Livestock Guardians

The Reasons Why I Believe These Dogs Are Not Meant To Be Pets

Livestock Guardians
"Moose" is a Great Pyrenees/Anatolian Shepherd. Pictured at 8 1/2 months old.

Everyone thinks these dogs are so cute when they're puppies, and who could blame them? They are absolutely adorable! That being said, they also aren't your typical dogs.

In my honest opinion, I cannot believe people don't do there research before buying these breeds or any breeds for that matter, to keep in their houses or apartments. Some dogs are meant to be indoor dogs, and some just aren't cut out for it. You should research any and all breeds that you are going to buy very thoroughly and make sure they are the right fit for your lifestyle. Or that you can make them happy in the lifestyle that you live in.

These breeds come out cute and cuddly, just like any other puppy. But boy do they grow quickly! These dogs can get huge! A Great Pyrenees female can weigh 80-90lbs and a male can get up to 110-120lbs. An Anatolian Shepherd female can weigh 80-120lbs and a male can weigh anywhere from 110-140lbs. That's a whole lot of dog to handle, and a lot of food to go through! And you do have to keep them on puppy food until they are done growing.

Keep in mind looking through the next few pictures I am about 5' 4" and around 125lbs, except the last pic. I was about 7 months pregnant and around 140lbs. Just for a size comparison, he's a big puppy!

Moose @ 3 months old

Moose @ 3 1/2 Months old

Moose @ 4 months old

Being a big breed that grows until they are 2, there is the controversy of getting them fixed later. I have been told you shouldn't fix them until they are 2. I know that is a hot topic with this breed, so I won't get into it. I will get them fixed when my vet thinks is the correct age.

As I would advise anyone (dogs, cats, horses, cattle, goats, sheep, etc.), please get your animals fixed. There are enough unwanted cats and dogs in the world right now, we don't need anymore. Please spay and neuter. They animals deserve that, people dump to many unwanted animals or abuse them. Either way, a lot of unwanted pets end up dead. And that is a shame. And a ton of them come from unplanned litters. Keep the numbers down by getting your animals fixed. Be the solution, not the problem!

Not only are those big dogs, but they are also a lot to handle for training. They are very, very, very stubborn dogs. They are the type of dog that you have to be very patient with and be very calm with. They will do great at irritating you with things that you know they know how to do. Our pup mastered sit very quickly and that was one thing that stuck with him. He is about 9 months now, and still knows that command and follows it very well. But they are the type of breed that will listen to you call them, stare directly at you, and lay there. My Moose man has learned to come when he is suppose to, but sometimes it takes me thirty times of saying come. And sometimes it is just one simple yell, and he's right there.

This meme says it all!

These dogs also like to wander, they don't like to stay caged up. They do best with lots and lots of room. These dogs need a job. They are also notorious diggers. They dig, and dig, and dig. They dig holes even when they are with their livestock. My dogs digs holes in the goat pen, or out of the goat pen. They are also notorious for being somewhat people agressive. This is not always the case, but these dogs do get very protective over their people and property if not socialized correctly. They need a lot of socialization as puppies or they may possibly turn aggressive. Which is good or bad in some cases. I don't want strangers on my farm without permission, but I also don't want my dogs being aggressive with family they don't get to see all of the time. So it is kind of up in the air on how well the dogs will do with people. We have had my puppy around people and family, but he is still a little wary on when new people come around us and our newborn. He knows who and what he needs to protect. These dogs are also suppose to kick into their guardian mindset around a year old. Ours is only 9 months at the end of this month, so I am still waiting to see how his attitude changes with us. They are said to be more independent and not care for human companionship when they turn a year old and are ready to be with the livestock full time. Which is perfectly fine, that is there job.

Moose out in one of our fields

This breed also sheds like no other. These dogs are use to being outside in negative degree weather, they love the cold! But this is also because they have a double coat. They shed a lot and should be groomed accordingly. You can brush and brush or take to a groomer and get them washed and blown out. Or if you're like me (I use to show cattle and happen to have a huge livestock blow dryer laying in the barn collecting dust) you can blow out their coats yourself. Be careful, some dogs don't like it and might try to bite you. My dog has to be muzzled when we blow his coat out, he is just not a fan of grooming at all. But whatever you do, DO NOT SHAVE THEM! They are not ever to be shaved, their coat doesn't grow back correctly and won't ever grow in correctly. Which can really effect the way they stay warm in winter and cool in summer. You are doing more harm than you realize, and that doesn't just do for this breeds. Many other breeds of dogs are not meant to be shaved either. The only time I would allow for this (only because I have seen cases that bad) is when a dog has been abused/not taken care of, and the hair on said dog is so matted that you cannot brush it out. Then you have to take the step to get rid of those matts and start all over. Other than that, big big NO.

