How to Care for a Great Pyrenees

by Susan Paretts
The Great Pyrenees breed gets its name from the mountains of Europe.

The Great Pyrenees breed gets its name from the mountains of Europe.

pyrenees image by jerome scalvini from Fotolia.com

Originating in Central Asia or Siberia, the Great Pyrenees gets his name from the Great Pyrenees mountain range in southwestern Europe. The breed is one of the oldest in existence, with remains of his ancestors found among fossils dating back to 1800 B.C. The breed has a thick, weather-resistant coat and was originally used to protect flocks of sheep from predators in the frigid mountain weather and to pull sleds. They arrived in the U.S. in 1824 and were recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1933. Care for your Great Pyrenees to raise a healthy, well-adjusted dog.

Step 1

Exercise your Great Pyrenees daily, keeping him on a leash when not in a completely fenced-in yard. A dog of this breed tends to wander off to establish a large territory and patrol it, which is part of his instinctual behavior. He will do this when not kept on a leash or confined by a tall enough fence to prevent his escape. A Great Pyrenees enjoys a brisk walk or short hike and does not require strenuous exercise.

Step 2

Brush your Great Pyrenees' fur one to two times each week with a wire bristle brush to prevent the coat from matting. The coat has two layers, a thick undercoat and coarse overcoat; brush through both coats, lifting the overcoat, to remove excess fur from the undercoat. Brushing also prevents the shedding of the dog's hair around your home. During the time that your dog sheds his winter coat in the spring, you may need to brush your Great Pyrenees daily because of the amount of hair that he loses.

Step 3

Bathe a Great Pyrenees only as necessary to keep his coat bright and white; you can also use a dry shampoo to clean the coat. Use a gentle, non-soap dog shampoo to remove dirt and stains; follow the shampooing with a conditioner. Dry his coat with a hair dryer to fluff the coat, especially for show purposes. Great Pyrenees dogs enjoy digging outdoors and can become dirty and soiled. Bathing removes this dirt and keeps him looking his best.

Step 4

Wipe your dog's face with a washcloth daily to remove excess drool from his mouth, as these dogs tend to drool and are messy drinkers. Daily wiping also prevents stains from forming around his mouth from food.

Step 5

Socialize your Great Pyrenees with other dogs and people from a young age. Without proper socialization, this breed can become territorial and possessive of his family, leading to aggression. This breed tends to bond only with his family and be wary of strangers, something that early socialization, from 7 to 8 weeks on, helps to prevent.

Step 6

Teach your Great Pyrenees basic obedience commands. This independent breed can be stubborn and harder to train than other breeds, but training is necessary to control these large, intimidating dogs. Use positive training methods and vary the commands you teach to keep the dog interested. An important verbal cue to teach is the "quiet" command to hush your dog; this breed tends to bark excessively if not trained to stay quiet early in life.

Step 7

Feed your Great Pyrenees a few small meals each day because dogs of this breed can develop bloat from eating a large amount of food too rapidly. In terms of the amount of food to feed your dog, a mature Great Pyrenees requires less caloric intake than other dogs of a similar size because of his low metabolism. He usually only requires an amount equal to that of an Irish setter or collie, according to the Great Pyrenees Rescue of Greater Chicago.

Step 8

Clean your Great Pyrenees' ears weekly with a dog ear cleaning solution, found in pet supply stores. Pour the cleaner on a cotton pad and use it to wipe around the inside of the ears. This breed is susceptible to ear infections, and regular cleaning helps to prevent these from forming.

Step 9

Bring your dog to a veterinarian for regular examinations of his hips, knees and eyes to check for health issues. The Great Pyrenees can suffer from health conditions that affect his body, including hip dysplasia, patellar luxation, spinal muscular atrophy and elbow dysplasia. Eye conditions including cataracts and entropion can also affect this breed.

Items You Will Need

  • Leash
  • Wire bristle brush
  • Non-soap dog shampoo
  • Dry shampoo
  • Washcloth
  • Dog ear cleaning solution

Tips

  • Great Pyrenees do well in colder weather and not in warm temperatures because of their thick, weather-resistant coats; in high temperatures, they can overheat outdoors and develop skin problems.
  • Keep your Great Pyrenees indoors. A dog of this breed, if left alone and unsupervised outside, will dig under a fence, attempt other methods of escape and bark excessively.

Warnings

  • Before taking your dog to a veterinarian for surgery, including a routine spay, neuter or dental procedure, ask her if she is aware of how to anesthetize a Great Pyrenees. These dogs have a slower rate of metabolism than other breeds of a similar size and require less anesthesia during surgery. Choose a veterinarian with previous experience with this breed, because over-anesthetizing a dog can be potentially fatal.
  • Don't shave your Great Pyrenees. The dog's skin is sensitive to sunburn and may develop skin lesions without its protective coat of fur.

Photo Credits

About the Author

Based in Las Vegas, Susan Paretts has been writing since 1998. She writes about many subjects including pets, finances, crafts, food, home improvement, shopping and going green. Her articles, short stories and reviews have appeared on City National Bank's website and on The Noseprint. Paretts holds a Master of Professional Writing from the University of Southern California.