I am hearing more and more cases of people debarking their dogs. Many people consider the debarking process to be inhumane, while others think that debarking is acceptable as a last resort to surrendering their dog, which would mean euthanasia in many cases.
Debarking is illegal in the UK, so should it be illegal in the US as well?
First, let us consider why dogs bark.
Dogs bark for a variety of reasons, including:
- Warning. Dogs may bark to indicate that some resource (toy, food, area) belongs to them.
- Alert. Guard dogs may bark to alert pack members of potentially dangerous activity.
- Boredom/Frustration. If a dog is left alone for long periods of time he may bark due to boredom and frustration. This may also lead to barrier frustration, and other behavioral problems.
- Stress. Stress may also cause dogs to bark. Some dogs may bark at other dogs or people because of fear. Other dogs may bark when their owners leave as a result of separation anxiety.
- Excitement. Dogs bark when they are excited. This usually occurs when they are greeting people, or new dogs.
I am lucky in that I never had to consider debarking my dogs. When I was growing up, we had several German Shepherds that barked whenever there was any activity outside. However, we lived in a cul-de-sac so there was not much foot or car traffic. Now, I stay home with my dogs most of the time, so I do not have a barking problem.
The question, I think, comes down to this …
How much does debarking reduce a dog’s quality of life?
That is difficult to tell. I imagine that it would be different for different dogs. My Shiba Inu, for example, would get really depressed and stressed out if he got debarked. He is a very sensitive dog and does not like any kind of change. I imagine he would get stressed every time he vocalized and realized he could not do it properly.
On the other hand, my Siberian Husky is more of a happy-go-lucky girl. She is a three legged dog and has adapted to that very well. I imagine she would be able to adapt to debarking as well, without a significant decrease in quality of life.
But … I can only speculate.
So what do you think?
- If you anticipate that you will have dog barking issues, should you not get a dog?
- If you already have dog barking issues, and have debarked your dog(s), should you not get new dogs in the future?
- If a dog is about to be euthanized, but can be adopted if he is debarked, is that acceptable?
What is your position? Are there instances where you think debarking is acceptable? Or do you think that debarking should be illegal?