Coco was spayed today. This decision was a long time coming. (She’s three years old.) We spay/neuter all of our cats and dogs. (I repeat this frequently due to the frequent comments I get saying something along the lines of, “Why do you have so many cats? Stop having kittens! You need to fix your cats.” And so on. My cats are fixed. We have so many cats because we took them in.) Anyway. Coco is no ordinary dog. She is a registered purebred livestock guardian dog, a Great Pyrenees. She is, in fact, livestock herself. Livestock guardian dogs are working farm animals. Great Pyrs are one of the great livestock guardian breeds. They are natural guardians. I see the result of her breeding in Coco’s behavior every day. She doesn’t behave like any dog I’ve ever had before. She was born to guard and she can’t help it. Farmers need these natural born guardians just like they need dairy cows or chickens or so on, for what they contribute to the farm, and while a purebred isn’t always vital in a pet, if you’re trusting a dog to guard your livestock, you want to know they carry that particular behavior pattern in their bones.

I’ve considered breeding her, and even tried once when she was in heat and we took her to stay for a week with another Great Pyr on a farm a few miles away (but she didn’t get pregnant). While I weighed whether or not breeding Great Pyrs was something I really wanted to do, over the past couple of years I’ve been experiencing the downside of having a dog that goes into heat. They attract every intact male dog in a 20-mile radius. We’ve kept Coco locked on the porch and had male dogs break into our porch. We’ve kept her in the goat yard and had male dogs dig under the fence to get to her. We can successfully confine Coco on our part, but the persistence and ingenuity of a male dog who wants to get to a female in heat is pretty amazing. And frustrating. And creates a risk to other animals on our farm when we have stranger dogs lurking, lingering, roaming, chasing chickens when they aren’t chasing Coco, and digging under fences. And so, finally, I came to the conclusion that it was in the best interest of all the animals on the farm, not to mention Coco’s virtue, to fix her.

We took her to update her shots recently, by the way. We had to make two appointments before we successfully got her in the car. Coco hates the car and hates to be leashed and she made a break for it the first time. When we finally got her to the vet on the second appointment day, we were afraid to take her out of the car for fear she’d run off. The vet came out to the parking lot, leaned in the car window, and gave Coco drive-through vaccinations. Then we got her a harness, ha.

The procedure is already done today. She is fixed. They want to keep her overnight, so we’ll have her back tomorrow. No puppies for the Giant Puppy!


  1. Denise says:

    I am so happy for you and Coco. I am a huge proponent of spay and neuter, so it just tickles me pink to hear someone share this wonderful news. You have helped to do your part on reducing the pet overpopulation problem. Thank you so much for your service.

  2. Carol says:

    You are a good and responsible pet owner—-good for you!!! :woof:

  3. Beth says:

    Thank you for making a thoughtful decision about whether to breed your dog. (I feel like I’ll be shot for saying this, but even with years of volunteering with animal shelters and knowing how many homeless pets there are, I truly have no problem with breeding animals; my problem is with owners being thoughtless or careless.) I hope Coco is unfazed by her ordeal! I see cookies in her future…

  4. Yankee Gal says:

    It’s a shame that anothers lack of regard in spaying their male dogs has forced you to do the same for your own girl who stays on her property and bothers no one. Our neighbor has two intact 80lb male hunting dogs forever breaking loose. They’re aggressive, nasty and a royal pain to everyone else – dog or human. I feel your pain and am sorry they’ll be no mini-me giant puppies. But as you already know, you’ve done the right thing. Good for you.

  5. Ramona says:

    One of the guys at work called me an animal hoarder today. I gritted my teeth and said “well if that’s what you want to call it go ahead”. Yes we have 15 dogs, yes I feed 23 cats and Yes I have 8 horses.

    8 of the dogs were puppies (beagles) that we took to keep from “getting knocked in the head”. 4 of the dogs were thrown out in our yard.

    Of the 23 cats, I have brought 2 home. 1 from the middle of the interstate, 1 from a busy parking lot (both as kittens). The rest adopted us.

    The horses were by choice.

    And as long as I can feed and take care of all of them they have a home. Do I want any more…NO. But, I’m not turning any of mine away either.

  6. Carrie Johnston says:

    That’s ok…then she’d just be “put upon” like Clover is with her babies. Coco has work to time for mothering. I can’t wait to meet her. I was just telling my husband I’m going to have my suitcase stuffed full of dog treats and cookies. Hopefully, I’ll have room for my stuff.

