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Do Great Pyrenees Dogs Make Good Pets?

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Our Great Pyrenees, Ranger.

Our Great Pyrenees, Ranger.

Giant Dog Breeds

If you've read any of my articles about dogs, you probably know that I love big dogs. My favorite dog breed is the Great Dane, hands down. The biggest problem with Danes is their short lifespan. On average, they live just six to eight years, which isn't nearly enough time to spend with these gentle giants. When I lost my Dane, Shylock, I wanted a puppy to help fill the void, and my first inclination was to search for a Great Dane puppy. My husband, however, talked me out of a Dane, reminding me that we'd lost four Danes over the past four years. Every time one left us, it took a piece of my heart. Hubby suggested we try a breed that lives longer, so I did some research. I'd always been interested in the Great Pyrenees, and I discovered that they live, on average, about ten to twelve years, or almost twice as long as the average Dane lives. After more research, I was sold, and we began searching for our very own Great Pyrenees.

I love giant dog breeds!

I love giant dog breeds!

Adopt a Great Pyrenees, or Buy One?

I'm a big believer in adopting unwanted pets from shelters and rescues. Two of the pooches we have now came from our local animal shelter. I searched local shelters and rescues, and I searched online for Great Pyrenees puppies and adult dogs that were in need of homes. Sadly, the only ones I found that were within 200 miles of us were dominant males, and I knew that wouldn't work with the three male dogs we already had. Luckily, I found some Great Pyrenees puppies for sale in Florida, a neighboring state. I contacted the owner, and hubby and I made the trip to the Sunshine State to see the pups.


Ranger, at twelve weeks.

Ranger, at twelve weeks.

Our Great Pyrenees Puppy

We finally located the livestock farm that had the pups. It was out in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by acres and acres of scrub oaks, sand hills, and pine forests. The family raised sheep, goats, cows, horses, and chickens. They used nine adult Great Pyrenees to protect their livestock from predators, so these were real working dogs. They weren't really pets. They lived outdoors, with the livestock.


When I saw the only male pup, it was love at first sight. He was a ball of white fluff, with badger markings on one eye and one ear. He was adorable! Once I held him, I just had to have him. We paid the owner, loaded Ranger in the back seat, and headed home.


We expected Ranger to be scared for the first few days, and he was for the very first day. By the second day, however, he seemed perfectly at ease in his new surroundings and with his new canine brothers. He quickly proved to be fearless! When it came to food, treats, and toys, he intimidated our golden retriever (80 pounds), our Dane-Lab mix (90 pounds), and even our male Dane (245 pounds). And we'd been worried that the big dogs might hurt the puppy!


Ranger is incredibly stubborn,unlike our other dogs.

Ranger is incredibly stubborn,unlike our other dogs.

Are Great Pyrenees Stubborn?

I had read that the breed is very stubborn, and what I read is correct - at least with Ranger. It didn't take long for Ranger to learn his name, but he doesn't always respond to it. When I call him, he often looks at me, thinking, “Hmmm. Do I want to get up and go to her, or do I prefer to stay where I am?” This behavior is much different than that displayed by our other dogs. When we call them, they can't get to us fast enough.


Ranger is also hard-headed when it comes to the word “no.” He understands what it means, but that doesn't mean he always obeys the command. He'll look at us with those black eyes, like he's trying to figure out what the consequences of ignoring us might entail.


Ranger loves Jake, our golden retriever.

Ranger loves Jake, our golden retriever.

Are Great Pyrenees Aggressive?

Other than guarding resources, Ranger isn't aggressive with our other dogs. In fact, he loves playing with them. He isn't even aggressive with the cats or with strangers. He welcomes everyone into our home with tail wags and kisses, including people he doesn't know. That's how he acts when he's inside the house.


Outside, however, he's like a different dog. Our back yard is fenced, and when he's outdoors, he intently guards his territory. If anyone or anything approaches the fence or even passes by our yard, he acts as if he's protecting us all from some ax-murderer. He barks, growls, snarls, and generally acts, looks, and sounds ferocious. And he's not even grown yet!


This pup can be pretty destructive!

This pup can be pretty destructive!

Are Great Pyrenees Affectionate?

Ranger is pretty affectionate – when he wants to be. He's not like our other dogs or like any of the Danes we've had. All of these dogs would sit for hours while being petted, but not Ranger. He wants to be petted for a while, but then he seems to get bored and ready to find something more interesting.


He does love kids, though. He gets incredibly excited when the grandchildren visit, and he just can't seem to get enough of them. He especially enjoys rough-housing with my teenage grandsons. I think maybe he enjoys playing more than he enjoys being loved on.


Our four dogs.

Our four dogs.

Are Great Pyrenees Good Indoor Pets?

The answer to the above question is yes...and no. as far as house training, Ranger has been amazing. We got him when he was ten weeks old, and he's never had an accident in the house. I've had many dogs, but I've never had one that didn't have to be trained to potty outdoors. It's like he just knew to do his business outside.


On the other hand, Ranger often prefers to be outdoors. He likes to patrol the fence perimeter. He thinks that's his job, and he's bound to take the task seriously and perform it. Pouring rain, nor frigid temps, nor thunderstorms will compel him to come inside if he wants to stay outside, much unlike our other furkids. At the first drop of rain or hint of thunder, they're ready to run to the safety and comfort of the house.


When it comes to calmness, Ranger is very laid back indoors. He and the other dogs have short bouts of play, and then he's ready to take a nap. He also enjoys watching TV. He does bark when someone knocks at the door or rings the doorbell, and we're okay with that.


Great Pyrenees as Pets: The Final Word

I think Ranger is a pretty good pet, in general. He's just more independent than the Danes we're used to. He's affectionate, but not as affectionate or as adoring as our Great Dane or our golden retriever. He's generally well mannered indoors, and he doesn't have “accidents” inside. He might be happier with an actual job to do, but we provide him with lots of toys, and he has other dogs to play with. He seems happy and well adjusted, other than his occasional tiffs with Brutus, our Dane, over resources. These skirmishes never involve actual bites, by the way. All in all, I'd say Ranger is a good boy, and I'm glad we have him!



The Great Pyrenees:

A Working Great Pyrenees in Action:

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