Polar, The Great Pyrenees

Can we get honest for a moment….

I have gotten in way over my head with training a dog that is already up to my waist at 7 months old, and is still growing…

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The AKC describes the Great Pyrenees as “independent thinkers” and continues on with “standard obedience training will be met with great indifference”.

That description not only seemed at odds with what others had accomplished with their GP’s, but it also left so much unsaid.

Their website included photos of well trained Pyrs like this one (appears trainable, right?):

From the Great Pyrenees Club of America Website

The Great Pyrenees Club of America’s website lulls you into a false sense of security with phrases like “Pyrs combine a great intelligence with a deep devotion to family and home” and they continue on with words like, “trustworthy, affectionate, gentle and tractable”.

But they hide that adolescent period behind a cloak of “puppyhood to adulthood is a great distance and a considerable time.”

Let me explain what this means…

Imagine all that exuberant puppy excitement and lack of impulse control in the body of a full grown German Shepard or the biggest Labrador you’ve ever seen. AND add in stubborn, smart, and a strong belief that he’s in charge.

This is the hardest breed I’ve ever raised before.

What did I get myself into?!?!

I’ve spent hundred of hours working on “come”, and yet, you can see the wheels turn as he determines if it’s really worth his while.

Usually it isn’t.

He has no issues walking away and pretending you don’t exist. After all, he was bred to be independent and work without humans.

In fact, our puppy classes were a real eye opener as to how different this breed really is. As everyone else’s puppies stared adoringly at their owners, or jumped up and down on their owners for interaction, mine laid calmly at the furthest reaches of his leash away from me.

As if to say “I know you’re there, but i have other things to do than dote on you, lady”.

I’m just saying… if you ever think to yourself “Gosh, I’d really like a Great Pyrenees!”, go find an adult Pyr to rescue (there are plenty out there) and skip the first 6 months to a year.

From the time he was 8 weeks until 6 months, his life’s goal was to gnaw on his human. With little razor teeth that could rend flesh with ease.

Luckily, it seems we’re mostly past that. We’re on to adolescence now. Oh yay…

Anyway… cute pics of Polar:

Pyr’s fold up nice for ease of storage:

More later… It’s time to take Polar for a walk!

Did I mention Pyr’s are pretty low energy? Our walks are 80% sitting/laying and staring at tree lines.

I kind of enjoy it. 🙂

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Polar, the Great Pyrenees.

My big, loveable dog, Dax, died of cancer last fall, so I was searching for a new large breed dog to fill Dax’s big shoes.

I tried the animal shelters first, but after getting bitten and growled at by the “friendly” adult dogs up for adoption, and having been denied by the rescues, I figured my only route was buying a puppy.

I’d been reading up on Great Pyrenees dogs over the winter and thought one might be a good fit for our family. I scoffed at the “fiercely independent” description. I thought. “Pfft, we trained a full grown, adult, Chihuahua that knew nothing. How bad can a loveable big dog be?!”

The size didn’t bother me. Dax was 130 lbs when he was in good health, and it wasn’t an issue until he got too ill to walk on his own.

So, I was browsing puppy ad’s when I shouldn’t have been, and saw a Craigslist ad with Great Pyrenees puppies for sale. Of course we called them, but unfortunately, all the puppies were sold already. I figured that was that, and we carried on with life.

I like the concept of fate when it comes to animal companionship. If it’s meant to be, it’ll be. I figured it wasn’t meant to be.

A couple of days later, we get a text from the breeder that one of the pups was being returned. The largest male of the litter.

The people who had taken him named him Cashmere, and were returning him because he barked non-stop.

None of this deterred us in the least. We immediately went to pick him up.

We show up at the breeders house and this fluffy, white puppy tumbles out, falls in my lap in a heap, and contentedly lays there while I pet him. I was shocked how mellow and calm he was.

So we took him home…. this fluffy ball of mellowness…

Ever since, I’ve been learning that I need to up my dog training skills to the top level in a hurry if I’m going to have a chance at ending up with a well behaved canine citizen!!

This is only my 3rd puppy (and 4th dog) I’m training, but I grew up with parents who bred, raised, and showed Rhodesian Ridgebacks and Walkers. I’m not a total newb to this… but this pup has kept me furiously racing to stay one step ahead of him at all times. I feel like a total newb with this puppy.

It’s a darn good thing he’s cute, and those rare instances where he’s not a total jerk, the glimmers of the loving and affectionate dog he’ll become shine through.

If we survive puppyhood…


Polar as a wee pup at his breeder’s farm. He’s so small.

Polar with his dad

May 8th, first day at his new home.

Age: 8 Weeks.

Week 8

He’s almost the same size as Zeus.

May 14

He looks like a potato.

may 15

May 20th

Anything that moves gets attacked. Brooms, cats, toys… you….

We found this horse ball in a pile of brush. He thought it was the best thing in the world!

May 24

Morning walks means he sleeps for 2 hours afterward while I work.

May 28th

Polar meets new friends, Sebastian and Murphy:

may 28

Another play date with “Uncle Sebastian”.

june 1

Age: 12 weeks

He bites, a LOT, and nothing seems to curb it. His needle like teeth hurt too.

Moments like this are priceless.

Because…

He figured out how awesomely fun digging is, and does so at every opportunity. I follow behind, filling them in. It’s my vindictive way of showing him the futility of his destructive ways (did i mention he bites me a LOT and leaves me bloody and wounded? You’d be a tad vindictive too.)

june 2

Morning walk.

First horse show

I took Polar to visit a local open horse show to try to expose him to new experiences. He was a perfect gentleman. He is awesome with other people and kids. Never barked at anything.

Polar watching the horses go around.

He caught some zzz’s while I watched the show.

june 4

I’m 4’10 and sone change.

june 5

june 9

One of the things they talk about with the GP breed is the delay in responding, or the euphemism of “needing a lot of patience” when training them. I didn’t understand at the time…

It works like this.. I say “Come”, and then there’s this 30 second delay where Polar thinks through all his options…. it’s maddening sometimes. I’ve never had a puppy this obstinant and independent before.

I’ve been told you can’t train this out of them.

june 15

Age: 14 weeks

Weight: 34.5 lbs

Morning walk

His recall when I have cheese is phenominal.

june 17

Zeus tries hard to keep his top spot in the family dynamics, but it’s hard when your underling outweighs you.

june 19

june 20

june 23rd

Not a lap dog anymore…

June 26

Loves riding in the UTV, but gets confused about where he should sit.

Destroyer of Cushions

July 3rd

Age: 16 weeks

Weight: 43.5lbs

July 4th

He still goes after anything that moves, including us. Hubby and I have more holes in our clothes than we can count.

This breed is cute, affectionate, and extremely smart… but for the love of God, do not get a puppy. There’s a reason a ton of these dogs end up at rescues.

We start a new puppy class in 2 weeks. Fingers crossed it goes well.