Dog Behaviour - Great Pyrenees Mountain Style
Dog behaviour is always a primary consideration in making a choice in a canine member of your family. First and foremost, it’s a dog so it will act like a dog generally does. But then we ask: “How does this breed behave?” Is it high energy or more laid back? Is it aggressive or more passive? Is it a hunter? Is it a retriever? Is it a guardian? Is it an attack dog? What kind of dog behaviour can you expect? What kind of behaviour do you want?
What dog activities can you expect from any particular breed? Does this dog like to swim, hunt, track, rescue, retrieve, guard, pull, or just lie around and look good? Different breeds engage in different dog activities. Which of those activities match your lifestyle or your limitations?
Like all breeds, the Great Pyrenees displays dog behaviour that is specific to the breed. So what is it?
First, let’s understand that a Great Pyr is a Livestock Guardian Dog, particularly for sheep, although not exclusively. Now unless you have a flock of sheep or other four-legged critters that your Pyr can guard and protect, you and your family will become her flock. And guard you and protect you she will. It’s in her nature. That’s what she does.
Check out this amazing true story.
This is where your Great Pyr will display his own brand of dog behaviour. First line of defence is marking the territory. Well that’s not so unusual… most dogs do. Next line of defence is barking… and barking… and barking… at anything he perceives to be encroaching on his territory, and we mean anything… including Robins on the lawn! Next line of defence is chasing and looking very ferocious. It rarely comes to that, but when it does, if looking ferocious does not deter the intruder, then physical force equal to that of the attacker is used, and if required, a Great Pyr will fight to the death of himself or his foe.
You should also know that a Great Pyr likes a lot of territory… we’re talking acres by the hundreds here. So if you own a Pyr, your dog will like to explore larger areas than you are likely to own.
It has been said that a Great Pyr displays less dog behaviour than it does cat behaviour. This low activity dog may lie around and appear to be sleeping, but will keep a wary eye out for anything unusual and will spring into action with lightening speed at the first sign of perceived threat. It has keen eyesight, hearing and sense of smell and is aroused by any change to its environment… even a change in the tone of voice can get its reaction.
The Great Pyrenees Mountain Dog is a natural guardian and protector of small animals and children. However all of the normal cautions apply when leaving small children alone with dogs, including this one. Great Pyrs take their role of protecting children very seriously. In fact it has been reported that some Great Pyrs actually intervene between a parent and a child when the parent is in the process of disciplining the child.
The Great Pyrenees temperament can be described as quietly confident with a keen sense of danger and fearless as a guardian and protector. A well-balanced Great Pyr is neither aggressive nor timid. An aggressive dog in excess of 100 pounds is more than most can manage and a timid dog can be fearful and therefore unpredictably dangerous. With proper socialization from an early age, a Pyr will be confident and calm and even may appear to be aloof at times. And those are the social graces you want in any dog, particularly big ones.
The Great Pyrenees Mountain Dog is an independent thinker. The breed has evolved over thousands of years of guarding without human assistance. It has learned to detect, assess and then react. In truth it has been hard wired to not take commands readily. So what may appear to be stupidity, stubbornness or possibly even deafness in a Pyr is normal dog behaviour for this breed.
Great Pyrs are highly intelligent and loyal guardians. If your Pyr does not come immediately when called it’s not because he is being stubborn. No, he has more important work to do before he responds to your command. And that work is… guarding and protecting you.
In addition to guarding, Great Pyrs also like to pull carts and have been used as beasts of burden.
And of course as your pet, Great Pyrs are very good at lying around and looking great!
Now you know what dog behaviour to expect from a Pyr. So what's it like to own one?