If you start with the most perfect dogs, where do you go with a mix? Undoubtedly, it will be something really special. If you lead an active life and like to have a fun, the Germanees is an intelligent, loyal, protective and sweet addition for your adventures.
Your adult Germanees (aka Shepnees, Shep Pys) with be substantial: large, muscular and majestic in stature, slightly longer than it is tall. The tail will be plumbed and thick with its large ears folded or upright. It will have a luxurious coat and a wise, calm and slightly aloof expression.
Weight & Height
This mix is fully grown by 4 years old and will weigh 50 to 150 pounds (22 kg to 68 kg). It will be 22 inches to 32 inches (56 cm to 81cm) tall. Females are usually 10 – 15% smaller than the males, especially in the German Shepherd parent.
The German Shepherd Great Pyrenees mix is well-coordinated and balanced in its gait. It is elegant, forward-driven and with a good reach covering a lot of ground with few steps and seemingly without effort.
The Germanees will be solid white or cream with gray, tan, red, black and badger bleeding through. You won’t find a solid black Germanees, as both parents have a gene that prevents it. Many of the Pyrenees parents will be solid white for historical sheepherding purposes.
Coat Length & Thickness
Its coat can be short, medium or long. It will be double-coated, with a soft, wooly undercoat covered with a straight or slightly wavy top coat, lying flat or standing away from body. It might have a neck ruff and light feathering, and it will be water and snow resistant.
Shep Pys make an interesting mix. Both parents are serious, working dogs, with different temperaments. The German Shepherd parents are herders, trained to round up and direct animal herds. The Pyrenees parents then instinctively take over, guarding the grazing flocks from predators and often blending in with the sheep flock.
Does Not Like Being Alone
No family dog likes being left alone. If your dog is actually working, it will be happy doing its job. But, a mix with this background will get bored or unhappy if it is not stimulated and will bark or dig or find something to investigate or chew: read “destroy.”
Highly Sensitive and Territorial
This mix will bond closely with its human family and is extremely sensitive. Don’t be misled by its size – you can easily hurt its feelings, so never use a harsh voice unless you are seriously reprimanding. It is also quite territorial, inheriting this trait from both its Shepherd-side and Py-side.
Will Bark at Night or When Alone
Your mix will bark. It gets it from both of its parents. You can train the bark out of a German Shepherd but NOT out of the Pyrenees. If the Py genes are more pronounced, it will bark at everything as it gets dark and “predators approach its flock.”
Stubborn Personality and Needs Training for Certain Behaviors
The German Shepherd Great Pyrenees mix will be independent, just like both of its parents. German Shepherds often work as police, military and therapy dogs. They are trained to make decisions on their own. Pyrenees are intrinsically independent, left for days alone, guarding their flocks and constantly making decisions.
Can Be Aggressive and Unruly If Untrained
Much is going to depend on which parent’s genes dominate your mix. The Py’s strong territoriality and its uncanny instinct for the unsavory might show as aggression towards strangers. The Shepherd is obedient if trained; the Py, not necessarily so. The key is early socialization followed by obedience training.
Preferred Climate Is Cold Weather
This mix’s double coat will keep it warm and it will love the snow. If your Germanees grows a lush, long coat, don’t cut or shave it in the summer. The same mechanism that keeps it warm in the cold, keeps it cool in the heat. It should sleep inside.
Companion or Suitability Factor
You are going to have a beautiful dog that is going to draw attention wherever you go together. This mix may well have a complex temperament and you may have to be patient to understand its needs, but you can be sure that its companionship will be meaningful.
Kid-Friendly with Caution
Your mix, if well-socialized, should do well with children. The Great Pyrenees usually enjoys children, and smaller and weaker creatures in general. A well-socialized German Shepherd will typically protect children. Note that the size of your Py Shep may frighten children, and children should never be left alone with dogs.
Is Not Apartment Friendly
The German Shepherd Great Pyrenees mix will probably be hopelessly large for an apartment. It will also be quite vocal during the day and will certainly bark as it grows dark. It will feel very oppressed in an apartment, and probably go AWOL looking for larger territory to protect.
Is a Perfect Watchdog
You will probably have an excellent watchdog as well as a guard dog. Both parent breeds are naturally exceptionally courageous and both would defend you and their family to the death. Your pet is likely to be powerful and you have a duty to train it to accept your authority.
Could be Suitable for Senior Citizens
It could be suitable for a senior citizen who is an experienced dog owner, preferably retired and having enough time and energy for long walks. A senior citizen might consider having two dogs, if they can afford the upkeep, so that the dogs could exercise by playing with each other.
A Great Service Dog
Your mix should be easily trained to make a great service dog. Fifty percent of your dog’s genes come from the best service dog breed ever: the German Shepherd, and the rest from what is often called “the Gentle Giant,” who loves a quiet and predictable life.
Tends to Get Along with Other Pets If Trained Properly
Your mix can do well with other pets, but this needs a little work. Take it to puppy socialization classes as soon as it is vaccinated and encourage the family to cuddle and play with it. You will also want to introduce the family pets slowly and on neutral ground.
Intelligence & Training
Stanley Cohen, who studied the subject, talks about three kinds of canine intelligence. Your Shepnees parents’ will be on par in “adaptive” intelligence, i.e. how well the particular dog solves problems and “instinctive intelligence.” Working Shepherds routinely solve problems easily. Py owners in fact, talk about them being scarily intuitive. It is the third kind of intelligence, the “working and obedience intelligence,” where the parents of this mix vary widely.
