The Great Pyrenees dog originated in the Basque country of Europe. The dog was bred to guard livestock, specifically sheep and developed the agility and endurance to climb the steep mountain slopes as they followed the herd. This breed is one of oldest breeds in the world, with fossil remains being found which date back to 1800 B.B. The dogs have very thick coats consisting of an outer and undercoat. Their coat is resistant to all types of weather and the dogs do best in cooler climates. The breed arrived in the United States in 1824 and the American Kennel Club officially recognized the breed in 1933.
The Great Pyrenees is a loyal, affectionate animal and will guard everything and everyone in its territory. To raise a healthy, well-adjusted dog, follow the steps below.
The Great Pyrenees needs a moderate amount of exercise, but if the weather is warm, they are happy to lay around the house. If the dogs are not guarding livestock, they should be kept in a fenced yard or walked on a leash. This breed will tend to wander off if not kept in an enclosed yard since they are used to having a large area to patrol and protect. This is instinctive on the part of this breed. A short hike or a brisk walk is enough to keep your Great Pyrenees healthy.
It is important to brush the fur once or twice a week to ensure it stays smooth and tangle-free. Use a wire bristle brush to help prevent matting. The coat consists of two layers, a coarse overcoat, and a thick undercoat. Use the bristle brush to work completely through both coats. Keeping your dog’s coat regularly brushed will also help reduce the amount of dog hair your pet sheds. When the seasons change from cool to warm, you should brush your dog’s coat daily to help them shed their thick winter coat.
The Great Pyrenees should not be bathed more than once a month and then only if they need it. It is important to keep their coat white and shining, but that may be supplemented by brushing in a dry shampoo. Too much bathing or wet shampooing can dry out your dog’s skin. When you do give them a bath, use a gentle dog shampoo which does not contain soap. Shampooing will help remove the stains and dirt. Use a condition after the shampooing and then dry the coat with a hair dryer, fluffing the fur as it dries. Your Great Pyrenees will probably love digging in the dirt and regular shampooing will help keep their coat clean.
Between baths, use a warm washcloth to gently wash your dog’s face. These dogs can drool excessively and washing their face helps remove their drool. It also helps to clean their face after they eat since they are typically messy eaters.
It is important to ensure your Great Pyrenees socializes with other dogs and people. Start this at a young age. These are big dogs and must be properly socialized so they are not aggressive or territorial. The Great Pyrenees can become very possessive of their family, typically bonding with their family members and be leery of strangers. Early socialization, beginning at age seven to eight weeks can help with this.
Use a dog ear cleaning solution to clean your dog’s ears at least once a week. You can purchase a good dog ear cleaning product at your local pet store. Using a cotton pad, pour the cleaner on the pad and then wipe around the inside of the ears. The Great Pyrenees breed is susceptible to ear infections and cleaning their ears regularly helps prevent your dog from getting an ear infection.
Your Great Pyrenees should receive routine vet care to help keep them in the best of health. There are several health conditions which can affect your dog. These include patellar luxation, hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia and spinal muscular atrophy.
Training Your Dog
Properly training your Great Pyrenees puppy helps ensure your dog is well-behaved and that he will respond to your command. There are several area where you should concentrate on providing the best training possible for your new puppy.
Housebreaking Or Potty Training
Some owners will choose to leave their dogs outside and living with the livestock. If so, housebreaking them is not too important. However, if you are like most American families, your Great Pyrenees will be a pet and stay in the house most of the time. This means your pup must learn to do his business outside and to let you know when he has to go to the bathroom.
When your pup is born, the mother licks the perineum of the pup which stimulates the baby to go pee. This is an automatic reflex and helps keep the area clean. When the pups are about three and a half weeks old, they will be able to walk outside on their own to go potty. The pups will probably not go too far, but they can make it outside. At about eight and a half weeks, the puppies will start wandering further from the den and will go potty further away.
Puppies need to go to the bathroom about once an hour, especially when they are small. When they are asleep, they will break for a few hours, but as soon as they wake up, they should go outside. When the puppies are small, the owner must be very attentive to ensure they go outside on a regular routine. While their bladders are still growing, it is a good idea to confine the puppies to a small area and not let them roam around the house.
