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Why Doesn’t My Dog Bark? The Reasons Behind Your Silent Pup

why doesn't my dog bark

Dogs are known for their barking, which is one of the ways they communicate with us and their surroundings. However, some dogs don’t bark as much as others, you need to ask “why doesn’t my dog bark?” While it’s normal for some breeds to be quieter than others, there may be underlying reasons why a dog doesn’t bark.

Underlying medical issues can mean your dog is in distress. In other cases, dogs may stop barking because of prior traumatic experiences, in which case you will need to keep their environment calm and invest in comforting dog beds to help them recover.

Of course, when it comes to barking problems, the issue is usually the opposite, leaving us to wonder if our dogs will ever get tired of barking. But as annoying as barking can be, it’s a vital part of canine communication. So to delve into this question, we are going to refer to Dr. Bonnie Beavers explanations on dog vocalizations and what can cause them not to bark.

Some people may ask why their dog did not bark after having an intruder on their property. The answer to this is almost always that the dog knew the person. However, some dogs simply don’t have much of a territorial instinct and simply won’t bark if people come into their yard or even their house, especially if that person seems confident and friendly. A dog’s instinct to defend their territory or home is genetic and you may be surprised to learn that some dogs just don’t have it.

The same dogs however, may act to protect you, because protecting their pack is not the same thing as protecting property. See this video of a Great Dane that allowed an intruder into the house, but became aggressive the moment he needed to defend his dog mom:

One of the most common reasons why a dog doesn’t bark is because of their personality. Some breeds, such as Basenjis and Shiba Inus, are known for being quiet and reserved. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they can’t bark, but rather that they don’t feel the need to bark as much as other breeds. It’s important to note that every dog is different, and even within the same breed, there can be variations in personality and behavior.

Another reason why a dog may not bark is because of a medical condition. If a dog suddenly stops barking or has never barked, it’s important to take them to the vet to rule out any underlying health issues. Some medical conditions that can affect a dog’s ability to bark include laryngeal paralysis, which affects the vocal cords, and thyroid issues, which can cause changes in a dog’s behavior. But let’s delve into the many reasons for dogs not barking.

12 Common Reasons That A Dog Doesn’t Bark

Dogs are known for their ability to bark loudly and frequently, making them excellent guard dogs and loyal companions. Studies show that barking is an intrinsic part of what makes a dog a dog, since wolves typically don’t do it. However, some dogs may not bark as much or at all, which can be a cause for concern for their owners. There are several reasons why a dog may not bark, including:

1. Breed Characteristics

Different dog breeds have different barking tendencies. Some breeds, such as Basenjis, are known for being “barkless,” while others, like Beagles, are known for being vocal. It is important to research your dog’s breed to understand their natural barking tendencies. Breeds known for being quiet include:

  • Shar Peis
  • Chow Chows
  • Basenji
  • Borzoi
  • Afghan Hounds
  • Shiba Inu
  • Whippets
  • Greyhounds
  • Irish Wolfhounds
  • English Mastiffs
  • Italian Greyhounds

2. Age Factors

As dogs age, their vocal cords can weaken, causing them to bark less frequently or with less intensity. Additionally, older dogs may experience hearing loss, which can also affect their barking behavior, since they are less likely to hear things that make them bark. Puppies below the age of 5 weeks will also not bark.

3. Trauma or Abuse

Dogs that have experienced trauma or abuse may not bark as much as other dogs. This is because barking can be seen as a form of aggression, and a traumatized or abused dog may be hesitant to display any aggressive behavior.

I’ve seen this in its most extreme form in a Beagle that was rescued from a laboratory. There is no other way to describe her other than to say she just didn’t know how to be a dog. 

Having grown up in a tiny cage, she didn’t play or show any reaction at all to things that other dogs would be fascinated by. She was scared of people and other dogs and took to hiding in her owner’s closet. She was completely shut down, something we called “learned helplessness.”

It took over a year to rehabilitate her, and even then prolonged issues like licking her paws incessantly stayed a problem. But I remember the joy we all felt when her owner messaged me after eight months to say “Lizzie barked today.” Lizzie finding her voice and finally barking was a major turning point in her rehabilitation.

