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".