All dogs will search around and sniff to find the perfect place to go potty. They are looking for certain scents (feces, urine, ammonia, chlorine, etc.) and when they find the right scent, they will do their business. It is important that the pups be able to find these types of spots so they learn to go to the bathroom outside. It is a good idea to train your pups early on to go to the bathroom on grass and to go as far away from the house as possible.
Momma dogs will rarely leave their puppies during the first 72 to 84 hours after birth. The momma will take care of all the puppies’ needs, even to the exclusion of her own needs. Once they make it through this first period, the mother will be reassured that her puppies are find and will begin to start eating again.
The momma stays close to her puppies during the first three weeks after birth. Once the pups reach this age, the momma will start intentionally leaving them for longer and longer periods of time. When the pups reach age five and half weeks or so, the momma may even begin growling at the pups when they attempt to suckle. When this happens, the puppies will roll over to indicate their submission. This is how the dogs establish the hierarchy within the pack and is one of the most important reasons not to separate the mother and her puppies earlier than eight weeks.
When the puppies are about five weeks old, they will begin to indicate to their mother when they want a certain type of food. The momma will then regurgitate food she has pre-digested. By the time the puppies reach age seven to ten weeks, the pups will be weaned fully away from the momma and will begin eating on their own. They will begin to develop an eating hierarchy at about 16 weeks and will line up to eat. The Alpha dog in the pack will eat and then everyone else.
Within a household, the dog owners are part of the pack and must be the Alpha. This means that the family eats first and then the dogs. When the dogs are eating, be sure no one in the family, especially children bother them. They could demonstrate food aggression and someone could get hurt.
Most pet Great Pyrenees would rather play with their family than eat. After all, they know the food will be there when they are hungry. These dogs will not share with other livestock, however, and can become protective when left with the herd.
To prevent picky eaters, dog owners should feed their Great Pyrenees a variety of foods. It also helps provide the dogs a nutritious and rich diet. If possible, feed your Great Pyrenees raw food. Great foods to include in your dog’s diet are ground beef, ground chicken, yogurt, ground bone, eggs, milk, chunks of unrendered fat, whole bones, dead opossums, hunks of meat, and good quality dog food which contains no corn.
Great Pyrenees dogs will bark all night unless they are trained differently. They do this instinctively to warn any predators in the area to stay away. These dogs will bark to communicate with each other or out of fear. The puppies will begin making noises at around age three weeks. This usually occurs when they notice Momma is gone. They will continue to vocalize as they search for her. She will most likely ignore them and lay down and rest away from the litter. If however, one of the pups begins crying, then Momma will jump up and attend to the baby.
As the puppies grow, their barking will increase. At about six to eight weeks, the puppies are ready to be rehomed. Great Pyrenees pups will bark more up to about 12 weeks of age and then their barking will begin to taper off.
If you are using your Great Pyrenees as livestock guardians, pay attention if they are barking continuously. They are trying to warn you of predators such as coyotes, stray dogs, raccoons or bears.
Play Biting And Fighting
The pups will begin to play fight at about three weeks old. This fighting can get rough and they may even take a little nip out of each other’s ears. The pups learn early on that the harder the bit, the louder the squeal, and the more likely they will be bitten in return. This cycle helps the puppies learn they should not bite.
The dog owner will eventually become the pup’s playmate and then their trainer. It is important that the dog owner establishes themselves as the Alpha so the puppy will listen to their commands. Begin training the puppy at around age three months. It is a good idea to take your puppy to a group training class to get them started on basic obedience.
Adult Great Pyrenees weigh around 100 pounds, with the females weighing a little less and stand between 20 and 32 inches at the shoulder. These are very smart dogs who work hard and want to please their owners. One way to begin training your pup is through play. Use lots of praise and a gentle voice. When the pup stays close to you, reward this with a pat or a treat. Keep the training sessions short and meaningful.
It is important to train your Great Pyrenees on a leash. Your pup will do well under reward-based training and positive reinforcement. Be patient and kind and work hard to help your dog socialize. The most important time to work on this type of training with your pup is between ages eight weeks and three months. Try simple commands and teach them how to heel and come at command. These are all very important basic commands that will help keep the pup safe as he grows. It is imperative that the Great Pyrenees puppy returns when called. Socializing the pup is one of the most important training steps an owner can take. If their pup does not learn how to play and interact with other dogs and people, they can become aggressive and very territorial.
Owning a Great Pyrenees pup can be a wonderful experience. They are smart, loyal and extremely affectionate and will become a true member of your family.