Purebred or Mix-breed Dog?

Poodle, Red Standard PoodleMix breed dog, Pyredoodle, Great Pyrenees, PoodleGreat Pyrenees, Purebred,

“Is a purebred or mix-breed dog better?” What I say may offend some of you. But this may be due to a tendency to humanize our dogs. Please read this article thinking of a dog as your companion, friend and protector. That was and continues to be the primary role of the Great Pyrenees.

Some people believe the breeding of one purebred to another purebred is wrong. Some people think you can breed any two dogs together. What do you think? Is it better to buy a purebred or mix-breed dog?

Purebreds are dogs with minimal variability. They were purposely bred that way at one point because their owners wanted certain physical and behavior characteristics that were already present to be more consistent with their off-spring. Is the dog black, white, brown, spotted, long hair, short hair, no hair, etc. Does the dog point, bark, retrieve, attack, dig, dive, run or sit on your lap?

Often a father dog (sire) was bred to one of his daughters (dam) to concentrate the genetics of that sire specifically. This happens in nature all the time, and especially in deer. This would be repeated to grand-daughters, great grand-daughters, and so forth. Each breeding would further concentrate good and bad genetics within the off-spring. High percentages of these dogs would die because of the matching up of fatal mutations. Others would be sickly and malformed because of non-fatal mutated genes matching in such a way that we would call in-breeding. A few of these would become something to be proud of and would more and more consistently exhibit the excellent attributes that were desired. This is due to normally functioning genes being present in the genes. We would call that line-breeding.

Did you catch the difference between line-breeding and in-breeding? This is how all purebreds were produced. It was when it worked versus when it didn’t work. This was originally done in the age when we didn’t have AKC, OFA, Penn Hip, or genetic tests. Purebreds must be closely monitored for quality because the gene pool available for that breed are quite limited. Also, there can be a new mutation at any time, and breeders need to be aware of this and ready to cull the genes from their breeding dogs.

Mix-breeding is taking different breeds and breeding them together. The hope is that you are achieving the goal of healthier puppies partially through a process known as hybrid vigor. I was first introduced to this process in cows by a local farmer breeding French Tarentaise to Angus. This resulted in an average increase in size of 200# which really paid off when that calf went to market. I later applied this principal to goats. I liked how the meat genetics of the male Boer crossed with any female dairy goats produced increased profits. The reason for this is the increase in the diversity of genes that can frequently make off-spring more resilient to disease. The more diverse the genes are between the breeds, the more hybrid vigor you will often have. The issue is that you can’t breed a poor quality animal to another poor quality animal and expect something significantly better to be produced. We must breed quality to quality.

One additional note about mix-breeds. Virtually all dogs that are mix-breed accidents are dogs to steer clear from. I once knew a family that didn’t neuter their lab because it had a heart condition and the veterinarian didn’t think he could make it through it. Many dog owners have a reason not to neuter/spay their dogs. Nearly every dog should be spayed/neutered unless they are purposed to be in a breeding program. Don’t let someone sell you a “cheap” dog. The health problems and uncertain parentage are not worth the risk. Yes, I know I’m a snobby breeder. But, I’ve see some very sad stories of people trying to get rid of dogs.

Breeding quality to quality is an immutable rule that cannot be broken if you want quality. This is a difficult thing to assess. This is why the American Kennel Club exists. They help to identify dogs worthy of Champion titles based on structure and movement of that structure. However, we can now add in genetic testing and radiologic testing that can predict disease processes that will be present during the lifetime of any Champion. What happens if a Champion develops severe hip arthritis at 6 years old? I believe he is not worthy of the Champion title earned previously and that with our current testing capabilities the breeder should have done testing to identify those variables in addition to what the AKC has done well for such a long time to make a good thing even better.

The second reason for mix breeding is to have some of the traits of each parent dog. This is a gamble and is less predictable than in purebreds but does have a measure of predictability. The advent of genetic tests for color, beards, hair curl, etc makes this even more predictable.

Making a good thing better is the point of this article. If you can make a good thing better then do it. Make a better mattress, car, cell phone, rhubarb crisp recipe, or pair of socks. If making a better puppy involves hybridizing, then do it. But don’t expect that puppy to be better if you aren’t breeding quality dogs. Otherwise, you will continue to perpetuate the question “Is a purebred or mix-breed dog better?” Let your outcomes be the answer to that question and withhold judgment on people that are striving for excellence with a fresh approach.

Up North Pyrenees strives for excellence for the glory of God, for ourselves, for our customers and especially for our puppies. We hope that we will be your choice whether you buy your next puppy. Make it a great day and please recommend Up North Pyrenees to a friend.


Bringing Home a Pyr?

Great Pyrenees

Bringing Home a Pyr?

Great Pyrenees


The Great Pyrenees is a versatile breed with many attributes. Every dog breed has positive and negative characteristics depending on which family they will fit into. These characteristics are primarily physical genetically driven structures and behaviors. They are the outcome of purposeful breeding for hundreds if not thousands of years. So, are you bringing home a Pyr?

