Breed of the Week: Great Pyrenees

This week we’re taking a look at one of my sister’s favorite dog breeds, the Great Pyrenees!  Why is it her favorite?  First and foremost, because it’s fluffy!  She loves all things fluffy.  That’s why our animals are called fluffybutts and where the name originated, lol.  She also loves them because of one Great Pyrenees our aunt and uncle owned named Texas.  He was such a love and exemplified the Great Pyrenees’ gentle disposition toward those they consider theirs.

Mountains Landscape Pyrenees LakeThe Great Pyrenees has many names, such as Pyrenean Mountain Dog, Patou, Montañés del Pirineo, Perro de Montaña de los Pirineos, Can de Montaña de os Perinés, Chien des Pyrénées, and Chien de Montagne des Pyrénées.  They hale from the area in and around the Pyrenees Mountains of southern France and northern Spain.  Their purpose was, and still is in some places, to guard livestock such as sheep, goats, cattle, and horses.  But they’ll guard just about anything they decide is theirs to protect, like they’re people and any other animals in the home.  Although they are fierce protectors against invaders and predators, they can generally be trusted around small animals and children.  Their instinct from millennia as livestock guardians is, first and foremost, to protect.

The Great Pyrenees is related to many other European livestock guardian-type dogs.  These include the Maremma Sheepdog from Italy, the Kuvasz from Hungary, the Akbash Dog from Turkey, and the Polish Tatra Sheepdog from, you guessed it, Poland.  They are also believe to be more distantly related to the Newfoundland and St. Bernard.

Maremma Sheepdog
Maremma Sheepdog
Kuvasz
Kuvasz
Akbash Dog
Akbash Dog
Polish Tatra Sheepdog
Polish Tatra Sheepdog

They all look quite similar, don’t they?  Except the Newfoundland and St. Bernard, which are, again, more distantly related to the Great Pyrenees.  They still look similar in build, though.

Newfoundland3
Newfoundland
St. Bernard
St. Bernard

The Great Pyrenees was most often a guardian of sheep or goats.  In fact, many were raised right alongside their herd so they would be accepted as a part of the herd, itself.  Their white fur, besides allowing the shepherd to distinguish them from a wild animal, also allowed the Great Pyrenees to blend in with their charges and surprise predators when they came upon not a sheep but a really big, angry dog.

Great Pyrenees flock guardian

With their family, the Great Pyrenees are loving, gentle, patient, and loyal.  Due to their guardian tendencies, however, they need to be socialized at a young age and have continued socialization throughout their lives to prevent aggressive or fearful behaviors.  These behaviors can lead to the dogs not allowing visitors on their people’s property or in their home and should be discouraged early on.

This is also a strong-willed, independent, and stubborn breed (all traits that are required for a guardian of flocks, but aren’t necessarily desirable when they’re a house pet).  They may be difficult train and, therefore, are not for everyone.  However, once a person has their loyalty, that Great Pyrenees will protect them for life, and even give up their life for them if needed.

Great Pyrenees are not a breed for places with sound restrictions.  They bark, and bark often, unless trained otherwise early on.  They are also mostly nocturnal and will bark more at night than during the day.  The barking is their way of telling others that the property is protected and to scare intruders or predators away.  The hearing of these dogs is ideal for detecting intruders.  Even with the AC on full blast, music turned all the way up, the TV on, everyone talking, and all the windows closed, Great Pyrenees can hear an intruder entering the property and will let their people know about it in a very loud way.  They should be confident and protective but not aggressive unless their “flock” is in danger.

Although most Great Pyrenees do best with a large yard and large home, they can do well in an apartment with a couple walks a day given their mellow nature.

Great Pyrenees should be kept in a large, securely fenced yard when outside.  As guardian dogs, they like to patrol their perimeter and, without a fence, that perimeter may be a lot larger than one may prefer.  They need only moderate amounts of exercise and can be lazy, especially when the weather is warm.

