Great Pyrenees Q & A
RHONDA DALTON I have owned, trained, shown and bred Great Pyrenees for 35 years. I am currently the President of the Great Pyrenees Club of America and the Training Director for Princeton Dog Training Club. I purchased my first dog as an Obedience dog. Since Pyrs are not often shown in Obedience, I was encouraged to try confor- mation shows. My first dog, Apollo, completed his Champion- ship at the first Regional Specialty I attended and earned his CD before the age of two. He went on to train for his CDX and become an amazing therapy dog. The rest is history. With very limited breeding, I have finished 30 Champions, three CD’s, and three Rally Novice Titles. I breed once in awhile, when I want a new puppy and to continue my line of dogs. For Thanksgiving I am expecting a litter of at least seven puppies from 23 year old frozen semen, a breeding I have been waiting a very long time for. I live in New Jersey. Outside of dogs, most of my life revolves around dogs and my family. Between training and showing my dogs, being the current president of the Great Pyrenees Club of America and training director for Princeton Dog Training Club, there isn’t much time for anything else. When I get a chance, I enjoy going to concerts with my husband. Does the average person in the street recognize the breed? No, most people think they are white Newfoundlands or Saint Bernards. I don’t think it really has an affect on placing puppies. Great Pyrenees are not for everyone. Those who want them have usually met one. I have to disagree the statement that few of the dogs really “work” anymore. I believe that there may be more dogs work- ing than ones living with families as pets. Great Pyrenees are extremely adaptable and make amazing livestock guardian dogs as well as amazing family pets. How has the breed adapted to civilian life? Great Pyrenees are extremely intelligent dogs. They make wonderful fam- ily pets or LDG’s. Whichever life they are living, they require training. What qualities as an unmatched livestock guardian also come in handy around the house? They are devoted compan- ions who protect their families as if they were their flock. No one can sneak into your house without you knowing. What about the breed makes them an ideal companion? They make wonderful companions and service/therapy dogs. Pyrs are very intelligent and very capable of manipulating unsuspecting owners. Puppies like to dig up your yard, adults often bark too much and without a fence, all Pyrs will wonder. Pyrs also shed profusely when blowing their coats and some dogs drool more than others. What special challenges do Great Pyrenees breeders face in our current economic and social climate? As with all purebred dogs, some people don’t seem to understand the importance of purebred dogs that are bred for a purpose. The importance of inherited instinctual traits can not be understated. Without livestock guardian dogs who can think for themselves, farmers would not be able to keep herds of livestock safe. At what age do I start to see definite signs of show-worthi- ness? I start watching every move puppies make from birth. By seven weeks old I try to make my decisions and can see signs of show-worthiness. What is it that makes showing dogs all worthwhile? Show- ing my dogs is a fun activity that gives me the opportunity to spend more quality time having fun together. If I want to breed a dog, I feel I need to prove their worthiness to reproduce by becoming a champion.
What is the most important thing about the breed for a nov- ice to keep in mind when judging? Make sure to get you hands on the dogs to feel what is under that beautifully groomed coat. Many faults can be hidden by a carefully groomed coat and carefully used cosmetic products. My ultimate goal for the breed? To see all breeders use health testing to help them breed beautiful, healthy dogs, and look at the whole dog including type, soundness and temperament. My favorite dog show memory? Being able to owner-handle my home bred dog to multiple group placements and the hall of fame. Is there anything else you’d like to share about the breed? Before buying a Great Pyrenees, people need to realize that they will be very large dogs. Formal training of a puppy is extreme- ly important and must be started from the minute the puppy comes home and should minimally continue throughout the first year. If you are not going to fence your yard or keep your dog leashed, please do not get a Great Pyrenees. TERRY M. DENNEY-COMBS I have been breeding and showing Great Pyrenees since 1971. I’m working on my 100th champion at the moment. A Gold Breeder of Merit with the AKC. Under the kennel name Euzkalzale have bred generations of Top show dogs, Specialty winners, Therapy Dogs, Family dogs and Livestock guardians. I live in Hesperia California. Outside dogs as a profession is not possible because I groom dogs for a living still and have done so since 1984. Dogs are in my blood and ever since my first Pyr, which I purchased on my 21st birthday, I’ve been trying very hard to go forward with our breed being careful to preserve the distinct breed characteristics that make them stand apart. While improving soundness and health along the way. I find many people recognize the Great Pyrenees these days and most of my puppy clients are people who have owned and loved Pyrs before and want another in their lives. There is only one Pyr and he should still be able to function as a life stock guardian; he will take the things that make him one into his home and guard the people and animals around him. He is a thinker and will soon know if something could be a danger and act accordingly. He really needs to have beings to guard and be responsible for to fulfill his needs. This breed was developed by Basque shepherds which were a family type of group and the dogs also guarded homes as well as flocks. They are excellent to live with and adapt well to home environments but also require good exercise to develop properly and remain strong and healthy. This is a mountain dog, capable of climbing and descending rugged terrain. Pyrs have a slow metabolism and require little food com- pared to many of the larger working dogs. Because they were developed by a people that used natural selection and ability as a guide for breeding has helped our breed have vigor. The biggest drawbacks in residential areas and small farm areas is his tendency to bark at night to let the predators know he is on duty. This can be considered a nuisance in many communities. He also is an independent dog and is not easily bent to any per- son’s will with training; especially if he sees no need to continue doing repetitive commands. He definitely requires being on a leash when out and about. If any danger is near or his charges feel there is a danger he is right there in full gear to do what is necessary to stop any thing that is making them fearful. Many owners will have to bring the Pyrs in at night to keep within the scope of noise laws; but that is the place they want to be with their pack or human herd. They shed too. A Pyr should be aware if someone is not up to par and make very caring and gentle therapy dogs. Many have been the last
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