Why Some Dogs Don't Bark

Your dog woofs for the mail carrier, if she sees a squirrel through the window and if she just wants your attention. If your dog's incessant yapping has you on edge, you might wonder why your neighbor's dog seems so much quieter by comparison. The amount dogs bark is due to a number of factors that include breed, training, age, illness, and personality.

Happily excited Staffordshire bull terrier with ball in it mouth
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Quiet breeds

Some dogs just don't bark a lot, and many of these are large breeds. Often apartment dwellers or pet owners who believe that silence is golden consider the following breeds:

  • Basjeni: Sometimes called the barkless dog, its quiet sound has been described as a cross between a yodel and a chortle.
  • Bullmastiff: Bred to be quiet guard dogs, bullmastiffs may snort and snuffle, but rarely bark.
  • Newfoundland: This gentle giant of a dog is often quiet.
  • Great Dane: Another giant canine, the Great Dane, doesn't bark much, but when he does it's very loud and deep.
  • St. Bernard: This breed generally doesn't bark without provocation.
  • Whippet: The sleek whippet can run fast, but it's also calm and quiet.

Training to reduce barking

While it can be frustrating to try to get your dog to stop barking, there are a number of training techniques that help dogs more often be seen than heard. First, try not to yell at your dog. He may think you're joining in the cacophony and bark even more. Speak calmly and firmly to him instead, using the command "quiet." As soon as he stops barking, give him a treat. The sooner you start training, the less barking becomes an ingrained habit.

Personality traits

Man embracing his dog
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Like people, some dogs are more shy and introverted. These dogs will naturally not bark a lot because they don't want to be the center of attention. If you just recently brought your dog home, she may still be getting a feel for her new household. She may not bark initially, but as she gets more comfortable, you'll get a better sense if she's quiet by nature or just settling in before becoming more vocal.

Medical concerns

A dog who has always been a barker and is suddenly far quieter may be cause for concern. Diseases of the larynx or voice box can render a dog silent. These diseases often paralyze the larynx so a dog can no longer bark. Bouvier des Flandres dogs can inherit this problem, and it's also likely to be the cause of an inability to bark in Siberian huskies, Dalmations, and bull terriers. This inherited disorder often silences dogs between four-and-six-months of age. An acquired form of the paralysis is sometimes seen in large breed dogs like Newfoundlands, Irish setters, and Labrador retrievers. It can be caused by excess stress and exertion.

Cancer of the larynx, salivary glands, and other areas of the mouth and throat can also affect a dog's bark. Other medical issues that might cause a dog to be quiet are chronic vomiting, respiratory disease, and trauma. Sometimes a dog has barked so much he becomes hoarse, or his throat hurts.

Older dogs

As your dog ages, you may notice she is barking less. There are many reasons this might happen. Many older dogs lose all or part of their hearing. Thus, they might not react to hearing the sound of a truck outside or the mail being delivered.

As they age, many dogs' vocal cords lose their flexibility, making their barking much quieter. Inflammation of the vocal cords may mean barking isn't comfortable and may lead them to stop. Dogs with dementia may lose interest in barking, along with a loss of interest in family members and inability to respond to commands.