The Great Pyrenees dog might look like a canine giant, but these dogs have a long-standing reputation as being the gentlest of giants.
This temperament trait plus a number of others we will discuss here makes the Great Pyrenees a popular choice for a family pet.
But is the Great Pyrenees an appropriate pet choice even if you have very young kids? How about if your family includes an infant – would a Great Pyr, with their huge size, be an appropriate choice?
We will discuss these important questions and more in this article.
Are Great Pyrenees Good With Kids
As Vetstreet points out, Great Pyrenees dogs have a great reputation for being gentle and protective of children.
Watch a Great Pyrenees Dog Playing With Kids
This adorable YouTube compilation video showcases why the Great Pyrenees dog has a reputation as an extraordinarily family-friendly dog.
However, there are some considerations you will want to think through before adding the Great Pyrenees to your family, especially if your children are still young.
Read on to learn whether now is the right time to welcome a Great Pyr dog into your family.
Great Pyrenees Personality and Temperament
According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), a well-bred Great Pyrenees dog that is a true representative of the breed itself should have the following personality and temperament traits:
- Gentle and mellow.
- Zen-like calm.
- Steadfast and vigilant guardian.
These temperament traits make the Great Pyrenees sound like a saint among canines, and there are many Pyr owners who would readily agree.
However, there are secondary traits that the Great Pyrenees uses in service to do their job well that make these dogs a little less saint-like at times.
It is important to know that when you choose a Great Pyrenees, the whole experience will be a lot like bringing a new child into your home and family.
And this is where it becomes important to think about whether you have the time and energy to train and socialize your new dog to be an asset and blessing to your family.
Will the Great Pyrenees Be a Good Choice for Families with Young Kids or Babies
So let’s take a much closer look at what you can expect if you bring a Great Pyrenees puppy or rescue dog into your family and you also have young kids.
Great Pyrs are known to be stubborn and independent
As the Great Pyrenees Club of America explains, these dogs have been bred for a very specific purpose, which is to guard and protect shepherds and their livestock safe from predators of all types and sizes.
This type of job requires a dog that has an ironclad work ethic and will continue to faithfully do its job even when separated from its owners by long distances.
With a large flock of sheep, the dog may be on one side and the owner all the way on the other side when a predator such as a bear or a wolf appears. In this scenario, the Great Pyrenees couldn’t wait for a command from their human. They just need to act.
So if you are bringing the Great Pyrenees into your life to guard large herds or flocks of livestock, this is a fabulous trait.
But if you are bringing a Pyr into your home where you also plan to invite guests, take deliveries, receive your daily mail and wave to neighbors passing by as they walk their dogs, you will need to teach your dog how to behave appropriately.
What could possibly be the problem, you might be wondering?
Your guardian dog is going to see the mail person, delivery driver, visitors, and neighbors (not to mention their dogs) as potential threats that they need to guard you against!
Great Pyrenees dogs are known to be difficult to socialize in this particular area. They simply tend to keep their own counsel about what to do and who to do it too. This is part of their natural breed function and it is very difficult to train it out of them.
So you will need to be very persistent and patient, keeping training sessions short, fun and frequent and creating continual socialization opportunities so your dog can learn the difference between friends, neutral individuals, and a true threat.
Great Pyrenees are actually nocturnal dogs
The terms “dog” and “nocturnal” don’t seem to go together. But certain dog breeds, such as some hound breeds and guarding and livestock herding breeds, do tend to be more active after dark.
This is another trait that has evolved over centuries to help the dog do their work better.
In the case of a guardian dog like the Great Pyrenees, potential predators like bears or wolves would be more inclined to try to attack the livestock at night. So the dog would have to stay awake at night to guard the sheep!
Owners who have small children or babies who go to bed early may genuinely struggle when their dog starts barking at night, which Great Pyrenees dogs are well documented to do.
The Great Pyr also barks a lot during the day, which can cause disruption for kids who take afternoon naps.
In fact, this is a breed that is a “barker” by nature because barking is a huge part of guarding and protecting vulnerable prey animals against deadly predators.
Great Pyrenees are extremely large and strong
The Great Pyrenees Club of Greater Chicago makes an important point that Great Pyrs are both very confident dogs and also very large and powerful dogs.
A well-trained and well-socialized Great Pyrenees dog will be a loyal, faithful and tireless guardian and protector to you and your whole family.
But a rambunctious growing puppy or young adult that is still in obedience training can potentially be a risk around infants or very young children.
These dogs could accidentally cause an injury or trauma just by putting their giant paws down or sitting down in the wrong place at the wrong time. The dog wouldn’t mean to cause harm, but it could happen regardless.
You just need to be sure you feel comfortable bringing a large, heavy dog into your home when your kids are still young and relatively fragile.
Great Pyrenees are not happy being away from their people
As Mother Earth News points out, these dogs seem to have an innate knowledge of how to guard and protect from puppyhood. They just do it with little training required.
This is not the case for common training commands like heel, come, stay and sit, however.
When you add all this up and factor in that Great Pyrenees want to be constantly with those under their protection (that is, you and your family) it all adds up to a dog that may be difficult to manage at times.
Your dog is the extra-large equivalent of a velcro dog. But when you want your pup to come, or stay, or heel, or sit, or do anything the breed wouldn’t necessarily need to do when guarding livestock, you will be faced with a challenge.
It is a challenge your dog is not likely to outgrow, either, as the National Pyr Rescue points out. You can’t rush a Great Pyr and it is very hard to make one of these dogs do anything they don’t want to do.
This may mean you need to adjust your own fast-paced life and schedule to accommodate the way your dog moves through the world. This can be really frustrating when you are juggling the family schedule and all the needs of each member.
Should You Get the Great Pyrenees For Your Kids
Many kids want to have the experience of caring for a pet dog. Unfortunately, often the dog ends up being the full responsibility of the parents instead.
No matter what your kids promise you, you should always go into the experience of owning a dog as if you will have to do everything to care for that animal.
And when the dog is a Great Pyrenees, you also know you will be coping with mountains of shed dog hair, plenty of drool, lots and lots of barking (both day and night), and some unique obedience and socialization training challenges.
Your giant breed dog will grow up more slowly in every way except for its size. You will have to find space for a giant dog bed, giant travel crate or carrier, giant bags of dog food, and, of course, the giant dog.
Of course, your reward will be a dog that will literally die for you if it comes to that. Your Great Pyrenees will also faithfully guard and protect you and your family and even other family pets.
For the right family, choosing the Great Pyrenees for your dog can be a fabulous experience.