Great Pyrenees in snowThese dogs are partial to cool and snowy weather because of their thick, double coat.  However, do not trim or shave the coat down during the summer, even if they seem like they’d get overheated.  Their double coat insulates them and helps keep them cool, just as it insulates and helps keep them warm during the winter.  One should expect consistent shedding throughout the year and one major shedding period at least once a year.  Their coat needs brushed one to two times per month if they’re kept as a house pet.  If they’re outside most of the time, they’ll need brushed more often, at least once a week, to remove dirt and weeds and prevent matting in the fur.

Double dewclaw
Don’t let their dew claws get this long!

They are also one of the few breeds born with double dew claws on their hind legs.  It is advisable not to have them removed as they are used for climbing purposes.  It’s better, overall, to just keep them trimmed down so they don’t catch on something and tear as that can be quite traumatic and painful.

Although bred for guarding sheep, Great Pyrenees will make themselves at home in the house, enjoying lying on any furniture they can fit on, and even some they can’t!  They love, love, love being with their people, their “flock” so to speak, and are very affectionate with them.  They use their paws to show their affection, hanging them on their owners’ shoulders, thighs, knees, and arms.  Most Great Pyrenees, if socialized properly, are ideal for families with children as they are gentle and mellow and will protect those children as if they were their own young.

If you are interested in purchasing or adopting a Great Pyrenees, please do your research!  These dogs are not for everyone.  While loyal and devoted, they can be stubborn and independent-minded.  They need firm, consistent leadership.  One should also consider the fact that they shed year-round and, as many large dogs do, they may drool, especially with exercise.  They also bark a lot and are not ideal for places where they might disturb the neighbors.  However, if you’re looking for a dog who will love on you and protect you, your family, and your property, show you affection but not get underfoot, be patient with your children and smaller pets, this might just be the dog for you!

Fun Fact:  Duke the Dog, a Great Pyrenees in Cormorant, Minnesota, was elected mayor in 2014.

Do you or have you owned a Great Pyrenees? Please tell us about him/her in the comments below! I’d love to hear about your experiences with the breed.

Have suggestions? Comment below!

Have a breed you’d like to see featured in our next Breed of the Week? Leave your suggestion in the comments below!

If you liked this post, please consider becoming a part of our Fluffybutt Family by liking, sharing, and/or following our blog. We’d love to share our journey with you!

 

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Forget-Me-Not Friday

It’s Forget-Me-Not Friday and we are once again remembering Mia, the only kitten that actually looked like her mother! May she never be forgotten.

Fluffybutts Family

This Forget-Me-Not Friday we honor Mia, the daughter of Raina.

Mia4

Mia was the runt of her litter and the only one that actually looked like her Mama Raina and Grandma Noah.

Mia and Noah

Being the runt didn’t matter to her, though 🙂  She was spunky and loved playing with all her siblings and aunt and uncles.  In fact, there was little she liked better!

By the time it was time for her to go to a new home, it was hard to tell she’d been the runt.  She’d packed on weight and looked just like her bigger siblings and aunt and uncles.

Mia and Fuzz on perch

We found a home for her and, to this day, hope she’s living happily.

This post is in memory of Mia.  May she never be forgotten.

Forget-Me-Not Friday is about pets we have lost, whether they’ve passed over the Rainbow Bridge, got lost and were never found, or had to…

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Breed of the Week: Scottish Fold

This week we’re taking a look at a cat breed known as the Scottish Fold.  Haven’t heard of it?  Well, I didn’t either until I decided, out of curiosity, to look up various cat breeds (I tend to do that a lot).

