Top 17 Frequently Asked Questions
  1. What is Great Pyrenees Rescue?
  2. What is a Great Pyrenees?
  3. Where do the dogs come from?
  4. How do I adopt a rescued Great Pyrenees?
  5. I don’t live in Illinois. Can I still adopt a rescued Pyr through Great Pyrenees Rescue of Greater Chicago?
  6. Do you ever have puppies available for adoption?
  7. How long does the adoption process take?
  8. Do I need a fenced yard?
  9. Do I need to complete an obedience training course?
  10. Are the dogs healthy?
  11. Why must the dogs be "fixed?”
  12. Is there a cost for adoption?
  13. What happens if the adoption does not work out?
  14. Why adopt a rescued Pyr?
  15. How can I help?
  16. What if I have questions?
  17. Is a Great Pyrenees the dog for me?

1. What is Great Pyrenees Rescue?

Great Pyrenees Rescue of Greater Chicago is a small all-volunteer, 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization devoted to 1) placing orphaned and displaced purebred Great Pyrenees in responsible, loving homes, and, 2) educating the public about the Great Pyrenees breed. We know and love this breed, and want each and every adoptive family to learn to know and love the Great Pyrenees as we do.

2. What is a Great Pyrenees?

Like the mountains whose name they bear, the Great Pyrenees dog is enormous and tremendously powerful. Great Pyrenees are the largest of the flock guardians, ranging in size from 25–32 inches at the shoulder and weighing from 85–130 pounds, with a lifespan of 10–12 years. A Great Pyrenees is heavily boned, with close-cupped feet, double dewclaws behind and single dewclaws in front. They have a heavy, fine, white undercoat, combined with a long, thick outer coat. Their snow-white coat can also be patched with badger, gray, or varying shades of tan. Naturally, Pyrs tend to shed year-round.

Pyrs combine a great intelligence with a deep devotion to family and home, with a natural-born instinct to guard and protect. While trustworthy, affectionate, and gentle, Pyrs can become, when and if the need arises, protective guardians of their family and their territory. Though deterring as a guard, Pyrs are docile and easygoing as a pet and especially patient with children. 

"The Great Pyrenees is confident, gentle, and affectionate. While territorial and protective of his flock or family when necessary, his general demeanor is one of quiet composure, both patient and tolerant. He is strong willed, independent and somewhat reserved, yet attentive, fearless and loyal to his charges both human and animal."  AKC Great Pyrenees Standard

3. Where do the dogs come from?

Rescued Pyrs are generally unclaimed strays from local animal shelters that find themselves requiring rescue through no fault of their own. All dogs are placed in Temporary Care Homes (TCH), where temperament and training levels are evaluated. Even though obedience training is reinforced in the TCH, professional obedience training is required following adoption to help the dog bond with the adoptive family. Great Pyrenees Rescue will neither accept nor place any dog who is temperamentally unsafe or who has shown aggression towards people.

4. How do I adopt a rescued Great Pyrenees?

Potential adopters are requested to complete an Adoption Application. After a family/individual has submitted an Application to Great Pyrenees Rescue and a preliminary screening process has occurred, arrangements will be made for a Rescue volunteer to visit the potential adoptive home to ensure that the dog is going to a permanent, loving home where all members of the family want a dog of this particular breed, and are willing to provide a suitable environment. Further, we could not possibly suggest potential adoption matches without first knowing your family and situation. After all, you can't share your home with just any person, can you? The relationship between a dog and his owner is just as personal in its own way. The right dog may be available immediately, or it may take several weeks until the pyrfect match is made. An improper placement, or one in which all the details aren't known, can end tragically — usually for the dog.

