Great Pyrenees Behavior Problems: How To Reduce Your Hound's Hostility

Tanya Parkhi
Feb 23, 2023 By Tanya Parkhi
Originally Published on Nov 10, 2021
Fact-checked by Amatullah Gulbargawala
Great Pyrenees dog standing on grass

Great Pyrenees dogs, though very loving and caring towards their family members, tend to behave a bit untowardly towards strangers.

They make an amazing family pet owing to their large size and protective nature, which has been passed on from their guard dog ancestors. However, not training them properly can lead to you having a stubborn, aggressive pet on your hands!

Training these dogs as puppies is critical, as it decides what type of adult they will grow up to be. Though most Great Pyraenees may be cynical of strangers and very protective, this behavior can be greatly toned down by adopting from the right breeder and using the right training methods.

To learn more about these fascinating dogs and how to deal with the typical Great Pyrenees temperament, read on!

If you enjoy this article, do check out our other pages on Great Pyrenees lifespan and blackberries for dogs.

How do you discipline a Great Pyrenees?

Though Great Pyrenees are not inherently aggressive or misbehaving dogs, they do require proper training as puppies to make sure that they stay in check.

Great Pyrenees puppies are known to be stubborn and quite difficult to train, which can be quite challenging for new owners.

Unlike other large dog breeds, they may not be so eager to please their owners and prefer to live by their own standards, which is why they should be properly trained from a young age to drum proper manners and roles in the family into them.

These dogs are known to test the patience of their owners, and repeating a command over and over again will just make them more adamant to defy you. Patience is a key quality needed when dealing with these balls of fur, and asserting your dominance with your tone of voice is a must.

Do Great Pyrenees dogs get aggressive with age?

No, any properly trained Great Pyrenees dog will become more mellow with age, not more aggressive. As Great Pyrenees grow with age, they prefer to use their large size to intimidate strangers, rather than attack them.

Even when properly trained, they tend to retain some of their guard dog nature and will be naturally suspicious at every little change in their surroundings. Proper obedience training ensures that they act on these suspicions less, or deal with them quietly rather than bringing the house down with their barking.

However, aggression in older dogs is not unheard of. Many older dogs start to show aggression to express their discomfort once their body starts aging, or if they suffer from any injury, illness, or disease which may make them uncomfortable.

Suddenly showing aggression may also be a sign of your Great Pyrenees's brain deteriorating, or, in the case of younger dogs, brain tumors or cognitive dysfunction could be the culprit.

Great Pyrenees' temperament may also include aggression at being cooped up or kept in one place for long periods of time. Great Pyrenees love wandering and exploring, and staying stagnant for long periods of time can lead to frustration, which may cause aggression.

Not properly socializing your dog at a young age, or leaving it alone for long periods of time can cause it to become fearful and paranoid when in contact with other humans and dogs.

Dogs only feel this way when they feel backed into a corner, with no means of escape.

This can also be commonly seen in rescue dogs who may have been neglected in their former homes. Any small action which may indicate that they are going to be abused, such as a raised hand or change in tone of voice, may also set them off, as it may remind them of their past trauma.

In the case of unknown humans and dogs, it is better to let them approach your Great Pyrenees slowly and calmly, rather than pushing them into the situation, which can trigger them.

Showing unnecessary aggression may also be genetic, which is why it is always important to check the behavioral traits of a puppy's parents with a breeder before adopting one of these tenacious pooches.

Rescue dogs may need to be retrained in order to make them obedient and more at ease in their new homes. Consulting with a vet, treating your rescue with love, and moving forward with care and patience are the best ways to ensure that your dog lives a happy, healthy life.

What can make a Great Pyrenees aggressive?

A Great Pyrenees dog can be very in touch with its roots as a livestock guardian, which can make it naturally suspicious and territorial when it comes to strange or foreign objects. Though Great Pyrenees dogs are not aggressive in nature, it is very important to train them properly so that they do not develop aggression over time.

Independent and intelligent, they are usually leaders of the pack, and being demoted to a lesser status in a family may not sit well with them. To avoid this, it is important to let them know their place in the household early on, so that they do not show any untoward or high-and-mighty behavior.

Also neglecting to socialize with people out of the family at an early age or leaving your pet alone in a room for long periods of time can lead to behavioral problems.

It is important to let them become accustomed to meeting many different people during their puppyhood and become comfortable with seeing new faces, as this will greatly impact how they interact with newcomers in the future. Not doing so can lead to them being aggressive towards new people or dogs when introduced to them.

Regardless of being male or female, improperly trained adults tend to not get along well with dogs of the same sex as them.

What are common issues with Great Pyrenees?

