AGILE, GENTLE, WELL-MANNERED
History & Origin
The Great Pyrenees is said to originate in Central Asia or Siberia about ten or eleven thousand years ago. This elegant, majestic, strong-willed and somewhat reserved breed has a long history as a guard dog of sheep and cattle along with Shepherds. It is thought that these large white dogs arrived in the Pyrenees Mountains, the mountain range in southwestern Europe in about 3000 B.C.
Over the years, Pyrenees were used as guard dogs by the people of the region. Even today, Pyrenees prove their innate talent as cattle and livestock guardians. The Great Pyrenees became quite popular in Medieval France where they became brave fortress guards. The Nobles in France, in particular, found this breed quite impressive. In fact, the demand for Pyrenees in the Royal Court grew significantly and the dog was known as the “Royal Dog’ of France in 1675. The breed was adopted as the Royal Dog by the Dauphin in the court of King Louis XIV.
While the ‘Royal’ adoption of Pyrenees sounds exciting, these dogs are known for their relationships with shepherds, flocks and even shepherd’s family. During the time the Great Pyrenees wasn’t guarding the stock, he was found conveniently lying in the front of the shepherd’s home.
The migration of the Great Pyrenees to other European regions wasn’t fruitful as the English lost interest in the breed. In 1662, Pyrenees were mated with the black Retrievers that resulted in the new breed called Landseer Newfoundland.
Queen Victoria of Great Britain owned a Pyrenees dog in 1850. And the breed was first registered with the Kennel Club in London in 1885. The Great Pyrenees was imported to the United States in the 1930s and the breed was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club in February 1933.
PERSONALITY AND CHARACTER
The Great Pyrenees can be described as an independent, loyal, fearless, affectionate and attentive dog. Your puppy would be calm, composed and somewhat serious. But, he has it all takes to be a happy and loving family dog. Thanks to its elegant looks and ‘royal’ expressions, your puppy would remain quiet indoors. He would love you to take him out for long walk as well as give him chances to stretch out his muscles.
Young, but also older Great Pyrenees love to play in the snow or pull a cart as these activities give them useful purpose in life.
Remember that your Pyrenees puppy should be accustomed to people, pets and its surroundings in his early months. Unless you establish yourself, your family and people who know as the alpha, your Pyrenees puppy will make his own judgments and do whatever he thinks is right.
Your canine friend would eagerly make use of the deep ‘bark’ at night. This breed was expected to guard the livestock and the trait is present even in modern Pyrenees. Because the Great Pyrenees worked and figured out things himself, you can face some training challenges.
Your Pyrenees is a nice, well-behaved social guy both inside the home and even outdoors with the right training and socialization. He would live to play with kids and other dogs. However, if you don’t train your pet from an early age, he may become aggressive or fearful and may not allow pets, children and other people inside your home or around you with or without your permission.
Interestingly, Pyrenees don’t hesitate to make themselves feel at home. Simply put, your pet would try to make his way into the bed or on any type of furniture including chairs, sofas and couches even if he knows he can’t fit.
NUTRITION AND FEEDING
This breed has a life span of ten to twelve years. Nonetheless, there are a few things to keep in mind when caring for your Great Pyrenees.
You need to feed at least 4 to 6 cups of high quality dry food to your Pyrenees divided into two main meals. The amount of food you give will depend on the size, metabolism, activity level and build of your dog.
A highly active Pyrenees needs more food than a puppy who loves lying around. Also, the quality of food you feed your pet makes a lot of difference. Needless to say, the better the quality of food, the healthier your pet will be.
Clean and fresh water should be available at all times.
To know whether or not your dog is overweight, you need to look at him closely. Remember you should be able to see his waist and feel his rib without having to press too hard.
Puppies need to eat many times during the day. But the amount of food being very small. Your Great Pyrenees puppy has a small stomach and the food goes very quickly through his system to provide him with energy.
In the beginning, you will probably feed him three to four times a day. As he grows older, this will become less frequent. By the time your puppy is one-year-old, he will only eat twice a day.
There should always be fresh water nearby. Most dog foods make dogs thirsty so don’t forget to have a bowl with water for your puppy.
Give only the amount of food stated on the packet. Too many dog owners give their dogs too much food, thinking their puppy is still hungry. A good appetite is a sign of a healthy dog! This does not mean you need to give it more food.
The Great Pyrenees is a large dog, which means it needs to eat more than other pups. Nonetheless, feeding too much will lead to weight problems. This is dangerous for you puppy’s health.
Get your Great Pyrenees puppy his own bowl. Feed him at set times in the same place. Dogs like routine. It gives them a sense of security to know that every day at a certain time, they can expect food. It will also help to get your puppy used to his new home.
COAT AND GROOMING
Size and Coat
The Great Pyrenees, like his name is a giant dog. Male Pyrenees stand 27 to 32 inches weight and weight almost 160 pounds. The females are slightly shorter – stand 25 to 29 inches tall and weigh between 85 to 115 pounds.
Your Pyrenees will have a double coat, i.e. an undercoat as well as the top coat. The coat you see from the outside should be thick and long and feel coarse. Sometimes the top coat can be slightly wavy, but it should never be curly.
Male Pyrenees have a prominent ruff around the neck and markings on back thighs. The undercoat on the other hand is dense and wooly. Your pet’s face and ears will have short, silky and fine hair.
Usually Pyrenees are white with markings that are tan, gray, badger or reddish brown in color. These markings usually appear on the tail, ears, on the head, but rarely on the body. Remember that the undercoat can either be shaded or white.
