How to feed a Pyrenean Mountain Dog

I am answering a couple of Frequently Barked Questions about food today. The first part of the post is about the appetite of an adult Great Pyrenees and the second part will tell you about feeding puppies – they eat a lot more!

Adults

FBQ: Do Pyrenean Mountain Dogs, or Great Pyrenees, eat a lot?

Clowie: When we’re fully grown our appetite is quite modest for our size. As a rough guide, we usually eat about the same as a working Border Collie or an adult Labrador should eat.

We usually spend a large part of our day in a comfortable spot where we can see as much as possible of what is going on without needing to move. This means we don’t use as much energy as dogs that like to keep on the move all the time.

We are not generally greedy. Although you will find a few Pyrenean Mountain Dogs who like their food too much and have to watch their weight, you are more likely to encounter a Pyrenean Mountain Dog who is slightly fussy about his food.

I have days, especially in the hot weather, when I don’t want to eat at all and this is not unusual for my breed. It is nothing to worry about in a healthy adult if it’s a day here and there.

I like to have a light breakfast and eat more in the evening – my evening meal is about double my breakfast in size. I know that a number of my relations agree with me on this.

Puppies

FBQ: How should I feed a Pyrenean Mountain Dog, or Great Pyrenees, puppy?

Clowie: The short answer to that is lots and lots of top quality food!

Pet food bowl

My bowl is empty – again!

It isn’t surprising that we need a lot of food while we’re growing when you consider how fast we grow. I reached most of my adult height by the time I was six months old. It takes young humans more than a decade to grow that much.

From the time I went to live with my bipeds as a small puppy I had four meals a day, until I was six months old. Our vet said that it’s important to have frequent meals as our digestive system is working at its peak to process enough food to grow so rapidly. The size of my meals gradually increased during that time. Our vet advised allowing me to eat as much as I wished at mealtimes.

My appetite peaked at about five months of age. My bipeds made rude jokes about shovelling food in at one end and clearing up what came out at the other end!

Wheelbarrow

Guess what the bipeds said they needed this for!

When I was about six months old I began rejecting the second meal of the day, so my bipeds fed me three times a day. I ate a little more at each meal, but the quantity for the day had stopped increasing.

When I was about nine months old I lost interest in the second meal of the day and my bipeds changed to two meals a day. From then my appetite gradually decreased until I was about eighteen months old when it reached a steady level.

This may seem a strange way of doing things, but my bipeds were advised by a number of people with lots of experience of my breed that the best way was to allow me to decide how much I needed to eat and when to change the number of meals. This is because we mature and grow at different rates and have growth spurts needing extra food at different times. A rigid plan cannot cater for the differences between puppies. When it comes to food requirements, a Pyrenean Mountain Dog puppy knows best!

My bipeds weighed and measured me every week to keep an eye on my progress. When I was too heavy to lift and weigh at home they took me to the vet’s office every week to weigh me on the scales in his reception area. That meant lots of fuss for me from the receptionist and sometimes the vet had a spare moment and came to pet me! He would have a quick chat with my bipeds while he stroked me, he gave them reassurance that I was growing and progressing as I should.

Many brands of dog food have a special food for large breed puppies. Not only are the pieces larger so that we have to chew rather than gulp our food down, but attention is paid to the nutrients we need to grow healthily at the rate we do.

I’m not going to say very much about raw feeding – it’s a topic in its own right. I just wish to say that if you decide to go that route while your dog is a puppy then make sure you do your research thoroughly and take advice from people familiar with the breed. Dogs of different ages and sizes have different nutritional needs.

I have read some old books about my breed, written before commercial dog food was widely available. They included some eating plans for growing puppies created by experienced breeders. Each plan included supplements for strong bone growth and substantial amounts of top-quality meat such as best, lean, beef steak.

My bipeds said it was expensive keeping me in kibble while I was growing, but I think those juicy steaks would have cost them a lot more!

Kibble

Kibble

I’m sorry this post is a bit dry but, to paraphrase Forrest Gump, kibble is as kibble does. And I can assure you that kibble is dry!

See you next Wednesday!

48 Comments

  1. Very useful information and makes sense. I thought that wheelbarrow wa s for riding you around in! I see to take our dogs and puppies f or rides wh en I was barely big enough to “drive” it. I thought it was a lot of fun and so did they.

  2. How to feed a Pyrenean Mountain Dog? – Take one mountain! ๐Ÿ˜€ Sorry – couldn’t resist!
    My friend has Great Danes, and I see the size of their food bowls compared to my mutts. Very interesting, informative post ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. LOL at Scifihammy’s comment. Great post. Have a wonderful Wednesday.
    Best wishes Molly

  4. I can’t get my huskies to eat more than once a day, but they are a breed that tends to eat much less than others. Something to do with their metabolism. Hope you have a super great Wednesday!
    แƒฆ husky hugz แƒฆ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!

  5. You know, this is in stark contrast to what we hear in the media about measuring food and making sure animals don’t overeat due to the threat of pet obesity. The method you describe makes much more sense though.

    • There are far too many obese pets and we should be aware of whether our animal’s weight is healthy, but I think the problem is more complex than generally presented in the media.
      Different breeds have different tendencies, but lots of people seem to think that all dogs will eat everything put before them and that isn’t the case.

  6. Our bipeds said the same joke about one end and shoveling from the other and there’s TWO of us. Now THREE (p.s. Lady Luck is still enjoying and eating like a little piglet, although slowing way way down). Good post to put up after our big feast day, Thanksgiving, BOL. wag wag wag.

    • I expect your bipeds thought they were very funny – just like mine did! It sounds like Lady Luck is feeling more relaxed.
      I hope you all enjoyed Thanksgiving!