The first thing most notice about this breed of cat is their oddly folded ears.  This is caused by an incompletely dominant gene that affects the cartilage of the ears.  Originally, there was only one fold in the ear, but breeders of the Scottish Fold have managed to increase it to two or even three folds.  How did that fold happen?  Well, like many traits that lead to the creation of a new breed, it came about by a natural genetic mutation.  Susie, a barn cat in Scotland, was discovered to have a fold in her ears that made her resemble an owl.  A neighbor of the person who owned her saw her and acquired one of her kittens when he discovered a couple of them also had folded ears.  This neighbor was William Ross, a cat fancier, and with the help of a geneticist named Pat Turner, he became the founder of the breed.  Susie’s kitten, Snooks, later had kittens and a male with the same folded ears was then bred to a British Shorthair, and thus has the breed continued.

Scottish Fold kittenKittens of the Scottish Fold are not born with folded ears.  If the kittens are born with the dominant gene, their ears will fold down at around 3 weeks old.  However, not all Scottish Folds end up with the gene for folded ears.  Many are born with straight ears and these, ironically, are called Straights.

It is not only their folded ears that wins people’s hearts, though that may be the start of it, it is also their friendly and laid-back disposition.  Scottish Folds are very social creatures and love their people.  They do not like being left alone for long periods of time so, if one intends to have a Scottish Fold but can’t be home most of the day they should consider adopting or purchasing another cat or even a cat-friendly dog.  Nothing, however, beats the attention of a Scottish Fold’s person.

Scottish Folds are moderately active cats that don’t require long play sessions.  They are very intelligent, though, and enjoy puzzle toys that challenge them.

The Scottish Fold comes in both a short and long hair variety.  They can also be almost any color or combination of colors, including white.  The short-haired Scottish Folds require only a weekly brushing to remove dead hair and distribute skin oils while their long-haired counterparts may require bi-weekly brushing in order to prevent tangles.

Another cute but, perhaps, odd trait is their tendency to pose in funny positions such as flat on the floor or on their back with their front legs pulled up but their back legs stretched out, or in the Buddha position, which is sitting with their back legs stretched out and their paws on their belly.  Adorable, right?

Scottish Fold funny positionScottish Fold funny position2

Who wouldn’t want a Scottish Fold?  That’s a rhetorical question.  Everyone wants one 😛

No, but in all seriousness, if you’re looking to purchase or adopt a Scottish Fold, please do your research.  These cats could, potentially, be for anyone, but as they don’t like being left alone for long periods, please either only get them if you have another cat or a cat-friendly dog, or two, to spend time with them or else only get them if you plan to be home often to spend time with them yourself.  They love their people and may become depressed if they’re left alone too long.

Fun Fact:  Taylor Swift owns 2 Scottish Folds, Olivia and Meredith.

Do you or have you owned a Scottish Fold? Please tell us about him/her in the comments below! I’d love to hear about your experiences with the breed.

Have suggestions? Comment below!

Have a breed you’d like to see featured in our next Breed of the Week? Leave your suggestion in the comments below!

If you liked this post, please consider becoming a part of our Fluffybutt Family by liking, sharing, and/or following our blog. We’d love to share our journey with you!

Forget-Me-Not Friday

Just realized I didn’t post for Forget-Me-Not Friday. So, I’m doing it now. We are looking back on Zeela this week, her life, and the life she gave to her kittens. May she never be forgotten.

Fluffybutts Family

This week we’re honoring Zeela, the mother of Fluff and Fuzz (the First), and adoptive mother of Noah who was the mother of our current cat, Raina.

Zeela

Zeela was my grandma’s cat, adopted for the purpose of keeping down the mice and vole population around our house and yard.  She didn’t bond with anyone in particular and was very standoffish with everyone, including my grandma.  She would accept being petted, but didn’t seek it out.  Her very best quality was, as you might guess, her mousing abilities.  She was a fabulous mouser and she taught her kittens to be great mousers, as well.

She fell pregnant around the beginning of May in 2011 and gave birth in July on a part of the roof of all places.  There were three kittens, though we were afraid some might have fallen off the roof.  Thankfully, none did.  However, the third kitten was…

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Breed of the Week: Labrador Retriever

Well, this post took a lot longer than I thought to put together.  More than 3 hours!  Here it is.

