Heart of Ohio Great Pyrenees Club, Inc.
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HOGPC Rescue & Placement Policy - Attachment E

Advice and Tips on How to Adopt a Placement Great Pyr


Adopting a new dog is very exciting.  Placement dogs are those dogs that are still in their original homes and can stay there until a new home can be found.  The Placement committee does not evaluate the dog in person, so youíll need to do that on your end.  We do offer however, tips on how to make sure the dog you are interested in is the one for you, as well as tips to make sure the breed is right for you.  If you have any questions, feel free to contact a Placement Committee volunteer.


Do you really want a Pyr?


Pyrs are incredible dogs, for the right family.  No breed or individual animal is perfect, and that includes Great Pyrenees.  While they have wonderful attributes like loyalty, calmness, patience and soul, they have their negative qualities, too.  These include:  NEVER being able to have a Great Pyrenees off lead, fencing is a must, digging, drooling, excessive shedding and barking.


 Keep in mind that many books and websites list Pyrs as wonderful with children.  Please realize there is a difference between being extremely patient with children and playing ball with them.  If you want a dog that can handle the rough and tumble of an exuberant child, Pyrs are indeed good with them and very patient.  If you want a dog that will play for hours with your child, romp in the woods and fetch with wild abandon, get a Golden Retriever.  This is not the breed for you. 


And, there is that soulful expression.  To those of us that share our lives with Pyrs, there isnít another breed that looks and thinks the same way as a Pyr.  They are also breathtakingly beautiful.  But with that beauty is a ton of coat.  While it does not have a great deal of oil in it, (that means less doggy odor if you brush them regularly), it means that profuse daily shedding is normal.  They also shed heavily twice a year, called ďblow-out.Ē


 There are also big expenses with big dogs.  Anything from more expensive heartworm and flea/tick medication, due to the higher weight, to bigger, more expensive supplies, (dog beds, collars, toys, food, etc).


Still interested?


Here are some tips to evaluate the dog you are interested in:


  1. Get the vet records, permission to speak to the vet, have the owner call the vet and allow him/her to speak to you.  A way to go about this without being accusatory is for the possibility of you taking the dog to the same vet.  If distance is a problem, to get a history on the dog for your vet.  Ask when the dog was last seen, and for what.  Ask if the owner was compliant in giving preventative medications like heartworm medicine and the brand.  Has the dog ever had an allergic reaction to vaccinations?  Medications?   Anesthia?  Is there a bloat history? 


  1. How was the dog trained in obedience?  If through a formal obedience class, where?  How was the dog around the other dogs?  Did they keep up with it?  For example, do they make the dog sit before it receives its meal? 


  1. Speaking of meals, do they free feed all day, (not recommended), or twice a day?  Get the brand and method of feeding.  You will need to keep the dog on the same food for a minimum of a couple of weeks.  Moving a dog is stressful.  Pyrs have touchy stomachs to begin with; changing the food right away will compound this problem.  Have the owners feed the dog when you are there.  While the dog is eating, ask the owners to try to take the bowl away or put their hands in the bowl.  If they resist, it could signal the dog is food aggressive.  If this is the case, this dog is not a good candidate for a family or a home with other dogs unless you are going to separate everyone in crates during meals.  This also means you will have to be very careful when you give treats and coveted toys.


  1. When you visit the dog, take a really yummy treat along, like a pig ear.  After the owners have fed the dog and after you have been there awhile, have the owners give the dog the treat and after a moment or two, try to take it away.  If the dog attempts to bite, donít adopt it.  Simply walking away with the treat is not necessarily a problem, but maybe you will need to assert who is in charge when you get the dog home.  The best way to do this is to have the dog work for everything positive it gets:  sit before going outside, getting food/pets/treats.


  1. Ask the owners to brush and clip the dogís nails in front of you.  Brushing is a daily event.  If the dog doesnít allow it, there are a few things at work.  One, the dog is more in control than the owners.  And two, you will have the added expense of taking a large, heavily coated breed to a professional groomer, $$$.  Some dogs hate their nails to be done.  It isnít as much of a dominance issue as with brushing and most vets charge a very low sum for nail clipping, without an office visit.  This will need to be done about every 4 weeks at the least.


  1. Is the dog bouncing all over you?  Or it is terrified and hiding in the corner?  These are two extremes.  With Great Pyrenees, you want something in the middle. Pyrs are generally a little standoffish when they first meet someone in their home, and then warm up.  That is normal.  After the dog warms up to you, will the dog roll over for a belly rub?  This signals a dog that is willing to let you be in control.  This may not happen with Great Pyrenees.  Keep in mind that you are a stranger in their home.  If the Pyr does roll over, you have one gregarious dog on your hands.  If not, that doesnít mean they are dominant dogs.  It may just mean that it will take longer to warm up.


  1. Do you have cats?  Does the original home have cats?  If so, how do they get along?  Will the dog go after the catís food and litter box with gusto?


  1. We recommend a crate.  It is especially important for an adopted dog.  It takes about 6 weeks for a dog to really feel comfortable in a new home.  By providing a crate and giving the dog their meals in the crate, you are giving the dog his very own space in otherwise unfamiliar territory.  In short, by making the dog comfortable, the transitions go more smoothly.  Also, the crate is invaluable throughout the dogís life.  You are not going to know if the dog is going to get into things when you leave.  By placing him in a crate in your absence, you know he will be safe.  It is also great for travel, when non-dog friends come to visit, and if the dog is ever ill and needs to be confined.


  1. If you also have another dog, we recommend that you meet the potential Pyr on your own first.  Then, schedule another visit with the potential Pyr and your dog on neutral turf, like a local park.  You will get a better read on the potential match if no one is on their home turf where they are the bosses.  This can be a potentially very hard thing to do.  If you can, bring a friend to assist.  Both dogs need to be on lead.  Sniffing is very normal.  You must carefully watch the body language of the dogs.  This is something you will need to research further on your own.  The Internet, your veterinarian, local obedience club, and animal behaviorist can give you many suggestions on how to introduce two dogs.



Adopting a Pyr is very exciting, but as with any dog, you need to take precautions. These precautions will help make an adoption go more smoothly for everyone.  This list is also a guide and is not complete.  You will have to use your judgment once you actually meet the dog and see how things go.  Again, this is a good time to ask the advice or an animal care specialist.  Any questions, feel free to contact your Placement Committee volunteer.


                                        Written by:  Ellie Schultz for use for the

Placement Committee of the

Heart of Ohio Great Pyrenees Club

Reprint with permission from author only




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