Having a cat is endearing but having one plus a dog can be twice the fun! Despite the the common misconception that cats and dogs do not mix many cat owners that also own a dog or two can attest that these animals do get along fine given the right socialization and training. Nevertheless, the level with which these animals may get along well may also depend on their breed and personality.
Are Great Pyrenees good with cats?
Yes, the Great Pyrenees dog breed is good with cats especially if the dogs were brought up and socialized together with cats from a young age or when they were just puppies and kittens. This dog breed was once popular as livestock guardians which makes it protective of animals under its care. Nevertheless, there will always be exceptions as each dog is unique so always ensure that the dog undergoes proper socialization and training.
Great Pyrenees: Origin, physical traits and personality
This working dog breed traces its origin to as far back as 1800 B.C. based on fossil remains found in the Bronze Age. These dogs worked as peasant shepherds in the Pyrenees Mountains separating Spain and France. They are revered in France where a 12th-century bas-relief sculpture of a Great Pyrenees dog graces the North Gate of Carcassone.
This dog breed is called “Great dogs of the mountains” and given the title the Royal Dog of France in the 1600s by Dauphin Louis XIV. Queen Victoria of England also owned a Great Pyrenees dog during the 19th century.
Aside from being the favored dog breed of noblemen and women, Great Pyrenees dogs were famous back then as milk delivery dogs in Belgium and Northern France and were also used to pull small carts. They were also sled dogs and pack dogs and livestock guards.
The Great Pyrenees is a large-sized, muscular, thickly-coated and majestic dog breed. They have a medium-length and lush weatherproof coat that is all white or with markings and shades of gray, tan, badger or reddish-brown. Their outer coat is long and coarse which is either straight or sort of wavy while the undercoat is soft, fine and thick. Their nose is black, they have dark brown eyes and their ears are triangular and flop downward.
This dog breed has a long and plumed tail reaching to the hocks. Males stand as high as 32 inches and weigh 100 pounds or more while females may stand up to 29 inches and weigh more or less 85 pounds. Their life expectancy is 10 to 12 years, they tend to bark a lot and their exercise requirement is usually at least 20 to 40 minutes each day.
This dog breed which is also known as the Pyr has double dewclaws. Do not remove these claws since they use them to climb and to protect themselves. Keep those claws trimmed so they won’t get caught on fences and other rough surfaces.
Great Pyrenees dogs are very independent since they were originally bred to be left alone and guard sheep in mountain valleys. These staunch sheep and livestock guardians are calm but they can also spring into action if confronted by a threat. They are smart, patient and gentle. These dogs are also known to be affectionate and trustworthy and they get along well with other household pets, families and well-behaved children if they are brought up right and socialized well.
Pyrs make good companions, they like a predictable and orderly routine and prefer having a quiet time at home. They should be properly socialized and be exposed to new people, places and situations when they are still puppies to moderate protectiveness. They tend to be stubborn when trained so you have to practice extreme patience. Without socialization and training, they can become aggressive and fearful and may not allow people that are non-family members into your yard.
These dogs like to hang out near air conditioners because they like cool temperatures. They use their paws to express emotions and they will usually paw at your shoulder to gain your attention or may paw at your lap or your legs if they see yummy treats nearby.
Tips to help your cat and dog get along well
Here are some tips that may help get your cat and dog get along well:
1. Try to consider each of their personalities instead of breed.
Ensure that your cat and dog will be a good match in terms of personality. An aggressive and territorial dog may not be a good companion for a skittish cat and senior dogs may not like sharing their space with extra playful kittens.
2. Train your dog.
Make sure to train your dog before allowing him to have a face to face encounter with a cat. Teach your dog to control its impulses because if not, he won’t probably get along well with cats since he will likely jump at the cat when he sees it. Make sure that your dog can stay put and make sure to have a leash ready during the cat and dog encounters.
3. Provide your cat with its territory before meeting the dog.
Cats are particular with their space and territory so make sure that this is off-limits to the dog. Create safe spaces in your home so your cat may be able to explore this shared territory. Cat experts recommend installing cat trees, shelves and a cat bed in an elevated place so your cat may feel secure but can still observe the dog from a distance.
Also, limit your dogs access to areas near your cat’s litter box. Cats are very particular with their private zones so make sure the dog is kept away from it.
4. Aim for mental and physical stimulation for your dog.
Be sure that your dog has ample physical exercise to release boundless energy so he may be able to slow down and control himself if he is around a cat. Provide toys for your dog as well as herding activities, high-intensity trick training and lure coursing sessions.
5. Allow your cat and dog to smell each other’s things.
This will allow your cat and dog to be familiar with each other’s scents before the face-to-face introduction. It will satisfy their curiosities and may prevent conflict later on.
6. Make their first meeting a pleasant one.
Be sure to schedule their first meeting during mealtime since both cats and dogs always look forward to it. Keep the dog on a leash and both of them should be on opposite sides of a closed door. They may not see each other yet but they can smell each other while eating and this will make for a positive association. Do this for at least a couple times and slowly introduce each other until you are confident enough to let them eat side by side in the same room.
Make sure that the dog is secured in a leash for safety precautions until you are confident that he can be allowed without a leash each time he is around the cat.
7. See to it that their toys and food are in separate areas.
Once your cat and dog become more familiar with each other, allow them to have mealtime together and make sure to schedule regular mealtimes for them. Place their food and water bowls in separate areas and place your cat’s bowl on a table or high area. Similarly, you should keep their toys in separate areas to avoid conflict.
8. Consider raising a cat and dog starting when they were still at a young age.
Cat experts agree that puppies and kittens are easier to train and socialize compared to if the cat and dog were only introduced when they were much older already. Puppies are also less confident and smaller than adult dogs and this allows kittens to assume their position at the top of the hierarchy .
You may also check our earlier article on best dogs for cats for more helpful information.
The Great Pyrenees dog breed is good with cats because it is affectionate, calm, patient and gentle. These dogs have a protective streak because of their history as livestock guardians before becoming popular as human companions. However, it is best that these dogs are properly socialized and trained to avoid conflict.
Image: istockphoto.com / JZHunt