques.
7. They Are Friendly With Family but Reserved With Strangers
Despite their apparent serious disposition, Great Pyrenees are extremely friendly with family. They consider family members their own flock to love, protect, and guard. However, they have their reservations with both human and animal strangers as these are considered intruders.
Because of this, Great Pyrenees will enjoy a cuddle next to their owner and family members but will act cautious, appear extra alert, or show aloofness when meeting new people. The AKC gives the Great Pyrenees a 5/5 mark for being affectionate with family and only a 3/5 for openness to strangers.
8. They Can Live With Other Pyrs
Overall, Great Pyrenees get along well with other dogs. However, while a Pyr will be patient with the playful puppy, they can be rough with dogs of the same sex and would rather live with Pyrs of the opposite sex.
The Great Pyrenees easily bond and enjoy the company of other Great Pyrenees. If the companion Pyr has a compatible temperament, the bond is even stronger. Ensuring compatibility is key when rehoming Pyrs.
Also, because they are livestock guard dogs who have territorial and dominant tendencies and need a sense of control, Pyrs prefer sharing their home with other Great Pyrenees of the opposite sex.
Two Great Pyrenees of the same sex can be hard to manage and may easily get into unstoppable fights. Incompatibility between two adult Pyrs of the same gender is another of the reasons Pyrs are often brought back to rescue homes.
9. Great Pyrenees Are Generally Healthy Dogs
Great Pyrenees are generally healthy dogs and will live up to 10 to 12 years with good care. Nonetheless, Pyrs are also genetically predisposed to certain genetic diseases, including:
- Dental infections
- Bone and joint issues
- Eye problems
- Hypoadrenocorticism (Addison’s disease)
A 2017 study on the prevalence of hypoadrenocorticism found that of the 100 dogs diagnosed with hypoadrenocorticism during the study period, most were Great Pyrenees dogs.
Great Pyrenees are also listed among dogs most prone to bloat (Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus). This susceptibility is linked to the nature of your dog’s GI, which is also responsible for how much your dog eats.
10. Great Pyrenees Are Good Family Dogs
Great Pyrenees can be good family dogs. Although they have a breed-related tendency to be self-willed and stubborn, you can nurture their friendly, calm, patient, and loyal personality through training to make Pyrs excellent family dogs.
If your family lives in a city apartment, you may want to pass to your next breed option. This is because Great Pyrenees are vocal, and their nocturnal and daytime barking can be a nuisance to those living around you.
Instead, a family living in the country will enjoy the loyal and friendly company of a Pry as well as the dog’s protective and guarding nature.
Great Pyrenees will enjoy fun times with family, including children. Nonetheless, it is best not to overstretch it as Great Pyrenees will not enjoy non-stop children’s play or family fun activities.
Also, it is best to go for a Great Pyrenees puppy that you can nurture as a family pet from the beginning. Pyrs’ self-will and independent natures can make them disinterested in obedience training. Training a mature Great Pyrenees is no doubt harder than training a puppy.
11. They Are Not Big Eaters
Great Pyrenees have a slow metabolism and do not eat as much as you would expect for a dog of their size. This means you should be careful not to overfeed your dog while at the same time ensuring he’s getting the wholesome diet that he needs for healthy growth.
Dogs with a slow metabolism can easily overfeed, increasing the risk of overweight and obesity. A slow metabolism is also responsible for some gastrointestinal disorders such as bloat and constipation. It is recommended that Pry owners feed their dog small frequent meals to aid normal digestion.
Because of their slow metabolism, the breed can also be easily overmedicated. As such, the Great Pyrenees Club of America advises that Pry owners alert their vets about weighing their dogs before giving any meds so they can give a correct dosage for their dog’s weight.
Are Great Pyrenees Good Dogs?
Apart from their popularity, people consider dogs to be good if they have certain characteristics and temperaments. As you can see from the sections above, Great Pyrenees have most of these desirable traits. Let’s sum up some of their most desirable attributes.
Great Pyrenees are good dogs because:
- They are friendly with their family.
- They are great with kids.
- They are calm and not aggressive by nature.
- They are healthy and long-living.
- They are good guard dogs.
But good dogs also have some downsides, and the Great Pyrenees are no exception. Here are a few negatives you should know about before going for a Great Pyrenees:
- They are vocal.
- They shed a lot.
- They are not so friendly with dogs of other breeds.
- They will easily wander away from home.
- They are not easy to train.
- They are large.
See also: Is a Great Pyrenees Right for You? Weighing the Pros and Cons
Luckily, you can counter these Great Pyrenees’ limitations with early training, socialization, and a bit of patience and consistency from the owner and trainer.
Let’s Wrap This Up!
Are Great Pyrenees good family dogs? Generally speaking, yes. But that depends on what you are looking for.
If you are looking for a friendly, loyal, calm, and easy-to-groom guard dog, then a Great Pyrenees is a good dog for you.
If you don’t want a dog who sheds and barks a lot, likes taking unauthorized strolls in the neighborhood, and is not easy to train, then the Great Pyrenees is not a good dog for you.
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