A dog with attitude

I am going to answer a Frequently Barked Question, or FBQ, today.

FBQ: Is a Pyrenean Mountain Dog (Great Pyrenees) the right dog for me?

I have to point out that the people asking this question have it back to front. The question should really be: Am I the right person for a Pyrenean Mountain Dog? If you’re offended that I have turned the question round then the answer to your original question is a no!

People who live with Pyrenean Mountain Dogs are generally agreed that we have lots of attitude. I think that attitude is a good thing and I’ve seen lots of quotations saying that attitude is everything, but apparently some humans don’t want attitude from a dog!

My ancestors were bred to look after livestock in the mountains, with little or no supervision from humans. We are confident and think for ourselves. If you think a dog should obey you, without question, simply because you are a human, you are the wrong person for a Great Pyrenees.

We are intelligent and capable of learning quickly. Training needs to begin early and our bipeds usually think they have the perfect puppy for a while, as we pick things up so quickly. But most of us, sooner or later, start thinking about whether we actually want to do the things we’re asked to do. Then we start thinking about ways of avoiding doing the things we don’t want to do. I myself began this phase when I was about eleven weeks old – and I’m not particularly precocious!

We need bipeds who are patient and consistent to work through this with us. A sense of humour also helps! If you have those qualities, we’ll gradually grow to trust and respect you and we’ll do as we’re asked most of the time. Training us isn’t about dominance, we respond to positive reinforcement but we’re not usually as motivated by food as people expect dogs to be. I enjoy a treat or two, but I’m far more motivated by praise or a game.

Bone-shaped dog biscuits, treats

Thank you, but I’m not hungry!

I’m a well-behaved adult and I trust and respect my bipeds – they can take me anywhere with them. But I still occasionally check to see if my bipeds are on their toes by trying to bend a rule. Of course it’s just a coincidence that this happens when I know they’re in a hurry, or that it’s raining and they don’t really want to put on shoes to come outside to fetch me in from the garden! I’ve heard that I’m far from alone in doing this!

If that Pyr-attitude doesn’t worry you, check out “Not the dog for everyone“. For those brave souls who are still with me, here are just a few more things you should know before deciding that you’re right for a Great Pyrenees.


It’s fairly obvious that we’re large, but this has lots of implications that are not as obvious – see “Santa Pups“.


We have lots of it! We moult heavily once or twice a year, but we’re generous with our hair the rest of the time – see “From hair to eternity“. I hope you don’t like wearing black!


We have a reputation for barking a lot. Our bark is loud, so it can be a cause for concern. I have barked about this a few times.

General barking – “To bark, or not to bark, that is the question“.

Preparing for the barking – “The calm before the barking storm“.

Barking at night – “Why barking at night can be a good thing“.

Aqua paw print

I hope you find the right dog for you!

See you next Wednesday!

58 thoughts on “A dog with attitude

  1. Great info, Clowie! Sephi was a little like you in that she did her own thing and required more of a motivation to obey commands. She was very different in that sense than other dogs I have had and might not have been the right fit for some people. She was very food motivated, though, and so it was a bit easier. Like Clowie, she got a lot of positive training and had very good manners most of the time.

    • It can be challenging finding ways to motivate and keep interest in training, but I think the relationship between dog and biped becomes very special.

  2. I love this post, Clowie! I could imagine chosing a wonderful dog like you – but unfortunately at this moment no dog would be possible for me. I’m working full time and I cannot take a dog with me. I love big dogs and self-thinking dogs. In every case a dog needs more attention that I in my situation would be able to give.
    I therefore think, I’d be right with my kitties. 🙂

    • Thank you! Dogs do need lots of time and attention – even the independent ones! Cats make wonderful companions without needing so much of your time.

  3. Very interesting and informative 🙂 I can relate to the part about attitude…from a howl I had the misfortune to be hauled into last night, people don’t like attitude and independent thinking from wolves either! Bipeds are terribly prone to misinterpreting what they think of as attitudes…sometimes it’s their own attitudes that should be called into question but dare you howl that back at them!!!!

    • Thank you. I think some bipeds don’t like anyone having a different opinion from them! Surely independent thinking is part of the essence of a wolf!

  4. Hi Clowie: So sorry we’ve been ghosts as of late. We’ve been locked away, in our writing room working on our book. But we’re almost done which means we can get back to our blogging buds like you!! Now as for the post. Brilliant!!! We wish more blogs would put up doggy personalities & what kind of environment would be best for them. Perhaps then, there would be less abused animals & happy doggy/kitty homes!! My brother bought his wife a dog (beautiful). A Siberian Husky. Now, don’t get me wrong, they spoil that dog rotten!!! HOWEVER, I often feel very sad for my nephew, Cody because he’s a dog who is not in the right environment. He lives in South Florida (too hot) and has no companions (brothers or sisters) to connect with except my brother and his wife. He has no room to run, nothing to pull & is often hungry for just that!!! So you see, I feel that this post is not only brilliant, but warranted if bi-ped’s are looking for a dog!! You go Clowie!!! Luv this & sharing now!! xoxo ❤

    • It’s lovely to see you again! You must be excited to have almost finished your book – congratulations!

      Thank you, I do think it’s important for bipeds to understand the needs of any animal they choose to live with them. It is nice if our natural tendencies can be channelled in some way that is fun for us.

  5. We know your breed Clowie and have like it when we met them at dog shows. But…the manners of any canine depend on the time the humans put into teaching, partnering and gaining trust etc. One of Mom L’s clients had a GPMD…and they had 2 other rescue mixed breed dogs and lived in a mountain community…the dogs had the run of 25 acres…but mostly they hung around the house. Well…there was a big party and Mom and Dad both went…lots of people, some young people, barbques going, music etc. As soon as Mom and Dad climbed to the wood deck….the Pyr came over, Mom had met him before..but she still held out her hand, back of hand up for the Pyr to sniff…thankfully several men were around as the dog let out a ferocious growl and at the same time lunged for Mom! Someone grabbed the dog…and the bipeds came over and said oh he is never like that and he has never hurt anyone. Sure…that Pyr followed my Mom for over an hour…always trying to get within a few feet of her, never taking his eyes off her…Mom was afraid and finally put several people, Dad included and a couple of large chairs between her and the dog…and Mom and Dad left soon after eating quickly. Not that Pyr’s fault at all…but the bipeds who had never worked with him. paw hugs, Savvy

    • That must have been a horrible experience for your mom. I’m sure my bipeds would have made their excuses and left as soon as they could.
      It’s important for any dog to be socialised and get to know what’s expected, but it’s especially important for the large and protective breeds to be relaxed. I love meeting people, but my bipeds always try to make sure that one of them can see me when we have people around. That isn’t because they don’t trust me but because they want to be able to put a stop to anything that is stressful for me.

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