Why would you want a six bedroom house for one person? Would you need a Ford F350 truck if you never pull trailers or if you have long daily highway commutes? Similarly, finding out which dog breeds (characteristics) are best for you is of utmost importance to make a good decision. Ultimately, finding the right breed and the right personality within that breed will be what makes you love your puppy for life as they perform their family role. Up North Pyrenees is here to assist you getting an appropriate puppy for you and we’ve listed a few details from out personal experience with this wonderful breed.

The Good:

Protection – The Great Pyrenees is known best as a protector. They will selflessly place themselves between danger and their family, livestock, or other small animals under their care. They are gentle as they become adults and move out of the puppy stage. A quick look at you tube will show numerous videos of children and goats jumping or playing on their Pyr.

Loyalty – If loving their family is a fault then this big white dog is definitely guilty. The large breed dogs love their people and look after them. This breed will lay down their life for you. Please read the story of my daughter on this linked blog post.

The Bad:

Hair – Can you think of a snow storm of white hair? 1-2 times per years the beautifully thick white undercoat is shed. This can be removed with several heavy combings which will fill a garbage bag. All dogs grow hair. It needs to be removed at some time whether it is cut, combed, or simply falling out. I appreciate that the long white hair requires heavy combing 1-2 times per year as opposed to constant shedding like a Labrador Retriever.

Barking – The low bark of the Great Pyrenees intimidates predators and just about everyone for miles around. This will continue for long periods outside if they feel there is a threat. This is essential if they are guarding livestock outside from predators. The bark is their primary defense tool. Putting them in a kennel indoors or outdoors with a blanket over top of it will virtually eliminate barking and give them a place to call their den. The will enjoy retreating to their sanctuary when they need a rest.

Stubbornness – The confidence that allows this breed to stay outside all year at the coldest temperatures during their role as a protector means that they also like to think on their own. They will obey you “eventually” and require training just like any other breed. I believe that most obedience issues are due to a lack of training as this breed wants to please you but also wants to protect everyone under their charge.

Personality will differ significantly throughout a litter of puppies. Please see my last blog post to read more about how we not only help you to decide if this breed is the right one for you but also picking the right personality for you.

Up North Pyrenees hopes that you find the right puppy for you and that you will pick us as your breeder of choice for Great Pyrenees puppies. We strive for excellence for the glory of Jesus Christ and for the benefit of your family! We also hope that your puppy will remind you of the majesty of their Creator and the unconditional love demonstrated on the cross. Please check Up North Pyrenees out on Facebook or share us with a friend.

Leash Training Your Snow Bear

Little girl leash training

Leash Training Your Snow BearLittle girl leash training

Do you ever wonder how some people always seem to have well behaved dogs that listen well and obey every command? It’s kind of like comparing other people’s apparently perfect children to what you see as your soon to be incarcerated trouble making kids.

Well behaved dogs typically are leash trained early in life. This is covered well in one of our favorite puppy training books called The Art of Raising a Puppy written by the Monks of New Skete. Over the years we’ve incorporated several principles that I gleaned from this excellent read.

First, develop a positive relationship with your puppy. Bring them with you as much as possible. Dogs are pack animals and both need and want interaction with their pack and need an alpha. You are the alpha. That doesn’t mean that you need to dominate them. It doesn’t mean that every word out of your mouth is no. We should be saying yes to them more often than no and allow them to explore and grow their inborn intelligence so they can be all that they should be as your family or farm guardian.

Several years ago we went to Sea World. One of my daughters wanted to spend time with the dolphin trainers and she had a blast. I heard the dolphin trainer say one thing that kind of convicted me. The trainer said that it was important to only use positive reinforcement when training dolphins and never use negative reinforcement. I understand that dolpins are not dogs but there is something to this concept. When I observe our dogs they play 95% of the time and scuffle or fight about 5% of the time. That made me think about giving overwhelming positive reinforcement and sparing but necessary negative reinforcement. So far, it has worked well not only on dogs but also in raising my children. I need all the help I can get.

Second, give immediate and specific correction. Correction that is done hours later or for a hundred different reasons is bound to fail. This is where leash training is becomes immensely effective. Leash training is relational and offers time for lots of immediate positive and negative reinforcement for training specific behaviors.

Have you ever seen anyone getting their shoulders nearly getting ripped out of joint as their dog suddenly realizes that the squirrel running on your neighbors lawn would be something fun to chase?  This a behavior that must come to an end if for no other reason than to protect your pride.

Leash training early on is best used with body harnesses or head collars like the Gentle Leader. This reduces damage to the dog or puppy and gets them used to being on a leash.

"Manners Fighter" Chrome Plated Prong Collar with Swivel and Quick Release Snap Hook (4 mm x 25 inches)

Dogs that are heavy pullers will require leash training using the prong collar. Now, I know that may sound like a four-letter word to some of you that disagree including this link to a veterinarian’s perspective. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and this author does have some valid concerns.  The problems she identifies can be overcome when a loving person gently uses the prong collar. We’ve had nothing but positive experiences with our Great Pyrenees when training them using prong collars. I wouldn’t be without one especially when my children take the dogs for a walk.

