Is it Normal for a Dog NOT to Bark?

Practically all dog breeds bark, though some bark far less often than others.

The Basenji though is an odd breed that cannot bark at all, due to a mutation that has made their larynxes very different from others dogs’.

The New Guinea Singing Dog also doesn’t bark, though they can learn to do so if kept with barking dogs.

How Often Should Dogs Bark?    

Most dog breeds use barking to communicate and will bark as often as they feel the need to.

Most dogs will bark at stimuli that get them excited or nervous, or when they wish to get a nearby human to do something. How often they feel the need to bark is determined by personality and breed.

dog barking
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For example, dog breeds prone to separation anxiety will tend to bark when they crave attention.

Scent hounds like beagles, and most terriers which were bred to attack vermin such as rats, tend to bark a lot since they were bred to alert the hunters with them that way.

In contrast, sighthounds like Greyhounds, Salukis, and Whippets tend to bark much less, saving their energy for the chase.

Many believe small dog breeds bark more than big breeds. While there are quiet toy dogs, many small dogs do try to compensate for their small size by pulling the intimidation trigger first and barking more.

A lot of this is due to fear.

Many small breeds, like Yorkies, also have high energy levels that get expressed in more frequent barking. In contrast, many large dog breeds are much more confident and have more sedate energy levels, making them bark less.

9 Reasons Why Your Dog Doesn’t Bark

But what if Benjie’s not a Basenji or any of the other quiet breeds?

Why won’t he bark?

Dogs can have individual reasons for not barking much or at all, from simply having a quieter than normal personality to advanced age to negative conditioning and even medical problems.

If your dog barks much less than expected, observe it carefully as it may have a health problem, particularly if its reluctance to bark comes with low appetite, loss of weight, or unusual lethargy.

Age

Puppies, just like our own kids, are noisy by nature. They’re easily triggered to bark, and since they’ve yet to learn their manners, they’ll yap at anything and everything. As a dog ages, its energy levels usually taper off. Senior dogs are much less likely to bark than younger members of the same breed.

Personality

A dog that doesn’t bark may simply be the quietest pup of its litter.

If you’ve ever picked out a puppy from a new litter, you know there can be big personality differences between sibling pups. Some are pushy, some cry a lot, and some just prefer to stay apart and quiet. Your dog, if it’s healthy, may be one of these last.

However, don’t be too quick to dismiss your dog’s silence as a matter of personality. You have to be sure you can eliminate questions of health, fear, or trauma first.

Fear

Fearful dogs may show their fear by barking, but dogs overwhelmed by fear respond by trying to hide and remaining silent.

Is your silent dog displaying other fear behaviors like hiding, cowering, frequently licking its lips, or refusal to make eye contact?

This is particularly common among newly purchased or adopted dogs, especially puppies. They’re still adjusting to you and their new home.

Normally, however, this adjustment period doesn’t last that long and the dog should gain confidence rapidly.

Even with puppies, inquisitiveness should trump fear after only a few hours or days.

If it’s not, there may be a medical condition behind it, or there’s something in your home that keeps triggering the fear reaction. It might be another pet, frequent loud or strange noises, or the dog may be afraid of you.

Your newly adopted dog may fear you because of something you did early in your relationship, such as picking it up when it didn’t want to, or because it’s a naturally timid dog and you’re trying to be affectionate too early, or because you somehow resemble another person who gave it a bad experience.

Conditioning

If you adopted an adult dog that doesn’t bark, it may be because it was conditioned not to by its previous owner.

Perhaps the former owner would hit the dog whenever it barked or used a shock collar on it.   By the time you got it, your dog had become so averse to the consequences of barking that he’s decided all humans just want him to shut up.

Devocalization Surgery

Some dogs can’t bark because their larynxes have been surgically altered for this purpose. This procedure, known as debarking or devocalization, removes tissue from the vocal cords so the dog’s vocalizations are permanently reduced in volume.

This is growing increasingly rare, though, as most animal rights groups advocate for training rather than surgical devocalization, and many veterinarians now refuse to perform the procedure.

Devocalization of dogs is now illegal in some US states, the UK, and other countries that have signed the European Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals.

Sore Throat

A dog that has just barked too much can fall silent for a while for the same reason we don’t talk much after yelling ourselves hoarse. Dogs can get sore throats too from using their larynxes too much, and this makes them inhibit themselves from barking.

Laryngeal Diseases

Just as dogs can yell themselves hoarse, they can also get sore throats from bacterial infections and other medical problems affecting the laryngeal area.

A few breeds are also susceptible to paralysis of the larynx, either congenitally like with the Bouvier des Flandres, while Newfoundlands and Saint Bernards are prone to acquired paralysis of the larynx.

