The Great Pyrenees is one of the largest sized dogs, reaching up to 32 inches (82 cm) in height and weighing up to 54 kg. You can easily see why ‘Great’ is in the breeds name. It is therefore important to find out the typical temperament of this dog – especially if you are looking to spend any time around one or even take one in as a pet. But what about aggression? Is this a natural tendency of the breed and what can owners expect regarding their behavior and nature. I spent some time researching them and would like to share what I found for you here today.
So, are Great Pyrenees aggressive? Great Pyrenees are generally not an aggressive breed of dog. However, they can be aggressive towards animals and other dogs that they are not familiar with or considered part of their family. Like any dog, Great Pyrenees can also be aggressive towards people, especially if they lack proper training and socialization from a young age.
The Great Pyrenees is an independent and strong-willed dog, while also being attentive to their owner’s needs.
As a Great Pyrenees owner, you must accept that the nature of these dogs cannot be fundamentally changed.
This breed is quite serious in temperament and not one for playtime or being silly.
You must accept some of the characteristics you dislike and enjoy the ones you do like; you must learn to work with this dog as they are.
That being said, you can help your Pyr get the best possible start in life by socializing them from an early age; this should also help their behavior favorably and ensure you have a safe and respectful dog.
Just consider, it will not change who they are and what they like to do or how they spend their time.
For the most part, Great Pyrenees are happiest when guarding livestock or having a job to do. It’s what they were initially bred to do and still remains part of their instinctual nature to this day.
Thankfully, you can substitute livestock by getting them to pull a cart or sled, or other strenuous activity that you may be able to identify around your property or home.
Without having something to keep them occupied, they are likely to get bored and this is when they can get destructive; and other unfavorable tendencies begin to arise.
With all this in mind, let us know take a closer look at the average temperament of the Great Pyrenees breed.
We will also cover whether they are dangerous to own, some potential causes and triggers of aggression and how to manage and prevent then from arising as an owner.
Great Pyrenees Temperament
Great Pyrenees are confident, gentle, and affectionate in temperament. They are also relatively patient, quiet and composed.
They are innately territorial and will do all they can to protect their owners or family should the situation arise or they perceive a threat and danger.
At the same time, they are strong-willed and fiercely independent; they trust their instincts over their owner’s commands.
While this instinct helps them to be the best guard dog for their family, it can also mean they are confrontational at times.
As the American Kernel Club (AKC) states, they are not just gentle giants. This is one of the main myths of the breed.
This instinct also means that they can be a challenge to train, and persistence and consistency will be required.
They are brave, showing no fear; but at times they can also appear aloof and almost disinterested.
Like with any breed of dog, there is always the potential for aggression. Athough, with this breed, it’s usually aimed at unfamiliar animals like other dogs than it is humans, let alone their own family.
To get the best temperament possible from the Great Pyrenees, and to avoid aggression, it is strongly recommended to adopt one from a reputable breeder and be diligent about training and socialization.
In doing so, you will ensure your dog comes from a superior lineage and heritage – which is beneficial when it comes to both temperament and health.
Early training and socialization are also crucial for Pyrs as even well-bred pups can develop aggression. There are a lot of factors in the environment that can result in this behavior.
And remember; this is a large, stubborn, and willful dog – aggression is not a quality you want to contend with.
As such, the first 13 weeks of a Pyrs life is significant in the early stages of their development.
This is the time they learn to become well-behaved – learning what is right and wrong and what will and won’t be accepted.
The next three years of training and early socialization help shape the individuality of your Great Pyrenees.
They will also need as much exposure to different sights, sounds, people, surroundings, and experiences as possible to help them become much more comfortable and confident around people, animals and in different contexts.
This all contributes to a more rounded, better disciplined dog.
Are Great Pyrenees Dangerous?
Great Pyrenees are not a dangerous dog breed, but they are large and stubborn. This coupled with a lack of early training and socialization has the potential to make these dogs dangerous.
The breed in itself is not dangerous. If a Great Pyrenees has anger issues, it’s usually the exception rather than the norm. It’s also usually due in part to specific triggers that make the dog uncomfortable or feel threatened.
For these reasons, you are going to need to do all you can to prevent triggers and situations from arising where you know it may cause distress, for your dog.
First and foremost, get your puppy from a reputable breeder, one who specializes in breeding for health and sound temperament.
As an owner, you bear the responsibility of continually socializing your dog; they need exposure to as many situations as possible.
Positive reinforcement will work wonders in improving your dog’s temperament and reduce aggression.
If you fail to make this commitment, you may have a dog that develops anger and hostility – not a good thing. But remember, this is usually a learned behaviour.
These dogs are flock guardians and bred to have an independent mind of their own; they are also naturally suspicious; this helps them protect those that are vulnerable from potential danger.
Great Pyrenees trust their gut and tend to go with their own decisions – not necessarily a negative thing. However, it may not be how you want your dog to behave, especially if you are trying to raise him as an indoor pet.
Be prepared; these dogs are quite willful. You must make your rules clear to them and be consistent.
If you don’t live on a farm and are away from close neighbors, you must never leave your Pyr outside unsupervised.
Great Pyrenees have booming barks and sound like they’re dangerous even if they’re not.