When you take ownership of your rescue dog, you will be required to agree to a legally binding Adoption Contract detailing the level of care that is required for all Great Pyrenees Rescue dogs. The Adoption Contract includes the requirement that if, for any reason, you are ever unable to keep the Rescue dog you are adopting, the Rescue dog must be returned to our care. (Thus, if an adoption does not work out, the dog must be returned to GPR, as our adoption contract stipulates.) The Contract also requires adopters to enroll in obedience instruction within 30 days of adoption. All responsible dog people, regardless of what breed they 'fancy,' will tell you that basic obedience training is crucial for developing a happy relationship with your pet. Obedience training helps the dog bond with the new family and increases communication between the two, so that there are fewer misunderstandings. We provide follow-up counseling to make sure the dog settles into the pack (family) well and we remain friends with our adopters for years to come...

Please understand it is imperative you complete and submit your application to Great Pyrenees Rescue as soon as possible, even if a pyrfect match does not exist at this time. The sooner we receive your application, the sooner we can complete the preliminary adoption screening process, AND the sooner we can consider you for any dogs in our program currently or in the future. Submitting an application does not guarantee you any one particular dog. A number of factors are considered when placing a Great Pyrenees Rescue dog with a potential adoptive home. Matching the rescue dog with a compatible family/situation is the primary factor. (We put a lot of time and effort in evaluating our rescue dogs and getting to know potential adopters. Placing a dog in an incompatible situation does not serve any good purpose.) When applicants are equally suited, the date the applications were received will be taken into consideration.

5. I don’t live in Illinois. Can I still adopt a rescued Pyr through Great Pyrenees Rescue of Greater Chicago?

We can only consider applicants who live in Illinois, Southeast Wisconsin, or Northwest Indiana. We do not adopt dogs to families who live outside this geographical area, and, we do not "ship" rescue dogs. All applicants must be able to physically travel to Northern Illinois to meet/adopt a rescue dog. We like to keep our rescue dogs near us for peace of mind and post-adoption follow-up. There are shelter dogs in every state dying for good homes, therefore it is not practical for us to go through extraordinary efforts to place a dog several hundred miles away.

In addition to the standard adoption process as described within this page, there are many questions that must first be answered before an adoption to Southeast Wisconsin or Northwest Indiana will be considered :

  • How would you, your immediate family, and canine pack propose meeting the dog prior to adoption?
  • How would you propose transporting the dog from Northern Illinois to your location?
  • Do you understand the transportation expenses would be at your cost?
  • How would you propose returning the rescue dog to us in the event the adoption does not work out?
  • Do you have the finances and resources to provide for round-trip transportation?

The addition of a canine companion to any family/home should be a well thought out decision by all members of the family. All members of the family should want a Great Pyrenees, and travel arrangements should be considered before completing an application.

The adoption process begins when we receive an Adoption Application. Due to the volume of inquiries we receive, and our limited volunteer support, discussions related to the rescue dogs in our foster care program are limited to applicants with an Adoption Application on file with us. Please understand that all of us are volunteers, with the responsibilities of a family, home, career, dogs, and then rescue.

Great Pyrenees Rescue of Greater Chicago serves northern Illinois, and the surrounding Chicagoland area. For a listing of national rescue contacts and affiliated clubs, please review Rescue Contacts, GPCA Affiliated Clubs, and Petfinder.

6. Do you ever have puppies available for adoption?

Rescue dogs typically range in age from 1 to 8 years old. Dogs under 2 years of age are considered puppies in our book. If you are referring to dogs under 12 months of age, the answer is: RARE! And, then, our Temporary Care Homes (TCH), volunteers, and previous adopters have first choice. It is unusual for a purebred puppy under 12 months of age to show up at a shelter as an unclaimed stray or an owner turn-in.

If you are interested in purchasing a puppy, we will be more than happy to refer you to a reputable breeder - that is, a breeder who certifies their dogs' health, is known for producing sound temperaments/dispositions and their contributions to the breed, has an unconditional return policy, and supports our RESCUE efforts.

