GREAT PYRENEES & PYRENEAN SHEPHERDS
| I plan to post a variety of
FAQs on topics ranging from training to earcropping to livestock guardian dogs.
To submit questions you'd like to see addressed, please email
Patricia with the subject line FAQ.
1. A 13-year old asks: Are Great
Pyrenees hard to take care of ?
All dogs are hard to take
care of. If your parents aren't willing to shoulder some of the burden, I'm
afraid you'll need to wait til you have a household of your own. Dogs know when
their presence is resented & they develop unfortunate behaviors as a result
(digging, chewing, housesoiling).
2. What is
the longest time they live if you take very good care of
I had a Great Pyrenees live to 14-1/2. And I have a Pyrenean Shepherd
who is currently 18 years old. I've heard stories of Great Pyrs living to 18
& Pyr Sheps over 20. But with all breeds, every day over 10 is a blessing.
3. Do Great Pyrenees slobber a
That depends very much on the dog & the bloodline it comes from.
I have a low tolerance for slobber myself, so tight mouths are a priority
around here. All the same, there will be a little slobber from time to time.
You need to know when to expect it (hot weather, stress, excitement) & keep
a towel on hand to deal with it.
how much money do you have to spend on food for them a
About $10 a week if you feed ultra-premium food like Innova (and it's
worthwhile to spend the money for the health benefits). But food is not the
biggest expense you'll have. All told, you need to plan on spending $1000 a
year to own a dog (any breed, mixed breed or purebred)
5. Are they mean dogs?
No dogs of any breed are
inherently mean. People make some dogs mean either on purpose or because of
neglect. Some dogs are born with excellent temperaments & the people who
love them bring out the best in them through training & good care &
management. Other dogs are born with temperaments that cause them to stress too
much in strange circumstances. Such dogs need very experienced handlers to
raise them properly. See Carol Benjamin's book _The Chosen Puppy_ to learn how
you can choose a pup (of any breed) with a good temperament.
6. Do they shed a lot?
Great Pyrenees shed all year
round. You need to brush them at least once a week to keep the hair under
control. If you get one, you should plan on doing some extra vaccuuming.
Pyrenean Shepherds shed very little, but still need a good brushing once a week
to keep them from tangling.
Great Pyrenees like the outdoors?
Yes, but they don't usually
like to be outside very long alone. Their traditional job was guarding large
flocks of sheep. They were constantly in the company of other animals &
very often the human shepherd as well. A Pyr left alone for long periods in the
backyard of a suburban neighborhood will almost always become a nuisance
(barking, digging, chewing, escaping, etc).
much do Great Pyrenees cost?
A quality puppy not destined
for the showring generally costs between $400-$800 dollars depending on the
breeder. That generally includes a requirement that the owner spay or neuter
the pup. It also should include a written guarantee against genetic defects.
For more on what to expect from your breeder, see the Great Pyrenees Club of
America website & look at the Code of Ethics. There's a link to it from my
Pyr links page If you see a Pyr pup for sale for less than that, it's probably
not really a bargain. But beyond $400, an increase in price does not
necessarily mean an increase in quality. For example pet shops sell very poor
quality Pyrs for very high prices. Your pup's parents should be OFA Good or
Excellent (an objective evaluation of the hip joint conformation. FMI see
www.offa.org ) & the breeder should be able to tell you what s/he is doing
to avoid other problems like sub-luxating patellas, sub-aortic stenosis,
epilepsy and auto-immune deficiencies. You should meet both parents & as
many relatives of the pup as possible. If those dogs have uniformly good
temperaments & health then that is a good sign that your pup probably will
9. Can I make money breeding
No. There is a very persistent myth out there that breeding dogs is a
jackpot of easy money. Actually, breeding dogs is a very expensive hobby. No
matter how much you charge for puppies, the money taken in is a small drop in a
big bucket of expenses. Most serious breeders probably lose around $10,000 a
year. In general, the more they show, the more money they lose. But even the
infamous puppy mills & backyard breeders who don't show at all & don't
even provide much vet care or food for the dogs still lose money (though some
don't realize how much they're losing because they notice the cash coming in
from puppy sales, but they don't notice how much they're getting nickel &
dimed every day). Most people who start breeding dogs stop within just 3 years
as it becomes apparent they aren't going to make any money. Yet the myth
persists. Perhaps it's because we see the rich and famous associated with show
dogs sometimes --Bill Cosby, Greg Louganis, the Dodge family, the Firestone
family, the Rockefellers. But of course, none of these people became rich by