Debarking is a veterinary surgery that involves removing tissue from the dog’s vocal cords. This results in a dog’s voice being quieter, when done properly. It does not stop barking as the word debarking implies, but the bark now sounds like a whisper, and is thus not irritating to neighbors of dog owners that frequently bark.
Debarking dogs is a controversial topic. Some feel it is simply wrong to subject an animal to unnecessary surgery. Further they feel the dog may be emotionally damaged by loss of its voice. Most argue that with training, most dogs, even the “barky” breeds can be trained to bark less frequently. They see debarking as a lazy and cruel method for getting a dog to be quieter.
Supporters of debarking argue that the procedure saves the lives of many dogs that might be sent to pounds because of incessant barking. Some people acquire a dog that barks frequently and are soon immersed in struggles with neighbors who must listen to the dog barking at all hours of the day and night.
For some this means trying to find the dog another home, or simply sending the dog to the pound. Since many dogs never get adopted and are euthanized, supporters see debarking as a far better choice.
Additionally, those who support debarking also state they feel there is no significant evidence suggesting that debarking causes emotional damage to the dog. Since the dog can still bark, though quietly, it has not had its main “warning weapon” stolen. Most dogs that are debarked are usually subject to less remonstration and punishment by owners; so proponents of debarking suggest that dogs that are debarked are actually happier.
Misconception about the results of debarking persists. Some dogs that have undergone debarking are likely to bark frequently, sometimes incessantly. This sounds like a weak cough, and may, in fact, prove especially annoying to dog owners. Thus dogs may be punished for barking even after debarking has occurred.
Opponents of the procedure are partially correct in their assessment that most dogs can be trained not to bark frequently. Certain breeds are associated with barking more often, and they may be the most difficult to train. Further, debarking means the dog cannot use his or her bark to alert owners to danger. However, in some cases, dogs consider just about anything that passes by as danger, so any warnings with a full bark are likely to be ignored.