We all know that I’m constantly begging for foster homes so that we can help more animals and prevent their demise. It’s probably almost annoying at times, I’ll give you that, but I figure it never hurts to ask…or beg. I tend to beg, if we’re being honest. The fact is, however, we desperately need these foster homes. Nobody can do it all by his or herself, so as a community if we pull together we can break down walls and eliminate the risk of an untimely and unnecessary death. See how peachy that sounds?

Unfortunately, it’s not that easy because quality foster homes are a pretty difficult to find. I’m sure there are several reasons, and I certainly understand that not everyone has the desire to do it (maybe), but I still ponder as to why we can’t find more fosters to help these babies.

My conclusion is this…Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, but after much thought, I think one reason we have such difficulty in finding Great Pyrenees foster homes is because people are intimidated by what they might require. While I still haven’t had luck in finding fosters for small dogs either (or adopters…what’s THAT all about?), it’s pretty much a no-go with the big guys. So, during this “Why can’t I find foster homes?” deep, analytical thought process, I said to myself, “Why not share what it’s like to foster a Great Pyrenees? Maybe it will make things a little clearer.”

So LUCKY YOU! I’m here to share with you all the glory of having a white, fluffy, foster kid. Let’s discuss the myths first.

Myth #1: “They’re too big and will destroy the house.” Simply not true. Yes, they are big, this cannot be denied. However, they are not goats that eat everything, nor do they charge through the house like “Beethoven” stepping through glass tables, tails knocking pictures off of the wall, or flying through doors and ripping them off of the hinges. While there is the occasional drool, it’s not hanging from the chandelier or bed posts. I can not lie, however about one thing…they truly can take up the entire couch or bed and leave you with nowhere to sit or lie down. BUT, they can be trained not to if you so desire.

Great Pyrenees are actually very lazy indoors. Now a puppy would need some stimulus, such as toys or Nylabones, but they are still considered lazy puppies. They are easily house trained and typically easily crate trained. They are most often found lying in front of a door zonked out and dreaming of treats in Heaven. The worst part is getting them to move if you need to open the door. I mean, really…do you want to move for someone when you’re sleeping soundly? So, a little slack can be granted, and eventually they will move. That’s about the extent of indoor life for a Pyrenees.

Myth #2: “They need acres to run and play.” No, they don’t. While they do enjoy a nice yard, it doesn’t have to be enormous. If you’re willing to take your dog on some walks they are content. I’ve adopted to more than one condominium dweller, and the Pyrenees have adapted quite nicely. They are not like Retrievers or herding dogs who need constant activity (insert: Great Pyrenees are NOT herding dogs. They are guardians who protect the herding dogs and the flocks). As long as they get moderate exercise and potty breaks, they are good…and the occasional car ride. They LOVE car rides.

Myth #3: “My house is too small.” As stated before, they come inside, plop down and sleep. They could care less whether your house is 1100 sq ft or 3000. My house is not big and I have multiple Pyrenees.You should see how they’ll squeeze their bodies into a dog house or crate that’s not sized specifically for giant breed, the big dorks. My 150lb Great Pyrenees curled up as tight as he could on a cat bed one time, content as a pig in mud. Mind you, do not go shoving a Great Pyrenees in a 36in long crate (or smaller), or expect them to go into a dog house that’s meant for a Beagle.

Myth #4: “I don’t want it to scare or hurt my small dog/cat.” Great Pyrenees are known for their patience and gentle demeanor with small dogs. While this is a general rule of thumb, and slowly introducing your animals is always important, a Great Pyrenees is going to be much more tolerant than a lot of dogs when it comes to small animals. You’d be amazed at how many 20lb and under beat up my Pyrs. Cats, too.

Myth #5: “It’s too big for my kids.” Great Pyrenees are extremely nurturing. They are patient, kind, and most tolerant with children.

NOW: The facts.

#1: Pyrenees shed. Yes, it’s true and a constant (as is with most dogs), and yes, you will find hairballs floating around your hardwood floors. On a good note, they’re super easy to pick up, pre-balled-up for your convenience, and their long soft hair is much easier to clean off of furniture and clothes than short hair that sticks into the fabric. Brushing regularly helps with this shedding.