7. How long does the adoption process take?

In a PYRfect world, assuming a dog compatible with your situation exists, one to two weeks. The truth of the matter is, it varies. The sooner you submit an application, the sooner we can evaluate your situation and make arrangements to complete a home visit at a mutually agreeable time. We find the friendly exchange of Q&As during our meeting beneficial in determining a good fit for both you and the rescue dog. In fact, we remain friends with our adopters for years to come…

8. Do I need a fenced yard?

One of our greatest concerns is ensuring the safety of each dog. Please understand a rescue dog has already been a statistic once. Rescue Representatives are charged with ensuring the rescue dogs in their care do not ever become a statistic again.

Pyrs are very independent, self-confident, "what, me worry?!" types. They would rather see what’s on the other side of that hill than worry about getting lost. If you don’t keep a Great Pyrenees on a leash or in a properly fenced yard or kennel, sooner or later they will exercise their powerful instinct to establish and patrol a large territory and will run off, we promise you that. So you have 200 acres? The size of your acreage is not a natural barrier or deterrent. The world is a Pyrs to guard... unless they are safely contained on leash or within a securely fenced yard! And, they certainly do not look both ways when crossing streets either! No mater how expert your dog-training skills, you will not be able to "teach" a Pyr not to patrol a large territory, any more than a Retriever can be trained not to retrieve, or a Border Collie not to herd. Great Pyrenees are a guard dog by natural-born instinct, not by training!

Even fenced, Pyrs cannot be left unattended or unsupervised; a lonely Pyr will dig under, unravel, or climb over the fence — and surely bark endlessly. Additionally, parents must be vigilant about not allowing children to open gates or doors which would allow a Pyrenees to escape.

A fenced yard is required of any adoptive family with children under 16 years old. Young children can not effectively manage an adult Great Pyrenees on lead. A dog friendly home includes a fenced yard. Fences make good neighbors.

Homes with another canine must have either a fenced yard or an appropriate style/size kennel.

We prohibit the use of electronic fences (invisible fences) on our rescue dogs since these devices do not safely contain the Great Pyrenees breed. Please understand that electronic fences do not work with this breed. Pyrs have a heavy, double coat with an extraordinarily thick undercoat, and the 'shock' of an e-collar rarely gets through the coat... Furthermore, Pyrs are a stubborn and stoic breed — a 'shock' would never stop them from protecting their flock (i.e., family) from any perceived danger... Also, an electronic fence does not offer any protection from theft or an attacking dog. For more information on options for picking a fence, refer to: http://www.grrmf.org/grrmf-fences.html. For information on The Proper Way to Tether or Chain Your Dog, refer to: http://www.doggiedoor.com/chain.shtml.

9. Do I need to complete an obedience training course?

YES! Adoptive families are required to enroll in a formal obedience training course within 30 days of any adoption. All responsible dog people, regardless of what breed they ‘fancy,’ will tell you that basic obedience training is crucial for developing a happy relationship with your pet, and it is especially important for a livestock guardian dog. Training helps the dog bond with the new owner and will increase communication between the two so there are fewer misunderstandings.

We know our rescue dogs did not come from the Ward and June Cleaver family. And we know owners do not relinquish Lassie. So what we have is a "diamond in the rough" so to speak, or a dog who has not had an opportunity to reach its potential. Training is a big responsibility. It requires a commitment of time and effort. It is a good test for whether you are ready for a dog in the first place. If you don’t have the time, energy, or attitude for training just yet, then perhaps you should consider adopting a feline.

A reverence for all life entails responsible stewardship: love is not enough. Understanding your dog and knowing how to control him, develop his potentials, and resolve behavior problems, emotional conflicts, and frustrations are no less essential than love and respect.

Many dogs lose their homes due to behavior problems previous owners did not feel equipped to handle. Many problems could have been solved, or avoided altogether, if people had just taken the time to properly train their pets. "Good manners" are easily handled with a little bit of understanding and gentle, consistent training.

