Monday, March 1, 2010

Should You Surgically Debark Your Dog?

In this country it seems we are always faced with how to regulate morality. I put debarking in this class. Although the AR groups claim it is "inhumane", I can not buy that argument. I have witnessed this surgical procedure done and feel that if this surgery is deemed "inhumane"- then there are far more surgeries and procedures that we do to ourselves, our children, and yes- even our pets- that we should also label "inhumane". No, I think that the question of debarking is a moral question- not a "humane" question.

This article addresses the pros and cons of surgical debarking and also addresses the arguments people have that are for or against the procedure. This author concludes it should be a last resort, but still be allowed. I think it should be the decision of the owner. Personally, I think issue of "humanity" involve being a good neighbor. There is a lot of talk about dogs needing to use their bark to warn people of impending danger- but what about the dog who "crys wolf" (you do know that story don't you?)- You know, the dog that barks incessantly at the squirrels at the neighbors bird feeder, the dog barks so much that no one would believes them anyway, even if there was an intruder entering the neighbors house instead of just another squirrel. If a person wants to surgically debark their dog so that they can co-exist peacefully in a residential neighborhood, and still keep the dog they love, well I think that should be their own decision.

Should You Surgically Debark Your Dog?
Linda Cole
February 21, 2010

Debarking, or bark softening, saves lives and helps neighbor relations

By Charlotte Clem McGowan, a dog show judge for the American Kennel Club and author of "The Shetland Sheepdog in America." She has been a hobby dog breeder for more than 40 years.

I have debarked dogs for decades. Debarking has made it possible to keep my dogs in a residential neighborhood and be a good neighbor. A skilled surgeon can debark a dog in a very simple procedure using an adenoid punch to make a tiny hole in each vocal chord. This method is virtually bloodless. The dog recovers quickly and is not stressed by the surgery. The dog will not be silent, but his bark will be reduced in pitch and volume.

Breeds like shelties were used to keep livestock out of gardens, to keep birds of prey from taking lambs and as guards and alarms. They are very, very talkative. Shelties bark for all kinds of reasons, including joy. They also bark with a generally high-pitched, piercing bark that can be extremely annoying. Debarking takes them from annoying to manageable. Since shelties, by nature, will bark at birds and squirrels and while playing and having fun, keeping shelties in any number larger than one is difficult.

Veterinarians provide a valuable service with debarking. A dog that can bark at squirrels and while playing without being constantly disciplined is a happy dog. The urge to bark does not diminish, but the noise level does. The chief reason shelties are dumped in shelters is barking. Sheltie rescuers can easily re-home these dogs when they are debarked. So debarking saves lives.

While some people believe you can train any dog not to bark, I know from 40 years of extensive experience with shelties that this is not true. Some dogs just bark to bark.

More information at


Acadia Shelties said...

Oh I couldn’t agree more!!! I have debarked dogs and the dogs are happy, I am happy and my neighbors are happy!!! Anyone who has pierced a body part- without it being done by a Doctor under an anesthetic -has put themselves through far more pain and risk of infection than the procedure used to debark a dog. Animal Rights advocates attempt to make the public believe that this procedure (debarking) is done with crude tools in dark allies. This procedure is done at a Veterinarians office under anesthesia. This process is less invasive and dangerous than many surgeries these same Animal Rights advocates view as NECESSARY such as spaying or neutering. Contrary to what AR people promote, dogs do not have their vocal cords “removed”. The procedure merely puts a hole in the vocal cord just the way a hole is punched in an ear to be pierced. The dogs are home and acting normally that same day. Dogs who have had this procedure done continue to bark, it is just that the vibrations of the vocal cords do not reverberate the same way causing a loud, sharp noise most people associate with “barking”.
Without looking into the statistics, I feel confident to say that a much smaller percent of dogs that have been debarked end up back at the Vets with an infection or other complication due to this proceed than the percentage of people who have had a body part pierced end in a Doctor’s office.
Those who are suggesting that this procedure should be prohibited by law, I hope that you advocate for human welfare and the end of circumcision (that is really inhumane!), body piercing, human tattoos, and other activities that physically alter the body.

Anonymous said...

I can't imagine how anyone would think that it's more "kind" to strap a device on a dog that would deliver electric shocks each time it decides to bark.

I've seen dogs try to bark through wearing one, with head twisted, in obvious pain, but so driven to bark that it inflicted hours of pain upon itself. I've seen dogs so miserable with a bark collar on that they didn't move a single muscle for fear of getting shocked. If that's not cruelty, I don't know what is!

Debarking or bark softening is a simple surgical procedure that leaves the dog with a voice and the ability to communicate - just not in a neighbour irritating manner.

People - even vets - insist that dogs communicate primarily with their voices. They somehow overlook the research that says all members of the animal kingdom (humans and dogs included) communicate more through body language than any other method! Vocal communication is not the primary choice.

So if I were put in a position where I had to choose to a) have the surgery to save my dog's life and our continued companionship; b) strap on a shock collar that makes him/her miserable and inflicts needless pain or; c) kill the dog - I know that my choice would be bark softening.