Saturday, June 9, 2012

Great Pyrenees Mixed Dogs: What to Expect

I have often ran into owners of dogs they claimed were "part Great Pyrenees".  Upon vocalizing my affection for the breed, they immediately perk up and ask, "So, what do you think my dog will grow up to be like?"  To this question my answer is often the same: "It depends."

When owners adopt "mutts" they begin a quest to understand the influences in the gene pool and what that may mean for the dog's temperament.  Usually the Great Pyrenees mixed dogs I meet are mixed, in theory, with a breed people tend to know a lot more about.  Uncovering the Pyrenees mystery becomes a pursuit for that new owner.  On the whole, the breeds I have seen Great Pyrenees most commonly mixed with (either on purpose or by accident) are Labradors, Golden Retrievers, Border Collies, and the occasional Saint Bernard, Bernese Mountain Dog, or Anatolian Shepherd.  This finding may be unique to my area, I cannot be sure.  And, honestly, we have only theories.  I must add that often owners *think* their Pyr is a mix due to coat color, and they are merely undereducated about the potential for darker colors to naturally appear within the coat of this breed, in moderation.

Ultimately, we never know what breed traits will influence our mutt pups more than others.  I feel like I have been able to identify certain traits as "that probably comes from the Pyr side", but it's not been with any consistency.  For example, some "Lab" mixes have displayed the enthusiasm, trainability, and energy of a lab, while demonstrating the leaning, night barking, and double dew claws of a Great Pyrenees.  I have met herding dog mixes where the dogs have behaved wholly like Great Pyrenees, they merely resemble their mix and have a bit more energy than a typical Pyr.

As with all dogs, some are just anomalies within their own breed:  Labs who are low energy, Pyrs who never bark.  Who's to say what the parents of your dog were truly like?  And of course the eternal truth: we mold our beloved canines.  A lot of unwanted behaviors may be due to our lack of attention and training, and we cannot so easily blame a "breed" on the quest to deflect blame.

I can only say, with a great amount of certainty, there is 1 trait that I have experienced with nearly all Great Pyrenees mixes:  they are gentle, loving, and affectionate.  Many dogs are.  Of course, I assume having a "Pyr in the wood pile" can only help the cause for gentle temperament. 

Bottom line, "You never know".  You have to watch your dog grow and change, and realize that certain traits may counteract that of the other assumed breed influence.  Your Pyr mix may offer a lower energy level and a gentleness with children and other animals.  The only advice I give to Pyrenees mixed breed owners is this:  beware the naughty traits, as they may rear their heads.  Upon meeting a Labrador/Great Pyrenees puppy owner, I suggested she watch her pup closely.  While Labs are renowned for being responsive to commands such as "come", I cautioned her to look for a Pyrenees influence which may bring more stubbornness.

When adopting any mixed breed dog, do your breed research on both.  Be prepared to have to address the positive and negative influences both genes may bring.  There is no magic answer for what to expect when a Great Pyrenees is in your dog's gene pool.  Hopefully you will get "the best of both worlds".


  1. I have a Pyr mix (mixed with Collie and/or husky, we think -because of her appearance...) dog ever!!!...gentle and affectionate, super with kids, smartest dog I've ever known, and super intuitive...after acquiring her as a "shep. mix" when she was 6 months old (she "picked us"!!), the vet set us straight about her breed...(her double dewclaws, elegant posture and distinctly-Pyr coat gave it away!), I did some research, and have determined that she definitely has super Pyr qualities...knows when to chill, and when to be on her guard, etc...she is very impressive to watch, and makes us feel very secure...she can be somewhat stubborn at times, but she is a well-mannered girl...Could not ask for a better dog; wish everyone was lucky enough to experience a dog like her...anyone (including those with children, cats, etc.)...who wants a super smart, loving, gentle (and protective when necessary) dog, consider a Pyr!!!

  2. I just took to great pyreneese in. The owner was moving and didn't want to take them with her. One is four and the other one will be a year old on the 25th of December. I didn't want these two dogs to go to the pound and that was where they were headed. My two daughters drove over four hours one way to get them. I don't know how she could just let them go after having one of them four years. The female is spayed and the male isn't. I am considering doing that for him. They are two of the sweetest dogs. They stay in the house with us at moment. They love the outside. I have been trying to read up on them to learn all that I can. I will keep these babies as long as I am or they are alive. Lillie is a little sad she misses her other owner. Sherman is just a big ham. Lillie is getting a little happier each day it seems. They were kept in a small fenced in yard. I live on a farm so no more fences for them. These like I said are the two sweetest dogs. I love them both dearly. Lillie has won my heart. Sherman as it also, but Lillie I guess because she has had a little harder adjustment. Could not ask for a better dog. Loving and loyal. They do like to go off for about two hours each morning but them they come home. Worried me to death the first several days I had them. Now its just a thing they do.

  3. I just adopted a lab/pyr mix named Dexter, who has double dewclaws, doesn't bark, is extremely gentle and loves to fetch as equally as he likes to dig and hide all his bones and toys. We think his negative traits are due to him only being 11 or 12 months old and can be mitigated with training. He is a bit shy and has taken a couple weeks to warm up to my husband, but overall I am so pleased we rescued him. My kids are truly in love with our new dog and he couldn't be anymore loving towards them.

  4. We had a great pyrenees/collie mix for several years. He was the best dog ever!! He looked like a big buff, tough collie with a flatter face. A breeder was trying to cross the 2 breeds. My favorite memory of him was when a young male shepherd mix was barking at a cat up a tree, he simply strolled up next to the tree, let out a low rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr, and then stood as the cat came down the tree, and walked down the sidewalk behind the cat and in front of the shepherd as the cat left the yard. Starkey was very playful, wonderful with children, and he let you know if someone pulled up in the driveway.

  5. My pyr/lad is just like the first one meantioned...a super lady best qualities of both mixes.

  6. We just adopted a Great Pyr mix who is 8 months old. He is very sweet and very gentle and calm. His DNA test shows him to be 100% great Pyr on one side of his line, and 1/2 Lab 1/2 Dachshund on his other side (so for him, 1/4 lab, 1/4 Dachshund and 1/2 Great Pyr). We rescued him, and he had already been housebroken and through two obedience classes. He is great! He does try to snip at my 8 year old playfully, and I am learning now how to train him to understand that my 8 year old is "ahead" of him in the pack and not a litter mate. He does not try to do this with my 5 or 2 year old, but instead is very protective of them. We have had several labs before, but never a Great Pyr or a Doxie, so it will be interesting to see how his traits play out as he is ages.
    I agree, however, that most dogs it's more the training (or lack there of) that they receive that is the biggest influence.


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