#2: Pyrenees need grooming: Again, true. However, a good bath and regular brushing makes this fairly simple. It’s also very relaxing for you and the dog as you sit in front of the television, brushing your fluffy butt front to back, dog snoozing in your lap. It’s not complicated or difficult unless the dog is allowed to become matted. Then it’s a little more work.

#3: Pyrenees do best with opposite gender: We recommend this for the inexperienced Pyrenees owner to avoid bickerments between dogs. While those of us that have been fostering for some time have multiple of each genders, it’s because we’ve done it long enough to prepare, keep our eyes out and handle an argument between dogs, as well as separate if necessary. Now, some dogs do fine, but typically we’re more comfortable placing/fostering dogs of opposite gender.

#4: Great Pyrenees have a great bark: Yup, it’s true. There are some Pyrenees that bark more than others, but their bark is demonstrated when they feel there is a threat to their “flock” and territory (you being the flock). This occurs a lot at sundown, for that’s when the Great Pyrenees tends to go to work (they’re nocturnal when outdoors). Inside they sleep unless they hear something (knock on door, or a backfire from a big truck outside as it passes by, for example), but they’re not big barkers while indoors. We encourage them to be brought inside after sundown when neighbors are close.

#5: Great Pyrenees roam: This is an important fact to remember. Pyrenees are roamers. It’s innate and cannot be trained out of them. While it seems daunting, it’s really not. Keep them in a secure fence and make sure they’re on a leash when not in the fenced area. Train them to step away from the door when you leave and they will learn to respect that rule. Make sure children don’t leave the door open or let them out. That’s all it takes, and if you do those things you can live an easy, happy life with no chasing of a Pyrenees down the road and through the woods to Grandmother’s house we go. Many people do it, it’s simple, and leash walking is not a big deal because everyone wants to talk to you about your beautiful and sweet dog, so you just get to brag on your furbaby and be proud.

#6: Great Pyrenees love their food: They do love their food and prefer other dogs or cats not to be nosing around in it when they’re hungry and trying to eat. So, kindly allow your Pyrenees to eat alone in another room or in his/her crate. Easy fix.

NOW…The fun facts:

#1: Great Pyrenees are kind, loving, and give great hugs.

#2: Great Pyrenees make you feel adored…then ignored…then adored again. It’s all kinds of fun.

#3: Great Pyrenees are perfect for those times your sad or crying. They will sit with you and let you cry into their big manes. They will also sit on the person you’re mad at, if you so choose.

#4: Great Pyrenees are comical! They will make you laugh over, and over, and over, and then make you laugh again.

#5: Great Pyrenees will greet you with a huge smile when you come home and often do a little dance.

#6: Great Pyrenees will allow you to make many new friends as they ask you about the dog.

#7: Great Pyrenees are great bed warmers. They’re also super for snuggling.

#8: Great Pyrenees show you their expressions with their deep, soulful eyes. They speak to you…it’s not always what you want to hear (“Mom, you’re annoying me.”) but it can be powerful when they’re telling you they love you.

#9: Great Pyrenees are GREAT travel buddies! They LOVE to go ride in the car and explore the world. Nice to have in the car with you, too when you stop to get gas late at night.

#10: Great Pyrenees are bullheaded. This will make you scream. This will also make your sides hurt from laughing so hard.

#11: Great Pyrenees are one of a kind. You’ll never meet a breed like them.

Don’t be intimidated by the size or the hair. Don’t let it cause you to miss out on the joy of having this amazing breed in your home and a part of your family, even if only for a foster duration. Welcoming them into your home and your life will not only save theirs, but enhance yours, as well.

I double dog dare ya.


18 thoughts on “Fostering a Pyrenees? Are you CRAZY??

  1. What a great article! I recently rescued a Great Pyr mix (we think Golden is the other half), and I’ve been reading non-stop about the breed and this is the first I’ve seen that’s explained why my boy barks so much during the evenings. I can tell he’s very alert to any sounds or movements in the dark and he let’s out a great big howl whenever something catches his attention. Good to hear that sundown barking is a thing that many Pyr will do.

