Newbie

Hi, my name is Becky, and I am on a hopeful future OES puppy waiting list. I have researched what I could on my blackberry. I live in the bushes 13km outside of Churchill, MB, so do not have access to wifi, unless I make a trip. I have been reading your forum for a little over a week, and send my condolences to Zeke's owner, I have been on the sad end of my special goldie/pyr's death, and it is something you never get over.
I only have simple basic questions. I have owned a pyr cross and a full pyr, previously, and they are a lot of work to train, and handle. And brush! So I know stubborn, and patience. I live in the arctic, and need a companion on my bush walks, and a night bud to hang with me as I am also a night owl and read til late hours. Am I kidding myself in thinking this would be the breed for me in -30c?
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Wow, that's cold!
I don't have experience at those temperatures, but we do have members who live in Alaska.
Maybe we can get one or two to say hello.

Welcome to the forum!
Thank you! When we hit 27c and over it is nippy, but anything under 25c is actually quite nice! I have only worn an actual winter coat when skidooing, and only wear a hoodie and a light coat when I am doing my bish walks :) it is the wind that will get you up here! That and the bears! I do not expect any dog to take on a bear, tho I know there are breeds that will, I want a companion, I will do the shooting if there is a threat, and put myself before my dog, always! I have done so with wolves and black bears.
I also would not expect any dog to walk long distance in -48 windchill. I have a cut-off of no colder than that, a quick stroll. We know, if the skidoo don't start, it is a couch day :)
Howdy!! Welcome to the forum :)

We lived in Alaska and didn't have any problems but.... I'm not sure I am as active as you. I think they adapt well to whatever it is you do (hiking, being lazy, long walks, sleeping all day, whatever). I thought my sheepie liked it more there than where we are now in TX. I remember always having to shovel a patch for mine to always go potty, and I was always worried about her paws cracking from the weather or from what others put down on their sidewalks to prevent slipping.

I also tend to be very anal about being clean, so I tried to avoid being outside b/c I didn't want a wet dog (but there are plenty of long snow boots for dogs and doggie snowsuits/coats for those extreme temps).

I mostly avoided it because I remember it being a daily thing that the news guy would come on and say "don't leave your dogs out too long..it's too cold!!" :D We saw many dogs outside trying to NOT walk on the ground b/c it was so cold and they were begging to go in [but the owner wouldn't let them]. Then I watched something last week on espn about the best iditarod racer and him saying to the newsreporter "this this fur coat.... it's super thick, plenty warm for the extreme temps to sleep out here daily." To be honest, it made me cringe and feel bad for his dogs... but I have to admit..the dogs looked happy.

It "seems" like the average sheepdog owner doesn't have the time or know-how to keep a long coat, imo. My dog is currently short too, fyi. ...so I would think as long as your baby had some protection or the walks weren't too long....they'd be fine. I always try to remember if it's too dang cold for me to stay out any longer, it's too cold for my sweet furbaby :)
Hi there Becky!

I live in Southcentral Alaska, and our lowest temps tend to be in the vicinity of 10 to 15 below 0F. My sheepdog have never had any problems, although of course weve never left them out in winter without the ability to come in whenever they want. Getting them to come IN in winter is more often the problem!

I walk my pup in all sorts of weather, aND with the addition of booties aND a fleech jacket they've done just fine! Booties are the main thing, as feet get cold fast, and the fur between their toes get ice balls.

Mine don't ever have a full coat either. In winter Bert (our remaining sheepie) stays in a fluffy puppy cut, and is shaved down in summer. I always have bigger issues with bushes and brambles when doing outdoors stuff with a sheepdog than with low temperatures. Their coat is a LOT softer and more apt to matt than a pyr!

I also like that my sheepies have never been super reactive about wildlife. I can trust them off lead in the woods without worrying about them taking off after a moose, or whatever. Not like my little beagle, who is convinced she could take on a brown bear if I'd let her!!

