How to Care for a Great Pyrenees

By Melissa Maroff

How to Care for a Great Pyrenees. A dog named after a mountain range has to be mighty. And if that's not proof enough, the Great Pyrenees was originally bred to guard flocks of sheep and protect the homes of shepherds from wolves and bears. In addition to being great protectors, other traits of The Great Pyrenees (known as a "Pyr" for short and Pyrenean Mountain Dog in Europe) are: courageous, loyal, gentle, affectionate and devoted. Of course, a great dog needs some great care. And the following steps will show you how to provide it.

Spay/Neuter your Great Pyrenees. Spaying females before the first heat prevents breast cancer and decreases the likelihood of uterine infections. Neutering males before the age of four prevents testicular cancer, helps prevent prostate problems and curbs aggression.

Keep your Pyrenees' vaccinations, flea and heartworm preventative current and schedule regular medical exams. You can also do a monthly home exam of the skin, eyes, ears, nose, teeth and gums. Have your Pyr's teeth professionally cleaned and scaled on a periodic basis as suggested by your veterinarian.

Feed your Pyrenees a quality dog food with meat listed as the first ingredient and the proper balance of protein, carbs, fats, fiber, vitamins and minerals or a homemade diet. Don't overfeed, especially since Pyrs have low metabolism. An ideal weight for this breed can be between 85 to 125 lbs., with females being smaller.

Provide your Pyr with a decent-sized yard and regular exercise. It doesn't have to be vigorous, but needs to be regular for them to stay in shape. They are not the best candidates for apartment living because they need space.

Brush your Pyr's double coat regularly to keep it in good condition. More brushing is needed when they shed the dense undercoat once a year. The outer coat doesn't get matted, so care is relatively easy. Bathe your Pyr when necessary; it doesn't have to be frequently.

Give your Great Pyrenees motivational training. They don't respond well to harsh corrections or repetitive training. It is best to train and socialize them as puppies before they get bigger and harder to handle. Pyrenees often end up at rescues because they can be a handful for people unaccustomed to dealing with big dogs that have a strong-willed and independent nature.

Tips

  • The Pyr was bred to guard mountains, so he tends to think everything is his territory. It's a good idea to have a fenced yard with a visible barrier so that he realizes he only has his home to protect and not the neighborhood. Pyrenees adjust better to cooler climates. Pyrenees tend to get along well with cats. The Great Pyrenees Club of America Health Information Committee is a good source if you are considering getting a Pyrenees puppy (see Resources below).

Warnings

  • Pyrenees, as other large dogs, are prone to hip dysplasia and can be subject to skin problems and heat stroke in hot weather. The breed is also subject to Factor XI deficiency, a bleeding disorder and bone cancer. The Pyr's low metabolism makes them sensitive to anesthesia, which should be considered when planning surgery.

Author

Melissa writes for various publications on her favorite subject: pets. An animal advocate, she's covered it all from animal care to rescue to dog parks for The Pet Press, Where Magazine and Best Friends Network and was a writer/editor for the Dallas Times Herald. A former stand-up comic, Melissa has appeared on A&E, VH1 and Comedy Central. She lives with her husband and three mixed-breed rescue dogs and is in search of a purse big enough to carry the 80 lb. one shopping with her on Rodeo Drive.

See More Animals