4. Lack of Socialization

Dogs that have not been properly socialized may not bark as much as other dogs. This is one reason that Lizzie did not bark; she never interacted with other dogs or people enough to learn normal behaviors. Barking is a form of communication, and if a dog has not learned how to communicate effectively with other dogs and humans, they may not bark as much.

You will also see this in feral dogs. They tend to move quietly through the streets and not bark, as this would draw unnecessary attention to themselves.

5. Barking Behavioral Suppression

Dogs that have been punished or trained not to bark may become hesitant or unwilling to use their voice. This can lead to a dog that appears to not bark at all. Owners may hit their dogs for barking or use debarking collars to condition the behavior out of them. In the Behavioral Biology Of Dogs Dr. P Jensen calls this suppressing unwanted behaviors. 

In the article, “will my dog forgive me for hitting him,” I discuss what happens when you suppress all barking with punishment or debarking collars. You may have stopped the barking issue but you will have created a new, more serious one. Dogs bark to communicate. They need to bark to warn of intruders, bring attention to something important, or just to tell someone they are lonely.

If you suppress barking altogether, it’s like taking away a child’s ability to cry. It may no longer annoy you, but your child still has to deal with the thing that caused them to cry in the first place. This is deeply traumatic and can lead to a range of new issues.

If you have trouble with a barking dog, first see our article on how to discipline dogs effectively (without cruelty) and see articles like how to stop a dog barking at night.

6. Debarked Dogs

Worse than suppressed barking is debarking dogs. Some dogs undergo a surgical procedure known as debarking, which involves removing or damaging the vocal cords to reduce or eliminate barking. Like tail docking and ear cropping, debarking dogs is what we call a convenience surgery, because it is a surgery that’s done for the owner’s convenience.

This procedure is cruel and can lead to other health issues. A dog that has had barking suppressed can be taught to bark again. But when the dog is surgically altered, they never again have the option of expressing themselves naturally. It goes without saying that doing this is incredibly inhumane. 

In the video below, you can see a Collie that has been debarked: 

Debarking surgery is illegal in Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Rhode Island. We strongly urge readers to sign a petition to make this surgery illegal throughout the US.

7. Laryngeal Paralysis

Laryngeal paralysis is a condition that can affect dogs, particularly older dogs. This condition occurs when the muscles that control the opening and closing of the larynx become weak or paralyzed, making it difficult for the dog to bark.

Some breeds are more prone to laryngeal paralysis than others, such as the Great Pyrenees, and Pyrenees mixes like the Pyredoodle, as well as Labradors (and Lab mixes like the Dalmador or Pyrador).

8. Tumors

Tumors in the throat or larynx can also affect a dog’s ability to bark. These tumors can interfere with the dog’s vocal cords, making it difficult or impossible for them to vocalize.

9. Throat Infections

Infections in the throat or larynx can cause inflammation and swelling, making it difficult for a dog to bark. These infections can be caused by viruses (like kennel cough), bacteria, or other irritants.

10. Collapsed Tracheas

A collapsed trachea can cause breathing difficulties and affect a dog’s ability to bark. This condition is more common in small breed dogs like the Chi-poo or mini-wirehaired Dachshund and can be managed with proper treatment.

11. Personality

Finally, some dogs are simply less vocal than others due to their individual personalities. While it is important to rule out any underlying health issues, it is also important to understand and respect your dog’s natural tendencies.

My Bull Terrier, Amy, just isn’t a big barker. She won’t bark at passersby or other dogs (but she will watch them intently). She won’t even bark at strangers. She will bark softly to tell me when she wants something, like to go outside or to come into my room when the door is closed. 

On the other hand, one of my other dogs, Nina, is a barker. However, she doesn’t go looking for things to bark at. For her, barking is mostly a distress call. She will bark if she smells smoke from a fire, or to let me know one of the other dogs is in her bed. She will also bark incessantly if she feels lonely or isolated. This communication from Nina helps me know how to care for her better, as she barks to alert me that something is wrong.

12. Other Medical Issues

If a dog suddenly stops barking or has never barked, it could be due to a number of other underlying medical issues. For example, a dog with a respiratory problem may not be able to bark properly due to difficulty breathing. Similarly, a dog with a neurological issue may not have the ability to bark at all.