  7. That wasn’t dry at all. I really enjoyed reading it. Since I’ve always had mixed breed dogs before Honey, I never thought about breed differences for feeding.

    Honey’s breeder urged us not to feed Honey puppy food. She read studies that suggested that golden retrievers who eat puppy foods may grow too quickly and develop joint problems.

    I think your bipeds watching you for clues about how you should eat is very interesting. It obviously worked out well because you’ve grown into a lovely girl.

    • Thank you, I’m glad you enjoyed reading it. Someone I know who keeps Border Collies for competitive agility has similar views to Honey’s breeder, she prefers to not use puppy food for long because she doesn’t want them to grow too fast.

      The giant breeds grow at an amazing rate for the first 6 – 9 months so they need special care when young.

  8. must laugh as I saw the wheelbarrow :o) we read old books about my breed too and my grampy brought a copy of a foodplan they used at the Dukes crib, where my breed was invented. but my mom screamed eeew! and uh! and oh! as she read what a Weimaraner REALLY wants :o)

    • I’m trying to imagine what was in that plan that was so horrid! But bipeds have strange ideas about food. I’ve often heard, “you don’t want that nasty thing” when I’ve found something interesting to eat when we’re out!

  9. I usually use a wheelbarrow when shovelling up behind horses Clowie!! Still could have been worse for your bipeds if they weren’t feeding you high quality food! It generally results in less “shovelling, wheelbarrow” material doesn’t it? ๐Ÿ˜‰ Your feeding regime demonstrates very well the importance of understanding the needs of your particular breed and not assuming “one size fits all.” It certainly involves careful research nowadays with so many different types of food available and different varieties for breeds and sizes. Too many people seem to think it’s just a case of feeding a big bowl of the most affordable dog food with no regard to quality or individual dietary needs.And you had a good point about because you’re a very large breed, it doesn’t follow that as an adult you need masses and masses of food ๐Ÿ™‚ Unless it’s chicken of course!!!! That’s totally different!!!

    • My biped’s done her share of cleaning out stables and I produced nothing like the quantity that a horse does, so I don’t know what she was complaining about really!
      They said they weren’t convinced about the food meaning that less quantity came out – till I ate a different dog food when we were at a relation’s house for the day – and then they believed it!
      You’re right, chicken doesn’t count – I could eat loads! But I’d probably have a long sleep afterwards and miss a normal meal!

  10. I can only imagine how much food you ate as a puppy! I think my small rat terrier was not your typical dog when it came to eating. We would put out a full bowl in the morning, and he would graze on it through the day, never wolfing it down the way other dogs might do. Thinking back on it, that’s the way humans are told is healthiest for us!

    • Yes, it was a lot of food, but I grew so fast that there were times when they could see the difference in me from day to day. The stack of chews I could get through when I was teething was impressive as well! Grazing without overeating is often associated with cats, but there are some cats that would scoff the lot in one go.

  11. Great post, love the picture of the wheel barrel!

  12. Katie never liked to eat until she was almost three. Mom fed her puppy chow until then because she needed the calories. Nevertheless, she had plenty of output for the input. Mom wonders how you can put one cup in the front end and get like ten out the back???

    • I think Katie was too busy making mischief to take time to eat.
      My bipeds were sometimes amazed at how much there was to clear up. I was a bit slow at housetraining and she would take me out to where I was supposed to go at appropriate times, wait for ages and then give up. Sometime later when she left me alone for two seconds, she’d say it was as though I’d exploded!

  13. I thought that was very interesting, especially that you eat about the same amount as a Lab! We just started feeding our dogs a smaller meal in the morning and a larger one in the evening, since our golden was starting to be disinterested in breakfast. They do seem happier that way.

    I just saw my first of your breed in person when I was Christmas shopping! I have to say I was surprised by how tall this dog was, with very long legs. Is that normal for your breed as well? For someone reason I pictured you as lower to the ground. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • I’m the perfect height for most bipeds to rub me behind my ears without having to bend over. I can also run my nose along the kitchen worktop to check if anything interesting has been left on there. A St Bernard or Newfoundland of the same sort of height would have a longer body than my breed, so I suppose you could say we have longer legs.

  14. How very very interesting Clowie! When I had Oskar the Samoyed as a puppy, I fed him three times a day, as much as he wanted until about 4 months, then I started free feeding him. I free fed him and his brother when I adopted him from an abusive situation for 3 years. When we rescued a 3rd “samoyed” (mix) the dynamic changed and I had to change to twice a day feeding. So as you say, feedings are not set in stone ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. Hi Clowie my friend. Apologies for being absent from comments for too long. Hard to get my staff to perform well. Our Sibes were not big eaters either. Good quality food in the right amount and proper exercise kept them in great health their whole lives

  16. I have two little doggies, so feeding them was never a problem… but these cute bears seem to need a lot of food to be fully active! ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. I love how clued up your peeps are!

  18. You know how to make even an informative post funny and entertaining. Have a relaxing Sunday, Clowie. Kitty hugs.

  19. Sweet Clowie you have amazing bipeds to be so observing and do what is best for you and feeding. When that food goes in one end and your body has all the nutrients it needs then what else sweet Clowie but to send all else out the other end? We laughed about the wheel barrow being needed to pick up all that stuff you didn’t need. Hugs and nose kisses

  20. Great to pass this info on Clowie – bones that grow to your size need as much nutrition as possible. Luckily the advice above is not to be followed for Cocker Spaniels – one of the greediest, thieving breeds we know (our own two dear beasties) ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Yes, it’s important to pay special attention to feeding any of the giant breeds when they’re growing.
      I didn’t know that Cocker Spaniels were so greedy! I’ll be sure to keep an eye on any that visit us!

  21. I like your post, even more since it’s very useful for people who consider adopting a large dog breed puppy! Thanks for your help Clowie!

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