Our Great Pyrenees dogs, Lucy and Fezzik, are a great help here on the farm. They are wonderful with the cattle, and they make us all feel a little bit safer at night. However, as much as we love our dogs, the breed may not be the best for everyone\'s situation. Here are some of the drawbacks of keeping a Great Pyrenees on your cattle farm.
Great Pyrs are wonderfully protective and very territorial. That\'s a great thing when they are protecting the calves from coyotes or when thieves are making off with every ATV in the neighborhood except yours. It\'s not so great when the UPS man comes to deliver a package or your neighbor comes over for a visit. While our dogs do very well with strangers, some dogs can\'t handle visitors. If your dog gets over-protective when you have company, you will have to lock him or her up when you are expecting guests for their safety.
2. Large Size
These dogs are huge. Our male dog is just a year old and is almost 140 pounds. Because of their massive size, they eat like horses. In very cold weather, we have been known to go through a fifty-pound bag of high-quality dog food in less than two weeks. If your budget is stretched too tight to invest the money in the dog chow, you may want to hold off on getting a Great Pyr until you can afford to feed him properly.
Great Pyr\'s love to explore. This is fine if you have a larger piece of property or live in the middle of plenty of deserted land. However, if you are on a smaller lot with close neighbors, your dog may become a nuisance to the neighbors. They are very intelligent dogs, and if they don\'t have animals to look after, they are more inclined to roam far and wide. By the way, a Great Pyr can be happy babysitting cattle, as well as goats, pigs, sheep, or chickens.
4. Some Obedience Issues
Great Pyrenees are very independent dogs. While out with the cattle herd, they are used to analyzing situations and acting upon the information. Because they are used to making decisions independently, they have a hard time \"minding\" their human owners. Obedience training is very hard for some Great Pyrenees dogs.
5. Love of the Outdoors
If you want an indoor dog to keep you company, you may want to consider another breed. Many Great Pyrenees are not really suited to be good house-dogs. They love the outdoors and may be restless if you try to keep them inside. They really do love keeping up with cattle or other livestock and are happiest doing so.
6. Heavy Coats
Great Pyrenees have long, thick coats that protect them from extremely frigid temperatures. Our dogs are never more comfortable than when the rest of us are shivering. However, in the hot summer months, they really do get hot. They spend plenty of time in the farm ponds cooling off. Additionally, they tend to dig large holes so they can lay on the bare dirt and get cool. We usually shave our dogs in the summer, despite the many advisories against shaving their fur.
7. Very Vocal
One way that Great Pyrenees dogs repel visitors and predators of cattle is to bark at them, night or day. However, if you have close neighbors, the dog\'s barking will probably disturb them in the night. In fact, the barking may drive you batty too! We run a fan at night to drown out the sounds, and our dogs tend to stay away from the neighbors\' houses at night anyway.
I love Great Pyrenees dogs. They have a noble, refined bearing, and they are loyal and affectionate friends. They are not super-high energy dogs, like Border Collies, but they work well on our farm. However, you should be honest about the kind of dog that will work on your cattle farm. Look at your own situation, and see if they will be a good fit for your needs. As with all dogs, the good parts of their instincts (i.e. protectiveness of cattle) can have a downside. (i.e. overly aggressive toward visitors).