Hello to everyone, btw! I haven't been here in ages, and I've missed you all!
Joahaeyo wrote:
Howdy!! Welcome to the forum :)

We lived in Alaska and didn't have any problems but.... I'm not sure I am as active as you. I think they adapt well to whatever it is you do (hiking, being lazy, long walks, sleeping all day, whatever). I thought my sheepie liked it more there than where we are now in TX. I remember always having to shovel a patch for mine to always go potty, and I was always worried about her paws cracking from the weather or from what others put down on their sidewalks to prevent slipping.

I also tend to be very anal about being clean, so I tried to avoid being outside b/c I didn't want a wet dog (but there are plenty of long snow boots for dogs and doggie snowsuits/coats for those extreme temps).

I mostly avoided it because I remember it being a daily thing that the news guy would come on and say "don't leave your dogs out too long..it's too cold!!" :D We saw many dogs outside trying to NOT walk on the ground b/c it was so cold and they were begging to go in [but the owner wouldn't let them]. Then I watched something last week on espn about the best iditarod racer and him saying to the newsreporter "this this fur coat.... it's super thick, plenty warm for the extreme temps to sleep out here daily." To be honest, it made me cringe and feel bad for his dogs... but I have to admit..the dogs looked happy.

It "seems" like the average sheepdog owner doesn't have the time or know-how to keep a long coat, imo. My dog is currently short too, fyi. ...so I would think as long as your baby had some protection or the walks weren't too long....they'd be fine. I always try to remember if it's too dang cold for me to stay out any longer, it's too cold for my sweet furbaby :)


Hi! I have never had an issue with paws cracking, but plan on getting boots! I do have a waterproof fleece dog coat, so will be putting that to good use!
The cold here, even tho it seems much, is not that bad. In the bush it seems 10 degrees warmer, but I do agree that if I am cold my dog would be! The pyr coat tended to mat, and had to be brushed after every walk, and that went in summer as well, as dirt and gravel would have to be cleaned out prior to coming in the house, unless you didn't mind a dog shaped sand pile on the floor :)
I do have a 7X20 dog pen, which I could put up, we keep the entire yard clean, I do the simple shoveling, and my Jim does the snowblowing after the blizzards :) so space for potty would be a cinch! I appreciate your quick answers and experiences!!
(Edited to add on)
I agree with the dogs being outside making you cringe! We see that out here daily, I am not an outside dog preson, where I go my dog goes. I could never understand why single dog owners left their animals tied out, seemed pointless to have a dog. And out here that would be death. Many dogs whom are tied up get killed by wolves and bears. The Canadian Eskimo dog santuary up here loses 15-32 dogs a winter to wolves. Something I would never risk. I never leave my house without the rifle in summer, and the cracker pistol in winter. And always have my ears peeled, hence why I never dress in heavy gear. And thank you for the warm welcome!
ravenmoonart wrote:
Hi there Becky!

I live in Southcentral Alaska, and our lowest temps tend to be in the vicinity of 10 to 15 below 0F. My sheepdog have never had any problems, although of course weve never left them out in winter without the ability to come in whenever they want. Getting them to come IN in winter is more often the problem!

I walk my pup in all sorts of weather, aND with the addition of booties aND a fleech jacket they've done just fine! Booties are the main thing, as feet get cold fast, and the fur between their toes get ice balls.

Mine don't ever have a full coat either. In winter Bert (our remaining sheepie) stays in a fluffy puppy cut, and is shaved down in summer. I always have bigger issues with bushes and brambles when doing outdoors stuff with a sheepdog than with low temperatures. Their coat is a LOT softer and more apt to matt than a pyr!

I also like that my sheepies have never been super reactive about wildlife. I can trust them off lead in the woods without worrying about them taking off after a moose, or whatever. Not like my little beagle, who is convinced she could take on a brown bear if I'd let her!!

Hello to everyone, btw! I haven't been here in ages, and I've missed you all!