    • Hi Steph!
      Yes, they are big barkers at night, for sure! Glad I was able to shed some light on things for you. πŸ™‚ You can read more about them by visiting our website and clicking on Great Pyrenees – http://www.k95rescue.org. There’s an entire page dedicated to them. πŸ™‚

  2. This is a great read and answered a few of my questions. We have just adopted a great pyr and while very patient and loving at times, she has had me nervous because she seems a bit timid. She wags her tail and greets new guests but she put her head down and her tail down when you pet her. I have made it a habit to get down on her level and that seems to help. She is warming up quickly and getting more and more comfortable but she refuses to go up or downstairs in our house. She stays in the living room where her bed is or roams to the kitchen where the door for the back yard is or the dining room where her food and water dishes are. I was worried about how lazy she seems. Even outside, she doesn’t really leave the deck unless she has to relieve herself or unless someone is out there to play with her. On that note, she doesn’t seem too interested in much playing. She has one toy so far she will fetch and play with a little but when she doesn’t have someone to play with she has no interest and goes back to just standing at the door. Just wondering if these are normal characteristics for a great pyr? She also doesn’t bark. I have heard her bark once and one time she kind of growled but it wasn’t a growl, it was more like she was trying to speak. Anyways, I’ll stop rambling. Is this normal or should I have her checked? She just seems sad or bored unless you get her going.

    • Hello Jessica
      From what you’re telling me, I don’t see any concern. There are several reasons for this:

      1) Pyrenees are not active dogs, especially in warmer weather, and they are not dogs that are big on playing with toys or chasing balls/frisbees. They will occasionally find a toy they will play with here and there, but overall they are not active like many dogs. They are a lazy breed until the feel they need to “work,” aka: go on guard and bark at noises, mainly at night when outdoors. During the day time they lounge outside, and again, are not not active. She’s just being a Pyr. πŸ™‚ You could take her on leashed walks if you want to spark some activity for her, and it will allow her to satisfy her roaming instinct, as well (just remember to always keep her on the leash and be slow with introductions to people or dogs).
      2) If she was in a shelter or rescue, it can easily take time for her to adjust…any dog and any breed can do this. It sounds as if she either didn’t have a lot of socialization in her lifetime or she was not treated well…or both. Continuing to provide her love and socialization will help with this. Going to a new home is intimidating, scary, and confusing for animals, especially those that have not known much kindness or attention. So it takes them time to adjust to the new life and such a big change.
      3) She will end up barking, not to worry. She is just settling in now and her true personality and Pyr traits have not come out yet. Allow her to settle in, whatever amount of time it takes, and she will start showing more of the Pyrenees traits such as barking and the desire to roam.
      4) She is probably more comfortable downstairs at this point. She may come up to join you in time, but since she’s still adjusting staying downstairs is a little bit of security for her. Just give her time and when she starts to relax a bit she will become more adventurous. She may also not understand the stairs and need assistance with going up or down. I’ve seen this many times with dogs.

      If you feel she needs to see a veterinarian then you could get her a wellness check just to ease your mind. However, it sounds to me like she’s just a bit of a shy girl who is settling in. πŸ™‚

  3. I don’t know why everyone wants to scare me from wanting to foster/adopt a GP……nothing any dog could do would really surprise me. I adore all animals and enjoy their antics……my 15yr old pit/lab that died in may destroyed two custom order recliners from lazyboy…….I finally tossed them to the curb six months after they were purchased. My coonhound has really eaten ends off of many of my antiques…..don’t plan to fix them until she gets thru the puppy stage(she is4) I don’t see what all the fuss is about…..after all I’ve had almost one of all larger breeds and a horse and pony both step on my toes. what’s another dog hair or demolition!

    • Hi Liz!
      Sounds like you’ve had your share of antics with dogs. πŸ™‚ Thank you for being so understanding about those times. This article is really to encourage people, not discourage, with the hopes of finding people to foster a Pyrenees, but it does also make sure to mention the idiosyncrasies that make the a bit more of a challenge, such as barking and the roaming. In order to foster, people really need to understand these traits, especially the strong roaming instinct and the gender aggression. They’re mentioned so that potential fosters (or even adopters) will learn about and be comfortable with them. The chewing isn’t really anything new for any dog, but the strong roaming trait, gender aggression, and persistent barking is often not something people are used to dealing with. Because it’s something that cannot be trained out of them, and one reason so many are in rescue, it has to be stressed. However, they can be managed and the families and dog can live a very happy life, as many do. If you’re interested in fostering then you can contact your local Pyrenees rescue to ask about fostering. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. I just want to “stamp” my approval on this article! It is a perfect and balanced picture of life with a Pyr. My Gemma Bear is almost 5 years old, and you described her to a “T.” She is 1/4 of the work of my father’s Peekapoo! She is kind, gentle, protective yet friendly, tolerant with children to the point of being a saint! She literally does no wrong. Except the barking, if you consider that a wrong. We consider it protective πŸ™‚

