Pug Can’t Bark?

If you’ve ever owned a dog that barks excessively, the idea of your dog not being able to bark might sound appealing in theory. I can understand thinking “I wish that dog couldn’t bark anymore!” when you’re exhausted from hearing constant barking. That’s really just a silly daydream, though.

Regardless of how much your dog used to bark, if you find that your dog loses their ability to bark, you’ll find yourself concerned. Or if you have a dog who was just born unable to bark, that will worry you too.

pug resting in dog bed

Pug has lost the ability to bark

If your pug used to bark and is now unable to, this is a reason to go to the vet. There are a variety of different medical conditions that can cause a dog to lose their bark. Most of them are fairly serious, so it’s important to get checked out. 

This is totally anecdotal, of course, but my pug Beans lost her bark when she was about 14. Neither of my pugs were ever excessive barkers, and Beans barked less than Frank, generally. However, Beans always barked when left alone. We’d often hear her barking after we arrived home from being gone for a while.

When she was around 14 one day we were coming home and I could tell that she was trying to bark, but she was barely making any sound at all. It was like you could hear the air leaving her lungs and mouth, but the actual sound from her voicebox was missing.

She had been diagnosed with a collapsing trachea a few years prior, but we still wanted to get it checked by the vet. In her case, it was related to her collapsing trachea, it was just a progression of it.

Reasons why pugs may stop barking

A “honeymoon” period after being with new owners. It’s common for dogs to be too shy around new owners to bark.

Vocal stress. If they had recently been barking excessively, they may have ‘lost their voice’ just like humans do if we talk or yell too much.

Training. In some cases people may have trained their dog to never bark. If you’ve newly adopted a dog and aren’t familiar with their history, it could be that their previous owner used a shock collar on them or something similar, making them afraid of ever barking.

Laryngeal paralysis. Sometimes dogs get this conditioner where their larynx doesn’t open correctly.

Tumor. Sometimes dogs can develop tumors on their larynx that can make them unable to bark.

Healing from surgery. In this case, you’d likely know the cause – but sometimes dogs can’t bark after a surgery until they heal.

Canine Obstructive Airway Disease. Sometimes something blocks the tracheal opening and causes changes to a dog’s ability to produce a barking sound. This can be caused by a dog swallowing something that got stuck such as part of a dog toy. It can also be caused by growths.

Tracheal Collapse. This is common in older pugs, and basically reduces the size of the airway which causes various issues with their breathing and that can include changes to their barking.

Pug puppy can’t bark

Sometimes pug puppies struggle to bark until they get older. It’s normal for puppies to have much “smaller” barking sounds than older dogs. You may describe a puppy bark as something more of a “yip” than a bark. I’ve also seen pug puppy owners say that their puppies barks almost sound more like a cough than a bark when they’re little.

In some cases, it may just be a matter of your pug needing to get older before they’ll find their bark. If your pug puppy can’t bark, I’d recommend bringing it up with the vet. There are some conditions such as an elongated palette that can cause a puppy to struggle to bark from birth. If there is a medical cause, finding it as young as possible may make it easier to treat. 

pug can't bark anymore

Pug has sudden change in the sound of her bark

Similar to if a pug can’t bark, if your pug has a sudden change in the sound of their bark, this is a reason to head to the vet as well.

It could be something similar to what my pug experienced when her collapsing trachea had advanced and she just lost her bark. In a slightly less severe case, perhaps they still have a small bark sound left.

It also could be many other causes, though – a variety of throat or lung related conditions.

After beans had already lost her bark, she still coughed because of the collapsing trachea issue. One day we woke up and the sound of her cough had changed. I imagine that if she still had a bark, it may have sounded different, too. It turned out that she had fluid in her chest, which we were able to treat with prescription medications. It was very important to take her in though, as she did need treatment. The rest of her behavior was totally normal so the change in the sound of her ‘voice’ while coughing was the only symptom, but a very important one to pay attention to.

Why you want your dog to be able to bark

You should be concerned if your dog can’t bark, because it could be caused by an underlying medical condition that needs treatment.

Additionally, barking is a form of communication for dogs. While some dogs may be ‘overly talkative’ when it come to barking, it’s an attempt to communicate. At minimum, we should all want our dogs to be able to get our attention when they are hurt. If a dog can’t bark, then that means they wouldn’t be able to bark even if they were trapped or in severe pain and needed our help.

Related post: Common pug health problems.

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