This week we’re taking a look at the most popular dog breed in the USA more than 4 years running, the Labrador Retriever, also known as the Lab.  Plus, my Coco baby was a Chocolate Lab and, because of her, I’ve always had a special place in my heart for Labs and their happy-go-lucky personalities.

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The Labrador Retriever originated in Newfoundland and was originally known as St. John’s Dog, St. John’s Water Dog, or as the Lesser Newfoundland.  Though the origins of the St. John’s Dog isn’t known, they’re believed to have descended from a mix of English, Irish, and Portuguese working breeds.  The Greater Newfoundland, which is the ancestor of the modern Newfoundland, is believed to be descended from a mix of long-coated St. John’s Dogs and Mastiffs.

Newfoundland2

The shorter-coated St. John’s Dog was later named the Labrador or Labrador Retriever after the geographical region known as “the Labrador” and for their frequent use as waterfowl retrievers in the Labrador Sea.

Labrador Sea

Due to selective breeding for different purposes, there are some distinctions between the Labs bred for field work and those bred for show and conformation.  These two distinct “types” of Labs are often mislabeled as “American” and “English” respectively, but the two “types” are actually bred in both the USA and the UK.  They are more accurately referred to as “Field” and “Show” or “Conformation” Labs.

Summer Hill Labrador Field LabradorsField Labs, as one can imagine, were bred specifically for their skills in hunting, tracking, and retrieving.  As such, they tend to have longer legs, a more trim build, slimmer faces, and longer noses.  These traits are not, however, required for a Labrador Retriever to be trained as a hunting or retrieving dog.  Labs are very versatile and can both work in the field and compete in the show ring.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAShow Labs were bred more for conformation and temperament.  They, therefore, tend to have broader heads, shorter noses, stockier bodies, and shorter legs than their Field counterparts.  They also tend to have a more laid-back, mellow temperament and are more often the ones chosen to be family companions for this reason.  This, however, does not mean they cannot be trained to work in the field.

Labradors have a very sweet nature and do well with all ages of people and animals.  They are outgoing and friendly, which makes them terrible watchdogs but wonderful family dogs.  Their eagerness to please makes them easy to train, even for first-time dog owners, though their exuberance and energy can be challenging to contend with if they’re not given enough exercise.  The level of energy among Labs, however, can vary greatly.  Some are more laid-back while others seem to have boundless energy that no amount of exercise can drain.  This variation in energy level is actually an advantage, in my opinion.  It means that Labs can go to very active, hiking and camping and fishing on the weekends type of families as well as the more laid-back, stay in and watch movies type of families.  It’s only a matter of finding the right level of energy in the puppy or dog one chooses to purchase or adopt.

The trait that is one of the biggest draws of the breed and a common trait among them is their devotion to their people.  Labs are loyal, people-oriented dogs who live to please and will do most anything for those they love.

Another trait common among Labs is their love of food.  They love, love, love to eat!  Sometimes that even extends to non-food items.  As such, inappropriate chewing can sometimes be an issue, though it is something that can be trained out of them.  One way to curb inappropriate chewing is by substituting something they shouldn’t be chewing on with something they can chew on, like bully sticks, chew toys, raw meaty bones, and dried pig ears and feet.

Their love of food can present another problem – obesity.  This epidemic is especially common in Labrador Retrievers, and not just because they love to eat.  The POMC gene, which plays a large part in appetite regulation as well as indication of the amount of one’s stored fat, is missing in part or in whole in the majority of Labrador Retrievers.  The lack of this gene contributes greatly to weight gain and the large, seemingly endless appetite in the Labrador breed.  For this reason, food portions should be regulated, treats kept to a minimum, and exercise engaged in often.  A healthy Lab should be able to do swimming wind sprints for two hours and should have a very slight hourglass-type shape.

