How to feed a Pyrenean Mountain Dog

I am answering a couple of Frequently Barked Questions about food today. The first part of the post is about the appetite of an adult Great Pyrenees and the second part will tell you about feeding puppies – they eat a lot more!

Adults

FBQ: Do Pyrenean Mountain Dogs, or Great Pyrenees, eat a lot?

Clowie: When we’re fully grown our appetite is quite modest for our size. As a rough guide, we usually eat about the same as a working Border Collie or an adult Labrador should eat.

We usually spend a large part of our day in a comfortable spot where we can see as much as possible of what is going on without needing to move. This means we don’t use as much energy as dogs that like to keep on the move all the time.

We are not generally greedy. Although you will find a few Pyrenean Mountain Dogs who like their food too much and have to watch their weight, you are more likely to encounter a Pyrenean Mountain Dog who is slightly fussy about his food.

I have days, especially in the hot weather, when I don’t want to eat at all and this is not unusual for my breed. It is nothing to worry about in a healthy adult if it’s a day here and there.

I like to have a light breakfast and eat more in the evening – my evening meal is about double my breakfast in size. I know that a number of my relations agree with me on this.

Puppies

FBQ: How should I feed a Pyrenean Mountain Dog, or Great Pyrenees, puppy?

Clowie: The short answer to that is lots and lots of top quality food!

Pet food bowl

My bowl is empty – again!

It isn’t surprising that we need a lot of food while we’re growing when you consider how fast we grow. I reached most of my adult height by the time I was six months old. It takes young humans more than a decade to grow that much.

From the time I went to live with my bipeds as a small puppy I had four meals a day, until I was six months old. Our vet said that it’s important to have frequent meals as our digestive system is working at its peak to process enough food to grow so rapidly. The size of my meals gradually increased during that time. Our vet advised allowing me to eat as much as I wished at mealtimes.

My appetite peaked at about five months of age. My bipeds made rude jokes about shovelling food in at one end and clearing up what came out at the other end!

Wheelbarrow

Guess what the bipeds said they needed this for!

When I was about six months old I began rejecting the second meal of the day, so my bipeds fed me three times a day. I ate a little more at each meal, but the quantity for the day had stopped increasing.

When I was about nine months old I lost interest in the second meal of the day and my bipeds changed to two meals a day. From then my appetite gradually decreased until I was about eighteen months old when it reached a steady level.

This may seem a strange way of doing things, but my bipeds were advised by a number of people with lots of experience of my breed that the best way was to allow me to decide how much I needed to eat and when to change the number of meals. This is because we mature and grow at different rates and have growth spurts needing extra food at different times. A rigid plan cannot cater for the differences between puppies. When it comes to food requirements, a Pyrenean Mountain Dog puppy knows best!

My bipeds weighed and measured me every week to keep an eye on my progress. When I was too heavy to lift and weigh at home they took me to the vet’s office every week to weigh me on the scales in his reception area. That meant lots of fuss for me from the receptionist and sometimes the vet had a spare moment and came to pet me! He would have a quick chat with my bipeds while he stroked me, he gave them reassurance that I was growing and progressing as I should.

Many brands of dog food have a special food for large breed puppies. Not only are the pieces larger so that we have to chew rather than gulp our food down, but attention is paid to the nutrients we need to grow healthily at the rate we do.

I’m not going to say very much about raw feeding – it’s a topic in its own right. I just wish to say that if you decide to go that route while your dog is a puppy then make sure you do your research thoroughly and take advice from people familiar with the breed. Dogs of different ages and sizes have different nutritional needs.

I have read some old books about my breed, written before commercial dog food was widely available. They included some eating plans for growing puppies created by experienced breeders. Each plan included supplements for strong bone growth and substantial amounts of top-quality meat such as best, lean, beef steak.

My bipeds said it was expensive keeping me in kibble while I was growing, but I think those juicy steaks would have cost them a lot more!

