Great Pyrenees - Temperament & Personality
Great Pyrenees are have been described as regal dogs. They are thoughtful animals, very observant and vigilant. Their original purpose was to guard flocks and they were charged with making independent decisions about who was a friend and who was potentially dangerous. The modern Pyrenees takes his watchdog role seriously, quietly sizing up newcomers before making a decision. They are fiercely protective of their property, family, and even other household pets. Pyrenees are patient and gentle with kids in their own family, but often don't take kindly to outside children engaging in rough play with their charges.
These gentle giants love to play, and their favorite time to romp and play is after a good snow. Giving them a job to do after a snowstorm, like pulling kids in a sled or hitching the Pyrenees to a cart will keep him occupied for hours.
Great Pyrenees are large dogs that are completely unsuitable for apartment life. They require a lot of space, both indoors and out. However, exercising a Great Pyrenees can be a delicate balance. They can easily overheat, especially in summer so exercise should be kept to a minimum in warm months. This, of course can lead to pent up energy, so it can seem as if the Great Pyrenees is stuck in eternal puppyhood, bouncing around and often chewing everything in site. Taking them on regular walks and adjusting the length and speed based on the time of year is the best way to exercise the Pyrenees. Romping in the yard is fine, too. He will give cues when he has had enough exercise.
Great Pyrenees don't like to be told what to do. They were designed to be independent thinkers, capable of making their own decisions and training can be a challenge, even for experienced dog owners. Consistency and strong leadership are the keys to making a training program work. Positive reinforcement with lots of delicious treats can motivate the Pyrenees to listen. Discipline and harsh tones will get the opposite response the trainer is looking for.
Socialization is very important with this breed. They need to learn early on what the behavior of a welcome guest looks and feels like, so that they are capable of knowing the difference between the “good guys” and any potential “bad guys.” If not taught to properly recognize welcome visitors, Pyrenees can assume all guests are intruders.
Because the Pyrenees were bred to drive away predator like wolves, they can be aggressive toward other dogs, especially males. They do just fine with dogs of the opposite sex and can easily be raised in multiple-dog homes, but new dogs should be introduced carefully and they may not ever accept visiting dogs. Their aggression is difficult to train out of them, and even well-socialized Pyrenees can sometimes turn dog aggressive seemingly out of nowhere, but this is simply their nature.
This breed has a reputation for household destruction. As puppies they are chewers and it can take a long time to teach a Pyrenees the difference between a chew toy and your favorite recliner. This habit can be a hard one to break, especially if owners work long hours. Great Pyrenees are best suited for farm life, where they can be “at work” guarding animals during the day, or in families where there is a stay at home parent. Even the most well behaved Pyrenees may not be able to help himself from chewing while he is left to his own devices.
This vigilant watchdog can drive neighbors crazy with their barking. They will sound the alarm when people come near his home, and tend to bark the most at night. Socialization, training to obey commands to cease barking can help, but it's difficult to train this behavioral out of the Pyrenees.