Acquired paralysis can come from cancer, extreme exertion, stress, or trauma.

Parasites

Dogs with a severe parasitic infestation, especially those that bring diseases like Ehrlichiosis, can become so depressed and weak that they won’t bark.

Check if your silent pup shows signs of parasites, such as ticks in their fur, diarrhea, scooting behavior, vomiting, distended belly, weight loss, depression, and a dulled coat.

If you find any of these symptoms, call or visit your vet as soon as possible. It could save your dog’s life!

Other Diseases

Heart, liver, and other internal diseases can depress your dog enough to keep it from barking. If your dog is silent and also shows any signs of weakness, sudden weight loss, and refusal to eat, it may be suffering from a previously undetected disease. Again, call or visit your vet as soon as possible.

17 Dog Breeds That Bark Less

One reason your dog may seem unusually quiet is that he belongs to one of the breeds listed below.

These dogs have a natural disposition not to bark, and the Basenji can’t bark at all due to his anatomy. However, environment and personality also have a major influence on a dog’s behavior, so an individual from a quiet breed may become a barker or vice versa.

Does your silent dog belong to one of these breeds?

Basenji

Basenjis don’t bark because they simply can’t. However, while they’re silent most of the time, excitement does get them to vocalize energetically. Basenji vocalizations are a yodeling sound, often described as a wolfy ‘baroo,’ and they can also squeal and whine.

Afghan Hound

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Despite their glamorous appearance, Afghan Hounds were not bred to be L’Oreal models but instead as coursing dogs for the chieftains of the cold Himalayas and the Hindu Kush.

Like the cheetah, which is also developed for high-speed chases, the Afghan Hound is a laid-back and quiet sort, saving its energy for the hunt.

That’s why you’ll rarely ever hear them bark. Keep them leashed on walks, though, as their high prey drive makes them want to take off after any small animal they see.

Akita

Bred in the cold mountains of northern Japan, the Akita is a hunter and guard dog with the silent, stoic, and highly loyal personality of an ideal samurai.

The famous Hachiko, a dog who waited daily at Shibuya Station in Tokyo years after his owner passed away, was an Akita.

Aloof and independent, Akitas may bond with only a few chosen members of their family, and require good training and reinforcement to keep them behaved.

While they rarely ever bark, they will do so to warn of strangers and can be aggressive to them. They can also be dominant and aggressive to other dogs, especially those of the same sex.

Bernese Mountain Dog

The Bernese Mountain Dog is a gentle giant originally bred as a working and guard dog in the Swiss Alps.

It has a calm and friendly nature, which normally predisposes it to quiet. However it is also highly territorial and protective of its family, so if kept in a high-traffic area you’ll hear it bark a lot more often.

Borzoi

Another coursing breed, the Borzoi is a large sighthound from Russia. Gentle and sensitive, the Borzoi has a laid-back and reserved personality like a cat’s, affectionate only to the humans they know well. They bark only rarely when something disturbs their calm.

Like other sighthounds, the Borzoi has a very high prey drive that is motivated by movement. The faster something runs away, the more Borzoi wants to chase it. Keep this guy on a leash when taking walks.

Bulldog

The sedate Bulldog would rather snooze than bark, and his calmly courageous temperament means there’s little that ruffles him enough to make him bark.

That sedate nature however also makes the Bulldog very likely to gain weight, while his scrunched-in snout can put him out of breath quickly when he runs. Make sure your Bulldog gets enough but not over-strenuous exercise.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a toy and companion dog that thrives on and craves affection, and lots of it.

Moderately energetic and playful, this spaniel has a warm and gentle personality that isn’t manifested in much barking – as long as it feels safe and loved.

Because these dogs crave companionship so much, they’re prone to separation anxiety which can turn them into yappers. This is an ideal dog for you if you’re a retiree or work at home, but if you’re away from the house nine to five consider checking your Cavalier into doggy daycare.

Chow Chow

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The Chow Chow rarely ever says Bow wow – but when he does, pay attention. These dogs may look like big, friendly floofs, but they used to work as bouncers in the Forbidden City.

When a Chow Chow barks, it’s often to alert you to a perceived danger. They have very strong guarding instincts, so train them well to heel on command and make sure to acquaint them with frequent visitors.

Great Dane

Great Danes are among the largest of all dog breeds and have a deep, booming bark that can make burglars leave their pants behind.

Fortunately, these gentle but formidable giants are normally reserved barkers, letting out a big woof only when they think they have to once mature. Great Dane puppies are of course more vocal.

Individual Great Danes can become barkers due to a more anxious or protective personality, or because they crave attention – these are dogs that do best when treated as part of the family, hating to be left alone too long – and when exposed to strangers or strange new environments.

