Great Pyrenees Temperament
What's Good About 'Em,
What's Bad About 'Em
Great Pyrenees Temperament, Personality, Behavior, Traits, and Characteristics, by Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2015
The AKC Standard describes the Great Pyrenees as "strong willed, independent, and somewhat reserved, yet attentive, fearless, and loyal to his charges -- both human and animal."
A majestic-looking dog with a kindly, regal expression, the Great Pyrenees is calm, composed, and serious.
As an adult, he is quiet indoors and content with long daily walks and regular opportunities to stretch out. He does love to romp in the snow, and pulling a cart or carrying a backpack gives him a purpose in life.
Aloof with strangers, he should be accustomed to many different people in his early months.
The Great Pyrenees is patient with his own family's children, but some are overprotective when neighbors join in for rough-and-tumble play. Likewise, he may be protective of his own family's pets while aggressively driving off others.
These characteristics stem from his background as a livestock guardian, where he was expected to keep watch over the flock, making his own decisions about friends and foes and appropriate actions. Unless you establish yourself as the alpha (number one), the Great Pyrenees will trust his own judgment and do whatever he pleases. This breed is not an eager-to-please Golden Retriever.
Great Pyrenees have a deep, impressive bark, which they tend to use freely, especially at night when they are most vigilant.
Fences must be secure, for Pyrs have a tendency to roam. Some produce "slime" (excessive saliva).
If you want a dog who...
- Is very large and rugged, resembling a majestic white bear
- Will protect your horses, llamas, sheep, goats, or chickens
- Can be found with a strong protective temperament, or a more easygoing mellow temperament
- Tends to be serious and steady, rather than playful and silly
- Is quiet indoors and content with moderate exercise
A Great Pyrenees may be right for you.
If you don't want to deal with...
- A very large dog who takes up a lot of space in your house and car
- A heavy dog who wants to sit on your feet and lean his weight against your leg
- Destructiveness when bored or left alone too much
- Aggression toward animals who don't belong to his family
- Strong-willed mind of his own, requiring a confident owner who can take charge
- Providing secure fences and lots of supervision to prevent wandering
- Deep booming barks
- Very heavy shedding
A Great Pyrenees may not be right for you.
- choosing the RIGHT breeder and the RIGHT puppy
- or choosing an ADULT dog from your animal shelter or rescue group – a dog who has already proven that he doesn't have negative traits
- training your dog to respect you
- avoiding health problems by following my daily care program in 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy
More traits and characteristics of the Great Pyrenees
If I was considering a Great Pyrenees, I would be most concerned about...
- Providing the proper balance of exercise. Young Great Pyrenees need enough exercise to keep them lean and healthy, but not so much that their soft growing bones, joints, and ligaments become over-stressed and damaged. Adult Great Pyrenees need more exercise to keep them in shape, but not in hot or humid weather for fear of overheating. The proper amount of exercise can be difficult to regulate in giant breeds.
Since you have to minimize their exercise, young Great Pyrenees can be very rambunctious. They will romp with uncoordinated gawkiness all over your house. You need to substitute extra quantities of companionship and supervision. Otherwise, left alone, young Great Pyrenees become bored and destructive -- and their powerful jaws can literally destroy your living room.
Great Pyrenees are most satisfied when guarding livestock. You can substitute pulling a cart or sled, or backpacking, or a similar canine activity, but if you simply want a casual pet for your family, I do not recommend this breed. Great Pyrenees were never intended to be simply household pets.
- Providing enough socialization. Great Pyrenees need extensive exposure to friendly people so they learn to recognize the normal behaviors of "good guys." Then they can recognize the difference when someone acts abnormally. Without careful socialization, they may be suspicious of everyone.
- Animal aggression. Most Great Pyrenees will treat the pets in their own family as members of their flock. But they have strong instincts to drive away animals who do not belong to their family. Many Great Pyrenees are dominant or aggressive toward dogs they don't know. Many do not get along with cats. If anything goes wrong in the breeding, socializing, training, handling, or management of this breed, it is capable of seriously injuring or killing other animals.
- Heavy shedding. Great Pyrenees shed a LOT. You'll find hair and fur all over your clothing, upholstery, carpeting, under your furniture -- even in your food.
- The strong temperament. Great Pyrenees have an independent mind of their own and are not pushovers to raise and train. They can be manipulative, and some are willful, obstinate, and dominant (they want to be the boss) and will make you prove that you can make them do things. You must show them, through absolute consistency, that you mean what you say.
To teach your Great Pyrenees to listen to you, "Respect Training" is mandatory. My Great Pyrenees Training Page discusses the program you need.
- Noise. Unless you live on a farm or ranch away from close neighbors, Great Pyrenees should never be left outside in your yard, unsupervised. Their booming barks will have your neighbors calling the cops to report the nuisance -- or perhaps letting your Great Pyrenees out of his yard so he'll wander away.
Frankly, most Great Pyrenees are "too much dog" for the average household. This is a serious working dog with tremendous strength. Very few people really have the knowledge or skills necessary to manage this breed, or to provide the activities that keep him most satisfied.
To learn more about training Great Pyrenees to be calm and well-behaved, consider my dog training book,
Teach Your Dog 100 English Words.
It's a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will make your Great Pyrenees the smartest, most well-behaved companion you've ever had.
Teaches your dog to listen to you, to pay attention to you, and to do whatever you ask him to do.
My dog buying guide, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, will teach you everything you need to know about finding a healthy Great Pyrenees puppy. Health problems have become so widespread in dogs today that this book is required reading for ANYONE who is thinking of getting a purebred, crossbred, or mixed breed dog.
If you'd like to consult with me personally about whether the Great Pyrenees might be a good dog breed for your family, I offer a Dog Breed Consulting Service.
Once you have your Great Pyrenees home, you need to KEEP him healthy -- or if he's having any current health problems, you need to get him back on the road to good health.
My dog health care book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy is the book you need.
Raise your dog the right way and you will be helping him live a longer, healthier life while avoiding health problems and unnecessary veterinary expenses.
Please consider adopting an ADULT Great Pyrenees...
When you're acquiring a Great Pyrenees PUPPY, you're acquiring potential -- what he one day will be. So "typical breed characteristics" are very important.
But when you acquire an adult dog, you're acquiring what he already IS and you can decide whether he is the right dog for you based on that reality. There are plenty of adult Great Pyrenees who have already proven themselves NOT to have negative characteristics that are "typical" for their breed. If you find such an adult dog, don't let "typical breed negatives" worry you. Just be happy that you found an atypical individual -- and enjoy!
Save a life. Adopt a dog.
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Copyright © 2000-2015 by Michele Welton. All rights reserved.
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