Your Great Pyrenees is going to shed a lot so expect white hair and fur all over your home. That’s right. You should expect frequent cleaning of your furniture, clothing, carpets and even your food to be on your to-do list!
Despite the heavy shedding, your Pyrenees is easy to groom. You need to invest just 30 minutes of your time every week to clean and comb your pet’s hair. Remember that you should never shave your canine friend’s hair even during the hot weather. Unlike humans, Pyrenees needs the long, silky coat (hair) to protect itself from the sun.
Other than combing and brushing your pet’s coat, you can groom your pet’s eyebrows, ears, forelegs and feet. Giving your puppy a bath once every two to three months is enough. But make sure you use a high-quality dog shampoo to avoid stripping natural oils from your pet’s skin.
Don’t forget to check the Great Pyrenees ears for awful odor, dirt, inflammation and redness. Also, use a gentle ear cleaner to wipe his ears once a week using a soft, clean cotton ball. Never stick thick cotton swabs into your dog’s ear canal or you might damage his hearing. If you find your pet frequently shaking his head or scratching his ear, check for signs of infection.
Pyrenees need to get their teeth brushed twice a week to prevent the buildup of tartar and plaque. Daily brushing is good, but it is not necessary. You also need to trim your puppy’s nails if you don’t want your shoulder or laps to get scratched.
Pyrenees need to be trained for vet examinations so handle your puppy’s paws frequently and look inside his ears and mouth. You should check his skin for rashes, redness, soreness and other signs of infection.
EXERCISE AND TRAINING
Exercise, Energy, and Activities
Great Pyrenees have survived for centuries with an independent mind of their own, so you can expect to them to be manipulative and dominant. Even your puppy would show you that they want to be the boss.
Young Great Pyrenees pups need proper balance of exercise to stay healthy. You need to give them enough exercise, but never over-do, or under-do it as it can damage their growing bones, muscle, joints and ligaments. Adult dogs need more exercise, but you should never choose to exercise them in hot or humid weather.
What’s interesting is that young Great Pyrenees can be very energetic and you need to give him extra supervision. Remember, if left alone, your pup can become bored and destructive and make use of his powerful jaws to rip everything in your living room in pieces.
Having a sturdy, tall and secure fence around your backyard is absolutely necessary before you let your Pyrenees play or run outside. Ideally the fence should be five to six feet high to prevent these enthusiastic jumpers from escaping. Remember if your backyard has piles of snow, your pet would walk right over it and run away. What’s worse is that you can’t spot him running in the snow!
As a general rule, you need to exercise your pet for 20 to 30 minutes every day to keep him fit and healthy. And this is not ‘intense’ for large dogs like Pyrenees! Your pet would prefer cool or cold weather to go out for walks and exercise. Don’t let your pet exercise too much in the summer heat or his body will be overheated.
Training and Sleep/Rest
The Great Pyrenees need to have some sort of training right from the time he’s a small, adorable pup. But despite his strong build and large size, you need to stick to gentle training. Your puppy has a wonderful memory and he won’t forget things easily. Punishing your pet or shouting and yelling will only make him fearful and timid which becomes quite a problem.
Crate training works best when you’re trying to potty train your Pyrenees puppy. Make sure you use a big crate where your furry ball can sleep and rest peacefully. You also need to remember that Pyrenees are social pets and they’re not supposed to be confined to their crates all day long. Give him toys to play with to prevent boredom and destructive behavior.
Training your Pyrenees puppy can be difficult. After all, this intelligent breed is stubborn and bossy at times. But if you start early and maintain consistency, things will go smoothly as planned. Make sure you set clear rules as soon as your puppy comes home. Remember, you simply can’t stop the Great Pyrenees from thinking and acting on its own.
If you don’t want to see a huge 100 pounder on your bed, then the 25 pound adorable pup should not be allowed on furniture, bed or couch either. Socialization and friendly training is a must for a Great Pyrenees. Keep him around your family, and other pets to help him socialize.
Last, you should consider having a strong leash during training as your dog will use his weight to pull you around. Never let your dog off leash unsupervised. Also, take your puppy to kindergarten training classes so that he becomes a sociable, well-trained and loving family dog.
The great overall size, elegant looks and unsurpassed intelligence makes the Great Pyrenees an adorable breed. But like other dogs, your furry ball can have some health issues like hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia and cataracts.
Cataracts or cloudy vision occur in the old age and can be surgically removed. Sometimes, your puppy would show signs of Entropion. The eyelids would fold inwards and you would find your puppy rubbing one or both eyes. The condition however can be surgically corrected.
More serious problems that can affect the Great Pyrenees are knee joint dislocation and lack of adrenal hormones. So if you’re buying a Great Pyrenees puppy, ask the breeder for health certificate that the parents and the pup are free of problems. The Great Pyrenees is a large breed and has a lifespan of 10 to 12 years.
To Sum Up
Pyrenees sense of sight and hearing is so powerful and accurate that he can sense threats and intruders through closed windows. As you can guess, your pet would let you know all what he sees, hears and feels with his paw! Don’t be surprised if your Pyrenees taps your shoulders or lap to let you know how much he loves you.
The Great Pyrenees is known to love kids and bond closely with their owners and family. They are beautiful large dogs and make excellent family pets. Regular brushing and occasional baths can be a wonderful bonding experience for you and your pup. Working with a vet and giving your Pyrenees a healthy diet can increase its longevity.
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