Great Pyrenees

Great Pyrenees

The Grand Pyrenees is a noble, powerful breed from the mountains of France. These giant dogs, who generally weigh over 100 pounds and stand up to 30 inches tall, are effective guard dogs who bond loyally to their owners and expect the trust to be returned. These dogs make devoted, protective companions for owners who have plenty of time to teach their huge dog polite manners. They need to be exercised and socialized, but they also need to be taken seriously by their owners. They are serious guard dogs who expect to trust and be trusted. Once they've bonded to their family, they are diligent, affectionate companions.

Great Pyrenees are generally well-mannered and gentle, but they are more than willing to protect their family when needed. If they sense distress, they won't hesitate to bark, which makes them excellent guard dogs. They are big and imposing, and they know it. Pyrs aren't afraid to use their size and their bark to defend their owners and their property. In fact, if you're hoping your big guard dog will warm up to your friends and neighbors, you'll have to have them introduced. As instinctual flock guards, Pyrs will need to be socialized consistently to learn to effectively determine friend from foe. With socialization and rewards for polite behavior, the Great Pyrenees can be a very effective guard dog and a sensitive, friendly companion.

Pyrs are affectionate dogs. They love to feel close to their and they demonstrate their love to their people by pawing, nudging and licking them. Pyrs love to snuggle and make their owner's space their space. Don't expect your dog to realize that his size prevents him from joining you in bed or on the couch. These giant dogs are also independent. Their size and strength enabled them to work on their own, guarding flocks and hauling supplies through the Great Pyrenees mountains. As a result, they've been bred to make their own decisions, and they might require extra patience and firm, dominant commands to reach their full potential.

The Great Pyrenees's coat is only seen in white. Some dogs have cream or tannish markings on their body and ears, but the coat should be predominantly white. The abundant double coat makes the dog appear more substantial than he actually is. The coat is weather-resistant with a very thick, wooly undercoat and a soft, long and straight overcoat that stands out from the body. All dogs, but especially males, have a noticeable neck ruff and a long-haired, plumed tail. The coat acts as insulation in hot and cold weather, so don't feel the need to clip your Pyr short in the summer.    

No aspect of home dog grooming requires as much time and regular devotion as brushing. Routine brushing keeps your pet’s hair clean and tangle-free, while keeping his skin healthy by stimulating blood flow, removing dead hair and distributing natural oils.

Heavy coated breeds rate moderate to high on the grooming maintenance scale and for good reason due to voluminous shedding and susceptibility for mats and tangles. At least two or three times per week, use a slicker brush and combination comb, paying extra attention to the neck, chest and rump, where the coat tends to get extra full. Shedding blades are also helpful during the appropriate seasons. Use a light mist of detangling spray after brushing to help remove loose fur and leave a great shine. When brushing of heavy coated dogs is done properly, the coat should bounce and float as the dog moves. You should also be able to stick a wide-toothed comb to the skin and pull it out freely.

They will require frequent brushing with a slicker brush and a metal comb to remove dead hairs and keep the coat looking shiny and healthy. Twice a year, when the Pyr sheds, he will need to be brushed even more frequently to prevent matting and tangling of dead hair in the coat.

What you need

  • Slicker, bristle or steel pin brush
  • 2-in-1 comb
  • Shedding blade (some coats)
  • Liquid detangler or baby oil

With preparation, perseverance and a positive attitude, bathing can become a fun and fulfilling part of the regular grooming cycle, while helping your dog avoid many diseases and infections.

Heavy coated dogs should be bathed about once every three months. Their coats are naturally oily and repellent, so they don't tend to develop an odor, but if they track their coat through the mud, they may need to be bathed more frequently. The coat should end up fresh smelling, with no loose or shedding hair. First give the dog a good brushing to remove dead hair and mats. Place a rubber mat in the tub to provide secure footing and fill the tub with three to four inches of lukewarm water. Use a spray hose, pitcher or unbreakable cup to wet the dog, taking caution to avoid getting water in the eyes, ears and nose. Massage in pet shampoo, saving the head for last. Immediately rinse thoroughly, starting with the head to prevent soap from dripping into the eyes. Towel dry. Their heavy coat should be fresh smelling, with no loose or shedding hair.

These dogs also need to be bathed, which can be a challenge if you don't help your large dog become accustomed to bath time as a puppy.

What you need

  • Slicker, bristle or steel pin brush
  • Dog shampoo
  • Rubber tub mat
  • Towels
  • Bathing tether (if needed)

Clipping or trimming your dog’s coat is far easier than you would ever imagine. With the right clipper, trimmer and scissors, giving your dog a haircut is easy on your wallet and your schedule.