Those are the words I needed to hear! I was wondering how they are off lead! Pyrs cannot be trusted, as they have deafness as soon as the lead is slipped off! Good to know OES's have the ability to learn to be loose :) My border terrier could not be trusted off leash, due the the bunny and squirrel populations up here!
I have neoprene dog boots that fit a pyr, not sure if they will be wide enough for an OES, but will plan on ordering some if need be, I have a black waterproof fleece lined winter coat, so there will be some protection. Thank goodness we have willows, spruce and tamarack only here, in the winter I use a groomed trail (our woodcutting trail heads off the mts line) so we have at least 20km or more of skidoo trails to hike on. I save the road for the too dang cold let's get this over with walks!
I see now that most shave their OES's? I have gotten conflicting opinions on that particular subject. I don't mind brushing a dog daily, as I do have the time in the evenings, is a quick daily brushing not enough?
I know what you mean about getting a dog to come in! Once my last pyr learned how to ring a bell at the door to go out, she would do it everytime she came in, as to not miss anything that could be happening outside! We had to eventually remove the bell lol!
Thank you for your warm welcome! I am so excited on getting my own OES, I have a 9 and 11 year old (both gingers!) And tho they are not doggy kids, they are looking forward to helping raise a pup! ( To them that means playing and feeding treats lol!) I will be the main trainer, as I am home alone 7 1/2 hours a day.


One thing that I have read is that sheepies do not mind being lazy. Our summers up here are hot, this summer being +25 - +28 with a humidex of +28-+34. I try to stay indoors, as I am allergic to the horsefly bites out here and a skeeter bite will have me itching for 2 weeks, but I do throw on military stealth pants and a hoodie to go work outdoors. Will a sheepie prefer to mellow inside on hot days? Most summers we stay here, as where we summer down south gets way hotter, at +45 humidex, so the past 3 years we just hole up and couch it in front of fans! (My kids have endless sleepovers with their friends so we do keep busy indoors!) We do have nice cool evenings, ranging in 10c- 15c, so we would be able to get a walk in most evenings! Or a quad ride :D
Welcome!
Hi Becky and welcome. :D
All my sheepdogs have managed cold winters, ice and snow very well. I've had four sheepdogs so far. And yes, we are out in minus 30 C - no problems.
I live in Oslo, Norway and sometimes it might be pretty cold here and we also go up in the mountains. My dogs are in full coats and got lots of fur.

Joy, the girl I have now needs boots in the snow (the others did not need boots).
At this pic it was about -20 C and very strong wind........we had been walking for a couple of hours to reach up here.
The wind was so strong we had to turn and go home from this point. You can see here boots.


When it's snowing and the temperatur is around zero you need a snowdress, if you don't cut doewn the coat.


Such a funny looking girl in the suit..... :go:


It's inportant to always check the paws in the cold dry or wet snow. :)
Hi Grete! What a beautiful dog! There is a place in the US that I can buy a full body stretchy body suit, would that cut down on the winter matting? I do have a habit of stopping and checking feet, as the pyrs I had always had to have ice and snowballs removed. The shepherd I had did not, as he pointed his toes to walk.
In the winter we have winds usually at a steady 20, but frequent blizzrds and high winds happen quite a bit. That is why I usually stick to bush walking, and save the river walks for mild sunny days. I am hoping to keep a full coat in winter, does the shaving affect the overall coat for the next winter?
Recall ability for off-lead sheepies -that is sheepdogs who don't become suddenly deaf when you call their name- is a highly variable thing to say the least.

My current puppy has a very, VERY strong prey drive. The bunnies in the yard have no clue how close they are to meeting their maker (or hopping for their lives) 8 times a day.

There are probably a lot of trainers better than I am. I'd put money on it! But I don't know about the average OES not wanting to herd wildlife.
Training and rewards would hopefully fix that ;) I have a retractable that goes 16ft, and a 30ft training leash,which would most likely be safer up here anyways :) but I def will be attempting to do off lead in the yard :D it all depends on personality in the end I guess!
I highly recommend against retractable leads as they can lead to very serious hand injuries to the owner and injuries to other people not just the one holding the human end.

I was going to add a picture to this post of retractable leash injuries, but they are too graphic.

