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Why Debarking Your Dog Is Cruel


Debarking also known as devocalization, is just another fancy word for muting your dog. During the surgery part or all the vocal chord structures are removed.
Although the procedure is the popular solution for barking dogs, it is actually a radical and cruel solution.

Dogs Bark

Dobermans barking while alone at home.

Dobermans barking while alone at home.

As you know, dogs bark; some more than others. It can become annoying and disturbing, but I doubt that hitting the mute button will solve the barking issue. Imagine the frustration of your dog when it will try to bark and no sound will come out. Is debarking the real solution for the problem?

In this week’s post I want to talk about this particular procedure in a FAQ structure. If you are considering debarking your dog, this article will help you to know more about what debarking is about and which results you can expect.

Which procedure is better?

The oral approach
Debarking them with this procedure, 90% of the dogs were muted or aphonic 3 or 4 months after the intervention. Scar tissue at the surgical site appears in about 60% of the dogs. There is also the possibility that the removed tissue grows back, or even worse, scar tissue blocking the throat. Both scenarios would require further surgeries.

The laryngeal approach
This method is suggested to provide better surgical exposure and of course a better tissue removal. Since the scar is on the neck; an Elizabethan collar (also known as the “cone collar”) can’t be worn to protect the scar, and several complications due to scratching can appear.

Dog's scar after devocalization surgery.

Dog's scar after devocalization surgery.

Is the dog under general anesthesia? Is it dangerous?

Yes, but the anesthetic is delivered by intravenous route. Because of the surgery area, the anesthesia can’t be delivered through an endotracheal tube and the anesthesia risks are higher. 

Besides the anesthetic risk and the known possibilities of scarring after the procedure; the devocalization implies other postoperative risks. Complications such as: bacterial infection, laryngeal spasm due to the inflammation and necrosis are a few of them.

Consult with your vet about the specific risks of putting your dog under general anesthesia and the discuss the postoperative complications.


I still want to go ahead with the devocalization. How can the complications be reduced?

After the devocalization it is advised to keep the dog quiet and relaxed for about 4 to 5 weeks. The agitation and the excess of the inhaled air will increase the inflammation in the area. In order to keep it quiet sedation may be required.
Also, most of the dogs after being debarked, will develop a chronic cough, difficulty in swallowing and serious breathing problems due to the scar tissue are often seen.

Note that excessive barking is a consequence of something else and by mutilating your dog’s cords you are not addressing the underlying behaviour that may be causing the barking or crying.

Will my dog still bark?

Yes, your dog will still bark, however, the voice will be altered. Some dogs’ bark are half less loud and piercing and others are just left muted after the surgery.
The key to a successful procedure is removing the entire vocal process. If part of the vocal cord remains; there is a big chance of scarring.


Are there other options to make it stop barking?

Yes, you can talk with a behavior specialist or a trainer. They will help asses the dogs environment and unwanted behaviour with the purpose of correcting it.

Famous Cesar Millan, also known as the Dog Whisper.

Famous Cesar Millan, also known as the Dog Whisper.

Does it affect the dog’s well being?

The bark is the way a dog communicates and if there’s a lot of barking, he/she is trying to tell you something.
Debarking the dog not only won’t solve the root of the problem but it can escalate. The reason of barking, whether fear, loneliness, stress, anxiety or fear, will be channeled in other ways, including biting, destruction of goods or auto mutilation.

Is debarking necessary?

Debarking is yet another example of non therapeutic procedure like declawing, ear cropping and tail docking. As the procedure brings no medical benefit added to the surgical risk; explains the reason why some veterinarians refuse to do it.
Therefore, the answer to the questions is NO. It’s not necessary and there’s always other alternatives.



Dogs bark.

No pet is perfect and unfortunately the devocalization is not the answer to the problem. Barking is part of normal canine behavior. Excessive vocalization can be due to fear, anxiety, boredom and even medical pathology.

Barking will keep you and your neighbors awake. Will probably ruin your TV series. But maybe your dog doesn't wish to destroy your life, it is wishing to tell you something. Think how it must feel when you are gone all day.

The solution to the problem can be found by removing the cause, socializing and training your dog. As Dr. Conn says, “It is a convenience procedure since the surgery addresses the symptoms but not the underlying cause of incessant barking.”


Some solutions:

Training will help teach your dog boundaries. Spending more time with your dog instead of asking it to stop barking and creating a nice play routine will reduce the anxiety. Early socialization in puppies and early exposure to new situations, will make your adult dog more balanced and less frightened.

Dog at agility.

Dog at agility.

Knowing all that would you force your dog to have an unnecessary, traumatizing and harmful procedure like debarking?

If you are considering to debark your dog, you must watch this video and think about it:

Other useful sources: If you find that your dog’s barking is a problem, refer to these 5 Tips for Handling Nuisance Barking. Also check out the Vol. 5 of the Mastering Leadership DVD series, Common Canine Misbehaviors , where well known Cesar Millan goes in-depth on the issue of barking.

