Do Pyrenean Mountain Dogs Bark?

Bottom line – Yes! Pyrenean Mountain Dogs can be problem barkers.
Pyrenean Mountain Dogs are a livestock guardian, and part of their job is to tell predators to stay away. They bark to alert predators that they are on the job and to warn them to go elsewhere. This of course is great if you want them to protect your sheep or chickens.
However, if you have neighbours close, this can be a problem. A Pyrenean won’t necessarily distinguish between a fox, a dog, a person or a car moving about ‘out there’ and will alert to a wide range of sounds and movement.  In a suburban setting there is a lot moving around outside a Pyrenean’s territory which it can potentially view as a ‘threat’. These may be things that you, or your neighbours, don’t even notice.  But to a Pyr they are just doing the job they are bred for.
If you are concerned that barking may be an issue, then a Pyrenean Mountain Dog may not be the breed for you.
If you do decide that this is the breed for you, it is very important that you try to manage your Pyr’s barking right from the beginning.  Remember that your neighbours have a right to quiet enjoyment and while some occasional barking is reasonable, constant barking is something they should not have to tolerate.
First thing to know is that you will never stop your Pyrenean barking completely. There are things you can do, however, which may help you reduce the barking to a fairly manageable level. Keeping your dog inside at night can help as it will be stimulated less by night time noises. Be aware however, that you may still need to manage inside barking.  Another thing that is important is to socialise your dog outside of its yard on a regular basis. Teaching it what is ‘normal’ and ‘ok’ is the first step to having it accept things ‘out there’. Providing time outside of the yard also provides important mental stimulation which will help your dog be more relaxed and less ‘stir crazy’ when it is home. Remember that if your Pyrenean is a pet, you are its flock so spending plenty of time with you, rather than being separated from you can also help. It may help too, to introduce your dog to your neighbours.  If the dog is familiar with them, it may be less likely to bark at them.
Your Pyrenean may or may not bark much as a pup.  Some start barking right away, while others may be relatively quiet until they ‘find their voice’ as a teenager.  Either way, be prepared to manage the barking early, and before it becomes a habit. As soon as your Pyrenean alerts to something (and you can do this ‘before’ they begin to bark too), go calmly to your dog and take a look. You can ask your dog ‘what is it?’ if you like.  When you look, if it is nothing ‘important’ (i.e. not something you WANT them to bark at, like someone breaking into your car!) then calmly tell your Pyr all is ok, and lead it away telling them they are a ‘good dog’. If your Pyr is insistent, you have two options – investigate further to see if there really is a problem, or tell your dog to ‘leave it!’ and insist that the dog come away from that area (perhaps take your dog inside). Remember to praise them when they comply. What you are doing here is being a leader and determining what is important enough for your dog to bark at and what isn’t, rather than the dog taking the lead and deciding for itself. You are helping your dog learn to discriminate. Note that getting agitated and yelling at your Pyr when it comes to barking is not generally effective, as in your dogs eyes they may think you are reacting to the ‘threat’ and barking along with them.
Sometimes you may also need to take other measures to help control your Pyrenean’s barking. If your dog is barking when you are not home, using an anti-barking collar can sometimes help. Note that these may not work on all dogs.  Many Pyrs will bark anyway despite the collar. Some they may reduce but not stop the barking.  However, they can be worth a try.
An option of last resort, if the only other option is to move, rehome or euthanase your dog because of council order (and these are not tenable options for you), may be to consider a bark softening procedure. This is a surgical procedure performed by the vet which involves cutting the vocal chords. Your dog will still bark, but the sound will be muted. While this may at first glance seem ‘cruel’, it can actually reduce stress for both the dog, for you and your neighbours and make life better for all. Your dog can still bark when it wants and will be happy with its (albeit muted) barking. Different states have different rules about when this procedure is allowed and you will need to follow these requirements. Hopefully you never find yourself in this situation! (but be aware that Pyr owners around the world have found themselves in this situation from time to time).

Article copyright Tracy Bassett 2014
all rights reserved - not to be copied without permission