Kibble

Kibble

I’m sorry this post is a bit dry but, to paraphrase Forrest Gump, kibble is as kibble does. And I can assure you that kibble is dry!

See you next Wednesday!

Indecision

The female biped went shopping and left me at home with the cats. When she got back I heard her stop the car in the lane as near to the front door as she could. The only building beyond us is a farmer’s barn and he hardly ever uses it. A moment later she came in the door with bags of shopping. She told me to wait to greet her as she had some more bags to fetch before moving the car. Then we heard a lorry outside. She groaned and just put the bags down on the floor and hurried out to move the car.

The biped reappeared a couple of minutes later with more bags of shopping. During her absence Pippin had woken up and found the bag of meat. The handles were tied together, but he had made a neat slit in it with his claws and was trying to pull out a package of meat. I was standing there, unsure what to do. I knew he shouldn’t be doing that, but the meat did smell very tempting!

Pippin, the cat, looking innocent

Pippin, trying to look innocent!

The biped said, “Pippin, no!”

But Pippin didn’t stop, he started tugging harder on the package. The biped put the bags down and went across to Pippin. He was very naughty, he still didn’t stop. She took the meat from Pippin and went into the kitchen and put it on the work top, but Pippin followed her and jumped up. She told him to get down, but he wasn’t listening – she had to pick him up and carry him away and put him in another room and close the door.

She came back and said, “You are so good, Clowie! I didn’t mean to leave something so tempting right in front of you. I think you deserve a treat or two, before I check what damage Pippin has done.”

She gave me some treats and made a big fuss of me, then she put the shopping away. After that, she let Pippin out of the room she’d closed him in. He looked around to see if there was any meat left out – he has no shame! The biped gave me some more treats and we had a game together.

I never steal food, but they don’t make a habit of leaving tempting things where I can get them. I hesitated and the opportunity was gone. I’m still not sure what I should do if I get a chance like that again, so I thought I’d ask my friends for advice. I’ve set up a poll with some options and I’d be pleased to hear your ideas in the comments.

Other news

Oscar from My Three Moggies  has been injured in a fight. The good news is that he has been patched up and is at home again, recovering from his ordeal. He’s receiving lots of love and tuna, but I’m sure he’d like some visitors.

I received a parcel yesterday from Easy. I was one of the winners of a contest on his blog. There was a toy for me and treats. He even put in some treats for my cats! Wasn’t that thoughtful of him? Thank you, Easy! I don’t have any pictures yet. If you don’t know Easy, be sure to pay him a visit. There’s always something entertaining and amusing going on at his place.

See you next Wednesday!

Forget-me-not

If you have read “Communication Breakdown” you will know that I discovered that the best way to encourage my biped to prepare my meal quickly was to sit very nicely and watch her intently. She didn’t understand that I was encouraging her when I jumped up her and tapped her enthusiastically – she just stopped preparing my food and I had to find another way to encourage her.

Soon after I’d mastered sitting quietly, and oh so patiently, we started working on a new trick together. She would put a treat on the floor and I had to wait a moment. I was persuaded to do this because I would often get a second treat for waiting. But I did notice that the length of time I had to wait before being told I could take it increased!

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Communication Breakdown

I was three months old. I could only just reach the worktop in the kitchen with my front paws. One of my bipeds was getting my lunch ready for me. I was really pleased about that. I thought that I would show my appreciation and maybe get her to do it a little bit faster. I started bouncing about and jumped up and put my paws on her waist and tapped her enthusiastically.

She put the things she was using down on the worktop and told me to sit. I pawed at her more enthusiastically and made some noises so that she would understand that I was in a hurry for my lunch. She turned away from me and went to the other side of the room and sat down. I hurried across and tapped her with my paw. She told me to sit. I tapped her leg harder and she again told me to sit. I didn’t want to sit, I was trying to tell her that I was in a hurry to get my lunch. I decided she might work it out if I nipped her knee. She got up and walked out of the room, closing the door behind her. I still hadn’t had my lunch!

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