Keep your Great Dane from becoming a habitual barker by keeping it indoors and socializing it properly.

Greyhound

Despite their reputations as racing dogs, Greyhounds are usually quiet, sedate couch potatoes. Like cats, with which they share quite a few mannerisms, Greyhounds like to spend their days sleeping on the couch or at your feet.

Greyhounds can become vocal when lonely, as these dogs bond closely to their families and crave their companionship. Don’t leave your Greyhound alone for long without something to occupy them, or consider checking them into doggy daycare when you go to work.

Japanese Chin

The Japanese Chin or Japanese Spaniel is a gentle and affectionate toy dog with a cat-like personality.

Like cats, they’re very clean, like to cuddle on laps, and have a fondness for high places and a talent for getting there, and you’ll often find them perched on tables or sofa arms. Intelligent, friendly yet laid-back, the Japanese Chin has a low tendency to bark.

Chins however can become barkers if left alone too long, as this breed craves constant companionship and easily develops separation anxiety.

With its suitability to apartment living and modest exercise needs, this dog is a good fit for retirees and those who work from home.

Newfoundland

This enormous, water-loving dog is easily mistaken for a bear. The relaxed, sweet gentle-giant nature of the Newfie makes it bark only seldom.

However, when it does bark it only knows how to bark in all-caps mode. Most Newfies will only bark if they think someone’s in danger, particularly if it’s danger of drowning.

When the latter occurs, that bark will almost certainly be followed by a splash as the Newfie’s rescue instincts kick in. Newfoundland fishermen bred this dog specifically to help with fishing and to rescue drowning fishermen.

Newfoundland dogs can become barkers when bored or left alone for too long. Also, even placid Newfies may learn to bark more if kept with dogs that are barkers, as they can learn that barking gets them more attention.

Saint Bernard

Another calm and quiet giant, like the Bernese Mountain Dog this friendly bear was originally bred in the Swiss Alps.

Like many big dog breeds, the Saint Bernard only barks when it feels it really needs to. Having been bred as rescue dogs, they are good with people and highly tolerant, making great companions for children.

However, make sure your Saint Bernard is well-trained and socialized, as these dogs often don’t realize their own size and strength. They can easily knock you over in a boisterous moment or cause a nasty fall if they jerk on the leash.

Saluki

The dog that hunted with the Pharaohs, the Saluki is a breed with a 5,000-year history.

It is a coursing sighthound like the Afghan Hound and Greyhound, and like them has the slim graceful build, speed, and laid-back attitude of a cheetah. This relaxed temperament makes them infrequent barkers.

Curious, loving, and loyal to their owners, Salukis can also have the independent-mindedness of cats, so make sure to start training yours early and be patient with it.

Salukis have higher energy levels than Greyhounds, so they need plenty of playtime and frequent chances to run. They can also be prone to separation anxiety, which can turn them into barkers.

Shar-pei

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What’s strong, crinkly, blue-tongued, and silent?

A Shar-pei!

Its wrinkliness gave it its Chinese name, which means sand skin, and was a protective feature for its role as a fighting and hunting dog. Intelligent, loyal, and fiercely protective, the Shar-pei normally barks only when disturbed.

However, Shar-peis tend to be guarded with strangers and growly toward other dogs, and their origins as a hunting and fighting breed give them a high prey drive.

Being made to share the house with another, smaller pet can bring out their hunting instincts and turn them into barkers. Make sure to give your Shar-pei obedience training and socialize it well.

Shiba Inu

Another dog with a suspiciously feline personality, the Shiba Inu like the cat is aloof, independent, stubborn, and are natural comedians prone to breaking the Internet with cute memes.

A primitive breed that’s surprisingly close to the ancestral wolf, Shiba Inu have a low disposition to bark just as adult wolves don’t bark.

That doesn’t mean they’re mute, though, as a Shiba will give vent to the famous ‘Shiba Inu Scream’ whenever something arouses its displeasure.

To minimize this, spend plenty of time exercising and playing with your Shiba, and give it positive reinforcement training to get it used to necessary activities it dislikes.

Whippet

The Whippet is a coursing sighthound from England, originally bred by poachers as a cross between small greyhounds and longer-legged terriers for hunting rabbits. Like most sighthounds, the Whippet barks little, saving its energy for running.

Whippets are highly affectionate, friendly dogs, gentle with children, but are more likely to say ‘Hi’ to a burglar than give an alarm.

As sighthounds, however, they have a very high prey drive and so are very likely to chase cats. This high prey drive also makes them unsafe to walk without a leash and puts them at risk of vehicle accidents.

Because Whippets crave companionship, they’re likely to develop separation anxiety when left alone too long, and this can turn them into barkers.

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