  7. Tracey In Paradise Pa. says:

    :snoopy: Hugs to Coco!!She is such a sweet giant puppy!!
    Granny Trace

  8. Sherri says:

    That’s a tough decision to make, and it sounds like the right one for you and your farm. We chose not to spay our female dog and I’m always amazed by how outraged people get! She’ll be six in a few months and no accidents. Of course, we don’t have to worry about male dogs causing trouble around the farm either. They just make a lot of noise outside the house! 😀

    We have considered breeding our dog. She’s an Australian cattle dog with none of the health issues common to her breed (knock on wood) and a great personality that we’d love to see more of in the breed. Our vet agreed she’s a great candidate for motherhood, but finding the proper male for her has been difficult. The vet said she shouldn’t be bred after six, so this next heat is our last chance and we still don’t have a candidate so it probably won’t happen. :hissyfit:

    Be sure and give Coco some extra treats from all of us!!

  9. Glenda says:

    You made a wise decision.

    Now if we could just catch the three wild yellow barn cats, who are here because someone dropped a pregnant Mama cat! She is pg again. Something has to be done. Our other cats are all ‘fixed’.

  10. Lisa says:

    :woof: She is sooo dog gone cute in that picture !!

  11. Jan says:

    Boy, those LGD’s sure HATE to be taken away from their animals. We have the same problem getting our Maremmas off the farm & to the vet.

  12. BuckeyeGirl says:

    Nothing wrong with keeping a dog intact for the right reasons, though you don’t need me to tell you that! Of course as you said, since it became more apparent to you that this was a better choice, so be it. Still, I’m sure Coco would have made wonderful Great Pyr puppies, and I only wish I had the need for such a beastie… I’d have been first in line for one if I could give it the right home with a real job around here. That’s the thing a lot of people don’t understand about working dogs. They need a job. They don’t mind a little play time, but they NEED that job or they just fret themselves silly.

    I’m sure she’s worried about all her charges she probably thinks she should be home watching while she’s at the Vets. Hope she does well, but since she’s a tough farm girl, of course she’ll do great. :happypuppy:

  13. Miss Mae says:

    That is a really good decision, and I’m so glad to hear it. All livestock doesn’t need to be bred!

  14. Bonnie says:

    Mine are all spayed also, now if people would just quit dropping off cats and kittens I would be doing good.

  15. Susan says:

    Such a hard decision to make, especially a purebred dog. I waited way too long to spay my registered Eng. Springer Spaniel, then she developed mammary tumors, that turned cancerous. I should have listened to the vet, and spayed earlier than 7 years of age. Coco’s health and safety are way more important than raising pure bred puppies, plus no more stranger danger!

  16. Nancy in Iowa says:

    Sounds like a great decision that came from long, thoughtful thinking. Give her a hug for me when she comes home!

  17. Denise says:

    Susan brings up an excellent point that I failed to mention myself… early spay and neuturing GREATLY REDUCES mammary and testicular cancer in domestic animals. Susan, I am so sorry to hear about your Eng. Springer Spaniel. =(

  18. Barbie says:

    We have three cats, all rescued as kittens. The first thing we did was take them to the vet (her name is Suzanne also) for vaccinations and then neutered when old enough. No pesky tom cats coming around here!! And hopefully the loose dogs won’t be coming around anymore bothering your farm animals.

  19. Beth says:

    That would have been a hard decision to make. But I’m sure you made the right one for Coco and yourself. I totally understand the comments about spaying and neutering your animals when you have so many. We have 11 cats and two dogs, all fixed! I just love animals and cannot stand to see one go without a loving home. Thank you for your thoughtfulness! :hug:

  20. Johanna says:

    I hope Coco will be feeling just fine soon. She’ll be glad not to have to fuss over her seasons!

  21. lilac wolf says:

    I waited 5 yrs because I always thought I’d breed him too. But after that time I realized I wasn’t really going to and didn’t want him to get sick. Never had him go nuts over a female, that would have probably gotten me in quicker too.

  22. Elaine says:

    I whole heartedly agree with spay/neuter for a pet. I would appreciate your decision either way. People have to realize that while Coco is technically your pet she is more importantly a working dog. If you would be selling the puppies for the pet market it would have an impact but if you are selling the puppies for the LGD market it is another matter. They are bred to do this and are not typically house dogs. Just for your readers information. Thanks for all you do Suzanne.

  23. windspiritwhimsies says:

    Hugs to Coco for a speedy recovery! :happypuppy:

  24. Leanna says:

    Give her extra cookies!