Other related posts: Tips to choose the right dog for your family.


If You Don’t Adopt, You’re a MONSTER - Adopting vs. Buying a Puppy.


If You Don’t Adopt, You’re a MONSTER - Adopting vs. Buying a Puppy.

There are many animals, including puppies, that are destroyed and abused every year for different reasons. As a result of this, rescue and adoption centers have been established so as to save the lives of some of these animals. Of course, you can’t always find your preferred breed in a shelter or rescue agency, so what should you do?


Arguments for Adoption

The greatest debate when selecting a new furry family member is whether to adopt from a shelter or rescue organization, or to buy one from a breeder. Different people have different opinions on this topic, but from a general perspective, people argue that adopting a puppy is one way of rescuing it from certain death, unlike buying.


It is very unfortunate that approximately 4 million unrescued puppies are euthanized every year in the US due to overpopulation in shelters. Adopting a dog or cat therefore means that you will have rescued the life of that particular animal. Because of this, you will be considered a hero rather than a monster as people sometimes refer to those who buy specially bred animals.

I always wanted to have a Pug or a French Bulldog. But when the time arrived, I couldn't help myself to adopt Riff. After checking 10 different shelters and meet with 5 different dogs, Riff was the one. I couldn't resist to his positive energy. He was the perfect match for me and I've never been happier with this little crazy, yet lovely, chihuahua-terrier mix!

I always wanted to have a Pug or a French Bulldog. But when the time arrived, I couldn't help myself to adopt Riff. After checking 10 different shelters and meet with 5 different dogs, Riff was the one. I couldn't resist to his positive energy. He was the perfect match for me and I've never been happier with this little crazy, yet lovely, chihuahua-terrier mix!

There have been a lot of misconceptions about animal adoption. For example, some people having been saying that puppies in shelters are those who did not make good pets. This is not true because the main reasons that people give up pets that end up in shelters include: they have allergies, the owner dies or no longer has time for the pet, the owner is moving to a home that does not allow pets, the owner is no longer able to afford the pet costs, etc.


The top reasons to adopt:

  1. You are saving a life
  2. You can get an adult dog rather than a puppy if you want a more relaxed animal
  3. The shelter or agency staff knows the animal’s personality and health issues, so they’ll be able to inform about any issues the animal may have
  4. You can visit with the animal, get to know its personality, and even take it home for a fully refundable trial period to determine if it is a good fit your home and family
  5. The animal has been cared for and brought up to health by the shelter/agency
  6. You can search for specific breeds you might be partial to
  7. Most shelter/rescue animals are of mixed breed, which decreases their chances of having or developing chronic health problems normally associated with purebred animals.
  8. If your circumstances change, and you can’t keep the animal, you can return it to the shelter or agency without incurring any associated fees
  9. Whereas there is some cost in adopting a pet, it is much more affordable to pay the $200 or lower adoption fee than the up to $3000 breeding fee (price is just approximate)
  10. The shelter or agency will do everything they can to assist you in the adoption process, and if you have any problems with the animal after you adopt it, they’ll even provide support to help with those issues too


Remember that saving money is not the only reason to adopt a pet versus buying one. Whereas adoptions generally do cost less initially, every animal needs regular veterinary care and to have its basic needs provided. Adopting isn’t as much about saving money as it about saving a life.


Arguments for Buying from a Breeder

Some people have a hard time not understanding why people buy puppies from breeders instead of adopting. However, all decisions, when made with solid reasons and according to one’s own need, must be respected.

Before we list the potential benefits of buying from a breeder, we must note the need to carefully select your breeder. There are some things that go on in puppy mills that are not good for the health of animals themselves. Nearly all “puppy mills” are large-scale breeding places where owners are after making large profits from the animals they sell. As a result of this, female dogs are forced to breed continuously until they can’t breed any longer. These female dogs do not have the freedom to live as normal dogs and their offspring are a result of over breeding, which, while creating beautiful animals, also causes serious health issues in their genetic makeup.


Not all breeders are like this. You can certainly find dog and other animal breeders who care for their animals, treat them well, track their lineage, and pair them in such a way as to ensure maximum genetic variety within the breed itself.


The top reasons to buy from a breeder:

  1. You are guaranteed the breed that you desire and can verify each animals’ lineage

  2. You can establish a relationship with the breeder and his/her practices

  3. The breeder will offer you references of dog owners who are happy with the dogs they purchased

  4. You will know what type of temperament and health concerns to expect from your animal

  5. You will be able to fulfill your dream of having a certain breed

  6. A breeder will be available to you throughout your dog’s life

  7. There is endless information on your specific breed


As you can see, there are good reasons to adopt from a shelter or association and there are good reasons to buy from a reputed breeder. It is a personal decision for each pet owner, and you can be sure that no matter how you acquire your new family member, the love that you give to, and receive from it, will remain the same.


Related link: How to choose the right breeder.

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