As retrievers, Labs love to fetch things, whether that be a dead waterfowl, a stick, or a ball.  This love of retrieving can quite easily develop into obsession, though that can be mitigated with the proper training.  It can also cause them to fetch well beyond their limits.  My Coco baby would fetch, literally, until she dropped.  We never had her run that long, but from the way she would just go and go and go and not even stop for water or a brief rest (as Luna will), we knew she would keep going until her energy was completely depleted.  Because of this, we were always careful about how long we had her fetch for us and would make sure to get her to drink plenty of water afterward.

How about we just remember that Labs don’t regulate well, in what or how much they eat or in how much they retrieve, okay?

What they do do well in is jobs, and a variety at that!  They not only retrieve for hunters, they also work well as therapy dogs, guide dogs for the blind, assistance dogs for the disabled, cart-pulling dogs, search and rescue dogs, tracking and detection dogs, police dogs, and military dogs.  They excel in many dog sports, as well, thanks to their powerful, athletic build and energetic nature.  Labs often compete, and compete very well, in agility, flyball, frisbee, conformation, and obedience competitions.

Due to their curious and exploratory nature, Labrador Retrievers can be, and often are, escape artists.  They want to know what that noise was or where that smell is coming from and what it is or they want attention from those people walking by or a bite of the food they’re carrying!  Many breeders and Labrador rescues promote micro-chipping for this reason, so an escaped Lab can be identified and returned to their owner when and if they’re found.  One way to keep a Lab inside their enclosure is to make sure they’re kept entertained with plenty of toys and that they’re exercised, both mentally and physically, often.  A bored Lab will seek something interesting to do, and that interesting something may well be outside of their owner’s “secure” fence.  (Nothing is secure enough when you own an escape artist!)

Labs have a double coat, a softer, denser, weather-resistant undercoat, and a straight, short, and thick outer coat.  This double layer coat protects Labs from the cold and wet.  Their water-resistant coat and the webbing between their toes that allows them to be such excellent swimmers makes them a quite highly sought-after retriever.  The webbing can also act as a snowshoe in colder climates, preventing the build up of ice between their toes, which can be especially painful for dogs without webbing.

Labrador Retriever paws

The coat typically comes in three colors – black, chocolate, and yellow.  Some breeders sell “rare” colored Labs such as “polar white” and “fox red,” but these are really just variations of the yellow Lab.  There are also Labs sold as purebred silver Labrador Retrievers, but there’s dispute about the purity of their bloodline.  Most “silver” Labs aren’t allowed to be registered as purebred Labrador Retrievers, although the Kennel Club of the UK allows them to be registered as “Non-recognized.”

Sometimes Labs will exhibit some amount of white fur on their chest, paws, or tail or they may have a small amount of brindling or tan points similar to a Rottweiler.  These traits disqualify them from the show ring, but play no role in the dogs’ temperament or working ability.

These dogs can be, quite literally, for anyone.  I say can be because, like people, dogs have different temperaments, personalities, and energy levels, and even though Labs can be for anyone, it depends greatly upon an individual Lab’s compatibility with an individual person.  If you are considering purchasing or adopting a Labrador Retriever, please consult the breeder and/or shelter staff concerning the Lab’s temperament, personality and, especially, energy level!

Endal Dickin
Endal Dickin

Fun Fact:  Endal, a Labrador Retriever and service dog in the UK, placed an unconscious person in the recovery position, retrieved the man’s cell phone from beneath the car, fetched a blanket and covered him, barked at nearby houses for assistance, and even ran to a nearby hotel for help during an emergency in 2001.  He has since received several distinctions including “the most decorated dog in the world,” “Dog of the Millennium,” and the PDSA’s Gold Metal for Animal Gallantry and Devotion to Duty.

Do you or have you owned a Labrador Retriever? Please tell us about him/her in the comments below! I’d love to hear about your experiences with the breed.

