The white dogs live outside

Yes, all.the.time. Even in winter!

Yes, rain or shine. Heat or snow blizzard warnings.

WHY!? Because they were created by Mother Nature to sustain any weather and enjoy their life outside! Not in the living room on the couch, and not by the fire stove or under the cooling fans.

Great Pyrenees

Mitchell and I frequently get asked “what do you do with the white dogs when it’s +30C (and feels like 39-40C) or -25C (and feels like -30-35C)”.

Especially around this time of the year, and sometimes earlier, people get more concerned about dear Maya and Zeus. Nobody asks about Tia, because she’s all spoiled and lives inside like a princess 🙂  But then again, she’s of a breed with short hair and not fit to be outside for too long in extreme weather.

But back to Maya and Zeus.

When we started looking for a house with land, we had in mind that we would buy dogs to guard it too. That idea came more to life when we decided we would have chickens too.

We did extensive research to find the best dogs for our needs, our place, and our weather conditions. We needed a dog that would be calm, good with other dogs and children, low-medium prey drive, known to be alert, good to live outside, and of course good-looking 😉

So we needed a LGD (Livestock Guardian Dog).

This category includes a variety of dogs, but the most popular are the Akbash, the Anatolian, the Komondor, the Kuvasz, the Maremma, the Great Pyrenees, the Tibetan Mastiff. Then we searched for a way to “grade” them and we had narrowed our decision to the top 3. Our top 3 were the Kuvasz, the Maremma and the Great Pyrenees.

We knew that the Kuvasz are not readily available in our area, and that the Maremma and the Great Pyrenees are very similar, to the point that they are not distinguished unless you just know who’s who. And unless you notice the two dew claws on the back legs! And then we knew – in order for people not to fool us in selling one breed as the other, we had to look for Great Pyrenees and specifically ask for the dual dew claw.

The Great Pyrenees was originally developed to guard flocks alongside shepherds. They traveled with the shepherds on the mountains, walk miles and miles of un-fenced land in search for the best pasture for the animals, and be the most trusted guardian for his “pack”. The dual dew claws helped them to easily climb steep hills and rocky mountains.

The Great Pyrenees absolute goal in life is to protect sheep, goats, livestock, people, children, grass, flowers, the moon, the lawn furniture, bird feeders, and any real or imaginary predators that may intrude on your personal space!

They bark a lot, because that’s their job! They vocalize, loudly, to ward off pesky intruders, and just as you suspected they’ve got a broad definition of intruders. They will bark even more at night because of their extraordinary sense of sight and sound, which enable them to detect coyotes, deer, wolves, raccoons, bear, and possum (all of which must be protected against). Their will definitely scare them away and keep the family and property safe.

Our “next door” neighbour once said she feels a lot safer now that they are around, because coyotes are heard around our area quite frequently. Their barking used to bother her, especially during the summer when they slept with the windows open, but they quickly got over it knowing that they can leave their little dogs out to play and not be scared something might be lurking around to attack them. Our other neighbour has horses and two dogs. They couldn’t believe how much things have changed since we got the dogs – it seems their dogs work in team with our dogs to bark in different corners of the property and have the forest echo all this “noise” and keep predators at bay.

And they HAVE TO to live outside to be able to do their job!

How can they protect their flock from inside the house?

How can they chase the fox/coyote away before they grab anything they could get their paws on?

A raccoon!? it stands no chance in the path of a Pyrenees. But a chipmunk managed to stuff its cheeks with some bird seed before the dogs chased it away.

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They have two layers of fur to protect them from the harshest weather conditions. We provided them with a 4’X8′ raised dog house and stuffed it solid with straw. We also built our chicken coop raised at 2ft and under it we added more straw and provided protection for the dogs against winds and blowing snow. The under coat starts growing around October and by end of November they look like polar bears! The long hair of the outer coat helps to whisk the water off of them. It also protects their skin from the harsh sun rays. It is highly recommended to never shave their fur – they sweat through their paws, so shaving the fur only does more harm than good because they can get sun burns and they won’t be able to keep themselves cool.

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We do bring the dogs inside in the winter, for short periods of time to “thaw” out and chill a little bit in the kitchen. But you know what!? after about 30 minutes they ask to be let out. They pose themselves in front of the back sliding door and scratch at the window.

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They were born in a barn, and their parents guarded 100 goats and about 20 chickens and ducks. They learned to love the outdoors from their parents, and also learned to love to protect their flock. The farmer where we got the dogs lives fairly close to us, and among other things he sells bales of straw. Every year we haul two bales back to our farm and stuff the dogs “corners” to keep them warm. The smell of goat makes them so happy and just watching them makes ME so happy!

But as soon as first snow of the year falls, it is always a time to enjoy being outside!


In the summer, they shed the undercoat. The outer coat (more brittle and heavy) keeps them cool during days with high temperatures and its near waterproof capabilities aids with keeping them looking “like new” all the time!! Because they do looooovvveee rolling in mud.

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And when the summer gets too hot, they dig themselves a nice big hole and put their bum inside it to keep cool 🙂 Or they find shade around the property, or hide under the deck for a nap on the cool soil.

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But, most importantly, we got these type of dogs because they are an almost equal mix of protection and nurturing. The same LGD that will help clean a newborn lamb or keep it warm can turn around and defend against a predator. The two parts reinforce each other and make for an incredible type of dog unlike other breeds. Strong, yet sensitive. An absolute protector of what they nurture. In whatever situation they are in.

And so my dogs live outside. And we love them dearly! And we show them that every time we go outside to be with them for a moment and show our affection and gratitude for what they do. They get their back scratched, their bellies rubbed, and so ever relaxing muscle massages that send them right to sleep!

You can read more about their true powers over at the Great Pyrenees Club of Southern Ontario website.

 

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6 Thoughts on “The white dogs live outside

  1. Jackie on April 9, 2016 at 1:45 pm said:

    I bought a maremma from Tuscany to Long Island . I loved her so much she was a beautiful girl and died to young at 8 with kidney problems. This was nearly 16 years ago and I think about her still soooo often. I follow you because to your dogs and live vicariously through them – thank you.

    • They are such gentle giants and so full of love. Thank you for your comment. I will keep you in mind for sure when taking more pictures and share stories about them 🙂 I will have a post with them soon. Thank you for being here!

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