Great Pyrenees – everyone loves them when they’re puppies. They’re big white balls of fluff that grow up into large, protective, smart, independent dogs. Some people call them “willful” or “stubborn,” and others even say that they’re dumb because they don’t immediately follow commands the way some other dogs do. But these habits are what makes the Great Pyrenees an excellent guard dog for the right owner. Curious about what makes a Great Pyrenees well-suited for protection? Are you wondering if a Great Pyrenees is right for you? Keep reading to see if you like the traits this gentle giant has to offer!
The Root of the Behavior
The Great Pyrenees was bred to be a flock-guarding dog, working independently of its owner to protect livestock from predators. This meant that they had to be independent, wary, large, powerful, brave, and above all, dedicated to the care of their flock. While most Great Pyrenees now live in family homes, this bred behavior hasn’t gone away – they’re not necessarily the easiest dog to live with, though they can be excellent companions, especially if they’re socialized at a young age. Once the Pyrenees has accepted you and your family as its “flock,” you’ll find them to be quite gentle and placid, and you can often find Great Pyrenees with a patient temperament towards children. However, it’s important to remember that your Pyrenees was bred to be an independent, strong-willed protector. The Great Pyrenees will bark often, especially if he detects something he believes to be a threat and will often be active in the evenings – because that’s when they needed to be most alert to protect their flock.
You may also find that your Great Pyrenees does not respond as swiftly to your commands and may take time to consider them (almost like a person). For this reason, we don’t recommend you off-leash your Great Pyrenees – they may not listen when you tell them to come back! The Great Pyrenees also need a moderate amount of space, and you’ll want to make sure that you have a fenced-in yard so that they don’t try to expand their territory. They’ll patrol the borders of the yard the way they would patrol the edges of your flock, and their instinct is to roam widely, so keeping them contained is important. But if you think you can handle the idiosyncrasies of a Great Pyrenees, you’ll find that they make incredibly loyal, gentle, intelligent pets that are ready to guard you with their life. Though they’re slow to attack, preferring to scare things off with their intimidating size and loud bark, you can rely on your Pyrenees to protect you and your family if the need arises.
Encouraging the Behavior
The best way to “encourage” your Great Pyrenees' natural guard behavior is to do your homework when selecting a breeder. Just like any dog, Pyrenees have vastly different attitudes; some can be very aggressive from the outset, while others may be more gentle and inclined towards lethargy. Finding a breeder who offers you the right type of temperament for your dog is a great first step. You’ll likely also want to find an obedience trainer who can help you handle your Pyr’s independent streak, as it can be harder than normal to get them to learn and obey standard commands. A good trainer will help you work with your pet, finding the best positive motivators to encourage your Great Pyrenees to listen to you and follow your instructions.
We also highly recommend introducing your Great Pyrenees to a number of people when they are small. Because their instinct is to guard, some Pyrenees will greet strangers with suspicion, and may even bark or snap at an unexpected human in their presence. However, they will generally get along fine with someone if you’ve taken the time to properly introduce them, and Great Pyrenees also generally accept other household pets with little to no problem. They may even incorporate your other pets into their flock, guarding and protecting them as well!
Other Solutions and Considerations
Your Great Pyrenees loves to guard and patrol, and they’re incredibly loyal to their flock. That means you need to be loyal to them as well. If you choose a Great Pyrenees as your guard dog, you need to show him affection and love, as well as provide it with plenty of playtime, toys, and time outside. A bored Great Pyrenees is a destructive Great Pyrenees, and the last thing you want is to come home and find your furniture torn to shreds because your dog didn’t know what to do with themselves! Great Pyrenees are not going to be as cuddly or outwardly affectionate as some other breeds of dog; they’re often seen as being a bit “aloof.” But they love you, and they are incredibly attentive to your mood. Keep that in mind and you’ll be delighted with your furry family guardian.
If you think you can handle the unique temperament of a Great Pyrenees, then they are a wonderful guard dog for any family. They love children and are protective and caring of every human (and animal!) they adopt into their “flock.” So if you’d like a big, beautiful dog that was once recognized as the royal dog of France to guard your home, the Great Pyrenees is a perfect choice for you.
Written by a Poodle lover Sarah Jeter
Veterinary reviewed by:
Published: 03/29/2018, edited: 01/30/2020