Deafness is another common reason a dog may not bark. If dogs can’t hear, they may never learn to properly bark the way other dogs do. The video below is a typical example of a deaf dog trying to bark.

In conclusion, there are many possible reasons why a dog may not bark. By understanding these factors and working with a veterinarian to rule out any underlying health issues, owners can better understand and manage their dog’s barking behavior.

When to Seek Veterinary Advice Because A Dog Won’t Bark

If you notice that your dog has stopped barking or is barking less frequently than usual, it may be a cause for concern. While some dogs naturally bark less than others, a sudden change in barking behavior could be a sign of an underlying health issue. In such cases, it’s important to seek veterinary advice.

Sudden Change in Barking Behavior

If your dog has suddenly stopped barking or is barking less frequently than usual, it could be a sign of a health problem. Some common reasons for a sudden change in barking behavior include:

  • Hearing loss
  • Pain or discomfort
  • Anxiety or stress
  • Trauma or injury
  • Neurological problems

If you notice any sudden changes in your dog’s barking behavior, it’s important to take them to the vet for a thorough examination.

Signs of Distress or Illness

In addition to a sudden change in barking behavior, there are other signs of distress or illness that you should look out for. These include:

If your dog is exhibiting any of these symptoms, it’s important to seek veterinary advice as soon as possible. These symptoms could be a sign of a serious health problem that requires prompt treatment.

In conclusion, if your dog has stopped barking or is barking less frequently than usual, it’s important to seek veterinary advice. A sudden change in barking behavior could be a sign of an underlying health issue, and early detection and treatment can help ensure the best possible outcome for your furry friend.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I be worried if my dog doesn’t bark?

No, not necessarily. Some dogs are naturally quiet and may not bark very often. However, if your dog has suddenly stopped barking or has never barked before, it may be a sign of an underlying health issue and you should consult with a veterinarian.

What does it mean when your dog doesn’t bark?

It could mean a variety of things, depending on the dog’s breed, personality, and environment. Some dogs are simply quieter than others, while others may be experiencing anxiety or fear. It’s important to observe your dog’s behavior and try to identify any potential triggers or causes for their lack of barking.

Why is my dog so quiet?

There could be a number of reasons why your dog is quiet. Some possible causes include a lack of socialization, fear or anxiety, or simply being a naturally quiet breed. It’s important to assess your dog’s behavior and environment to try to identify the root cause of their quietness.

How do I get my dog to bark?

If your dog is naturally quiet, it may be difficult to get them to bark on command. However, you can try using a trigger such as a doorbell or a knock at the door to encourage them to bark. It’s important to reward your dog for barking so that they associate the behavior with positive reinforcement.

Why does my dog whine and not bark?

Whining is another form of communication that dogs use to express their needs or emotions. It could be a sign of anxiety, fear, or excitement. If your dog is whining excessively, it’s important to assess their behavior and environment to identify any potential triggers or causes.

What can cause a dog to stop barking?

There are many potential causes for a dog to stop barking, including illness, injury, anxiety, fear, or a lack of socialization. It’s important to observe your dog’s behavior and try to identify any potential triggers or causes for their lack of barking. If you are concerned, consult with a veterinarian.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, if your dog is not barking, it is important to identify the root cause of the issue. This can be done by observing your dog’s behavior, consulting with a veterinarian, and providing appropriate training and socialization.

Some dogs may have a genetic predisposition to be less vocal, while others may have experienced trauma or neglect that has caused them to become fearful or anxious. It is important to be patient and understanding when working with a dog who is not barking, as forcing them to vocalize can cause further stress and anxiety.

Providing your dog with plenty of exercise, mental stimulation, and positive reinforcement can help build their confidence and encourage them to communicate in a healthy way. Additionally, ensuring that your dog receives regular veterinary care and is up-to-date on vaccinations can help prevent any underlying health issues that may be contributing to their lack of barking.

Overall, understanding your dog’s individual needs and providing them with a safe and supportive environment is key to helping them become confident and vocal members of your family.


Tamsin De La Harpe


Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions.

Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.

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