Your mix could be bright, a bit dim, or somewhere in between, depending on its dominant parental genes. Stanley Coren ranks the Shepherd parent’s “obedience/working” intelligence as 3rd out of 138 dogs, able to learn a new command in 3-5 repetitions. The Py parent is 64th, needing 40-80 repetitions.
Training Could Be Challenging
Your Shepnees will be a challenging dog to train. It will do best with several, short training sessions every day and moving from one task to another quickly to keep it interested. Agility work is sure to appeal to it, and it will enjoy fly ball and tracking.
Your fences to keep your dog at home must be 6 feet high (1.83 m) and reinforced – its ancestors roamed the Pyrenees Mountains! While the German Shepherd is less susceptible to heat than the Giant Pyrenees, be sure that there is ample shade nearby when you it is outside.
Adults Eat 3 to 3½ Cups of High-Quality Dry Food a Day
Ask your veterinarian for the correct diet to control rapid bone growth to avoid Panosteitis. This is sudden, unexplained pain and lameness in large breed dogs (growing pains). Pain medication might be required as it can last for months. Make sure your adult food has fish oil, glucosamine and chondroitin.
Needs At Least 60 Minutes Exercise Per Day
Twenty minutes high-intensity exercise, 20 minutes slower exercise, and 20 minutes training will be fine. It should also walk or trot 14 miles (22 km) a week and take part in canine sports over the weekend. Your Shep Py will enjoy carting. Incorporate mental stimulation as often as possible.
Daily brushing will keep you ahead of the shedding. Clean its ears three times a week, removing extra hair blocking the airflow. It might have double dew claws on its rear legs, inherited from the Pyrenees – they are attached by bone and should not be removed. Clip them neatly.
Shedding & Bathing
You will need a pin brush, de-shedding tool with an auto-clean function, and a powerful vacuum cleaner, to deal with the shedding. Don’t bathe more than once a month using a shampoo formulated for “shedders.” Once the coat has dried from playing outside, a quick brush should remove the dirt.
Background & Pricing for a Puppy
The German Shepherd parent is a result of 35 years of meticulous breeding by Captain Max von Stephanitz. He started with a wolfish looking dog and set out to produce the ideal herder. He succeeded just in time for the need for such dogs to decline dramatically. Fortunately, his canine prodigy, Horand von Grafrath, was registered with the AKC in 1917 and quickly became known as the ideal K-9 worker.
The other parent, the stunning Great Pyrenees, was trusted by generations of shepherds to stand guard over their flocks grazing on snowy mountain tops in the Pyrenees. It worked alone, for days on end, feeding itself and driving off wolves, rustlers and other predators. Some have evolved into devoted family pets with the “keen steady gaze right out of the past” to quote one admirer, Peggy Adamson.
The mix known as a Shepnees, Germanees or Shep Py, combines the stable, intuitive temperament of the Py with the intelligent versatility of the Shepherd to produce this powerful and protective family dog, which is a show stopper wherever you take it.
Price for a Puppy
You can pay from US$400 to US$3,000 for a puppy from an ethical breeder, if you can find one. Contact breeders of the parent dogs for leads on the many rescue, adoption or shelters. Make sure the adoption organization is registered as such.
A mixed-breed can have “hybrid vigor” that actually makes it healthier than its parents. Many tests should be done in seeking the best breeding stock. Ask to see these before you commit to buying a dog. It is a serious undertaking, as their lifespan is 10 to 15 years.
Gastric DilatationVolvulus (or Bloat)
Large, deep-chested dogs are prone to this dangerous condition, which is an emergency. The stomach fills with gas, food or fluid, putting pressure on other organs. If the stomach twists, it prevents blood from returning to the heart and the dog goes into shock. Find a vet immediately.
Signs of bloat are restlessness, drooling, a swollen, tender abdomen, and dry retching. Increased risk is a dog that eats quickly immediately after exercise, and only has one meal a day. Unfortunately, German Shepherds are at high risk of this. Feeding three small meals a day will help avoid this.
This is an inherited disorder of the skeleton and often occurs in large breeds. The hip joint works as a ball and socket and if it does not develop so that they slide smoothly, the friction will cause deterioration and pain. The dog will start limping, avoiding steps and jumping.
Keep an eye on your dog as it develops and discuss the appropriate diet with your veterinarian to slow down any signs of inappropriately fast development. Don’t over-exercise your dog, and remember that it takes a good 3 to 4 years before it is fully developed. Ovoid obesity.
Von Willebrand’s Disease
This is an inherited bleeding disorder where there is a deficiency of a vital protein (vWF) that causes blood platelets to coagulate to mend broken blood vessels. The dog can be affected mildly, or so badly that it can hemorrhage spontaneously and even die. Signs appear from a year old.
Symptoms are: bleeding from the mouth, especially during teething; blood in stools or urine; frequent nose bleeds or excessive bleeding from small wounds. There is no cure, but the condition can be well-managed by a veterinarian. There are certain medications your dog must never take: aspirin, ibuprofen and penicillin.
Brandon Miller has a B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin. He is a seasoned writer who has written over one hundred articles, which have been read by over 500,000 people. If you have any comments or concerns about this blog post, then please contact the Green Garage team here.