Training your dog can and should be fun for both handler and dog. It’s a wonderful way to develop a bond between human and dog. It is also a great way to start a more responsible and respectful attitude toward our best friends. Dogs give us so much and ask for so little. We owe it to our dogs to train them! Give dog training a try. There’s nothing to lose and so much to gain!

10. Are the dogs healthy?

Prior to adoption, we ensure that each dog receives complete veterinary care, including: vaccinations, spay/neuter, a negative heartworm test, fecal check, and micro-chip implant. On occasion, a rescue dog that has been badly abused or neglected may still be in the recovery stage at the time of adoption. The new adopter will be provided with the care requirements necessary for rehabilitation.

11. Why must the dogs be "fixed"?

Spayed and neutered dogs will live longer, healthier lives. In males, neutering prevents testicular and prostate cancer, and helps the dog focus on his human family rather than searching for a mate or marking territory by spraying urine. Spaying in females prevents uterine, ovarian, and mammary cancer, as well as life-threatening pyometria (inflammation of the uterus.) Pet overpopulation is a serious problem: one dog could be responsible for up to 200 puppies in one year. Unfortunately, too many of these animals do not find permanent, loving homes. Millions of dogs of all ages and breeds are euthanized each year or suffer terribly as strays, for lack of permanent, responsible homes.

"It is estimated that 11,000 humans are born daily, but more than 70,000 puppies and kittens are born during the same time period! Just ONE of every FIVE animals will find a home – PLEASE, have your pet spayed or neutered and help curb pet over-population."  The Humane Society of the United States

12. Is there a cost for adoption?

Our cost to spay/neuter, vaccinate, test and treat for heartworm, provide meds to eliminate parasites and treat infections, as well as provide for emergency veterinary care, can be several hundred dollars. Our adoption fees only partially cover the total cost of caring for a rescue dog and allow us to continue our rescue efforts. This only partially covers the cost of veterinary care, boarding fees, and other miscellaneous expenses involved in the temporary care and adoption of Great Pyrenees Rescue dogs, and allows us to continue our rescue efforts.

13. What happens if the adoption does not work out?

Great Pyrenees Rescue carefully evaluates each dog and each adoptive home to ensure the adoption is the best match possible. Our volunteers are always available to assist the adoptive family in the dog’s transition to a permanent home, a period of adjustment that can take days or even weeks. However, if an adoption does not work out, the dog must be returned to Great Pyrenees Rescue, as our Adoption Contract stipulates. Rescue and adoption services are available for the entire life of each dog.

14. Why adopt a rescued Pyr?

If there is one thing all pets deserve, it's a loving home and family to call their own. But it doesn't always work that way. Just ONE of every FIVE animals born will find a home. Millions of dogs of all ages and breeds, throughout this country don't have a permanent home — and they're looking for help. One way you can help is by adopting a deserving rescue dog.

Adopting a RESCUE dog has many advantages:

  • You will be preventing a healthy pet from being euthanized for lack of a good, caring home.
  • Often, previous owners have given up rescue dogs just after they have passed through their most difficult developmental period.
  • The uncertainty about how a puppy will turn out is eliminated.
  • The breed is generally healthy and long-lived, so there is no reason to fear that adopting an adult will greatly reduce the years you will be able to share with your pet.
  • By natural instinct, Great Pyrenees guard their home and family with devotion and wisdom, and it is in this environment they will thrive, safe and secure in the feeling they are a beloved family member. Given a good, responsible home and family to care for, the Great Pyrenees is indeed the pyrfect family pet, and it is in this capacity that the Great Pyrenees exhibits their most remarkable character.
It is important to remember that an adoption is an adjustment for both dog and owner, and the first month may not be without challenges. This is normal. However, we found that the amount of time it takes to train and acclimate an adult dog to a household is much less than the time it takes to raise and acclimate a puppy. One of the reasons is that adult Great Pyrenees have longer attention spans and larger bladders than puppies. Adult Great Pyrenees also chew less and remain quiet for longer periods than puppies.

