Hush Puppy
May 15, 2008 8:17 PM   Subscribe

Why doesn't my puppy make a sound?

We just got a new puppy (about a year old) and he seems to not be able to bark. When he whines it sounds like a whisper. When he's playing with his toys and "play growls" you can barely hear him. I know he was checked out by the shelter and updated on his shots and they said he was healthy. He seems fine other than not being about to really bark.

I know you're not a vet and that you're not my vet but I'm just looking to see if anyone has had any similar situations.
posted by owtytrof to Pets & Animals (20 answers total)
What type of dog is this? Is it possibly a Basenji mix?
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 8:25 PM on May 15, 2008

Is it possible that the kennel had him "de-barked"? This is a cruel procedure that some owners perform. Additionally he may have vocal cord damage/defect.
posted by saradarlin at 8:27 PM on May 15, 2008

Years and years ago my then-gf and I adopted a puppy. It was very very quiet, even when running around hyperactively and playing tug-of-war etc. He grew up perfectly healthy and yappy. So this is possibly quite normal.
posted by turgid dahlia at 8:27 PM on May 15, 2008

my dog didn't bark until he was about six months old. the first time he did it, he whipped his head around, totally surprised, and looking for the source of the sound!

so it might just be that he isn't there yet.
posted by violetk at 8:35 PM on May 15, 2008 [3 favorites]

My puppy was the same way for about a week.. I think she was just nervous. She grew out of it very quickly. If things don't change in a few days then maybe I'd be concerned, but he's probably fine.
posted by Sufi at 8:35 PM on May 15, 2008

He probably just doesn't realize yet that he can bark. One day he'll discover it, and then you'll have to train him not to do it. Nothing to worry about - just be thankful for the silence while it lasts.
posted by Dasein at 8:38 PM on May 15, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks for all the quick responses!

To answer fluffy battle kitten, he appears to be a chihuahua/dachshund mix.

I doubt the kennel had him de-barked, saradarlin, but since it was a city shelter, the previous owners could have. We've considered vocal cord defects.

We hadn't even considered that he may just not know how yet, violetk and Sufi!
posted by owtytrof at 8:39 PM on May 15, 2008

Happened to us: my lab was silent as a mouse for his first year and startled the crap out of me and himself the first time he let out a giant, deep-chested WUFF! at the UPS guy who was collecting a signature at my door. Come to think of it, the UPS guy jumped too.

A few months he spent a weekend at a kennel and came back a lot more barky, but he's still a lot less prone to noise than my previous dog (a terrier who had a vocal opinion about everything).
posted by jamaro at 8:42 PM on May 15, 2008

that should be *a few months later. He's two and a half now and I can still count the number of times I've heard him bark, we're waiting for bark #18.
posted by jamaro at 8:45 PM on May 15, 2008

When we got my first dog (RIP little guy) he didn't bark for about a month or so after we got him. Not sure if he was shy/nervous or just didn't know to do it. I mean, babies don't talk right away, do they?
posted by SassHat at 8:47 PM on May 15, 2008

My dog was very quiet when I first got her, and that was to my liking because I hate needlessly barky dogs. However she makes a LOT of noise when we play, because I have encouraged it. Try making some noise with him when you're playing and see if you can get him to increase the volume, if that's what you want.
posted by tomble at 9:11 PM on May 15, 2008

It may be that the new dog (pictures of the chiweenie doggy, please) is still adjusting to his new place and getting secure in his surroundings. I have a chihuahua/pug mix that doesn't bark much or otherwise make noise UNLESS it's to alert me to someone on the street (when we're outside) OR if I've annoyed the crap out of her by playing with her too much (she will then crate herself.)

It took this particular dog about six months before she understood that I was really keeping her and that she could relax. (She had been in and out of a private shelter at least twice before I got her.)
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 9:12 PM on May 15, 2008

Sometimes it takes awhile. Our beagle mix didn't start barking until he was about a year old. I'm happy that he now barks when people come up to the door (doorbell doesn't work), but I wish he'd give it a rest after a few barks at people coming to check the neighborhood mailbox in front of the house.
posted by ErWenn at 9:36 PM on May 15, 2008

Personal Note: I had two dogs, one at a time, while growing up. The first would bark on the command "Speak!" as often as we told him to and with a lot of energy, he'd also bark to defend his territory from strangers of any species. The second would barely whimper at the same command (at any age), and he was probably two or three before he would really break loose and bark at strangers approaching our house. Once he became a "barker" he'd bark when and where he felt the need to, but rarely when we tried to make him. Both were pure bred goldens and enormously fantastic dogs, they just felt/thought/were disposed to bark differently.
posted by Science! at 9:40 PM on May 15, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks again to everyone for all the ideas. We only recently got him, so we'll give it some time. He's definitely not quite adjusted to the new home, so it could be nervousness, and he is otherwise healthy.

I've added links in my profile to pictures so fluffy battle kitten and anyone else who is interested can check him(and our other two - chihuahua/min-pin and chihuahua/pug) out.
posted by owtytrof at 9:48 PM on May 15, 2008

We just got a new puppy (about a year old) and he seems to not be able to bark.

My dog did that for about three months. We used to joke about how silent he was. One day when he made a tiny sound, it was like BIG NEWS in the house.

That ended once he was comfortable. Now he doesn't shut up.
posted by rokusan at 11:29 PM on May 15, 2008

Nthing the "it'll happen" theory and as with violetk, one of our rescue dogs was completely silent from 4 months old until she was about a year then one day - well, I don't know who was more surprised the day she first barked at David Attenborough on tv.
posted by ceri richard at 12:48 AM on May 16, 2008

If the dog is a shelter dog, it is also possible that there is a less happy scenario where the dog basically had the bark beaten out of him. This is what happened to our dog, and it took 18 months for us to teach her to bark again. I actually thought she was mute and called her Silent O'Moyle until I accidentally rolled over her foot with my desk chair one day. You still have to really, really wind her up to get her to bark, but she certainly can do it. And takes enormous joy in it, too.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:58 AM on May 16, 2008

Weiner dogs never shut up, if he can bark he will eventually.
posted by BobbyDigital at 7:51 AM on May 16, 2008

We have a rat terrier who is 8 months old and never barks. She CAN bark (we've heard it once or twice), but just doesn't. She whines with gusto when she wants attention, but is otherwise pretty much mute.

It's making potty training a hoot, but I she is otherwise entirely normal and healthy.

As an aside: personally, I had a theory that maybe barking was something she would have picked up from other dogs. We left her at the vet a few times, but she still hasn't taken to barking.
posted by finitejest at 8:17 AM on May 16, 2008

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