Dogs with heavy coats generally require routine trimming around the face, ears, feet and behind to help them stay comfortable. You do not need to clip or trim the body hair because it acts as insulation for your dog in cold weather and helps cool him off in warm weather.  It’s a good idea to take your dog for a short walk to calm him down before you groom him. Thoroughly brush the coat to remove any tangles and mats. Use trimmers to trim excess fur off the dog's body, choosing the appropriate clip attachment to achieve desired length. Trim around the tail, paws, sanitary areas and chest, if needed. Groom the head and face last, being watchful for sudden movement. Trim with the flow of the fur, away from the eyes and nose.

Generally the Great Pyrenees' eyebrows, whiskers, ears, hocks, feet, and forelegs are trimmed, although that's usually for dogs showing in conformation. Working dogs or dogs who live in areas with lots of room to run will need to have the hair around the pads of their feet trimmed frequently, because this hair picks up burs and can mat painfully between the dog's toes.

What you need

  • Slicker, bristle or steel pin brush
  • 2-in-1 comb
  • Shedding blade (for excissive shedders)
  • Pet trimmer

Many dog owners are apprehensive about trimming their dog’s nails because they are nervous about cutting into the quick. But with the right conditioning and careful cutting, nail clipping can be a simple, stress-free activity for you and your dog.
Provide your dog with plenty of positive reinforcement and even treats to help associate nail clipping with a positive experience.  As you start to clip, gently press on your dog’s paws to help him become accustomed to the feeling of having his nails clipped. Then, work gradually, shaving down just a thin portion of the nail at first to make sure you don’t reach the quick. Clip one nail, reward your dog with a treat, and stop to give him some positive reinforcement before moving on. Gradually increase the number of nails you clip in one sitting to help your dog get used to the process. Never trim extremely long nails down to a short nail in one sitting, because this is an excellent way to accidently quick the dog’s nail. Instead, work gradually, shaving small portions of your dog’s nails off each time.
You can tell if you’re getting close to the quick by the texture of your dog’s nail. The nail is hard closer to the surface and becomes softer as you get closer to the quick. If your dog’s nail starts to feel softer, that’s a good indication that you’re getting close to the quick.

Pyrs have double declaws on the backs of their legs which help them climb up and down tough terrain in their mountainous homelands. These should not be removed because they give the Pyr their powerful, bounding gait.

What you need

  • Sharpened nail clipper
  • Styptic powder

Not all breeds and coat styles require routine trimming in and around the eyes and ears but all should undergo regular inspection and cleaning around these sensitive areas. Doing so will help prevent the development of infections that could seriously damage these amazing organs.

It is always important to routinely clean your dog's eyes and ears, and examine for potential infections. Small dogs, like Pomeranians, and dogs with extremely profuse coats, like Newfoundlands, American Eskimo Dogs and Keeshonds, have ears that need to be checked weekly for infection and cleaned with a cotton ball. Gently wipe a cotton ball moistened with mineral oil, olive oil or witch hazel in your dog's ear, being careful to avoid the ear canal. Never use a Q-Tip, which could cause damage to the inner ear if your dog suddenly shakes or jerks his head. Bushy hair growth within the ear can be thinned with tweezers or blunt scissors. Use a small trimmer to trim excess hair around the eyes, ears and face. Small dogs like Pomeranians and Pekingese, and dogs with white coats like American Eskimo Dogs and Samoyeds, are prone to developing tear stains around their eyes, so clean around their eyes with a cotton ball or soft cloth and use a small trimmer to trim excess hair around their eyes.

Their floppy ears need to be washed out and checked for infection.

What you need

  • Pet trimmer
  • Blunt scissors
  • Cotton balls or soft cloth
  • Warm water
  • Mineral oil (or olive oil or witch hazel)

Many owners do not realize how important it is to brush your pet’s teeth on a regular basis. Some dogs are prone to dental problems and sensitive teeth, especially small dogs with tiny teeth and dogs with special diets. These problems can be easily combatted with frequent brushing.

Cavities are rare with dogs but gum disease caused by tartar buildup is not, which is why they require regular brushing with toothpaste and a toothbrush formulated specifically for dogs. While daily brushing is ideal, doing so on a weekly basis will be a big help in avoiding the need to bring your dog to a veterinarian for a cleaning, which usually has to be done under sedation.

What you need

  • Dog toothbrush
  • Dog toothpaste (homemade recipe of baking soda, salt and water is acceptable)