These breeds are also barkers. And nothing is more annoying when you're in town and people's dog won't stop barking. These dogs are natural guardians, it is bred into them. They bark at literally anything. Any little noise that they think could be a threat, they will bark. Which equals a lot of upset neighbors. My dog barks all of the time! He gets mad if I don't take him on a run to see our goats in the breeding pen, and he will bark in protest the entire time I drive down, and the entire time I drive back.

Another big one, destruction! These dogs destroy things when they get bored. Toys, dog beds, your beds, your furniture. Whatever you may have in front of them, they'll most likely destroy. I am part of. a Great Pyrenees page on Facebook, and that is one of the biggest things (besides digging holes) that I see people post about. Destroying beds, furniture, you name it. Whatever they can chew on, they will! Especially when they're puppies and they're teething. The more to chew on the better!

Bed #1 Destroyed



Bed #2 Destroyed

"How do I stop my dog from destroying my furniture?"

"How do I stop my dog from digging holes?"

"How do I stop my dog from barking?"

I honestly hate seeing these questions, when it really is a huge part of the breed. They are not meant to be confined inside. They are not meant to be locked up in a half acre yard. They are meant to be out guarding livestock all day and night. They are meant to be on many acres with free range to do what they want (to an extent).

All of that being said, no this doesn't go for all of these dogs. Some people have them in town and they do fine. Some people love having them as house pets. And that is fine too. As long as the dog is happy with it.

Unfortunately, I just see way too many Great Pyrenees rehomed all of the time around us, because people didn't research before buying the breed and realized they just don't belong in town. Most posts I read say the words "Need a farm or lots if acres to be on". And yes, that is what they need. That is where they are most happy.

So PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE.... DO YOUR RESEARCH.

I don't care if it is a chihuahua or a Great Dane you want. Do your research. Do these dogs need special care? Do they need special food? Do they have skin sensitivities? And of course, many more questions you can think of.

I am by means no expert. I won't ever claim to be. Although, I do have a very strong opinion on people owning these dogs for pets. To me it is just not what they are meant for. There are plenty of other breeds that are meant to be pets and be in the house and are okay with confinement.

I love our dog, but he is a livestock guardian. He is not a pet. He never will be. He was purchased for the purpose of protecting our livestock. Just this evening while we were going back down towards the goats he just randomly disappeared on me. It was almost dark and I could not for the life of me figure out where he went. I went back to the house to ask my husband if he had been up there, and nothing. Just vanished while he was following me on the side by side. And so I grabbed the spotlight to see where he was at, and when I got part way down the two track, here he was. Coming out of the neighbors field. Hair standing on end, on high alert. When we stopped and I turned off the side by side, there was a coyote yipping and howling very, very close to where we were. And that is where he disappeared. He was on high alert, growling and staring in the distance. Every yip and whine from that coyote he was ready to attack. Showing me his primal instincts. Those type of instincts aren't trained either, they are naturally apart of that dog's mindset. He knows his job, and this evening he proved that to me first hand.

No that doesn't mean I don't take care of him and pay attention to him. Right now he is still a puppy, so he gets plenty of running time with me. We go on runs together. Once in a while he comes in the house with me when I take the milk in to filter it and put it in jars. (We have to be careful when he comes in because he is huge and we do have a new baby in our house. So only supervised visist allowed when baby is not in her swing or little chair so no accidents happen). He helps check the livestock with me. He is slowly learning his place on the farm, like any other dog.

This article is just to let people know our experiences, it is in no way to tell you what to get and what not to get. I am not discouraging people to own these dogs, they are great dogs. I am rather trying to prepare people for what they sometimes aren't ready for. When you know the good and the bad of the breeds that you haven't owned, it can make those hard times easier. It sure did for me!

Our Guardian of the Night

Thanks for reading!

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fact or fiction
Nicole McClure
Nicole McClure
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Nicole McClure

My fiancé, daughter, and I live on a 40 acre farm in northern WY, which we call Pond Farm. We also live with 1 indoor cat, 5 barn cats, 1 dog, 28 goats, somewhere around 60-70 chickens.

See all posts by Nicole McClure