Under the heading of "life is not fair", about 10 years ago after a few years of warning people not to use them, a little nipper of a dog at an RV park in Scarborough Maine wrapped himself around my leg while his owner and I were chatting, then took off. I was wearing shorts and got a nice deep rope burn on the back of my leg.
BeckyN wrote:
Hi Grete! What a beautiful dog! There is a place in the US that I can buy a full body stretchy body suit, would that cut down on the winter matting? I do have a habit of stopping and checking feet, as the pyrs I had always had to have ice and snowballs removed. The shepherd I had did not, as he pointed his toes to walk.
In the winter we have winds usually at a steady 20, but frequent blizzrds and high winds happen quite a bit. That is why I usually stick to bush walking, and save the river walks for mild sunny days. I am hoping to keep a full coat in winter, does the shaving affect the overall coat for the next winter?


The body suit prevent snowballs in the coat. It's pretty dangerous for a dog in full coat in wet, snowing weather.
The snowballs gets so heavy, the dog may not be able to walk home. Look at this pics from my first OES, Aurora.
Lucky- we were not far from home, because the more i try to remove the snow balls the faster more snowballs builded up in the coat.


Had to make this snow a suit to her :):


How ease the coat is matting are different from dog to dog - some with much underwool matts more and it's often matting more when the dog change coats as youngsters.
The suit will actually make more matts.....I use to brush a little when I take it off. It's only when it's snowing and around 0 C you need the suit against snow balls. :)

When you shave off the coat, it will be fully grown out after a year.
Ron wrote:
I highly recommend against retractable leads as they can lead to very serious hand injuries to the owner and injuries to other people not just the one holding the human end.

I was going to add a picture to this post of retractable leash injuries, but they are too graphic.

Under the heading of "life is not fair", about 10 years ago after a few years of warning people not to use them, a little nipper of a dog at an RV park in Scarborough Maine wrapped himself around my leg while his owner and I were chatting, then took off. I was wearing shorts and got a nice deep rope burn on the back of my leg.


Good to know! With my gsd and goldie/pyr, I had the retractable hooked to my belt! I cannot use my hands for it as I have inflammation in my knuckles when it is damp. I am still debating on what kind of collar to invest in, I have the prong, a slip collar and a harness left over from the pyrs. I like retractables for puppies only, not adults, tho we are alone out here, no people! It is why I love it, only cabiners on weekends!
My daughter almost got her neck chopped off from our retractable leash... I'd like to say I was exaggerating, but I'm not. We had a babysitter and he REALLLLY did nothing wrong. She was just in the way, and her neck was almost sliced off. Scariest thing ever... I'd post the pic, as I did take one.......that many have seen on fb, but.... I'll save your the image.

I can't even call it a mistake really... she was just in the way and the dog went her way, and even when you retracted the leash, it wouldn't have been fast enough. It was HORRRIBLE.

I'm also a bad person and 'may' still have that leash... but only the days it's raining super hard. The kids know they are not allowed outside AT ALL if one is present. They have no desire to be there. They are handy if you're like me and don't like to be wet, cold, hot, or anything uncomfortable ;) ...but I don't trust them on a walk anymore.
I don't know if I ever saw that pic, Mrs. J.

Good lord... :-(
Makes ya wonder... with soooooo many people seriously injured by them, how is it they are still on the market while drawstrings on window blinds and baby cribs from 30 years ago get recalls?
I have used a retractable lead for the last 40 yrs and have never had a problem. We have had our own 3 children and twin grandchildren around the leads/dogs- they and we have always just been careful not to get between the dog and lead. I would have had the situation under control(so far) so as to no one has been hurt/tripped up or what have you. I have had a couple of rope burns on backs of legs, one that needed hospital attention quickly as also cut very deep but they were from when we have been at a race meeting and a dog has leapt out off a van/car/camper to get to my dog and getting it's rope or nylon cord(hospital trip) round my legs. We do what used to be called scrambling and all out dogs have enjoyed it. If I can I will add a photo of last weekend when it rained and the sheepies stayed in the van in the dry!! couldn't see how to add a photo? Have never done that so don't know how, was looking for attach or something? :wag: :tea: :tea:
Wow, I have never had an issue with a retracrable, minus my border hitting the end rather hard when he had the zoomies! I will def use the retractable for only when I am alone or in the yard! I never really liked using it anywho, but is is convenient in the winter on trail walks!
I wish retractable leashes were banned. I have had my three girls running at the dog park and almost get 'clothes lined' by those things.

