Why doesn’t my dog bark?
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Why doesn’t my dog bark?

Many dog owners have a problem controlling and curbing their dog’s barking, and a lot of dogs are very quick to vocalise for all sorts of reasons or sometimes, for seemingly none at all!

Dogs communicate with each other and with people and other animals too by barking, but this is not their only or even main means of communication, and it is also one that can be hard to decode by animals of other species too.

However, some dogs never seem to bark at all, and this is not restricted only to dogs that have been trained and conditioned not to bark often or at all, and the reasons for this can be varied.

Whilst it is certainly unusual to find a dog that never seems to bark, they do exist – and the reason they’re not barking may be either medical, or due to their training or understanding of barking and the use of vocalisations.

In this article, we’ll outline some of the most common reasons why a dog doesn’t bark, to help you to get to the bottom of things. Read on to learn why some dogs never seem to bark.

Some dog breeds are just quieter than others!

First of all, some breeds are generally thought to be more vocal than others, whilst others have a reputation for rarely if ever barking at all.

Quite why some dog breeds are particularly quiet and how this trait becomes established across a breed population is uncertain, but the Basenji is one dog breed in particular that is associated with not using barking vocalisations.

However, this doesn’t mean that the Basenji is a silent dog breed, and they can in fact be quite vocal, they just use sounds other than barks. Basenjis have quite an impressive yodelling howl, and they also make some other unusual and quite distinctive sounds too, including whining, and a quite distinctive screeching sound that is never forgotten once heard!

Can dogs lose their voice?

A person who is suffering from a cough or cold or that has been talking more than normal or shouting a lot may lose their voice, either becoming a little hoarse and raspy or being virtually unable to make audible sounds until the issue causing the problem is itself resolved.

The same is true for dogs, and if your dog usually barks or has been barking excessively, they too may get a sore or hoarse throat, which may stop them or put them off barking until it has recovered.

A dog would generally have to bark continually for many hours and often over the course of several days to really lose their voice, and when they do it is only temporary, but it can happen.

Laryngeal paralysis

A veterinary condition that can stop or curtail a dog’s ability to bark is called laryngeal paralysis, and this is a condition that can affect any breed or type of dog but that occurs most frequently within Labrador retrievers. Laryngeal paralysis affects the nerves in the dog’s throat, which stops or restricts them from performing a number of vital and normal bodily functions, such as barking, eating, drinking and swallowing normally.

This is a condition that requires surgical correction, so if your dog that previously used to bark appears to have stopped doing so, or shows any signs of distress, contact your vet.

Growths and tumours

Cancers and other types of growths and tumours of all types can grow in virtually any area of the body, affecting the localised systems in the area and often having a systemic effect on the dog too.

Different types of lumps, growths and tumours can grow in and around the dog’s throat and larynx, occluding the voice box and potentially, causing a range of symptoms that might include leading to the dog being unable to bark normally, if at all.

Growths and tumours of this type tend to develop slowly and so, develop symptoms slowly, and so the loss of your dog’s voice will almost certainly be progressive in this instance. Not all growths and tumours are cancerous or malignant, but they do all require investigation on the part of your vet if something appears to be wrong.

Training or conditioning

How effectively any given dog’s barking can be curbed can be very variable. Some dogs can be trained not to bark at all or only to bark on command, whilst others may be virtually impossible to shut up when they get going!

However, a dog that has previously been trained not to bark or only to bark in certain situations or upon command will be conditioned not to do so, but if you don’t know that this training has been performed, you may not realise that this is the case.

Dogs that have learned through experience that barking gets them nowhere – either because barking was deliberately ignored as part of training a dog out of barking to get a response or reaction, or because the dog has been neglected and learnt that nobody comes when they bark – might also avoid vocalising too, because there is no reward to it for them.

If you can’t get to the bottom of why your dog isn’t barking, or if you spot any other symptoms that may indicate a problem, always ask your vet to investigate and make sure that nothing is amiss that is physically preventing your dog from being able to bark.

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