Every so often I am inspired to write about a specific breed of dog. In some circumstances, it is because I have a deep rooted passion for them, and in others, it’s because I see them being so misunderstood that I feel something needs to be said.
My breed of choice this time is the Pyrenean Mountain Dog or as they are more commonly referred to around here, the Great Pyrenees. This fluffy white giant of a dog is making a break out onto the popular canine companion scene and it couldn't make me sadder to see it, it really couldn't.
Of course, most people will raise up in arms and disagree with me when I say that. The truth is it bothers me when ANY breed becomes a fad but it really bothers me when breeds that were bred for very specific purposes become the next couch companion. Mainly the reason I say this is because rarely are they chosen for their minds, working ability, and temperament. Instead, they are often bought because they are cute and as a breed fairly inexpensive to purchase.
The Pyre is my newest most popular clientele, and do you want to know why? Because often the owners are completely unprepared for the type of dog that cute and cuddly fluffy white baby turns into. In order for me to be able to completely give you a picture of what I mean, I need to give you a rundown of this truly amazing breed of dog.
The Pyr is a very old breed and hails from France/Spain where this gorgeous creature was bred as a guardian. His job was to be patient and kind to his flock, yet strong and fierce against potential predators and threats. He was designed in both temperament and structure to wander with his flock through rocky and rough terrain for hours every day, and to always be on the lookout and patrolling the parameters of his territory. A gentle giant, indeed, when it comes to the young under his keep, but one that also has a fierce sense of independence and generally an unflappable self-confidence which he needs to do the job for which he was designed. They need to be extremely intelligent to survive and attend to their flock appropriately, and are not designed to look to others for guidance or approval.
This is a dog that expects to be, and more often than not, should be equal to his owner, unlike other breeds that were bred to please us, to do our bidding, and become our shadows and echoes of our thoughts. This breed was bred to be free thinking, in charge of his own actions, and responsible for the lives of other living things. This is a dog with a big bark and has no hesitation to use it. The bark is actual its first line of defense, and if you are ever greeted by the massive bulk of a patrolling Pyr using his voice to warn you off, I guarantee you’ll think twice before approaching.
They deserve an owner that understands this, who is willing to live with them on equal terms, and isn't out to change who they are. This breed has an uncanny sense of empathy and an ability to look deep within the soul of those with whom it shares its life. It generally loves children because they appeal to its built in sense of responsibility but like any breed, they need exposure to them early on to truly appreciate their presence in their life.
This is a breed that requires a high level of awareness, and even responsibility from its owner. You need to make an extreme effort to socialize them appropriately. All dogs, of course, need this but when it comes to any of the guardian breeds, these are dogs that are fairly new on the pet market and don’t have the same amount of breeding away from natural purpose to allow easy transition into their new job. They need to experience all the things that they will be expected to tolerate, and they need a gentle, kind, and consistent level of guidance to learn and accept these things.
They do not respond well to any level of harsh treatment and will often become very reserved or introverted if they are treated as such. They are definitely not a breed that will tolerate harshness from their handler, and will resort to retaliation if it is applied. You may not see it immediately but you will eventually.
They do best with owners who are willing to understand them, and compromise between their own wants, and the dog’s natural ability.
They can be a truly wonderful breed to share with whom to share your life in the right circumstances, but what I am hoping to do with this article is to inspire those who have them to try a little harder to understand them, and those that are considering getting one to do a lot of research first to ensure that you will be able to live together in harmony!!!
Something to get that research and understanding started!
**you can also find them on facebook Great Pyrenees Club of Southern Ontario Rescue**