Barking is normal behavior for dogs and an important means of communication. Your pet may bark while playing or greeting a person, as well as to give a warning.
If your dog is excessively noisy, you may be considering a “debarking” or “devocalization” procedure. Before you go ahead, however, read this guidance from veterinarians and other animal health specialists on the risks of the surgery—and some alternatives.
What Is Debarking?
“Devocalization—also known as debarking, devoicing or bark softening—is a surgical procedure performed under general anesthesia to remove portions of a dog’s vocal folds or cords,” explained Dr. José Arce, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association.
The surgery is generally performed “in an attempt to decrease the volume, pitch and intensity of the dog’s bark,” he told Newsweek.
The medical term for the procedure is ventriculocordectomy. A dog can undergo either partial or total devocalization.
How Do You Debark a Dog?
There are two surgical approaches: oral and laryngotomy.
In this method, the surgical instruments are inserted through the dog’s mouth and into the vocal cord region. While this is less invasive and typically less expensive, “it is often less successful in terms of achieving its vocal goals,” according to the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association (HSVMA).