Have suggestions? Comment below!

Have a breed you’d like to see featured in our next Breed of the Week? Leave your suggestion in the comments below!

If you liked this post, please consider becoming a part of our Fluffybutt Family by liking, sharing, and/or following our blog. We’d love to share our journey with you!

Staff Meeting :P

Merlin: Ahem, so are we all here? 🙂

Pixie: Here! 😊

Merlin: Morgana? 🙂

Merlin: Morgana? 😑

Merlin: MORGANA! 😬

Morgana: Yes, here!  I’m here. 😇

Merlin: Good.  Luna?

Luna: Huh? 😮

Merlin: *sigh* Luna, you just ate, it’s not time to play.  You know that makes your stomach upset.  Besides, we’re having a meeting. 😐

Luna: Meetings are boring.  I want to play! 😃

Merlin: No.  Put the toy away and tell me what you want in our store. 😐

Luna: *big sigh* Fine … 😧

Luna: I want toys. 🙄

Merlin: 😥 I told you, we’re not playing right now. 

Luna: No, in the store.  We should have really fun, chewy, bouncy, exciting, awesome Toys!  And balls!  We definitely need balls. 😉😉

Merlin: Right, toys and balls.  Got that hooman? 😒

Shantewa: *laughs* Got it. 😁

Morgana: I want catnip.  And yummy treats.  The good stuff, not the cheap stuff with only meat flavoring.  I want real meat in my treats! 😍

Merlin: Real meat in our treats.  Yes, I like that idea.  Write it down, hooman! 😒  Real meaty treats and catnip. 😋

Shantewa: Right. ☺

Merlin: What else?  Pixie, ideas? 🤔

Pixie: Warm, comfy beds with a top like a den. 😊

Merlin: Mm, good idea.  That one we can do for dogs and cats.  Dark safe spaces are the best! 😆

Pixie and Morgana: Agreed! 😄

Luna: Pass.  I just want a bed that’s poofy enough to keep my bony legs off the hard floor. 😖

Merlin: Hooman, write that down! 😒

Shantewa: Sure thing. ☺

Merlin: As for me, I want high places to get up away from the hoomans and dogs … no offense. 😐

Pixie and Luna: None taken! 😊😊

Merlin: Cat trees and cat highways and cat jungle gyms.  Got all that, hooman? 😒

Shantewa: *chuckles* Uh-huh, got it. 🙄

Merlin: Good.  Now do the thing. 😒

😂😂😂 Mr. Merlin doesn’t realize I’m actually the one in charge, but their ideas are good ones!  How about it fellow hoomans?  Any ideas about what your fluffybutts might want in Fluffybutts Pet Boutique?  Let us know in the comments!

Forget-Me-Not Friday

On this Forget-Me-Not Friday we remember Smokey, the clingy little gray kitten. Remember, if you’d like to see a pet you had and lost, whether they’ve passed over the Rainbow Bridge, got lost and were never found, or simply had to be given up for one reason or another, you can send me an e-mail with their picture and story and we’ll dedicate a Forget-Me-Not Friday to them 🙂

Fluffybutts Family

On today’s Forget-Me-Not Friday we’re going to be honoring Smokey, one of Raina’s four kittens.

Smokey

Smokey was by far the clingiest of our kittens.  He loved being with us and any time we would try to leave he would follow us, meowing his little heart out.  Funnily enough, he was also the most adventurous barring Kaya.  He loved exploring the grass and garden and was one of the first to leave his mother and grandmother’s side.

However, just like Kaya, one day at about 8 weeks old Smokey went exploring and never came back.  We hoped and hoped he would turn up, but he never did.  To this day, I hope someone found him and took him in.  Whatever happened to him, we loved him and we miss him.

Smokey5

This post is in memory of Smokey.  May he never be forgotten.

Forget-Me-Not Friday is about pets we have lost, whether…

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