FREQUENTLY ASKED
QUESTIONS ABOUT
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. Thanks!!!

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 them?

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 lot?

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.

4. About how much money do you have to spend on food for them a week?

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.

7. Do 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).

8. How 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 too.

9. Can I make money breeding dogs?

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 breeding dogs.

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