Some common issues with Great Pyrenees dogs are that they can be very difficult to deal with. They are often stubborn and uncooperative and will ignore their masters in favor of resting. Getting them to listen to you can be quite a task, which is why only very patient people should adopt these dogs!

As they have very alpha-like energy, it is important to not make them feel like their status is equal to or greater than any person in the house, as this may just end up making them more stubborn and unwilling to listen.

Are Great Pyrenees difficult to train?

As Great Pyrenees dogs were initially bred as guard dogs, they possess the inherent trait to guard their family like livestock. Any subtle change in environment or suspicious sounds at night can lead to a volley of barking.

They are also prone to wandering around (inspecting things as guard dogs would), so it is advised to fence them into your yard at night so that they don't wander too far from the house and cause all sorts of chaos.

As Great Pyrenees dogs are very intelligent, they feel independent enough to make decisions alone. Unlike other dogs, who look towards their owner for guidance or approval, they monitor everything happening around them and act accordingly.

As they were initially bred as sheepdogs, they used their loud barks to round sheep up in the mountains and bring them home all by themselves. This domineering behavior of theirs can make them noisy and quite difficult to handle at times.

They are known to be very lazy, which is the number one grievance that Great Pyrenees owners have reported! A relaxing Great Pyrenees dog will go to great lengths to ignore its owner, and will not respond to any commands when it is not in the mood to do so.

The best advice is to stop training them like you would train other dogs, and train them like a horse, with a mix of sternness and an emphasis on discipline!

Are Great Pyrenees dangerous?

No, Great Pyrenees dogs are not dangerous at all. Their large size and loud barks may make them seem intimidating or scary at times, but this behavior can be managed by training them well early on.

They are known to possess a guard dog-like nature, which causes them to bark at almost every small change happening in their surroundings. Originally bred to handle livestock, they view their owners in the same way, and strive to protect them.

Great Pyrenees dogs should be subjected to socialization with other dogs and humans in their puppyhood in order to make them comfortable around them.

If this is not done, it may lead to them growing up to be suspicious of other beings and viewing them as intruders, which can make them dangerous. The Great Pyrenees breed itself is not dangerous at all, but improper training and negligence towards these gentle creatures can turn them into aggressive adults.

It may be more difficult to cope with this problem in Great Pyrenees dogs than with other breeds.

If they do behave aggressively, it is only towards strangers and not people with who they share an emotional bond.

Their aggressiveness, in this case, will extend to loud barking and apprehension; they rarely attack. Great Pyrenees dogs prefer to intimidate and keep intruders away by using their large size and loud barks, and will only use physical force as a last resort; in which case, they feel really threatened.

Helping your puppy distinguish between intruders and friends early on is very important, as this will be ingrained in them for their entire life, and will affect their behavior as adults.

It may not be the best idea to keep these dogs around children from outside the family. Though they are very loving and gentle with the kids they know from puppyhood, the same cannot be said for unfamiliar ones.

They are not really the best breed to let around children as they are not that playful, and will only take so much cuddling and petting before they become uncomfortable.

Common Great Pyrenees Behavior Problems

Great Pyrenees dogs can be quite difficult to handle at times, and there are a few behavioral traits that can commonly be seen in this breed.

Though Great Pyrenees dogs are not an inherently aggressive breed, mishandling them or not providing proper training can lead to dogs of this breed becoming aggressive. Though they can act aggressive at times, it is usually not towards their family members or around people they interact with on a regular basis.

This is mostly observed when they come into contact with strangers or sense a threat.

It could also be due to genes, which is why it is very important to check into a puppy's background with its breeder before adopting it. If both its parents were aggressive in nature, then the chances are that it may turn out to be aggressive as well.

These dogs are quite independent, and the chances are that they will ignore their masters in favor of comfort. When they are resting or not in the mood for work, they will ignore their master's calls repeatedly.

They are also not very fond of walking and become tired after 15-20 minutes of activity. They are very inactive during the day and prefer to lounge about rather than play fetch or go on trails, as they conserve their energy for 'guarding' at night.

Their high intelligence, as well as inbuilt independence, can lead to a very common problem among these pooches: stubbornness. Often making decisions of their own, they would rather live on their own terms rather than listen to their masters.

Whereas dogs of other breeds are ever willing to please their masters and jump at their every command, a Great Pyrenees will ignore you once it is in its comfort zone and do what makes it happy.

The only way to deal with this is by being patient and trying to assert your dominance in order to make them listen, otherwise, it may lead to them becoming agitated.

Using positive reinforcement is the only way to keep your dog's temperament from going awry, as it can pick up on negative tones and become hostile. Consulting a specialized trainer is always recommended when dealing with these dogs.

