Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Great Pyrenees Aren't Apartment Dogs.. Or, are They?

Whether you're watching "Dogs 101" or listening to other outlets regarding the Great Pyrenees breed, one thing you will come across often is the opinion that Great Pyrenees aren't suitable for apartment life. "They need lots of space to roam and wander, and a large back yard is ideal for this dog breed".

I think most dogs would love a huge, back yard. What dog wouldn't?  This debated topic of Great Pyrenees and needing large open space has been a debate I sit on a very particular side of the "fence" on: I disagree. Period.

Naturally there are considerations for the history of your Pyrenees.  If they were used to large, open spaces and a lot of freedom to wander, it makes sense to not home them in an apartment. If previously they were livestock guardians, moving them into an apartment with limited roaming room may be too much of an adjustment for them.

I've lived a life with my two Great Pyrenees, and observed the lives of others with this breed, which suggest they are absolutely wonderful and happy apartment dogs. "I can't adopt a Great Pyrenees because I just don't have the room", people often say. My reply: "You could have a 30 bedroom mansion, and your beloved dog will still be on your feet, pawing your knee".

Going outside, exercise: all these things are important.  But, what really differentiates an "apartment dog" from one that is not? The first obvious consideration is energy level. Herding dogs or sporting dogs would be at quite an unrest trying to take their energy and breed predispositions out on a coffee table, likely struggling significantly to find joy living with someone who could only walk them two times a day.

One of the first things we appreciate about our Great Pyrenees is the fact that they are nocturnal dogs. They sleep a lot during the day, at hours when most owners are not at home. When we talk about needing to run and get exercise, most Pyrenees owners will accept this: Great Pyrenees are like plug-in flash lights. They sleep.. A lot. Their breed job was to rest, stay with their flock, and reserve energy should any predator approach.

Having lived my life with two Great Pyrenees, I can attest they just sleep.. and sleep. They charge and wait for the potential of that predator, and when that predator doesn't reveal itself, well.. they sleep more.

In an apartment setting, I am their livestock. I have other pets: two cats, a rat, and a rabbit.. and they, are the livestock. Nothing makes my dogs more content than sleeping by their cages and by their rest, doing their job as their breed saw fit.

So is an apartment setting cruel, or inappropriate? Absolutely not. These are amazing apartment dogs. When I leave for work in the morning after their morning walk, they sleep. When I get home, they are excited and happy to see me and we go on our leashed walk. When we return inside, they eat and slumber yet again. If I had 30 rooms in my mansion they would still be there.. right on my ankle.. sleeping.

So who is it, exactly, who needs this huge yard and all this space? Perhaps an owner who isn't willing to go on nice walks.. or, perhaps an owner who feels their dog should be less "up their business".

Yes, I would love a huge yard for my dogs. But the reality is, when I bring them to a family member's house where they have a huge yard, they run maybe once around and then demand return where they can be glued to my side.

I have been the proud owner of two Great Pyrenees, and I live in a one bedroom apartment. I know my dogs are happy, well-exercised on leash, and balanced. They are happy in my small space because they have routine, consistency, and the proper guidance regarding barking tendencies.

I am saddened when sources report theses dogs are not meant for apartment life. Again, taking a dog from a farm environment is one thing, but adopting a Great Pyrenees as young adult or puppy and inviting them into apartment life is an amazing and rewarding experience.

My  Pyrenees have never seemed restless or unhappy, they have rested and slept while I was at work, and rejoiced in affections and walks when I got home. On days off, I observe them as they just slept and slept, eager for walks in the morning and at dusk.

The Great Pyrenees can be amazing apartment dogs. Never let anyone tell you otherwise.