Why Dogs Can'T Bark Sometimes



You’ve been a dog owner ever since your parents gave into your begging for a puppy when you were a child. You’ve spent a lifetime with dogs and now you’re fostering dogs. You know one thing for sure. They bark. But one day you get a pup who doesn’t bark. The other dogs you are fostering are yapping away, and he never chimes in. As lovely as it is to have one less yelp among the noise, you’ve never come across this before and you’re a bit concerned. Why isn’t this canine contributing to the choir? Does it mean something is wrong? Does the cat have his tongue?

The Root of the Behavior

Beethoven was a pianist, not a singer, so it’s okay if your dog doesn’t bark. There are several reasons your dog could have trouble barking, and some need your attention more than others. Some dogs are not very vocal. They might bark occasionally, but they are just not yappers like a Yorkie or Chihuahua. These breeds include the Basenji, Bulldog, French Bulldog, Bullmastiff, Chinese Shar-Pei, Chinook, Coton de Tulear, Greyhound, Newfoundland, and defying the little dog rule that little dogs are always chatty, the Maltese and Shih Tzu. If you have one of these dogs, he just might be a bit quieter than you’d expect a dog to be. His bark might also sound different, like a yelp or howl. Just like when you cheer at a baseball game and get a hoarse voice the next day, your dog can experience something similar. If he was excessively barking at a dog park or doggie daycare, his voice might be hoarse, and it may hurt to bark. He will need a few days to rest his voice before it comes back full force. There’s also the possibility of Laryngeal Paralysis, which is when the larynx does not open or close correctly. This makes it difficult for dogs to eat and breathe, and of course, bark. This occurs more often in larger dogs such as Saint Bernards, Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, or Siberian Huskies. If you notice your dog is having a difficult time barking and trouble eating, take a trip to see a veterinary professional for treatment. If your pup just underwent surgery, his throat may be sore from the breathing tube. He may not want to bark, or his bark could sound different. Give him a few days to rest his throat and his bark should come back. If you’re concerned that it’s not, go to the vet. 

Encouraging the Behavior

If your once yappy dog is now quiet, the neighbors might be happier, you might have fewer headaches, and it might be easier to get guests in the door. As long as your dog is happy and healthy, there shouldn’t be a cause for concern. You could take him to the vet to make sure he is healthy. However, if your dog is experiencing unusual trouble breathing, eating, or barking, consider taking a trip to the vet immediately. A dog who is overweight is more prone to Laryngeal Paralysis, so be sure to watch out for those signs. Additionally, monitor for unusual panting, as this could be a sign too. If it’s been a while after surgery and your dog still isn’t barking, or his bark sounds strange, call the vet to check in. He can recommend if you should bring him in for a checkup or if it’s normal at that point. The amount of barking you are comfortable with is really up to you. If you live in an apartment complex, it might be prudent to get a dog breed that tends to be on the quiet side. It’s also good to know how much noise you can tolerate before you adopt a dog. If you get frustrated or overwhelmed when there’s a lot of noise and you are not willing to train your dog, a quieter breed might be for you.

Other Solutions and Considerations

If you’re reading this and thinking, “I want a quieter dog,” you could take your dog to a trainer to reduce his barking. The trainer can teach your dog commands to be quiet so that the barking is reduced. At the same time, if you want your dog to bark at something specific, like intruders or strangers, you could train him to do that as well. There are some dogs who have been trained to bark a certain amount of times for different situations. The key to any amount of barking is that your dog is healthy and is not experiencing any sickness or problems with his throat. Always take Rover to the vet if you think something is wrong. 


It’s okay if the cat’s got Rover’s tongue. Not all dogs are willing to chime into the group howl at night. You won’t have to worry about any subwoofers being too loud for the neighbors. Enjoy the quiet and make sure your dog is healthy and give him plenty of belly rubs.