  25. Julia says:

    Hi Elaine,

    What is the LGD market? Thanks

  26. farmershae says:

    Bummer! I was looking forward to Coco puppies! And I’ll be in the market for a livestock guardian soon 🙂 Ah well, that would have been a long drive for a pup. Suzanne, you are the best farm mama ever, whether you breed or not! (I mean breed the animals, LOL.)

  27. Amy says:

    I have 7 dogs and 2 cats all spayed/neutered. Would not have it any aother way. I am also the very proud owner of 2 Great Pyrenees/Husky and 1 Great Pyrenees/Rottweiler. They are from breeders that had “visitors” like you had and now they are MY happy little accidents! It’s a wonderful breed even when it gets mixed.

  28. Patricialynn says:

    I foster abused and abandoned animals, and those animals are always spayed or neutered.

    In addition to the foster animals, I have two cats. The male, Gryphon, was neutered as a young adult. Ayla, the female, is still intact at four years of age. I had planned to get her spayed, but now I’m not so sure…her heat cycles are barely noticeable (weird for a cat, huh?), and she was an outdoor cat for her first two years yet never got pregnant. I’m starting to think she’s infertile!

  29. Erica says:

    I went through the SAME thing with our Maremma sheepdog. Many people would frown upon the fact that she was not spayed, and was an outdoor only dog. She never seemed to mind, and was terrified of coming into the house. I could not leash “train” her, and people would say that she was “out of control”. It’s the independence, and free thinking that I love about her. She was able to make quick decisions on her own, and I never did have to “train” her. We’d walk along the property boundary so she knew what was hers, and stayed put. Kept everything else out, and looked out for the livestock 24/7.

    We considered breeding her as well because there are many farms out there that can definitely benefit from having a livestock guardian dog, and they are in high demand on those farms. You can’t just adopt any ol’ dog from the shelter, you need a specific breed and you need them fairly young. Unfortunately, people like to buy purebred Maremma or Great Pyr, which are very similar, just because they are purebred because they want to have a “rare” breed of dog.. and they end up living in apartments or penned up in suburban neighborhoods with no livestock in sight. They get bored and destructive instead, and people don’t understand why. Must be something wrong with the dog, not that YOU picked the wrong kind of dog for your situation. Sorry, my parents have a Pyr on 1/4 acre with no livestock and it drives me CRAZY!!

    But anyways, I always have my cats spayed. No reason to breed them. For the most part, they’re all good mousers. Hahaha.

  30. Wanda says:

    I love the giant puppy! Hope she’s home soon & does great. Our last spay (Lillie Belle, the cat from hell) removed her stitches herself & we didn’t know it until she went back to have them removed.

    A new cat has appeared here–a beautiful black male. Seems in good health & very friendly. Can’t tell if he’s neutered or just still young. I don’t like to have outside cats here as it’s too dangerous but can’t bring him inside & create war with my two girls.

    Anyway I wish those who are so mean as to drop animals would tie a few dollars to their tails to help cover vet bills.

  31. Lisa says:

    I agree w/you Erica, we had a great pyr years ago when we lived in the burbs and through no fault of his he was the WORST guard dog I have ever had and I’ve had tons of dogs and it’s because he was bored, we ended up giving him back to the breeder and he became a farm dog/stud dog to a harem of girls 🙂 We just hadn’t done enough research we kept hearing what a great guard dog they are and took that and ran w/it, they are fantastic guard dogs but they need a job!

    They truly are happiest and at their full potential outside on a farm, he never ever wanted to come indoors. Each breed of dog has their idiosyncrasies and it’s up to the owner to extensively research before buying.

    Tip for those still out in the city or the jungle as I call it lol a good all purpose guard dog is a rottweiler but you have to, HAVE TO bring them inside these dogs must be socialized!! And you have to have time to dedicate to their exercise because they have a lot of energy. They also are good transitional dogs to farm life, their main purpose is for guarding but they used to be used as droving dogs and even herding dogs 🙂 (I have a roman rottweiler and he’s my wittle baby, 160lb baby!)

    @Amy above I would love to see how a great pyr rottweiler cross looks like, and how does it behave? More like a great pyr or temperament of a rottie? I bet he’s beautiful.

  32. MaryB says:

    I’m glad it is over and CoCo is okay now. (hugs) to you Coco! :heart:

  33. Julia says:

    Thanks, Suzanne.

  34. MaryMooCow says:

    I want one of those!! Big, cute, cuddly, gentle sheep dogs that is. Our attempts at farm dogs have been pretty bad. Chicken eaters, car chasers, snap/nippers. I want a sheep heard so it would be nice to have a really nice dog! :snoopy:


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