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Great Pyrenees Temperament
page 5

But just the fact that they to some people have the reputation of being vicious, confirms I think that they have not all been as gentle as one wants them to be. I also remember that many years ago somebody (I cannot remember who) told me that an English Vet had stated in the press that he could think of nothing being lesser fitted as a pet than a Pyrenean Mountain dog. In IGPR October 1973, James M. Giffin, M.D., USA has written an article "Thoughts on PYRENEAN BEHAVIOUR". This article gives a very good insight into Pyrenean temperament nearly a quarter of a century ago.It says, among other things, "In guard dogs a natural tendency to be wary of strangers has surely been inherited to a greater extent than that found among dogs adapted to work as retrievers, scent hounds, and herders." It goes on to say: "The heritage of a good guard dog is such that he can be depended upon to protect his flocks, home, property, and family, by attacking, or threatening to attack, hostile animals and humans". "A good guard dog is never vicious. A vicious animal is one which attacks without provocation; he cannot be controlled, or trained, to inhibit his bite. Therefore, his responses are unpredictable". "Another characteristic is a certain degree of intolerance to crowding stress. His personal sphere, or the critical distance upon which a strange person can approach him without arousing apprehension, is rather closely marked". As it was quite obvious that one could not live with Pyrenean-sized aggressive dogs, breeders had to work toward a more docile temperament and, in my opinion, it is on this point that the breed has changed a great deal. The Pyreneans of today are much more docile than the ones of yesterday. And I think they are by far the most docile of all the LGD breeds.

They have probably not changed so much that their temperament is very much different from a great part of those from yesterday, but the aggressive ones have nearly disappeared and an overly protective Pyrenean is not common anymore.

Aloof - Out going

LGDs are often in literature described as aloof more than outgoing. Nevertheless one can meet many Pyreneans that love to come in contact with everyone they meet. It seems that the owners attitude toward strangers plays a major role in how interested a Pyrenean is in people he does not know. This is only true as long as the dog is aloof and not shy and shyness should not be excused as aloofness.

© U. Hock-Henschke