As for the cold, we live in Ottawa, so -30 is pretty common. Like others have said, it is the feet that you would want to worry about the most, but I think that cold snow is better than cold concrete of a city, like we deal with. My girls LOVE the winter and go bananacakes crazy with the first snowfall and with any subsequent fresh snowfall. The littlest one, Gracie, would live outside in the snow if we let her. One thing with snow, though, is that if you are going to maintain a long coat you really need to be good about brushing regularly. If they get wet with snow a lot, they can get pretty matted.

As for off leash, we are downtown Ottawa. We often have the three girls off leash in a big government complex that, during evenings and weekends, is empty of people and becomes several acres of our own personal dog park. If being off leash and having good recall is important to you, which I would imagine it is, then with regular training it is absolutely possible.

I am being self-indulgent now, but here is Mady in a snowstorm at that government complex:

Haha! Great video!
Dang blackberry won't let me see the vid :(tried youtube..)
That is such a wonderful video. Thanks for sharing it with us Kim.

Too bad you can't see it Becky . However, I noticed you live in Churchill Manitoba- land of the Polar Bears so you can probably visualize Mady shuffling in the snow and then bouncing around in it...very much like a bear!
BeckyN wrote:
Dang blackberry won't let me see the vid :(tried youtube..)


Do a youtube search on MadySheep and you will find the video. You will also find video's of my husband being run over by sheep when he was new to herding, unless he deleted that one to protect his manly pride!
Marianne wrote:
That is such a wonderful video. Thanks for sharing it with us Kim.

Too bad you can't see it Becky . However, I noticed you live in Churchill Manitoba- land of the Polar Bears so you can probably visualize Mady shuffling in the snow and then bouncing around in it...very much like a bear!



The only thing that bounces around in the snow out here is the arctic bunnies :D bears are more so sliders ;) lol
I looked up MadySheep, and got to see some awesome video's! I didn't get to see that particular one, the formt does not work for my phone! But loved the rest!!
BeckyN wrote:
I looked up MadySheep, and got to see some awesome video's! I didn't get to see that particular one, the formt does not work for my phone! But loved the rest!!


Any time you venture from Churchill to Ottawa, let me know!
Thank you for the chuckle Becky...never thought bears were sliders!
You are speaking my language! My first dog was an OES and we lived high in the mountains of Colorado. She was an OUTSIDE dog........she kept warm between my husband's Siberian and our later addition, a St. Bernard. She handled the cold well with her double coat..........BUT, grooming was a disaster as the coat got wet often and snow clumped on her feet, creating giant snowballs. Snow moisture determines the clumping........drier snow it is not a problems which is what I suspect you have up there. But the grooming............I had to be careful not to comb out her undercoat. She was much happier when we moved down in elevation by 5,000 feet. All subsequent sheepdogs have been housedogs where getting wet isn't such an issue.

My other breed has been Great Pyrs! I've had about a half dozen and knew well their stubbornness. It is bred into them as they must work without commands from their owners. They live with the flock they guard and must think on their own. Training is more a compromise. Walking a Pyr off leash only invites danger. They will react to a threat and no amount of calling them back will work until they are ready to come back. The same for leaving them outside in an unsecured area..........they will patrol far and wide.......well beyond your property. I had three escape at one time, one came back for food, one came back because he saw the car and thought we were going for hamburgers. The last one was rescued from a swimming pool. The leader of the break out was forever looking for other ways to get out. She had wander-lust.

As for defense, the outdoor sheepdog tried to defend us from cattle but got bowled over. Another would attack anything that made a strange noise......thankfully she never met a snake. The Pyrs were better people guardians. A bitch came within millimeters of relieving a utility worker of his back pocket, one male ALWAYS but himself between me and any stranger; upright or four legged. I always felt safe walking with him beside me.
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