  5. Several years ago we adopted a White German Shepherd/Great Pyrenees cross. He was a wonderful dog, and when he died suddenly due to hemangiosarcoma, we were devastated. After several months had passed, we thought about adopting a Great Pyrenees. There is wonderful rescue group in Phoenix that specializes in Pyrs. We contacted her and brought our big, beautiful 4-year old boy, Rio, home shortly thereafter. He is an absolutely wonderful dog – he was not used to living in a house, but adapted immediately. I caught him marking the corner of a sofa one time, but corrected him and he did not repeat the behavior. He has never destroyed anything in our home, or had an accident of any type. At the time of his adoption we also had an elderly female white shepherd, Jessica. Rio was always extraordinarily gentle with her, and totally let her be the boss.

    Rio does exhibit all of the typical Pyr traits – he goes on “duty” about 8:00 p.m., usually starts out with a couple of lengthy howls than switches over to low barking now and then to let the world know he is ready to defend his territory. When there is a lot of activity in the neighborhood, I will bring him in the house to make sure he doesn’t create too much of a disturbance, but that is not the norm.

    As said in the article, the shedding is ever present, but I agree with the conclusion that it is actually much easier to clean up than shedding from dogs with a short or sick coat. And Rio LOVES being brushed! When he sees me get the beach towel and spread it out in the kitchen, he knows he’s in for an hour of beauty!! He immediately lies down and waits for me to get the grooming tools and go to work. I have him professionally groomed about every two months – unfortunately, Rio will not “allow” a groomer to cut his coat down in the summer – wish I could make him understand it would be to his benefit in Arizona summers! He stays inside pretty much all of the time in the warm months, but I always still make certain that he gets an evening walk just the same – we just make it very short so he doesn’t get overheated.

    All in all, he is a wonderful, sweet, stubborn, loving and serene type of dog. He is very easy to live with, and if you can tolerate a little slobbering and some shedding, you won’t have a problem. In comparison to other dogs, my husband says: “I may not know what Rio is doing, but I always know it’s good!” True!!

    • Such a great story, Cristina – thanks for sharing! So nice to hear about your Rio. Thank you for adopting!

  6. Perfect article and spot-on. We have fostered 4 Pyrs and adopted one. Each is an individual unto his or her self. We even brought an elderly Pyr home that was close to death because we told the shelter it’d be more humane to have him pass while with a family than in a cold indifferent cage. Even as weak as he was, he did his “patrol duty” an hour before he died quietly.

    The one we adopted was a true friend. Yes, he was a willful, headstrong creature and you had to sometimes negotiate with him on behaviors (lol). He was a shelter rescue because this is a college town and lots of people get them as gifts, cute little fluff balls that quickly turn into 150 lb of “wow, I didn’t sign on for this”, so they get dumped and often the outcome isn’t good.

    Mousie slept across the central hallway to the house, or across the bedroom door of whichever one of our kids was staying over. After dark, he never moved from his post, you walked over or around him because he was on duty. The teens in the house often “hated” him because he marked their (sometimes unauthorized) late night comings and goings with a low, but very audible “RUFF.”

    He snored loudly, drank sloppily, belched (if you’re lucky…)voluminously, like a barbarian, and you’d have thought he was a slow-moving bumbling doofus, but when the situation demanded it, he was agile and lightning fast, leaving no doubt that he was a guardian. He would even herd us on our walks around town.

    Since it’s often hot here, he stayed indoors a lot and your blog is exactly right. He flopped and crashed. He did have a weakness for fine leather items as chew toys, but if you know that and still leave the hand-tooled leather out in plain view, you deserve what you get.

    He delighted in figuring out the latest garden gate modification rigged up to keep him out of the spot in the garden where he loved to dig. I never won that…he figured out every single “fix” and defeated it in an intellect-bruisingly short time.

    The only thing we managed to get him to obey with absolute certainty was “stay out of the wisteria.” Everything else was negotiable, but we had ingrained it in him that that bush was special.

