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In or Out?: What You Need to Know About Great Pyrenees in the Cold

With the temps getting colder and colder as we enter the depths of winter, we've been getting some questions and concerns about our rescued Great Pyrenees, Bock, being out in the cold. Both Lonnie and I grew up with dogs and those dogs came or stayed inside. It's been a tough adjustment for us to leave Bock outside where he's happiest. He truly loves his job, his herd, and the room to run around his field at a whim.

Bock relaxing in the midst of his herd in the warm hay.

The first thing to note is that every dog is different. Some dogs, even those bred to be Livestock Guardian Dogs, just don't do well outside all the time or in the cold. It's important to understand the individual in addition to what they're breeding is. And sometimes they may seem fine at first, but always check them on a regular basis because things can change at a moment's notice!

The key takeaway is as long as Pyrs are healthy, not too old (senior) or too young (puppy), not shaved or have their coat cut/trimmed, and have access to dry, insulated, draft-free shelter with fresh water and food, they are fine in colder temperatures. They were originally bred, and continued to be bred over generations upon generations, to stay out with livestock and their shepherds in all sorts of weather conditions, but specifically weather typical of the Pyrenees Mountain range in southern France.

The trick to their ability to keep warm is the double coat, similar to the Husky, Alaskan Malamute, and Bernese Mountain Dogs (to name a few). This means they have a coarse outer coat and a downy like under coat. That undercoat not only keeps the warm but helps to keep moisture (and water) away from their skin. It wicks much like we use special layers in cold wear, to bring the moisture to the surface coat where it evaporates.

Bock enjoying a good romp in the snow.

So this dense, thick coat offers them excellent protection against cold weather and combine that with their breed being developed in mountainous regions, specifically adapted to guard livestock in cold, snowy environments, they are naturally well-suited to colder climates.

Now should Bock, our own Great Pyrenees, exhibit any signs of being too cold or uncomfortable, of COURSE we would bring him in. The health and safety of our animals, no matter what the species, is always our number one priority!

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