Plus, you don’t want to run the risk of having your neighbors reporting you or your dog!
What Can Make Great Pyrenees Aggressive?
Great Pyrenees are generally excellent family dogs, but they have strong urges to drive away animals that are not considered part of the group.
Many Pyrs can be aggressive and show dominance to dogs they don’t know.
Some Great Pyrenees are not great around cats or small dogs in particular.
While aggression in Great Pyrenees dogs is not common, it can be an issue for some which is true for any dog breed.
Certain environmental factors can also result in unwanted aggression; let’s look at these factors:
Great Pyrenees dogs work as livestock guardians; it is natural for them to be cautious of possible threats to their group – these dogs often see their family as livestock.
If your Pyr is new to your home, they may become protective of their perceived territory and “flock.”
If another dog is living in your home, this can bring out your dog’s aggression.
Understandably, dogs, including Pyrs view food, toys, sleeping areas, and other objects as resources that require guarding.
Tensions can occur between two Pyrs due to resource guarding.
One Pyr might think the other is trying to steal his coveted things, for example, if one dog approaches a food bowl aggression can erupt from the other.
The Battle For Dominance
Canines are pack animals that strive to establish a hierarchy; aggression goes a long way to determine who is the top dog.
Aggressive vocalizations and gestures allow the alpha dog to assert himself with little efforts, like resorting to violence.
Great Pyrenees are naturally slow and steady, so when they are showing aggression, it may not appear as obvious as with other breeds.
How To Prevent Aggression In Great Pyrenees
Taking the three examples of aggression from above, let’s look at the steps you can take to prevent aggression in Great Pyrenees dogs.
The Solution To Territorial Aggression
Understandably, the Great Pyrenees should want to guard their territory.
When bringing a new dog home, you must make their first introductions on neutral ground like a park.
This way, the two dogs can get to know each other before occupying the same living space.
Spaying and neutering is an excellent solution to the problem of territorial aggression – unfulfilled hormonal drives can result in territorialism.
You can also seek out the advice and support of a specialized trainer.
The Solution To Resource Guarding
If you have more than one canine living in your household, make sure you feed them separately and remove feeding bowls straight away to avoid any conflict.
Confiscate toys and use training methods to teach your dogs that resources like toys are privileges to be earned.
Correct your dog using verbal commands, use distraction when they get in each other’s faces over supposed resources.
The Solution To Dominance Issues
There isn’t much you can do to improve dominance issues, interfering will not help.
Once your dogs establish their relationship, aggressive behavior tends to lessen.
However, continue to monitor your dog’s behavior and be ready to intervene if you think either canine is at risk of injury.
It is essential to provide your Great Pyrenees companion with adequate exercise; they need plenty of space to roam.
Make sure that they don’t overdo it, as too much exercise can put stress on their joints, ligaments, and growing bones.
Young Great Pyrenees need plenty of exercise, but you must make sure that they are well hydrated as they can be overheated if they exercise in the heat or humidity.
- Hotovy, Erin (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 151 Pages - 10/10/2019 (Publication Date) - Independently published (Publisher)
Great Pyrenees dogs are not an aggressive breed, at least not towards their family.
Never the less, training and early socialization are beneficial for this breed and ensure that you have a better behaved, safe and respectful dog.
Be patient when training your Pyr, take into account their stubbornness; they are not the most obedient, so you should expect to be challenged.
These dogs are independent, and they were bred to do their job without humans, this instinct is inherent even despite their new role as a pet in the family.
Be confident in your training, but don’t be harsh, stick to what you have asked your dog to do.
Training must be done positively, Pyrs are highly sensitive, these dogs might be large and powerful physically, but their feelings can get hurt easily.
You must refrain from yelling, hitting, and belittling your dog because they do not do what you want them to do – this will harm your relationship and can really knock their confidence – making them more timid and reserved.
You should seek to earn your Pyr’s trust; the most obedient dogs are ones that have the closest bonds with their owners.
Having a close bond doesn’t guarantee first-time obedience from your Pyr, but they will work with you and be more willing to listen to you.
Take your Pyr out for walks and spend as much time together as you can. Offer your companion lots of praise – you will find that praise is the best motivator when training your Great Pyrenees.
Great Pyrenees make great family dogs. They are gentle, affectionate, calm, and patient; being very loyal to their family, and great with well-behaved children. However Great Pyrenees are more serious than they are playful so may not be the most entertaining of pets for children than some other breeds. While trustworthy they can also be suspicious of visitors – even friends and family.
Great Pyrenees are typically not biters – instead of being more docile and friendly. Like any dog, they may bite if provoked, if threatened, or feel they need a last resort. Puppy Great Pyrenees are also more prone to biting but with training and age, this behavior should reduce.
Great Pyrenees are independent dogs and can be quite stubborn. They are therefore not the easiest dogs to train. However, if you start training early in their life, are consistent, and use effective approaches then you can get these dogs to behave more in accordance with how you want them to.
I am an experienced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets, from traditional pets like dogs and cats, to the more exotic like reptiles and rodents. I currently own a Cockapoo (pictured) called Bailey. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site dedicated to sharing evidence-based insights and guidance, based on my vast pet ownership knowledge, experience, and extensive research.