    Thus, two weeks ago, when I went out to feed him and saw him under it, I knew it wasn’t good. I called and he didn’t budge, so I whistled sharply and put a little more command in my voice, but there was no movement.

    He appears to have died mid-stride. No sign of a struggle, no blood, or discernible injury, he was fine several hours before. Perhaps his heart gave out. He was 12-13 years old as nearly as we could tell. He was four or five when we adopted him and we had him for almost 8 years. When I gently moved him to have a look, he had his “happy dog face” on.

    My man-card probably melted or disintegrated, but I laid down on the ground, put my arm under his neck, kissed him on top of his head and said something like “aw, damn it, Mouse…why’d you have to do that?” or something equally pointless.

    They are extraordinary dogs and irreplaceable friends.

    • A wonderful dedication to your sweet Mousie. He sounded like so much fun! My heart goes out to you for your loss.

  7. I have a Pyr (Mugzy) who is a dwarf – he was born deaf and is half the height he should be. He is a wonder. We know each other so well. The slightest gesture/sign or look is all I need. I got him when he was 5 months old and he will be 10 on Oct 5, 2015. I love him so much — he is a wonderful fella. He has shorter legs so can’t get up on the bed at night so I lift him up — he sleeps on his side of the bed for awahile before going to the floor for the remainder of the night. He never gets into trouble and has great manners. He does bark even though he is deaf. His nose is unbelievable — he has to smell everyone to make sure they are okay. He paroles the yard barking at each new smell/person/dog etc that happens to be passing by. When sleeping it is very peaceful. He has a great bark though and everyone that meets him loves him. So glad I found my Mugzy (his registered name is Lexington) but he had such a cute Mug I called him Mugzy.

  8. I too have a Pyr…Maia came to us at 8 weeks old, a beautiful 18lb. ball of fur, a beautiful badger female. This is my fifth dog and certainly the largest of them all, most expensive and hardest to train (or not train) and holds a special place in my heart. The first 2 years were extremely frustrating, expensive and most of all heart breaking with health issues; allergies, two torn knee ligaments – one with surgery, diagnosed with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), and her stomach tagged because of bloat (very scary!). So, Maia gets home cooked meals and will be on meds forever to keep her IBS under control. So we take many longs walks in the woods, parks and to the ocean to keep her in shape. But now she is a healthy and extremely happy 41/2 year old princess. She is a “true” Pyr with her guarding at night, protecting chicks, cows, small kids, puppies and of course her family. She may be a little intimidating when guests ring the door bell, but once they are inside and a get a good sniff from Maia, they are her best friend and on her list to protect.
    I would love to foster a Pyr once I am working part time! But until then..
    ps to help get around the shedding get a Roomba!!! Keeps my house “semi” under control.

    • She sounds like a sweetheart. Thanks for hanging in there with her through her medical issues – always a delight to hear of someone not giving up on their pets when times get tough. πŸ™‚

  9. I really like this article, spot on! I’m trying to find some advice on my Great Pyrenees, Dutches. She’ll be three years old this Christmas. She was actually born in out house, and we’ve had her since she was born. We’ve had some behavioral issues, but nothing too far from typical Pyrs. (barking at the TV, shyness around strangers and even people she’s met before, etc.) My questions have to do with traveling, however. She gets really nervous in the car, panting, pacing, and barking seem to be her main symptoms. I travel back and fourth from Virginia to Arkansas a few times a year to visit family and I’d love to take her with me. Since traveling with her causes her too much stress, I’ve been leaving her home and resort to hiring a petsitter. I what guess I’d like to know is: is theres anyway to make traveling less stressful? My mother is convinced it’s a lost cause since she’s three years old and we didn’t travel much with her when she was younger. I’ve tried just driving around and taking her to places she loves, and it’s helped a little, but not enough for to make a 16 hour car ride bearable. Any advice? Is there any way to make traveling with my best friend as fun for her as it is for me?

    • Hi Megan!
      I would suggest talking to your doctor about some options for medications that may assist, or you can try using some Rescue Remedy on the tongue about 30 min prior to help take the edge off. A big help, however, is taking her with you as much as possible so that she sees good things come of traveling. Visit places like Petsmart and give her treats, visit people that she enjoys being around, allow her to get lots of attention, etc. Dogs can get it over it at any age once they learn that it’s not a stressful situation. Hope this helps!

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