Though this is not really a bad trait, it could end up being quite troublesome for Great Pyrenees owners to deal with. As they were originally used as mountain sheepdogs, Great Pyrenees pooches love to wander around their surroundings and explore everything.

They are naturally curious due to their livestock guard dog nature and will approach anything that seems off or interests them.

Taking them for off-leash walks or letting them outdoors by themselves may not be the wisest choice, as it can lead to them running off and spending hours by themselves. For exercise, fence off a portion of your yard or backyard and let them walk or run around in that patch.

As these animals are quite skeptical of strangers and unfamiliar objects, this can make them seem very antisocial at times. They prefer to stay indoors and guard their 'territory' rather than playing with other dogs or going for walks with their owners.

Socialization at a young age is the only way to combat this behavior in an adult dog. Keeping them away from curious children is recommended, as it may set them off due to their protective nature.

These dogs have very busy jaws, and often need something to chew on. Be sure to provide them with chewable treats or pet bone toys that are good for their teeth, or you may end up finding bite marks all over your furniture, door, and other things in the house!

Puppies have the worst tendency toward chewing, which is why it is important to keep them in crates as they are growing, or they may wreak havoc on your belongings!

Along with their chewing habit, they might take to being destructive if they are bored at night.

They may attack or tear apart anything which they find suspicious and become very hyper at night, which means that usually there is no one around to stop them from doing so. Attempting to curb this behavior at a young age is recommended before they become unstoppable due to their large size!

Always take the advice of a specialized trainer to deal with your pet showing signs of aggression or destruction, as well as checking in with its breeder about destructive traits in its parents.

How To Prevent Aggression In Great Pyrenees

Though it may be a bit difficult to stamp out this behavior from Great Pyrenees for good, it can be curbed by giving them the right training while they are puppies.

As these animals can be very protective of their families and possessions, it is important to induce proper socialization as well as ingrain the importance of sharing their belongings with other dogs. Instilling these values into them while they are puppies can help to prevent instances of aggression once they are older.

Adopting a Dog from Great Pyrenees Rescue or a Shelter

Unfortunately, a lot of Great Pyrenees dogs tend to end up in shelters due to bad behavior stemming from improper training. The dogs found in shelters can often be antisocial, dismissive, or victims of abuse, which can make them very fearful.

Adopting one of these pooches from a shelter has both pros and cons. As most of these dogs are adults, you do know exactly what you are getting yourself into by taking one of them home, and can slowly bring them into your home accordingly.

Retraining them as well as being very patient is necessary, especially if they were neglected by their previous owners.

On the other hand, as many adopted dogs have not been trained properly since birth, it can prove very difficult to break them out of their set behaviors.

It may take a lot of time, love, and patience to make them happy, healthy dogs, as they may flinch at slight movements or bark unnecessarily, as they are reminded of their previous living situations.

Their independent behavior usually shows through here, as they are very intelligent and think for themselves in many situations. They may think in terms of survival or be competitive if they come from an abusive situation, which can be a bit difficult to deal with.

Overall, it can take a lot of being gentle, patient, and loving with these dogs to adopt one of them into your home. But, rehoming a neglected, abused pet is one of the most selfless and honorable things you can do, as every pet deserves its own loving forever home.

If you follow these steps, it will not be long before your pet will be able to partake in socialization with other dogs and people!

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for 'Great Pyrenees behavior problems' then why not take a look at 'Dog symbolism', or 'Great Pyrenees facts'.

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Written by Tanya Parkhi

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Economics

Tanya Parkhi picture

Tanya ParkhiBachelor of Arts specializing in Economics

Tanya is a skilled content creator with a passion for writing and a love for exploring new cultures. With a degree in Economics from Fergusson College, Pune, India, Tanya worked on her writing skills by contributing to various editorials and publications. She has experience writing blogs, articles, and essays, covering a range of topics. Tanya's writing reflects her interest in travel and exploring local traditions. Her articles showcase her ability to engage readers and keep them interested.

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Fact-checked by Amatullah Gulbargawala

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English, Bachelor of Education specializing in the Language Arts

Amatullah Gulbargawala picture

Amatullah GulbargawalaBachelor of Arts specializing in English, Bachelor of Education specializing in the Language Arts

Amatullah is a passionate student pursuing a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Education from Ashoka College of Education. With a keen interest in literature, she has excelled in elocution competitions and is an accomplished writer. She has completed courses like "History of English Language and Literature", "Introduction to Western Political Thought and Theory", and "Development of Soft Skills and Personality". In her free time, Amatullah enjoys reading books and writing poetry.

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