Click here to see the prong collar that I recommend. The quick-release feature with saves your fingers if you are removing a collar from a playful dog.

Leash training requires patience and repetition no matter which collar you use. Make some time for this regularly and your dog will love getting on the leash for your next adventure.

Please share us with a friend and check out our available puppies.

Discovering the Best Dog Breed for You


Discovering the Best Dog Breed for You

Choosing a puppy can be an emotional decision that turns out to be a nightmare or a blessing. Discovering the best dog breed for you should be a fun process that adds value to your life. I would like to recommend a book for you.

Your Purebred Puppy by Michele Welton is a great book that will describe dog behaviors in each breed and so much more. Purebreds were developed to increase predictability in appearance and behavior. This has been very helpful as we all different. We have different needs and desires. This is the primary reason to choose a purebred puppy and why mix-breeds produce less predictability in appearance and behavior. Variability increases even further when a dog is comprised of more than two breeds.

In 2005, we read this book and ended up choosing an English shepherd.  Her name was Belle and we brought her home to northern Minnesota from Louisiana. She fit our family well and served her purpose. Consequently, she lived a good life with a loving family.

Most dogs that end up in shelters end up being there for one of two reasons.

First, the buyer shouldn’t have purchased a puppy in the first place. They were eagerly given a problem dog or purchased a cheap one that they couldn’t even afford. Usually, they have the maturity and parenting skills of a 7th grader. Financial stress comes and this poorly trained dog is then dropped off on the side of the road as a cost-saving mechanism. My job is to decide if I want to sell you a puppy. I have a fairly rigid algorithm that is about as sophisticated a Google’s. Just kidding, but sometimes I get it wrong. At least I try.

Second, the buyer had no clue of the behaviors a dog would display. They could have learned the breed behaviors if they would have taken time to research beyond looking at puppy pictures online. All dog breeds are bred for a specific purpose over the millennia. This was typically done to assist their owner with specific behavior.  Pointers point, retrievers retrieve, sled dogs pull, guard dogs bark, and little cute dogs… well they just look cute and satiate our desire to have a perpetual baby.

I want to make you feel uncomfortable by criticizing the way some people pick their puppy. I don’t appreciate when people troll me on Facebook by telling me on my business page that my being a dog breeder is evil and that I am responsible for dogs in shelters. These crazy people do have a valid point though. There is a problem and I am hoping to improve it. That is why Up North Pyrenees requires customers to sign a contract to never bring their Pyr to a shelter. We will assist them in finding a new home. Winston Churchhill said “Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.” So, thank you for your criticism.

I have said this many times. There are very few bad dogs, but mostly just bad owners. Whatever you do… be a good one. We believe Up North Pyrenees is the right choice for Great Pyrenees puppies. Take some time to research dog breeds before you buy your next puppy. You’ll be glad you did.

DM Is Not In Up North Pyrenees!

DM great pyrenees

kodi blog 485x375 dm

DM Is Not In Up North Pyrenees!

Many breeders have no idea what is in their genetics. But I can unequivocally tell you the DM is not in Up North Pyrenees. Even though dogs don’t play baseball they can get a genetic disease similar to Lou Gehrig’s disease or ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis).  In canine’s this disease is called Degenerative Myelopathy or DM.  Many different breeds can get this disease, though DM primarily affects large breed dogs.  3% of German Shepherds actually demonstrate the disease.1 One study found one in eight Great Pyrenees were carriers for this disease.2 Two carriers must be bread together for the gene to be expressed. Understanding what this disease will mean to your puppy and family is important and a picture is worth a thousand words. Click on this link to see the video of a dog with DM. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2I10YGGSSZg.

Treatments for DM are not currently available. But, prevention is easy. A simple genetic test can be done before breeding dogs to ensure that two carriers of the mutated gene are not bred.

Up North Pyrenees’ lines are clear of DM. Take a look at our sire and dams. We have no dogs with this genetic mutation. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. We hope our work and expense is worth your business. Either way, we sleep better at night knowing that none of our puppies will ever suffer from this issue. Hopefully, more breeders will work together to eliminate the DM gene from this wonderful breed.

Lou Gehrig’s Disease in Great Pyrenees? Not with Up North Pyrenees!

Click here to see our puppies and please share us with a friend.

1. Degenerative Myelopathy in German Shepherds. (2019). Retrieved 29 July 2019, from https://www.degenerative-myelopathy.com/degenerative-myelopathy-in-german-shepherds/
2. Paw Print Genetics – Degenerative Myelopathy in the Great Pyrenees. (2019). Retrieved 29 July 2019, from https://www.pawprintgenetics.com/products/tests/details/87/?breed=134

3. Images are in the public domain on the internet and selected on 7-29-19.