15. How can I help?

There are many ways you can make a difference and help a homeless Great Pyrenees. The need for volunteers and monetary support is very great. Consider being a Temporary Care Home (TCH) for a rescued Pyrenees, or providing transportation assistance, or assisting with various fundraising efforts, or...! The list is endless. If you would like to receive a Volunteer Application, please contact us at (847) 668-PAWS (7297), or e-mail WhiteGentleGiants@yahoo.com, and one of our volunteers will contact you.

Great Pyrenees Rescue is always in need of the following items:

  • gift certificates for pet food supply stores
  • dog treats, dog food (ProPlan Chicken & Rice), and dog dishes
  • leather leads
  • extra large crates
  • dog toys (Kong, Nylabones, Gumabones)
  • first-class postage (i.e. stamps)
  • business-size envelopes
  • bubble or padded envelopes
  • CDs for media storage purposes
  • laser printer paper
  • cameras (digital)
  • prepaid phone cards
  • cash donations
  • more volunteers and temporary care homes!

With a monetary donation of $10, $15, $25, or more, you can help us help them! Your donation will help us to continue to give care, food, and medical treatment to the animals that come to us. If everyone gave just a little, we'd be able to give a lot!

OUR GREATEST NEED… Temporary care homes for rescued Great Pyrenees. All dogs are placed in temporary care homes until they are adopted. The number of dogs rescued is limited by the number of available temporary care homes. Dogs may have to be placed on waiting lists until a temporary care home is available. Unfortunately, some dogs are in overcrowded shelters and have a limited amount of time before being humanely euthanized. Clearly, temporary care homes play one of the most significant roles in Great Pyrenees Rescue's efforts.

Should you decide to become a temporary care family, you’ll take a rescued Great Pyrenees into your home and care for him/her as you would your own pet, providing food, shelter, companionship, basic training and exercise, arranging for any required veterinary care, and supplying generous amounts of patience and love. (Veterinary expenses are reimbursed by GPR.) The temporary care period can last anywhere from a few days to several weeks. Your evaluation of the Pyr’s character, temperament, and training level is invaluable; the more we know about a dog’s habits and behavior (positive or negative), the easier it is to match him or her to the pyrfect owner. By providing a temporary care home for a rescue dog, you are preventing an otherwise healthy pet from being euthanized due to lack of an immediate forever home. Providing a temporary care home to a rescue dog is sure to be one of the most gratifying volunteer opportunities you can find. You'll be giving a precious gift — the special love of a family and home — to a dog who desperately needs it.

Great Pyrenees Rescue of Greater Chicago is a 501(c)(3) organization. Donations to Great Pyrenees Rescue of Greater Chicago are tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law.

16. What if I have questions?

Rescue volunteers are available to help before, during, and after each adoption. Please don’t hesitate to contact us at e-mail WhiteGentleGiants@yahoo.com or voicemail (847) 668-PAWS (7297). Your call will be returned within 48 hours.

17. Is a Great Pyrenees the dog for me?

Before considering this lovely breed, there are some potentially negative instincts that you must consider. The documentation provided on the Is a Pyr For Me? page provides excellent information so that you can make an informed decision before you decide to adopt a Great Pyrenees. A Great Pyrenees is placid by nature, so despite their size, they are excellent housedogs. Their basic personality is different from most breeds, since most breeds were bred to take commands from people, while Pyrs were bred to work on their own with the sheep up in the mountain valleys. Things that you consider important may not be the same things your Great Pyrenees considers important! If you require a dog that will be a great "off-leash" companion for your outdoor activities, if you want a dog that will follow your every command, or if you want a competition obedience dog, the Great Pyrenees is probably not for you. Remember, there is no breed suitable for everyone! So, with that said, Is a Pyr For Me?  (Pssst: you’ll never know the answer unless you click on the question!)

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