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  1. #1
    Puppy (New Member)

    Prospective Great Pyrenees Owner

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    Default wondering if I should adopt Great Pyrenees

    Hello all!! A little background on myself, I own chickens and some baby goats. I live out in the country and am worried about predators getting to my goats. I've been looking into getting a Great Pyrenees to be a guard dog and it just so happens that my brother who is involved in the local animal shelter has come across a 10 month old male Great Pyrenees. My question is should I adopt him or should I get a younger Pyr from a breeder? I want a Pyr that will connect with the goat, myself, and my family. I have 2 children that I want to be involved in the training of the Pyr that way he knows to accept commands from them as well as myself. Any and all advice is greatly appreciated! I'm hoping to have more background info on the rescue dog soon. Since he is a rescue dog I'm assuming his previous owners were not that great.

  2. #2
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) Christi's Avatar

    Current Great Pyrenees Owner

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    Hi and welcome to the forums, thank you for coming and looking for information first. I have to wonder how much research have you done about the Pyrenees breed? Training is challenging, not because they are not smart dogs, but because they have been bred for thousands of years to think for themselves, and without much human interaction. At best an adult Pyr will take your "command" as a "request" that they will "consider" following. I would not judge the previous owners to harshly, Pyrs in rescue are far too common. Many people get a Pyr without understanding the complexity of the breed. They bark, a lot, and loudly, and mainly at night. They guard, if they don't have a flock of livestock, they will make the family a flock and guard them. Sounds great, till Ma-in-law shows up and picks up on anxiety and barks nonstop. Or something like a grocery bag blows into the yard, and they perceive it as a threat and they bark till it is investigated, or eliminated.

    I would look up breed traits, and really think long and hard about weather or not this is the right fit for your lifestyle and family. I say this not to discourage you, but to point out that Pyrs are a complex breed that as lovely and endearing as they can be, they also have thousands and thousands of years of selective breeding that are not going to be overcome.

    http://dogtime.com/dog-breeds/great-pyrenees#/slide/1

    That is long, but sums up the Pyr fairly well.

  3. #3
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) Jewel's Avatar

    Current Great Pyrenees Owner

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    10 months is still pretty young so it's still possible to mold it into a LGD if it already has the potential to do so. But first I'd try to determine whether it at least visually looks like a purebred. There are A LOT of pyrs in Texas, along with a lot of pyrs, there A LOT of pyr mixes. If the pyr mix is actually a LGD mix, pyr/anatolian, pyr/akbash, pyr/maremma, then you will have the LGD instincts. But pyrs mixed with herding breeds or sporting breeds (extremely common) may not be as suitable for LGD work.

    You are asking your dog to guard fowls. That may be difficult for some dogs. It may take a while before you are able to train your rescue to get used to your chickens, or even your baby goats, if the dog had not been exposed to livestock before. But this issue is no different than if you get a young pup from someone. Not all pups succeed as LGDs. Even with pups that have good instincts, you also cannot leave a pup to deal with your livestock by itself for quite a while, like for a year in most cases and more in others, without your direct supervision.

    There is no way to tell you whether you should adopt this young dog without knowing this individual's personality. I would not speculate much on whether his prior owners or good or not so good. It is irrelevant to the extent that if you decide to adopt him, it is your responsibility to mold him into what you need him to be. Feeling sorry for him or treat him in certain ways because you speculate what happened to him before usually isn't very productive.

    Usually when you are adopting, it is better if the dog had been fostered with a family first so that you get more realistic feedback of how it does in a home setting. Shelter dogs are harder to assess. Ideally you'd want to visit the dog several times, first without the kids then when you think the dog can handle it, introduce the kids and see how he reacts. You also want to see how he reacts with other dogs as well.

  4. #4
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) SebastiansMom's Avatar

    Current Great Pyrenees Owner

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    Welcome to the forum, and thank you for doing some research before committing to this sweet boy. While I don't think that anyone likes the idea of a ten-month-old puppy languishing in a shelter, that same puppy in the wrong home environment can be just as bad-if not worse.

    These dogs can be wonderful additions to the family, but as Jewel has mentioned, not all are well-suited for livestock protection work. For some, their independent nature and instinctual need to think for themselves can make them challenging pets. They are highly intelligent animals and definitely can (and should) be trained, but sometimes for them, knowing what you want them to do and actually doing what you want them to do are two very different things. In my experience, the very hardest part of training my Sebastian was finding a trainer who understood his LGD personality, and implemented techniques that worked with his personality, rather than against it. Positive, rewards-based training is the way to go with these guys. Despite their size and strength, these guys are pretty sensitive, so training techniques based heavily in pain-avoidance, dominance, or "dog psychology" are best avoided. Not only will you never truly be the "Alpha" of a Pyr, these techniques will teach the dog that you are unpredictable and not to be trusted. Trust is everything in the Pyr-human relationship.

    Equally as important as training with LGDs, is containment. Pyrs have an instinctual need to roam, so secure, physical fencing is a must. Electronic fences are not typically effective with these dogs, and have the potential to do more harm than good. Tethering these dogs outside is also not a good idea, as it can lead to serious aggression issues that are difficult and expensive to treat.

    So, is this puppy right for you? Well, that really depends. Some of it will depend on the puppy's personality, and some of it will depend on your situation and expectations. If you are mostly looking for a family pet who will alert you to the possibility of a predator getting close to the goats, then this puppy might be a good fit, depending on his personality. If you are looking for a serious working dog who will live outside with the livestock, then I would definitely start researching reputable breeders who raise serious working dogs. A reputable breeder does not sell dogs on Craigslist, or in the back of a pickup truck. They will likely have as many questions for you as you do for them, and will allow you to come to their farm to see how their puppies are raised, and meet the puppy's parents. A reputable breeder will have extensive knowledge about the breed, as well as their individual breeding lines. They will provide proof of health screening of both parents (eyes, elbows, hips, etc), and will agree to take the puppy back at any time, for any reason, no questions asked. Most importantly, the right breeder will serve as a wealth of information about the breed, will be able to help you get started training the dog for the work it was bred to do, and will be able to answer any questions you have along the way. Registration of the puppies with a breed club (AKC, CKC, etc) does not necessarily mean that the breeder is a good one.
    Sebastian is on Facebook!
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  5. #5
    Old Dawg (Senior Member)

    Current Great Pyrenees Owner

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    a question... do you know of anyone in your area using Pyrs for livestock guarding? Seems to me that a pup would learn best from an "elder" on how to properly protect a flock. Maybe you could work out an arrangement.

    I can't really speak from personal experience... my Wiley was always intended to be a companion... an "inside" dog. I found that he trained relatively easily (using positive reinforcement), once you realize Pyrs have a short attention span. When I took him to classes, I worked only in brief increments... about 5-10 minutes at a time. Beyond that, he got bored & ignored me. Treats only go so far. But we made it through... two obedience classes... CGC training... even a "tricks" class. If I had one piece of advice... training doesn't end when the classes are over... it's an on-going thang... and it never truly ends...

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